Archive

Monthly Archives: April 2013
26

How to Walk a Half Marathon After Knee Surgery

By Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: Hi! I too am an identical twin and my sister and I both have run or walked ten half marathons apiece (not that we are competitive but I beat her every time!). Alas, I had to have a partial knee replacement in Aug 2012 and want to attempt a comeback by walking a half marathon in Nov. 2013. I am trying to find a workout schedule to follow that would incorporate the elliptical to help preserve my new knee. Any ideas?  And if I somehow manage to beat my twin even with my new knee (she still has her originals) I promise to give you most of the credit! Thanks so much…and nice to hear about other twins….those poor “singletons” do not know what they are missing 🙂  Beth, Washington D.C.

TwinsKymberly: Want to hear more coincidences besides being twins who are active? Both Alexandra and I have had knee surgeries that prevent us from running.  My middle name is Beth. AND I always beat my sis in races. Well, that last part is all theoretical since we don’t race. But you see where I am going. Now let’s get you going!

First, I want to give the disclaimers: check with your medical professionals to get clearance for such training. My sister and I are fitness pros, but not doctors, physical therapists or medical peeps. Fine print is now over.

My ideas for the elliptical are for you to train on it 2-3 times a week, especially the first few months as your knee adapts. Then be willing to work out on the treadmill and walk outdoors as well. Ultimately you have to walk outside for the event, so your training needs to mimic the the race as you draw closer to the race. If your knee can handle the cardio training, try to get in a total of 4 -5 cardio sessions per week. When on the elliptical, go retro every so often (that is, stride backwards). Also vary the elliptical resistance factor and stride length so you are not repeating the same stresses on your knee. On the treadmill, add incline and work in some 1 -2 minute intervals that push resistance, speed, and incline. And though you did not ask about other workout options, we definitely hope targeted strength training is part of your rehab and workout protocol.

I can. I did. I will again.

I can. I did. I will again.

Alexandra: While Kymberly sat home watching soccer on TV, I walked a half marathon a few months after foot surgery, so I can say that you and I are both AWESOME!  At first, I wasn’t allowed to put weight on my surgery foot, so I worked out on the rowing machine. If doing the treadmill or elliptical start to hurt, maybe try building up your cardio this way. I have to say that the rower made my butt ache after 10 minutes!

Once I was allowed to put weight on my foot (and could get it into my fitness shoes, ’cause it was swollen!), I spent a lot of time on the treadmill and elliptical. I started out with a 22-minute mile and had a 14-minute mile as my goal because that’s what Nike said I had to have. So I hope you’re a patient person who doesn’t push her luck, yet does push her limits. When my foot or hip would hurt (from the repetitive motion or overuse), I would put my hands on the machine and take some of the weight off my legs by using my arm strength. I hope you have strong arms!

As soon as I felt mentally ready to be outside, I switched from the machines to the hills near our house, as they mimic the actual marathon better than the machines. Are you ready to go outside? If you get nervous about pushing your new knee, just remind yourself that it feels sweet to beat your sister! Not that I’ve ever thought that way!

TreadmillKymberly: While we are apparently quite “awesome” and long time fitness pros, we are no time marathoners, so we went to colleagues of ours who specialize in this event. Personal Trainers Patricia Moeller and Pauline Geraci offer some specific workouts for you FREE! If you groove on what they suggest, go like them on their Facebook pages. Links included.

From Patricia Moeller: 2 summers ago I had knee surgery in April and ran a 1/2 road marathon in September. Once I got my quad strength and range of motion back I started building miles slowly. If my knee swelled up I knew I had run too far. I took many ice baths that summer. The following summer I was back training and racing trail marathons.
Do front squats first at an incline progressing to standing. Leg curls with bands & then on a machine. Lateral abduction with bands. 1 leg BOSU balancing. Calf raises. Treadmill walking sucks, but if you must, then an incline of 2% or greater will keep the pounding of the knee joint down. Strength train inside (before going outside to walk).
From Pauline Geraci: I am working with a client now who had knee surgery 9 months ago. I ditto Patricia Moeller as far as the exercises. I found this YouTube video to be most beneficial for quadricep facilitation: Church Pew Exercise. The other thing is mental! My client was still treating her knee like she just had surgery. She was afraid to let her knee be her new knee.

Readers: Who else has knee issues and what do you do to work around, through, and with them?

Photo credits: CreativeCommons.org –  jive turkey (twins)

You “kneed” to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness. Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please also follow us on google++Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.

 

8

Fun Fitness Solutions

Post by Emma Franklin – Fun Fitness Solutions

This is a post by Emma Franklin from The Training Room, a company in the United Kingdom that offers accredited personal training courses. Emma is from Manchester, England, and graduated from the London School of Economics. She has a British accent, which you can hear in your mind when you read the word “fancy.” A keen fitness enthusiast, she regularly represents Lancashire for badminton.

Kymberly PaddleboardingAs winter disappears and the sun makes an appearance, we start to dream about the summer holidays. Although the thought of summer can bring excitement and happy anticipation, some of us also get caught up in worrying about being “beach beautiful.” We’ve all been there. Not only do we want to feel our best, during summer in particular we want to look our best. Well, concern yourself no longer, as I’m here with some fun fitness solutions to get you ready for summer.

personal trainersPersonal Training

A great way to get into shape in time for your summer holiday adventures is to become a personal trainer. Taking you out of the office environment and learning a range of different skills, becoming a trainer is a fantastic means of avoiding the 9-5 humdrum of life whilst getting fit at the same time. Perfect for all ages and employment backgrounds, from graduates to single mothers, this career is ideal for those looking for a profession with a difference. Fancy helping others and yourself at the same time? Then personal training could be for you.

Salsa dancingSalsa Dancing

If changing your career to get fit doesn’t suit you, then why not opt for an exercise class instead? In particular, salsa dancing! If you’re a fan of busting a move on the dance floor, then why not make it a hobby and get your body beach-ready at the same time? It’s a great way to socialise and could just take an hour out of your weekly schedule; it’s completely up to you. There are plenty of salsa classes in most towns, so why not try one of them? You never know, you might discover that you have a hidden talent!

working out with a hula hoopHula hooping

Remember when you were little and had boundless energy? Well, why not try and recreate that by opting for exercises from your childhood? For instance, hula hooping. You may not realise this, but hula hooping can work wonders on abdominal muscles, and it’s good fun too! All that time you spent in the back garden having spinning competitions with your favourite hoop, you didn’t realise that you were secretly keeping those abs in check, did you? According to some experts hula hopping can burn as many calories as completing a step aerobics class. Choose weighted hoops as opposed to the thinner ones, and I guarantee you’ll notice a difference in no time.

We hope you’ll consider all three of these suggestions. As trainers and instructors ourselves, we love being part of an industry that gets to help others become healthier and happier. And staying “summer sexy” is a bonus! If only we could speak with an authentic British accent! 

What new activities are you considering for summer?

Photo credits: CreativeCommons.org Hula hooper  heathermiasays, salsa dancing  Saffron 59

Disclosure: We were compensated by Carat Media for this post. We are 100% supportive of exercise, personal training, 3rd party accredited courses for personal trainers, and companies that have the same vision and ethics as we do. Exercise for all, and all for exercise. Now get a-moving!

Dance or hoop your way over to these links —-> and subscribe to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness. Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please also follow us on google++Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.

25

Midlife Fitness and Health Lessons from My Dog

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Kila Evans, WP (Wonder Pooch)

Tips to a More Fit, Happier Life: Advice From a Dog

Best dog posing on tree stump

Top Dog Advisor to Boom Chicka Boomers

Dog lovers among you (including non-dog owners who love people who love dogs. Still with me?) — what words would you use to describe a dog you love? Enthusiastic? Loyal? Patient? Energetic? Cuddly? Optimistic? Aren’t these all great attributes that contribute to a healthy, happy, active you as well? Today, as I was walking my dog empty nest replacement, Kila I started thinking about how we humans could emulate a dog’s outlook to increase our Boom Chicka Boomer midlife quality.

Since I fashion myself as the ultimate dog and kitty whisperer (sorry, horses, but I am a little intimidated by you), I interpreted Kila’s daily thoughts to share. If we take her approach, we might just improve our fitness, health, and mood. Move over menopause; time for puppy paws!

Kila: Morning wake-up time? How exciting! This day looks like it’s going to be the Best One Ever!

I'm Outstanding in My Field!

I’m Outstanding in My Field!

Suggestion: Do a mood and energy check as you wake up. What thoughts go through your mind as you transition from sleep to wake; from lying down to rising to greet the day? I find that if I literally spring out of bed and go into another room, my day starts well and continues on that path. If I have my iPhone near my bed and start checking email, then the morning slips away from me while my mood shifts to feeling overwhelmed. With Kila’s approach, both my body and my mood get up and make for a better day!

Kila: Walk time? I love walks! Always something to see, smell, check out, and enjoy.

Suggestion: Walking, whether outdoors, at a local mall, or indoors on cardio equipment is an easy, no cost, comfortable way to add more activity into your day. Walking, powerwalking, dogwalking all lead to:

  • increased lifespan
  • improved cardiovascular health
  • weight loss
  • uplifted mood
  • enhanced mental acuity

Click on the links to learn more about how easy it is to reap the benefits of walking. Plus get some Fun Fit Facts and Stats you can use to impress yourself and others (when out taking a walk, hinty hint). Walk Your Way to Weight Loss, Health, and Fitness and Sneak in Stats When Walking Briskly for Calorie Burn.

Kila: I love to run! Go dog go! Or is that “go me go?” Every so often, I just gotta run my fastest and hardest even if just for a minute or two.

Run Forrest, Run (or is that Run, Beach, Run)

Run Forrest, Run (or is that Run, Beach, Run)

Suggestion: Follow Kila’s lead (get it?), and perform some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). HIIT is the most effective method for raising your metabolic rate and losing weight. In short, alternate your cardio workouts between high intensity, all out sprints lasting 20-120 seconds with active rest lasting 60 seconds to 5 minutes depending on your goals, fitness level, and intensity level of your sprint interval. Total HIIT cardio workout time lasts as short as 5 minutes or as long as 30. If you can go longer, then your high intensity intervals were not high enough and need to come up. Think of Kila or a dog you know who runs FULL OUT for a short burst, then reverts to a lope or trot. Kila calls this “bird chasing time” not HIIT and she’s one lean, fast, happy gal!

As for me, I am finally taking my own advice (check out our post: Crank Up Your Metabolism) and adding 15 minute HIIT workouts to my weekly routine starting three days’ ago. Knowing me, I have to schedule these bursts after teaching my group fitness classes otherwise I will procrastinate. Stay tuned to our posts to see whether these elliptical cardio add-ins start pulling off the midlife ell-bees I put on. (Thank you hormones!)

Kila: I love my sleep time. When I curl up on my bed I conk right out, sleep deeply for a little bit, then wake up ready to go dog go!

Dog doing push ups

Just whipping out a few Pawshups

Suggestion: Aim for 7-8 hours’ sleep per night. If you cannot manage that, then give yourself permission, time, and place to take a nap. Nappers and good sleepers tend to be more creative, have better memory and cognitive skills, and keep weight off more successfully than those who are sleep deprived. Even a 6 minute nap brings benefits. Read more about it by clicking Sleep Your Way to A Better Brain and Body. Does Kila ever feel guilty or ambivalent about taking a nap or two or thirteen each day? Nevah! Walk-run-eat-drink-poop-sleep-repeat.

Kila listening

I’m All Ears (and Nose)

Kila: I understand my people better if I focus solely on them when they talk to me.

Suggestion: Note to self — try this with the hubster, loved ones, friends, colleagues, and pretty much everyone I talk with today. I know I like it when I feel listened to with intent and attention.

Kila: If the cats want the food I left in my bowl, that’s ok with me. I ate the amount I wanted and am not hungry anymore.

Suggestion: If you are a member of the Clean Plate club, do not renew your dues. Stop eating slightly before you feel full. (Who else was raised with the phrase “Think of the poor children starving in China.”) If you are done eating, stop even if you still have food left. (If Kila is still hungry, she’ll clean your plate for you and skip her kibbly bits.)

Kila walking at Lake los Carneros

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink

Kila: Water is sooooo delicious and my “go to” drink.

Suggestion: Not soda, not lattes, not sugary “juice drink” which is not really juice. Water up first then look at other beneficial drink options.

Kila: Treats? I love treats, even the ones my guardians call healthy. (Sure wish they’d let me have some chocolate once in a while though. Something about it not being safe for me).

Suggestion: Forget guilt. If you’ve followed Kila’s “advice” you don’t need to berate or deny yourself that occasional treat to still be healthy, fit, and happy.

Kila: I love people; I love things that fly; I love other dogs that like to race; I love my guardians; I love letting them all know that I love them by licking them and running up to them with enthusiasm and excitement and adoration in my eyes.

Suggestion: How do you let the people you love know that every day? Words? Actions? (Probably best to skip licking and jumping up on your loved ones though). I can definitely learn from Kila in this area. (Love you family and friends reading this! Wagging tail as I type).

Kila: When called, I come.

Question: Who or What is calling you? Are you able to listen and follow that calling? If not, come walk with Kila and me. She’ll inspire you! ‘Nuff said. Or more accurately “Ruff,” my wonder pooch said.

I'm Outstanding in My Field

“Does this collar hide my neck wattle?” thought Kila never.

Dog on mountain boulders

I’m Dog of the Mountain!

Readers: If you like animals (and it is National Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month) then you might enjoy this fun and fit cat exercise post. Click the link purrfectly!: Animal Desire.

Hark and bark! It’s time to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness. Have you subscribed yet to our blog? (Are you waiting until it’s no longer National Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month?)  Please also follow us on google+ +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.

Please also share, RT, and comment. We’ll wag our tails for you out of appreciation and happiness!

11

Food and Recipes from Thailand and Natural Products Expo

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Do you like organic, fresh ingredients? Do you like to bake or cook? And please say you like Thai food.

Fruits of Thailand

Fruits of Thailand

In March we spent 3 days at the Natural Products Expo West, then went to Thailand for 3 weeks. We should just rename March as “Delicious Food Month.” We want you to have a delicious April, so we have some pictures and recipes of a few of the sweet dishes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thai coconut pancakes w/ veggies on top

Thai coconut pancakes w/ veggies on top

Coconut Pancakes (not the same as U.S. coconut pancakes)

2 cups coconut milk (we like Native Forest from Edward And Sons)
2 eggs (we can’t all shop at my son’s chicken coop, so we recommend Happy Egg Co. and Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs)
1 ½ cups rice flour
3 Tbsp. glutinous rice flour (available at Asian markets)
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
½ cup corn or green onion

Mix the flours, salt and powder. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, coconut milk and sugar. Pour the batter into the dry ingredients and whisk together. Heat a poffertje pan (also known as abelskiver pan to medium high, then add just a drop of oil to each depression. Pour in batter and drop a pinch of the veggies on the top of each pancake. Unlike poffertjes, Thai coconut pancakes do not get flipped. When the center looks cooked (they should be a bit soft), remove the pancakes using a chopstick.

* If you don’t have this type of pan, you can use a crepe pan and make these crepe-style.

Waiting for fresh coconut pancakes

Fresh coconut pancakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sticky Rice with Mango and Coconut Milk

Fresh sticky rice with mango and coconut milk - 40 baht (less than $2)

Fresh sticky rice with mango and coconut milk – 40 baht (less than $2)

1 cup sticky (glutinous) rice
1 cup coconut milk
1 mango cut into bite-size pieces

Don’t use a rice cooker, as the result won’t be quite right. You can use a steamer, but I’m going to share the quicker version using a microwave. Soak the rice in a glass bowl in warm water for 10 minutes. The water should come just over the rice. Cover and microwave for about 3 minutes. Stir fully and cook another 3 minutes. If it’s done, all the rice should be translucent. Pour ¾ cup of the milk over the rice and stir just to mix. Put the mango on top and pour the remaining ¼ cup over the top.

 

 

Coconut Crusted Peanuts with Kaffir Lime Leaves
We discovered this snack at a local market and became big fans. As we didn’t have a chance to get the recipe, we will turn you over to a wonderful version by chef Robert Danhi, a Beard nominee for his Asian cuisine cookbook.
 IMG_2313

 

 

 

Thai Iced Tea and Iced Coffee

Identical twins are NOT the same – Alexandra prefers vanilla; Kymberly, chocolate. And we both spent a lot of time taste-testing the Thai versions of iced tea (Kymberly) and iced coffee (Alexandra).
The tea is a combination of black spiced Thai tea, condensed milk, evaporated milk and sugar. We found out that the recipe changes as you travel around Thailand, but this is essentiallly it. As to the coffee, just switch out strong coffee for the tea, and eliminate the sugar! If you want to take the easy route, Taste Nirvana makes a bottled version of both, and they use coffee beans from Chiang Rai (we saw those for ourselves) and tea leaves from Chiang Mai (we went there too)!

We worked hard to find the best Thai iced tea and coffee

We worked hard to find the best Thai iced tea and coffee

 

 

 

 

Thai food

Thai food is enjoyable in many forms!

If we wrote about ALL the great food we found in Thailand or at the Natural Products Expo, this would be a book, not a blog post, so we’ll stop here for now.

Kob Kuhn Kah which means “thank you” in Thai (this is the female version, which we happen to be). Koh Hai Cha-roen Ar-harn – Enjoy your meal.

Show your good taste by subscribing to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above. Then go have some salt fish or shrimp in a leaf or a blue sweetpea drink. 

11

Pack Light and Right for Active Adventure Travel

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

NOTE: The FTC has issued new disclosure rules requiring bloggers to state any compensation for products or services mentioned in posts. Those disclosures must be close to any related links or comments, not just at the end of the post. While we have always disclosed any relationships with products we mention, we prefer to err on the side of too much information rather than too little. Therefore you will see embedded comments relative to any and all links to products and companies. Thank you for understanding.

Are you thinking of taking a trip that involves hiking, sightseeing, heat, or maybe a foreign country? Apparently such travel is big and getting bigger with baby boomers. Make your trip more comfortable, less stressful, more versatile, and less buggy with a few packing product suggestions from yours truly.

On our recent trip to Thailand via the Sierra Club we were told to pack light. We interpreted that also to mean “leave room to purchase handcrafted items to bring home after shopping abroad.” We also knew we are not the sorts to wear “special” travel pants that unzip at the knee and come in one bland color. Revoke our stylemonger status if we recommend calf high socks with tennis shoes and a worn out t-shirt. Two other factors affected what we brought with us: it would be hot and humid in Thailand and we’d be also helping our mom carry her suitcases. In the heat. Up and down stairs. Every day. So each item we added to our luggage underwent careful scrutiny.

So what did we bring that we recommend for your next healthy, active, good-looking trip?

My puffy feet got beat by the heat

Kymberly: Let me start with what I did not pack and wish I had: a supply of CocoaVia drink supplements for circulation. (While CocoaVia has gifted me three months’ supply of their product, they have not asked nor compensated me to write about them in this context). I had vanity-busting puffy feet and cankles from the time we landed in Bangkok until our return to LAX three weeks later.  Attractive for sure and probably due to the extreme heat and humidity, though that twin and genetically similar personage did not have similar circulation issues.

What I am still congratulating myself for bringing and using daily are my Overland backpack (super comfy straps, insulated, and a fun color to match the sherbet brights of Thailand) and my BlueFish water bottle carrier. (I have had both these items more than a year, which were given to me by the respective companies. Again, I was not asked nor compensated to write about nor pack these products).

Reclining Buddha and Kymberly on HOT HOT ground seeking Enlightenment and Shadows

Each day we’d load our main suitcases into the bowels of the bus and have available whatever was up top with us, Since many Buddhist temples require covered shoulders and hats off, it worked well to put my back-up shoulder scarf or shirt into the backpack along with snacks, the hat, lipstick and other items I wanted close by (No, not a personal A/C unit, though that might have fit). The little shoulder strap pouch from Bluefish had my money, water, cell phone and camera and went everywhere with me. Take a look at the photos to see that I really mean everywhere. The Overland backpack marked my bus spot some of the time and went along on our forays some others.

DSCI1884

Temple and palace time means covered shoulders. Ask Alexandra to tell you about that little motorized fan around her neck and the hair cut she gave herself. And, yup, that’s mom! Hi Mom!

Crossing borders in my Aventura top, Ahnu shoes, and with my Bluefish pouch. Styler or what??!!

IMG_2081

You’re trying to see my puffy cankles aren’t you?

The other three companies that came up big for me on our trip are Aventura, Zensah, and Ahnu. Aventura sent me two organic cotton, lightweight tank tops more than a year ago (again, not compensated to write about them now, though we did get the shirts free initially. I bought the third one as I liked them so well). They were perfect for the jungle, city, bus, restaurants, and markets as they washed well, dried overnight, and took up little space in my suitcase. I like to flatter myself that they also looked good on. The black sports bra under my shirt is from Zensah as were the minimalist ankle socks I brought to hike in. (Zensah sent me the socks and sports bra several months ago to try out. Again, I was not asked nor compensated additionally to post about them here). Take a tip from me, those of you with cleavage — underwire bras in the heat and humidity can really chafe. I was so glad to have a soft, seamless support top to rely on, especially for the three hour trek in the bamboo forest and on the interminable Leech Hike (click the link if you missed that story). The socks were also ideal for travel. For one, they stretched out to fit those puffed up feet I mentioned.

As for the Ahnu shoes, they were an inspired choice to pack: lightweight, good on land and in water, super comfy, and covered at the toe for protection though open along the sides for air. I bought the blue Ahnus a while back for beachwalking. Aaaaand, Alexandra and I came home to free shoes from Ahnu to try out as well. More on the new pair in a future (disclosed) post. I definitely recommend such a shoe for this kind of travel.

-5

 

 

 

 

 

Alexandra: Oh, crap, I forgot all about that haircut. Yeah, well, our local tour guide gave us battery-powered fans to help us feel like it was only 97 instead of 100. I was dinking around at the Summer Palace with my fan and got it tangled up in my hair. Er, it was not possible to untangle it. I’m a princess, so I tried to save each and every strand. When that didn’t appear to be working, Kymberly came along and cut the fan off my hair. Those were my favorite 10 strands! Truly, I cannot be trusted near most appliances!

Moving on…. I don’t like mosquitos. I dislike leeches more, but that’s no endorsement of skeeters! Right before leaving for Thailand we attended the Natural Products Expo West, where we found Purple Frog Patches. The company is so new, it doesn’t even have a completed website, but I loved the patches because they DID keep away the mosquitos and they are DEET-free. They are like scratch and sniff pads, and you stick them on yourself. They have citronella and eucalyptus. I hope these patches become available, because I feel certain you’d love them too.

Purple Frog Mosquito Repellent

Patch me up, Froggy!

From our other posts about Thailand, you’ve probably discerned that I don’t like to be uncomfortable or interact too closely with nature. I also whined when the hot water didn’t work for 5 of the trip nights. You can add a dislike of sunburn to the list. Did I mention that I love my hair and am mad at my fan? Another product that we got at Expo West (in our press gift bags) was Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen. It’s totally free of weird stuff that’s hard to spell (i.e., phthalates) and is full of really good stuff (click the link, as it’s quite an impressive list). I don’t mind if this sounds like an ad (I’m paid nothing for saying this), but it did 4 things I care about – blocked the sun, looked good on me, felt good on my face, and matched my ingredient values.

I also wore my Aventura red capris (they can be rolled up & buttoned just below the knee), plus my Headsweats cap a LOT (I was sent the hat about a year ago). Both wash and dry fairly quickly. You might not think of this while packing so I’ll share my discovery – the hat has a Velcro adjustable closure in back, which meant I could take it off and easily attach it to my backpack or pants loop whenever I went indoors. It’s so easy to lose hats, but I never did. I hope this is a helpful tip for you. Oh, besides keeping the sun off me, the hat kept the sweat out of my eyes and prevented leeches from dropping into my hair. Bonus!

See how my Headsweats cap keeps me covered and dry? P.S. Way cool waterfall too!

See how my Headsweats cap keeps me covered and dry? P.S. Way cool waterfall too!

IMG_2147

Having an adventure in my Aventura pants (or just being goofy)

DSCI2233

Got my hat, shades, backpack and guide while hiking to the summit of Doi Inthanon. And lipstick!

The final item that I found invaluable was the insulated backpack that Alpina gave me at their test kitchen (they were introducing their Greek yogurt & granola pairings) during Expo West (no compensation or expectations involved). It was small enough to use as a daypack, and the insulation kept my water from getting hot. I left my purse at home in favor of the Alpina pack.

We hope these suggestions help you plan your next trip or hike. Having the right items can make all the difference when traveling. P.S. I don’t recommend the battery fan – better to get a hand fan for a dollar and wave it at yourself non-stop.

Whew, are you exhausted now? How about a nice cup of coffee from the Royal Projects at Doi Inthanon? The hand-grinder will totally give you a workout. Trust me on that!

DSCI2217

I’m smiling because I didn’t embarrass myself when I volunteered to attempt the heavy coffee grinder.

Gift yourself by subscribing to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above. Then go pack your lipstick so you’ll always look fresh in travel photos, no matter how sweaty you are. 

37

Hiking with the Leeches and Wildlife in Thailand

Travel to Thailand? You bet! Then we got to the jungle.

Both of us managed to set records on our first big hike in Thailand. Unfortunately.

Rocking the leech gaiters!

Rocking the leech gaiters!

It all started with what we thought was a 70 baht ($2.20) joke perpetrated on unsuspecting tourists. “Buy the leech socks from the Khao Yai National Park gift shop before you venture into the jungle,” advised our tour guide. Uh huh – good way to raise a little money, we thought.  But we dutifully bought them just in case.

Alexandra’s perspective: First off, let me say that I loved Thailand. Khao Yai National Park is beautiful. At this park we saw monkeys, an elephant and deer.

Wildlife, as opposed to vampiric, blood-sucking leeches, at Khao Yai

Wildlife, as opposed to vampiric, blood-sucking leeches, at Khao Yai

See how sweet and innocent they look? Exactly. It’s the tiny leech that’ll get you. It’s the Gollum of the jungle world. Nasssssty. We loved all our hikes in Thailand except this one! When the park ranger showed up in leech gaiters to lead our group, we knew it was no joke. We were nervous, but not anxious. That changed about 10 feet into the jungle when we saw leeches all over the wet ground, lurking and stalking us! Over the course of several hours and 8 kilometers, Kymberly won the leech count championship – she pulled 28 of them off her gaiters! Winning was not her goal. I “only” pulled 7 off me, but one was partially embedded on my wrist, sucking my AB+ blood by the gallons! I managed to stay calm while Kymberly scraped it off using my credit card (yes, I brought it along; they said knives and credit cards worked on leeches), but I’m pretty sure I hyperventilated for a while.

For the record, we did a lot of truly enjoyable hikes during our trip. I would happily repeat any of the other ones. For this particular hike, I think I’ll enjoy nature via a documentary or museum next time. P.S. Our guide (his name was Not) laughed at me and my whimpering ways! We definitely hope you get to travel to Thailand. And we’d go back. With our gaiters on.

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I used my magic scraping stick to remove 28 leeches

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Should I wade through a leech-infested river or not? Do I actually have a choice?

The only good part of the hike - getting to the observation tower! Travel to Thailand

The best part of the hike – making it out of the jungle to the grassland and getting to the observation tower!

Thai People Make Travel to Thailand Memorable

Kymberly’s perspective: First off, the Thais are very honest and generous so we were way off base thinking they wanted our 70 baht for any reason but leech protection.  By the way, anyone want to buy a used pair of lifesaving sock gaiters? Only 80 baht.

Secondly, keep in mind that this jungle trek was designed as a wildlife viewing adventure. Once underway we saw a butterfly and lizard. The monkeys, deer, and elephant were along the road before and after our dangerous race through the leech death traps. Temperature – an oppressing 97 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity – high. Visibility – well the leeches could see us, and we saw them, but only once they were on us. Topography – up slope the first 4 kilometers, over hill and dale, through thick greenery, and across a stream. Sweaty, pretty, and a great work out. But not exactly relaxing or fun except for the part where Alexandra and I kept telling each other that we’d laugh about this one day. Or post about it at least. Ha ha ha ha pant pant puff puff glug water glug screeeeeaaam! Or as Alexandra pointed out, we should have stayed back at the Visitor’s Center and walked up and down the road to maximize wildlife viewing.

What Triggers Leeches to Fall on You?

And when I spotted the embedded leech on Alexandra, I felt particularly bad for her. Though she is one great hiker and a good sport, she is no nature girl. She and one other woman were the only two to have leeches suck on them. Overachiever! She did stay perfectly still when I told her “don’t panic, but….”  If you wonder why I am wearing a long-sleeved shirt with my hood pulled up, it’s simply a survival tactic. Apparently Thailand leeches climb, crawl, drop, and brush off on you.  I thought they were attracted to me because of the red Vasque Velocity trail shoes I had on or my scent. Turns out they are triggered by vibration. Clap clap to that!

Moral to this story: Venture on all the hikes that come your way in life and travels. For sure travel to Thailand. Unless high muslin socks are recommended. Cuz’ leeches really suck!

Am I safe from leeches this high up? Travel to Thailand

Are we safe from leeches this high up?

The leech that attacked Alexandra (as described by her) Travel to Thailand

The leech that attacked Alexandra (as described by her)

What a Thai leech really looks like (before it sucks you dry)

What a Thai leech really looks like (before it sucks you dry)

 

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Photo credits: Leech – Flickr. All others are by us.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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15

Easy Tips to Stay Active While Traveling: Climb Stairs, Hike Paths, Sweat a Lot

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Stairs in the heatTraveling boomers on a bus. Could make your fitness plans go bust. If you sit on your butt. So don’t be a nut. Hike if you must. Climb if you can. Cross that bridge and make a plan. To move when you can. It can be done. And be lots of fun. We advise this plan for everyone.

During our recent trip to Thailand (courtesy of our mom – Thanks mom!), we had a lot of “sit on the bus” time, plus lots of “stand in the heat while we describe this wat (temple) or park to you.” It would have been easy to get out of the movement habit. It would have been even harder if we had not already been active beforehand.

Whether you need motivation to improve your conditioning in anticipation of travel or simply want to enjoy some pics and group tour tips, take a look at the following:

1) When you have 15 minutes to wait for the group to gather, go for a quick hike in the vicinity, even if it’s just around the back of the building. We took a short trail that circled around the back of the visitor center at Khao Yai National Park. Yippee Khao Yai, Yippee Khao Yai!

View from Temple Top2) If you are visiting any building or ruins with stairs, climb them. You’ll have a great view of everything, including your friends who stayed below. And your pictures will be more fun, even though your descent might be a bit nerve-wracking (we had to hold onto the rails all the way down for a few of the very steep wat steps).Ayuttaya wat steps

 

 

3) Jump on the suspension bridges. You’ll almost immediately get the entire bridge to yourself!

Kymberly on Khao Yai bridge

4) Go to the top of observation towers and observe. Besides, it’s a great spot from which to make bird calls that fake out your fellow travelers.

The Outlook Tower Leech Hike

5) Faced with a steep hill? Go up it. At some point, there HAS to be a downhill part. Don’t believe us? Listen to Blood, Sweat, and Tears sing “Spinning Wheel.” Sweat with us since what goes up, must come down!

1 km straight up

6) If you travel when it’s really hot, you’ll be drenched no matter what, so you might as well have a contest to see who can create the sweatiest shirt.

Hiking makes you sweaty

7) Travel with someone who will be active with you, and encourage you to climb the 209 steps to the waterfall (yes, we counted).

Heo Narok Waterfall

8) Plank on top of a mountain ridgetop viewing deck. This might have been one of our more daring actions.

Kymberly planks all

9) Relax at some point. Active boomers know when to take a break.

Meditating after Sukhothai hike

Our trip had 3 huge, delicious meals a day, so we knew that if we didn’t find ways to move, we’d come home out of shape and out of our clothes. No matter what activities you manage to find while traveling, take pictures. They are a good reminder of your go-getter attitude.

What ways do you incorporate movement into your travels?

Group shot from village trek -

Outlook Tower

200 steps to the Waterfall

Holding up the stairs

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Sukhothai wat

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Up for 1 kilometre

Stairs to Buddha - Kymberly

Make your fingers do some walking as you subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above. Then go fly a kite. Or climb a hill. 

Photo Credits: Alexandra and Kymberly