Weekly Roundup: The wellness aesthetic is bad for you, running tips from a 90-year-old dynamo, and how to cultivate toughness

The wellness aesthetic is making us sick

Instagram’s obsession with the “healthy” aesthetic is giving us a false picture of health and making us sick: Australian cardiothoracic surgeon Nikki Stamp says so. According to Stamp,“fitspo” causes unhealthy behaviours like restrictive dieting and over-exercising. She wrote her new book, Pretty Unhealthy after her doctor warned her about high blood pressure and her initial response was disbelief because she wears a size small.

Read the full article on Stamp’s analysis here.

“How can we possibly be healthy when all we’re trying to be is beautiful?” – Nikki Stamp

Running Advice 90-Year-Old Dynamo Nathaniel Finestone

Runner’s World profiled 90-year-old runner Nathaniel Finestone, who ran a 5k in 39:06 at the USTAF Championships in Atlanta. Finestone shared his five major tips for running, which include a hearty breakfast and listening to your body. (Love it!)

The real kicker is that Finestone didn’t begin running until he was 60.

Read his running advice here and get inspired.  

Cultivating Mental Toughness  

Sometimes life calls for softness, and sometimes you’re in the last 10KM of a marathon, your side is a cat’s cradle of stitches, your feet are throbbing, you’re traumatized by what you saw in the last port-a-potty and you need to summon every ounce of steel you’ve got and press on.  

Outside has collected some tips for how to cultivate toughness both in your chosen sport and your life, so when the going gets tough, it’s trying to keep up with you.

Read Outside’s tips for cultivating toughness.

Run For The Toad Training Log #2: Trail Running Wisdom

Things I have learned while training for Run For The Toad 2019 so far as someone who has never before taken on long distance trail race training.

It’s been a weird and crazy summer of travel, but in between zipping across the world and back, I’ve managed to keep up a mostly-regular schedule of runs in the city and also on the trails.

1. Embrace trail running pace; kiss your regular pace goodbye

Seriously. Hills, technical sections with roots or rocks, running into hikers with friendly dogs (DOGS!)—they’re all going to slow you down. And you know what? That’s good. It’s kind of the point. I didn’t go out into nature to get the hell out of nature as fast as I could.

Plus, eliminating the speed element (for the most part) and instead opting for the “I just want to survive the obstacles and make it back to my car” makes it into a fun kind of survival game nobody else is playing.  

Mind you, I still track my time and my distance, but this is more to ensure I’m covering adequate ground for training and also for providing my family with time estimates as to how long I can be gone in the woods for before they should call the police.

2. Bring real food snacks

I’ve discovered that unlike road running, trail running requires more than some super sweet goo or the usual run candy. It has been a huge help to throw some more substantial snacks in my bag like granola bars or jerky to keep me powered up even when the going gets tough and the calves start screaming.

(Dogs and snacks… How did it take me so long to discover trail running life?)

3. Don’t wear headphones

This is trail running 101. No headphones, no music, no podcasts. Yes, you’re going to be trapped in your own thoughts for a few hours. If that sounds awful, that’s probably exactly what you need.

Also, it’s going to keep you from being run over by mountain cyclists and horseback riders, or worse, scared out of your wits by a hiker group you should have heard over the depthy debate NPR is serving into your earholes.

What Comes Next: The Future of The EBC Blog

Just a heads up, the blog is going to go through some minor changes in the next few months, mostly in terms of content.

In short, you can expect:

• More personal blog entries from me
• Possible re-branding to reflect the more personal nature of the blog
• A new batch of #StartingLines

The fact is, I’ve been trying to write this blog like it’s a big charity or an established entity (maybe someday, goodness knows I’ve got plans)! But because of this, I feel like it lacks a personal touch and it’s keeping me from updating as often as I would like to. I want this to be a space where I can share my own experiences while continuing to connect and share my talks with others as well.

At the beginning of The Every Body Collective, the plan was to keep myself out of the content almost entirely. With the exception of my own #StartingLine or random list to use my experiences for the power of good, I wanted to focus in on other people’s stories and keep myself off of the stage.

However I’ve realized that’s a difficult to do because:

• I’m a writer and that means… I want to write stuff
• People are busy and I only get them for a limited amount of time, which means consistency suffers
• I have access to my own experiences as fodder for blogs… All the time.
• If my argument is that everyone’s stories have relevance and worth, that means mine does too… right?

Going forward, this space is going to be a mix of my own blogs about my ongoing running training/fitness/body liberation/whatever evil thing Weight Watchers does next AND interviews with other athletes, as well as Weekly Roundups about what is going on out in the world.

Hopefully there will also be some new exciting content that I don’t want to delve into too much just yet…

Thanks for sticking with me so far. #YouBelongHere

- Riley

Weekly Roundup: Nike's New Accessible Basketball Shoe, Plus-Size Yogi Jessamyn Stanley, And The Effects of Mouthwash on Your Workout

Nike Announces The Air Zoom UNVRS For Athletes Of All Abilities

Source: Nike News

Source: Nike News

Nike announced the launch of the Nike Air Zoom UNVRS, a basketball shoe designed with special features to make wearing possible for people of all ability levels. The Zoom UNVRS has “a magnetized heel that folds down and connects to the midsole. This function opens the shoe up so that it is quick and easy to put on and take off (wearers can efficiently slide the foot in and out with no hands) .” Also, it looks pretty cool.

According to DisabilityScoop, the shoe was designed with WNBA player Elena Delle Donne. Delle Donne helped develop the shoe with insight from her sister Lizzie, who has cerebral palsy, autism and is also deaf and blind. The shoe is part of Nike’s FlyEase line, which was originally developed after a 16-year-old boy with cerebral palsy wrote the company an open letter asking for a shoe he could put on independently.

Nike will launch the Nike Zoom UNVRS in November 2019.

Read the press release here.

Queery Interviews Jessamyn Stanley, Plus-Size Yogi & General Badass

ICMYI, Queerty did a great interview with author, yogi, body positive advocate and Instagram inspiration Jessamyn Stanley this week. Stanley shared her best “workout tip” (it’s not what you think), how yoga prepares her for everyday life, and why she recommends Bikram-style yoga to beginning practitioners.

They also asked her about her motivation for doing yoga and working out:

“I think of movement just like overall maintenance for the human body, the same you would do for car or your house. So for me, it’s helpful to think of as taking care of my body. So, what feels fun? What feels effortless?” - Jessamyn Stanley

Study Finds Using Mouthwash May Be Bad For Your Workout (What?)


Weird findings: a new study has shown that using mouthwash on the days you decide to get moving may keep the workout from lowering your blood pressure effectively.

From Study Finds: “Researchers say that mouthwash cut the blood pressure benefits of exercise by 60% over the first hour of recovery, completely negated any benefits when participants used mouthwash two hours after a workout.”

For more info, check out the article on Study Finds.

Weight Watchers' new Kurbo app gamifies diet culture—and it’s dangerous

When I was a kid, I dreamt of being a musical theatre star. Once (I was so young I can’t remember this in detail) my mom calmed me down before a surgery by playing “Think of Me” from Phantom of the Opera on our Playschool tape player while we waited for the nurses.

I vividly remember sitting in my aunt’s kitchen while she cooked with my mom, reading the lyrics of Les Miserables in the cd booklet and singing along before I understood what the words meant.

Then one day, my tiny heart set aside its ache for Broadway and set its sights on a newer, better dream: losing weight. I didn’t want to be famous or great, to make art or follow my passion. I wanted, more than anything, just to look like everyone else.

I didn’t want to be famous or great, to make art or follow my passion. I wanted, more than anything, just to look like everyone else.

All my other career ambitions starved to death too. My wishes to a marine biologist, horticulturalist, archaeologist, horseback-riding champion, figure skater, private detective, writer—couldn’t survive against the dazzling glare of thinness.

I was a fat kid. I wasn’t constantly picked on, but I had endured enough scattershot cruelty from children at school, read enough books, and had seen enough Disney movies to know that people who had their dreams come true didn’t look like me. So I traded my big dreams for shrinking ones. Straight up, diet culture taught me that the greatest thing I could hope to achieve was the physical status quo—and only then would I matter.

• Imagine an eight-year-old girl swapping out Harry Potter to vigorously study low fat cookbooks.

• Imagine an eight-year-old girl sneaking bites of the Atkins bars in the cupboard because they were coded as diet food and held the answer.

• Imagine an eight-year-old girl asking their older sister to help build an exercise routine and doing bicep curls with Pringles cans full of pennies because there were no dumbells in the house. 

• Imagine an eight-year-old girl fantasizing about fat camp instead of summer camp. Opening her mind up, not to the possibilities of the future and all she could be, but to dreams of a flat stomach. Now picture her wishing for it on her birthday candles.

I’m almost 30, and I feel like I’m only just beginning to understand just how deep these issues run in me, and how much of who I am was shaped by the weight loss industrial complex. That’s about two full decades of trying to be bulimic, a binge eating disorder, and multiple fad diets (including Weight Watchers) in the name of “health and wellness.”

The kicker is that, when I was a child, my parents never tried to put me on diets or tried to make me lose weight. I learned all of these desires from what I observed out in the world.

I also didn’t need an app to get all of my issues started—but I’m deeply furious when I think about how quickly and efficiently Kurbo will do the job.

I also didn’t need an app to get all of my issues started—but I’m deeply furious when I think about how quickly and efficiently Kurbo will do the job.

Children don’t understand that 95% of diets fail, or that BMI is garbage, or that thinness is not an indicator of health. They don’t know that dieting is a leading prerequisite for eating disorders. They don’t know that you can be happy, be loved, or be successful at any size and shape. They don’t know that they are enough from the time they are born.

But they will come to understand whatever this app tells them, reinforced by the “concerns” of the adults around them and the world we live in. They will be taught not that they are special, but that they could be something if they just shaved a few digits off their body fat percentage.

The app is targeting ages 8-17. Are you fucking kidding me WW?

You’re locking on to our most innocent and vulnerable and having the audacity to call it building healthy habits instead of what it is: a way to create a new generation of dieters with eating disorders.

That’s what this app is. It’s the insidious primary-coloured packaging and gamification of body shaming practices, moralizing food, and a fixation and obsession with size and shape. They’re selling a solution to a problem they’re creating.

It’s the insidious primary-coloured packaging and gamification of body shaming practices, moralizing food, and a fixation and obsession with size and shape.

Little minds should be dreaming about living on Mars and new ice cream flavours, not pounds or inches. They should be thinking of play, not workouts.

I can tell you from my own first-hand experience that children on diets (whether THEY choose them or they’re coaxed into it by grown ups) don’t become healthy, well-adjusted adults.

It leads to deep trauma that carves you up repeatedly and affects your mental health and all your relationships. It leads to furiously writing opinion pieces at 1:24 a.m. while you marvel at how many pages of a novel or screenplay you could have written by now if you hadn’t been so busy filling notebooks with detailed notes counting and re-counting every calorie every day, several times a day for months.

It leads to wasted time, energy, and life.

I’ll never know the suffering I could have been spared if I hadn’t been taught for years and years that I deserved nothing more than to hate myself unless I changed. It seemed so innocent and shining at the time. It seemed harmless. It all seems harmless if it’s painted with the wash of concern for health.

This is app is going to poison thousands of children the same way I was. The same way so many of us are.

And now it’s our job to keep this from happening again. We are supposed to protect them. We are supposed to keep things that will hurt them away from their little hands. That includes preventing them from running with scissors, touching the stove or using mobile phones pre-loaded with a lifetime’s worth of ambition-crushing, body-shaming applications designed to hook ‘em young.

It breaks my heart and infuriates me to think of children who are about have their wildest dreams traded for yesterday’s trauma just because diet culture has gone mobile.  

Not a week goes by where I don't meet a child believing wt loss is good and doesn't see their eating disorder as a problem 💔 #Repost @mysignaturenutrition with @get_repost ・・・ Repeat after me. Children should not diet. An app created to help kids diet is exploitation. It's harmful and outright DANGEROUS. . @ww does not care about kids. they don't care about health. they care about their bottom line. That's it. They say that innovation (aka changes) bring customers back to weight watchers. and they rely on repeat customers. Hence Kurbo. Their "free" dieting app for kids. . The average weight watchers member has signed up five times. Their model relies on repeat customers and even boasts that they are aware of this pattern of repeat enrollment. . Offering "free" services to kids isn't out of generosity, care, or concern of teens health or wellness. It's about creating a repeat customer for life. . Not the kind of repeat customer that goes back because they feel good, satisfied and love the product. The kind of customer that goes back because they feel ashamed, like a failure and don't know what to do. . Weight watchers is aware of this and the statistics on dieting. They are intentionally exploiting the diet failure rate to further their bottom line and masking it as "care." . They are aware that the truth is: -95-98% of all diets fail. -60% of people will gain back more weight -35% of people will progress to pathological dieting of those 20-25% progress to an eating disorder -dieting predicts weight gain in adolescents. -dieting is correlated with increased guilt, shame, anxiety, depression, low self esteem and eating disorders. All of which are correlated with worse health outcomes. -adolescents (and really anyone) who diets are more likely to binge eat. . This ploy by weight watchers isn't about health or wellness at all. It's not about healthy living or anything else. . It's all about increasing their bottom line by preying on innocent youth and manipulating them to believe that health, happiness and self worth come from changing your body at all costs. This is Diet Culture. . #wakeupweightwatchers #dietculture #dietculturedropout #dietculturedefense

Mad as hell 🔥 . . @ww back at it again predating on children via @kurbohealth. . . Things we know about intentional weight loss programs below 👇 (and dont give me the "this isnt about weight loss BS Weight Watchers.... your website is littered with weight loss "success" stories... from children as young as eight!) . . Programs like this create opportunity for intense preoccupation with food, body size and weight. . . 50% of folks using nutrition and fitness apps report feelings of guilt/shame, obsession and social isolation. We don't know what this might look like in a paediatric population.... WW KURBO is going to be unprecidented. . . Programs like KURBO designed to target childhood ob*sity through the promotion of energy expenditure or intake further reinforce the harmful and incorrect narrative that the size, shape and weigh of our body is a good and accurate representation of health status and wellbeing - and that deliberate effort and control of intake and expenditure will attain a body symbolic of health. . . This program is fat phobic AF. . . This style of "behaviour change" program HAS NOT been shown to change health behaviours (NOR WEIGHT) in the long term. . . Bottom line? Parents put your credit cards away and as @tastingabundance so eloquently put today "give a child space for them to be who they are." . . #haes #healthateverysize #sizediversity #healthcare #healthnotdiets #riotsnotdiets #antidiet #weightneutral #weightinclusive #fatpositive #nondietapproaches #bodyrespect #bodykindess #bodyposi #medicine #medical #weightstigma #mindful #intuitiveeating #nondiet #nutrition #nutritionist #dietitian #rd2b #haes_studentdoctor #medstudent #medschool #edrecovery

Weekly Roundup: Exercise Versus Alzheimer’s, a Transgender Athlete Study, and Run for the Toad Training Begins!

Working out can protect you from Alzheimer’s


I’m all about finding reasons to get moving that don’t have the underpinnings of diet culture attached—and research may have given us another one! Runner’s World and NewsMedical.net have both reported on a new study showing that getting your body moving even a little more each day can help prevent the buildup of plaque in the brain previously connected to Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers are looking into movement as a preventative treatment as well.
Check out the Runner’s World Article here.
Read about the research findings here.

Study launches to SEPARATE fact and fiction about transgender athletes

There’s a lot of bluster and misinformation being spread in the media about the so-called edge that transgender athletes (particularly female ones) have over their cisgender counterparts. The catch is just this: there haven’t been any large-scale definitive studies to prove the existence or nonexistence of such advantages.

Now, Canadian-born researcher Joanna Harper is set to lead a large study on transgender athletes, hopefully bringing today’s most heated debate in athletics truth over opinion. Read about the study on the Huffington Post.

“Until we have several of these larger-scale studies done worldwide, it’s hard to be truly definitive on anything.” - Joanna Harper, in interview with the CBC

Run for the Toad training begins!

Shameless self promotion: I’ve officially started training for my upcoming Run for the Toad 25K race coming up in October—and I’m writing some training blogs to keep track of the progress.

Read the first one here—where I’m a scarecrow made of sandbags, a mosquito pin cushion, and a true crime fan running alone in the woods.