Alexandra: Why would I faint? I’m not the one who overdid it! I only go for walks on surfaces that are FLAT. Why would I want to sweat during my nice walk? If you want to get rid of stiffness, have your muscles practice public speaking. Or learn to become a better stretcher! Or ask to be carried down those hills on one! And what do you mean by “really hilly?” Is that a reference to a television reality show in which everyone must fend for themselves in a mountainous region (I define “mountainous” as anything rising above sea level)?
Kymberly: Well, as you probably noticed, we did not get the huge bribe gift for getting to your question via the super express rush deluxe insta-answer service. So let’s answer as if you were going to hike the hills again and wonder what to do next time. Hope you survived in the meantime.
Alexandra: Miss Lizzie, when you walk downhill, your shin muscles (let’s call them Aunty Tibby – formal name is anterior tibialis) lengthen and your calves (let’s call them Bessie & Bossy – formal names are gastrocnemius & soleus) shorten. Shorten is nature’s way of saying “contract.” If you had gone for a flat, or even mildly hilly walk, your bleating calves wouldn’t be crying so much for Mama. But you have admitted, under no oath whatsoever, that your walk was “very hilly.” For the record, I too go for really long walks. I call it “going outside and getting lost, then accosting strangers to ask for a ride home.” Your brain said, “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day,” while your calves said, “shorten, lengthen, shorten, lengthen.” See how stiff your calves are in conversation?
Kymberly: Concerning stretching, Alexandra is onto something. Post walking, stretch your calves and imagination by holding a position whereby your toes are higher than your ankle. aka dorsiflexion. Hold it, hold it, hold it. Now switch legs. To make this successfully simple, Try the three calf stretches we show in our post, Prevent Shin Splints: 3 Calf Stretches.
Next, pay attention to your foot action as you go uphill. Did you bend at the ankle getting your heel to the ground with each stride? Good form going uphill means keeping your body vertical and accounting for the hill angle at the ankle joint by allowing your heel to make contact with the ground with each step. Pick that answer. Or did you basically head uphill on the balls of your feet, bending forward from the hip or spine, and having your heel hanging in space? If so, your calves were in contraction throughout the walk and transforming into steers of steel. No bull. And no wonder they are bellowing. (Check out “Proper Form for Uphill Walking” here).
To make this super simple: walk, walk, stretch, drink water, head home, sleep my pretty, sleep, wake, walk again until warm, stretch, call us in the morning. With that gift.
Alexandra: Kymberly is right; I am fresh. And onto something. Known as my stretched butt. DOMS – Don’t Offer Money to Sis.
Dear Readers: Have you ever experienced muscle soreness? What did you do about it? What do you wish DOMS stood for?
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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
A year ago I took a photography class at Santa Barbara City College. This month I won two separate small photo awards. No money or worldwide acclaim (or any acclaim, actually), but quite a boost to my self-esteem.
From last year to this has been quite a change, hasn’t it? Most of the past year was terrible, due to medical family issues that led to me being in charge of two people, but some of it was enjoyable and fulfilling because I took my camera with me everywhere I went.
As a fitness pro, much of my writing and advice is geared toward the physical aspect of fitness, yet I also have my MA in systemic counseling because I find emotional fitness to be just as important and deserving of attention.
Technically, I’m at the beginning stages of my photo skills. I only last month learned how to use an external flash so I could start taking pictures at night. But that isn’t as important as the feeling I get from seeing myself as a photographer.
At the age of 26 (I actually remember the specific moment), I decided to become a more optimistic person. I had always had a low opinion of myself, especially my looks, yet when I look back at photos of my younger self, I don’t understand how I could have been so hard on myself.
I researched the ways that CHOOSING how to view events shapes our health. It seems obvious, yet it really is true that where you focus is how you see the world. For example, if one bad thing happens in the day, do you think, “What a bad day,” or do you think, “What a bad PART of my day?”
The young me wouldn’t have taken up photography because I would have been afraid to fail at it. Words have always been my comfort zone, not pictures. But the middle-aged me didn’t mind being uncomfortable because I had a bigger goal – do something that might be fun, would be just mine, and could possibly help improve our blog. Instead of focusing on the fact that I was one of the oldest people in the class, or that many of the students knew how to use a DSLR (I didn’t even know what DSLR meant), or even that I had no idea whether my photos were good or terrible, I chose to focus on the fact that I was doing something that was mine, all mine.
For countless hours over the past year, I walked around taking pictures while waiting to give rides to family members who had doctor, therapy, job, rehab, school and all other manner of appointments. And I have gotten better from the practice. Not just better as a photographer, but better in a “zen” way. Having something that’s just mine, and some time that’s just mine is so important. Even more so during times of prolonged stress. Passive activities such as watching TV or reading a book don’t give me the same feeling of accomplishing or creating something tangible.
Oh, as to the two photos that were noticed, the shopping cart was taken with my Canon, while the stairs at Hendry’s Beach was my iPhone. And the photo of me wearing my Tamrac Anvil photo gear backpack was taken by my photo professor Say Dempsay. See how she knows how to use lighting perfectly? I’m working on that. I want to give a shoutout to Tamrac because they were the first photo brand to recognize me as a professional photographer (I have my photos for sale in Alamy Stockhouse, FYI). I will stick with Tamrac because they valued my photo skills enough to send me the Anvil backpack for all my gear (including the zoom and macro lenses on my Christmas wish list).
by Alexandra Williams, MA
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Brush your teeth before sitting down to watch a TV show. You’ll be less likely to eat those high-calorie, no nutritional benefit snacks.
Write out your grocery list, then stick to it. If marshmallow caramel chocolate double-dipped snack-a-doodles aren’t on your list, they don’t go in the basket. You can’t eat what isn’t in the house.
Whenever you have to wait for someone (a child at school, spouse at an appointment, friend at the movies), walk while you wait instead of sitting. If you have to stay in one place, then stand and move about the room (or fidget). If it’s a 10-minute appointment, go for a 10-minute walk. You’d be amazed at the number of steps you can add to your day just by NOT sitting.
Buy foods in bulk. If your rice is in a 5-pound bag, then you are lifting a 5-pound weight when you carry it. Do a few bicep curls before you use up all the rice! You don’t need fancy weights to work out. An overhead press with a 5-pound bag of flour works… and leaves you with a nice powdery dusting in your hair.
1. Get up during tv commercials and either walk or jog in place or grab a broom and sweep the floor. Yup, do a chore; it’s not a bore; you can reap more… when you move during ads.
2. Set a timer to remind you to stand up and walk at least 100 steps every 20-30 minutes. Takes just 2 minutes and prevents the physical and mental atrophy that comes with sitting too long at a stretch.
3. Meditate to relieve stress, increase cognitive skills, enhance compassion, reduce blood pressure, and send more blood and oxygen to your brain. Take advantage of free phone apps to build in a 5-8 minute meditation. Longer is great; but even a short meditation session will bring benefits. For suggestions on apps you can download, click to our post Meditation, Menopause, and Memory.
4. Repeat Yourself Yourself. When you go to sit down, sit, then stand, then sit. Then when you are ready to get up again (see my second tip), stand, then sit down, then stand and go! Congrats! You have just completed two squats. If you repeat this down-up-down up-down-up pattern a few times a day, you’ll have easily and quickly worked in a full squat set. Hello easy lower body strengthener!
5. Swap out your computer, office, or tv watching chair for a stability ball. At least you will get some core activation while sitting. Takes fewer than 10 minutes to switch the chair for the ball, but you’ll reap the rewards the entire time you are on the ball. Yes, get on the ball people!
Action: Reading and exercising make you smarter, which also leads to brain health, right? So subscribe to our twice-weekly posts. They’ll get you all smartened up. And first crack at our upcoming Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50 program.
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
So this post is about some of the things I’ve recently done that make life easier and more enjoyable. And yes, much happier and healthier. See if any of these resonate with you.
Attend ShiftCon – This social media conference focuses on wellness, health, and the environment. Bloggers, brands and non-governmental organizations come together to share information about living our values through our food, skin care, household products, activism, and how we treat the environment. Keep a particular eye out for Orgain, Thrive Market, and Stonyfield Organics. They are game-changing companies.
I support organic, non-GMO, labelled products. I want to know what I’m eating and putting on and in my body. Eighteen years ago I had to learn to cook from scratch and read labels due to my son’s allergies and delays, and his health is extremely important to me. Being unaware is an excuse, not an explanation, so I like to stay aware. And I know that my money is my vote.
Visit My Hometown – ShiftCon was held in Manhattan Beach, which is next to Hermosa Beach, where I grew up. So I spent some time walking and taking pictures. In some ways the visits back to Hermosa make me sad, and I’m not sure why, yet overall I feel at peace and can focus on the arc of my life. I don’t want to move back there, but I sure do love the emotional attachment, history, and memories.
Move Into Downtown Santa Barbara – For the past ten years, we’ve lived at the top of a mountain, with driving being the only travel option. Taking all the other chores out of the equation (and they are overwhelming on their own), just the chauffeuring was taking up hours and hours of my time, as I was the only driver in the house. Now my younger son and I are living in a place where he can walk or take the bus (he is blind at night, so I’ll be doing some driving, which is way better than constant driving).
Since I’m not driving as much, I’m using the time to pick up more writing and social media jobs. And put more of my photos up for sale. Feel free to hire me. I’m very good. The cat is all settled in (no more barfing or peeing on my bed), and the dog is now here too.
Block Out People Who Add Stress – If you get into a situation where you are the caretaker for someone, shed yourself of the idea that you have to answer to anyone except those who are directly impacted. Heck, even if you’re not a caretaker, do this. Opinions are stressful; solutions are helpful. Answer every inappropriate or judgmental question with “May I tell you how you can be helpful?” That usually works.
If I had tried to solve all my big problems over the past year, I would have been stuck because I was too overwhelmed. So I am solving one thing at a time. I cannot help others if I don’t stay healthy and happy. The martyr thing is overmarketed. Now, who wants to come over and help me plant hedges and a garden?
What do you do to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and happy?
by Alexandra Williams, MA
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Active Aging: Making frequent small choices that enable you to move as freely as possible throughout your world.
Say what?! Well, I could have said “Move a lot and exercise,” but it’s not really that. Besides, that sounds like one or two choices per day. The truth is that it is NOT so much the choice to go to an exercise class or do an activity that works up a sweat. It is the repeated small choices we make every day.
I’ll give you an example that illustrates the “Use it or Lose it” principle. I was at an event this past weekend where we had access to a pool, which was at the bottom of a hill. After swimming, we had lunch at the top of the hill. It was very hot, so the 3-minute walk up and down the hill wasn’t fun. A ride was provided for those who didn’t want to walk. Nearly everyone took the ride, saying they didn’t like to walk uphill. That was a choice. Yet if we play this out, look what happens:
Many older people we know (and a few younger ones too, sadly) are no longer able to walk at all, due entirely to the many small choices they made over the years to NOT move. They didn’t use their legs, so they lost the ability to use their legs. They aged inactively.
What do you think might have happened if they had chosen the stairs instead of the elevator? Those were repeated, small choices. What if they had gone for a 10-minute walk around the block while waiting for their loved one to come out from an appointment or school? What if they had gone in the pool with their kids instead of sitting on the chaise longue? Or stood up to change the TV channel instead of using the remote control? All small choices that lead to active aging.
You don’t need to get sweaty and exhausted. You don’t need to climb a steep hill … today. You just need to make small, incremental choices every single day that lead you toward doing the things you want to do five, ten and twenty years from now. What you don’t use, you’ll lose. Once you’re in the habit of walking, you’ll find that sitting for long periods of time is actually physically uncomfortable. And you want that. You want to be more comfortable moving than not moving.
This is my plea to you – Make small choices
And this is my wish for you – Live a long, active, healthy, enjoyable life that ends abruptly, not slowly
by Alexandra Williams, MA
What are some of the small choices you make every day that lead you toward or away from activity? What do you want to be doing when you’re 65, 75, 85, 95?
Make one small choice right now and subscribe to our fantabulous posts by entering your email right over there to the right.———> They will magically arrive in your inbox two times per week. Also, subscribe to me, AlexandraFunFit on Periscope, and watch my amazing travel and fitness scopes (videos).
Three decades and thirty “added bonus” pounds ago, I had good knees. And a waistline. (But no adorable hubster or beloved daughter, so age and time have their benefits!) Then came a soccer mishap, two knee surgeries, extreme knee osteoarthritis, and a mid-workout, in class torn menisci injury – my first slap me down, make me hollah, painful accident after 35 years’ of teaching group fitness.
What midlife lady twin personage of non-royal lineage wants painful joints and limited activity, I ask you? Not I! But having to accept and deal with physical changes is part of aging actively. Well, of aging in any way. Grrrrrr to that but better than the alternative.
Have you also found yourself dropping or reducing exercises or movements you once loved because your joints are on a different program? One that kinda hurts and limits you? Me too. In fact, you can read about my famous, unruly knees by reading this personal knee post and this one on what I tried before surgery. You may see some solutions if your joints are anything like mine. Just come back here to find out my GOOD news!
Anyway, the torn menisci adventure and inevitable surgery was six months ago. (Cute doctor, by the way and also a baby boomer.) After teaching step classes since hair was big and Prince’s song “1999” was sooo futuristic, I was put on the layaway plan. Stop for now or pay later. Half a year of no beloved step workouts. Yes, I would miss the exercise; yes, I would miss my step class participants; yes, I would feel discouraged and “olderish” as the weeks then months went by with no miraculous knee recovery. You know what I mean? — the whole identity questioning thing: “But I’ve always been a group fitness leader and go-getter, not a recovering injured person. Whine whine rail and moan!”
Fortunately two months post surgery I was cleared to teach my other classes that did not involve level changes and repeated ups and downs. Yay to teaching “Forever Fit” workouts and to walking daily and taking up outrigger paddling (Extra Extra Read all about it here) . Still no step. Sad and worried face.
But guess what??!! As of this week, I am officially cleared to get back on that step and rock the cues and cardio choreography!! Not that I plan to be stoopid or anything. Both the arthritis/soccer knee and the torn menisci knee still talk to me. With an accent that sounds like it’s from the isle of Crete in Greece. You know, the Creak accent. My knees no longer speak Rushin’ which is too bad, though happily they don’t speak Finnish. Ahha I did not say my jokes underwent rehab.
Speaking of rehab, I totally believe in it, did it, advocate it. If you have knee issues that are causing you pain or limiting your life consider one of the programs I followed in conjunction with rehab: Fix My Knee Pain. Cut to the commercial. You’ll want to check this program out if you desire more cooperative joints. The expert, Rick Kaselj is a colleague, whose presentations my sister and I have personally attended. Would you rather spend a fortune and waste painful years trying to ignore your knee pain? Um, that was my approach, by the way. It didn’t really work. Read about that misadventure here: Just Say No … Didn’t Work. Or are you going to use some of your hard earned wisdom and invest in yourself and joint comfort? Do yourself a favor and at least click the link to find out what the Fix My Knee Pain videos and exercises can do for you.
Back to our regularly scheduled program — soooo, after weeks of easing my way into half classes, slower paced, platform only, no risers, not on the stage myself, step-a-licious workouts, I will officially be teaching again, on schedule, with my name listed, and the mic at my lips, calling the step cues. With no plyo moves or heavy twists or turns. I did mention “hard earned wisdom” and “not being stoopid.” Time to rock the step with confidence and hope that my knees will at least not get worse. Hold the line, as Toto tells us. Cue fun music. I am going with the DreamGirls song “Step On Over,” NOT the other one in that musical “Steppin’ to the Bad Side.”
Time to find out whether the surgery, months off, Fix MyKnee program, rehab, deep tissue massage, various supplements, ice, and reworking of my gait patterns will be enough. Stay tuned. (I was talking to my knees just then. While patting them nicely).
Step, step, step to my Lou. You too! See you there, pain free!
By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Readers: Can you name the songs I am spoofing in two of the above subtitles? Do tell! Or if you prefer to do something else, then check out the Fix My Knee program. Sure, my sis and I are affiliates for it, but that’s because we know it can help.
Our friend and colleague, Debbie is a personal trainer, group exercise instructor, fitness club director, running coach, and repeat dog rescuer, who blogs over at Coach Debbie Runs. She isn’t quite as tough as this post makes her sound. She has been working with a mature population for many years and understands how to lure exercise haters into a healthier lifestyle. She hopes you will check out her blog for inspiration, training programs, and tips on living a plant based, active lifestyle.
By Debbie Woodruff
I didn’t become a personal trainer for the huge amount of money I could make. Nor for the glory and fame that I could achieve. Nope, I became a personal trainer because I believe in health and fitness. Our lives are much better when we exercise.
Which is good because there hasn’t been a much fame, glory, or money involved. But I do know I’ve made a difference in a few lives, so that’s a pretty good trade-off.
However, I have grown pretty tired of hearing one comment, not just from clients, but from non-exercisers in general. Various people who come to the gym, friends of clients, even other bloggers will walk in, look disdainfully around at the equipment, the members sweating, the trainers training, and say, “I hate to exercise.”
As a trainer, I used to consider this a challenge. I envisioned working with these people, creating a program for them, finding something that they do enjoy, and they would become lifelong exercisers. Happy ending! Barring that, I could at least make them like me enough to enjoy the time we spent together training.
The problem with the former plan is that it rarely happens. Exercise haters stick to a program for a while, whine and complain a lot, begin to find excuses, then disappear from the face of the gym forever. Or at least until it is time for next year’s new year’s resolutions.
The latter solution isn’t perfect either. A large segment of the population can’t or won’t hire a personal trainer, so I’m missing a large part of the target audience. While I do have a few clients who train with me because they enjoy my company, they would rather chat than work out. And they are terrible at adhering to the other parts of an exercise program normally done on one’s own, like cardio, proper nutrition, and lifestyle changes.
I’m tired of sugarcoating exercise, of trying to make everyone happy, of spending my valuable time convincing exercise haters to enjoy doing something that will make them live longer, feel better, play stronger, and generally have a better life. So, to that end my new mantra is…
Whoever said that everything that you do in life had to be fun? We, all of us, do many things daily that we don’t really enjoy. Do you like brushing your teeth? Cleaning the litter box? Washing the dishes? Vacuuming? Do you do it? Yes, because not to do it would leave you in a very dirty place.
Even if you enjoy your job, you don’t always like it. But you do it because, you know, you need to eat. You clean your house, mow your lawn, help your kid with homework you may not understand yourself. Fun? Not really.
You do all of these things because you have to, need to, are compelled to, whatever. For the most part, you don’t do them because you like them. You may even hate them.
If you spend a half hour three days a week weight training, or some other form of strength building exercise, and take a little time for a walk most days of the week, you can receive benefits way beyond having a clean litter box. You can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. You can reduce your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. You can reduce the pain of many joint diseases, improve your posture and balance, and general overall health. You will feel better. You will look better.
All of this for only two or three hours a week. Many people spend that much time a night watching television.
So suck it up, buttercup. Just get out there and exercise. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like it. You need it. It’s important. There are many resources available if you are new to exercise and need a little help getting started. You can contact me if you have question, either in the comments below, here on Kymberly and Alexandra’s Fun and Fit blog. Or run over to my contact page.
Who knows. You might even begin to like working out. A little.
Readers: Is there an exercise mode you HATE? Which do you love (or at least tolerate?) We hope Debbie’s post has inspired you to get moving. You can start by subscribing to our site or by checking out Debbie’s. Toodle oo for now!
I know many people who love to practice yoga, as they find it to be a calming, centering activity that relaxes their mind AND body. I’m not one of those people. When I try to do yoga, my mind just wanders and I notice all the parts of my body that hurt. So yoga is definitely NOT relaxing for me.
For others, reading is a release and escape. For most of my life, I was the same, as I’ve loved to read ever since I was three. But now I just feel guilty if I read anything except professional research or nonfiction, as I have so many things I HAVE to read before I can pull out something I enjoy (or so my massive guilt hormone would have me believe).
Just as many people like to combine their foods, I like to combine my activities. That seems to quiet the guilt hormone beast that lurks somewhere behind my sweaty-mascara right eye. So I combine action with relaxation by walking. And baking. And taking pictures. But not of my baking because my photo skills aren’t yet good enough to make me feel warm and self-satisfied inside. Only a piece of homemade sourdough bread can do that.
Almost every day I walk. With the dog. Or alone. With my camera. Whether it’s a short 20-minute visit to our nearby meadow, or a 6-mile hike with a friend once a month, I always come back from my walks in a composed, steady state. I like ticking off the benefits:
* reduced stress
* completed most of my 10K daily steps
* created a happy dog
* focused mind
* shot some great (I have self-confidence) photos
* communed with nature (though I have strong opinions about bugs touching me)
* escaped (temporarily) the demands on me
* maintained my weight and fitness levels
What about you? Do you find it relaxing to combine activities? Are you able to appreciate yoga or meditation? Do you feel guilty about taking time to relax? And what do you do to relax? Do tell. I might add your idea to my list.
by Alexandra Williams, MA
Whether it’s the feeling of being at one with nature, the smells, the sounds, the feeling of being a small part of a big world, or just escaping from the “grind” for a few minutes, a walk outside is a mood improver. Go dopamines, go. Swim with the endorphins.
Think how calm and peaceful you feel walking in a misty fog, or how centering it is to be out alone at dawn or dusk. Have you ever walked in the rain and inhaled the smell of the earth and water? Have you stormed out of the house in a bad mood, only to return refreshed and recovered after a walk around the block to “cool off?”
When we were kids (5 kids, to be specific), my mom would make us go outside whenever we’d start to fight with each other. She’d also tell us to take a walk around the block (which only had 3 houses on it) when we were upset or sad. Somehow she intuitively knew the power of a walk outside. Or she just wanted us out of her hair. Or both.
In any case, I’m fortunate because I live in Santa Barbara, where almost every walk has a gorgeous view. So even though I know an indoor treadmill will give me lots of fitness and health benefits, I will never give up my outdoor walks. Because they give me mental health benefits. And a chance to set aside my responsibilities for a while.
Read my sister’s post about 3 Ways to Work Out Naturally. You’ll understand why “nature” is the root of “naturally.” You’ll also find out why I asked about the blue sea and sky.
Alexandra Williams, MA
So many times, we’ll put sunblock on, then a hat and head outside (Head. Hat. Get it?), but leave behind a water bottle because we won’t be gone long, or it’s a hassle to carry, or or or. We won’t lecture you (but we’d like to) about taking along your water bottle, but we WILL share some definitions and information so you can be well-prepared even if you aren’t well-hydrated.
Euhydration – normal hydration. Your body is taking in the same amount of fluid as it’s expending. In a hot environment, that’s about 3500 milliliters (compared to 2500 on a normal day).
Hypohydration – a reduction of body water as the body progresses from a euhydrated to a dehydrated state.
Dehydration – when water losses due to sweat are not offset by water intake.
Hyponatremia – abnormally low plasma sodium concentrations. When more fluids are consumed than are lost, excess water accumulates relative to sodium.
Exertional Heat Exhaustion – the body’s heat production exceeds its ability to dissipate heat, and core temperature rises to >104°. Symptoms can include excessive sweating, nausea, dizziness, and headache.
Exertional Heatstroke – more severe than heat exhaustion. In addition to the above symptoms, heatstroke sufferers can also experience a gradual impairment of consciousness, difficulty concentrating, sweat-soaked, pale skin (these symptoms are different from classic heatstroke), and even death.
* Rather than taking sips of water over the course of your outdoor exercise, drink a larger volume all at once. You’ll stay in euhydration longer.
* If you exercise longer than 90 minutes, rehydrate with water that has electrolytes added (primarily sodium and potassium, though some sodium is reabsorbed by the sweat glands – the body sure is amazing, eh)?
* Drink water before, during AND after exercise – yes, all three.
* Before you go out, eat a small salted snack such as pretzels. As “opposite day” as that sounds, a salted snack will stimulate thirst, plus the sodium helps you retain water.
As to whether it’s better to drink cold or room temperature water, the research clearly indicates that … it doesn’t really matter. We did a post about this question of water temp, and the truth is that the temperature that’s most effective is the one that will induce you to drink more water.
If you find water boring, that’s no excuse to go buy sugar-laden drinks or skip the water bottle. Simple throw in a sprig of mint or rosemary, or a wedge or orange, lemon or lime, and off you go. Up hill. Down dale.
by Alexandra Williams, MA