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Category Archives for "Santa Barbara"
1

It’s A Dog’s Life, in a Dog Trailer, with a Dog Treat

Between the two of us, we have three dogs, two bikes, sixteen legs, and a common love of getting outside for walks. Of course, our poochies are massively intelligent (with the possible exception of one dog – no names mentioned), yet they still haven’t mastered the art of bike riding. This means that sometimes we drive them to the places where we walk them.

Just as we were either trying to A: train the dogs to run alongside us as we rode the bike paths (hahahahahahaha. Just kidding. They’d run off at the first hint of a squirrel, rabbit, lizard, piece of fuzz); B: convince them of the benefits of sitting around all day, looking at pictures of the outdoors (and kitties); or C: teach them to sit in our bicycle baskets, along came SolvIt Products with the offer of a few free bicycle trailers.

As we’d like to think we are smarter than our dogs (which may or may not be true, once you figure out who’s doing the work on the bike rides), we said yes to their offer and promptly ordered the aluminum medium size for Alexandra and the large size for Kymberly (okay, technically, for our dogs – not to imply that Kymberly is large), as Kymberly has two dogs.

As soon as mine arrived in the mail, I got so excited, I immediately… called my 22-year-old so he could come assemble it, Which he did. In about 20 minutes. Then he had to give me instructions on how to latch and unlatch it from my bike. So when you order your trailer, be sure to also order a smart young person (and a bike hitch).

Our beloved rescue dog Liberty came to us on July 4th a few years ago (hence her name). She loves to get outside. So do I. One of her all-time favorite spots is Hendry’s Beach in Santa Barbara. Normally I drive her there, then we walk. Seems counterintuitive, though, doesn’t it? Now I can just put her in the bike trailer, and we can ride together along the bike path over to the beach for our walks.

Liberty at the dog beach

Happy dog on a beach adventure

The one minor glitch? “Just put her in the bike trailer.” Turns out you can’t just show her the new toy and expect her to hop in. I used up a lot of her preferred Zuke’s treats enticing her into the trailer. She probably thought she was training ME to give her more treats. In any case, we both love exercise and our beach walks. And it’s the perfect time of year for bike rides. With a helmet, water for Liberty and a few treats. For her, not for me.

Solvit bike trailer for dogs

Say, what’s this new thing Mom just brought in?

medium Solvit dog trailer

I’ll just check it out if you give me a treat (or a dozen).

Liberty in the Solvit dog bike trailer

All tucked in and hitched up to the bike. Let’s go to the beach.

5

Can Boomer Women Be Sexy?

Back in the olden days (the late 70s), I thought my parents were really old when they got into their early fifties. Sadly, I subscribed to the idea that everyone over 30 was just….. so…… old….
How could anyone that old have even a soupçon of sex appeal?

La Boheme dance group at Solstice partyNow I laugh at my arrogant youthful self. Hahahaha. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

The tides have turned, and nowadays I see all kinds of things on social media that celebrate Boomer women. Of course, brands are still focused on pitching “age defying” skin products to us, supplements to “keep us young,” and independent living products. Guess what?! We don’t see ourselves as old and infirm or in need of “fixing.” We just want the same things we wanted at 30, but with wisdom attached.

dancing at Casa MagazineFor example, in my twenties I loved to go disco dancing. I still love it. The difference is that it’s no longer easy to find a venue that offers it. And I don’t have a wrap skirt. Back then my younger sister and I would parade back and forth to the ladies’ room a lot, as an excuse to check out the guys let the guys check us out. If I made more than one trip to the bathroom at a public place now, people might think I have bladder issues, but I still like to check out the handsome guys. Just not the ones in their twenties.

There isn’t an age or specific date when we lose our desire to look attractive and feel sexy. Or if there is, no-one told me. And I don’t want them to. One of the many benefits to being older is that I don’t really care what other people think of me. I care what I think of me. I earned my confidence and right to be seen.La Boheme dancers performing at Soho

After a fairly rough 2015, I decided to join the La Boheme dance troupe here in Santa Barbara. I am not a professional dancer. I am a person who likes to dance. It’s stress-reducing. It helps keep my brain sharp. It’s a chance to make new friends. Most importantly, it’s fun. We wear some wild costumes. By “wild” I mean “super sexy.” Not once have I heard anyone suggest we are too old to wear these costumes. But I have heard people saying how happy they are to see women older than 20 doing dance performances in town. And we get a lot of compliments about great we look. Not “for our age,” just great. Period. As you look at these pictures, are you surprised that most of the women in them are in their 40s and 50s? One is even in her 60s. Just sayin’.
pink birthday party with La Boheme
So if you are a Boomer women who wonders if you’ve got “it,” wonder no more. All you need is a smile, attitude, and confidence. Be flirty. Dance in public. Say thank you to compliments without adding caveats that negate that compliment. And if you don’t think you can do that, act as if you can. Fake it till you make it. You’ll see.

La Boheme dancers in the 2015 Solstice ParadeAnd if you’re in the Santa Barbara area, join the La Boheme dancers. We are going to be in the annual Solstice Parade. The theme is “Legends.” Practices start April 12th. Come to a meet and greet to learn more at Brasil Arts Cafe on State Street at 7PM.

As to me, I’ll be over here disco dancing. Bee Gees and Boomer Hotties Rule Forever.

by Alexandra Williams, MA

Photo credits: Ross Barrett, Gilbert Cruz and me.

 

4

Go For a Walk; End Up with Lovely Photos

If you regularly follow this blog (or my Facebook or Instagram accounts), you know that I have combined my love of outdoor walks with my love of photography. One good habit led to a good hobby.boats at anchor

Now that hobby is leading to an attempt to pay our health insurance. Which is a polite way of saying that I am now selling photo notecards. Please take a look at the following photos, as they are among the photos I’ve made into cards.sculpture in Santa Barbara

Manhattan Beach Pier

picture of Parasailing

fallen logs on the beach cliffs

rocks at Hendry's in Santa Barbara

They make great gifts, especially for Valentine’s Day, hint hint. Or for sending money to your college-attending spawn. Or you can save them and say you knew me waaaaaaay before I became a famous photographer. Sadly, that usually happens after the artist dies, but what an investment, eh?!Santa Barbara harbor

close-up of Clydesdale horse

sunlight & fog in Yosemite

Sunset over water

Single cards at the gift or drugstore are $5.00 each and up. Mine are only $14 for a set of eight 4X6 blank cards (which is only about $1.80 per card), plus shipping costs. I don’t charge a scammy “handling fee;” I actually lose a few pennies on shipping, but it’s easier for you if I round off.

Shipping for 1 set = $1.50
Shipping for 2 sets – $2.00
Shipping for 3 sets = $2.50

Just add .50 shipping for each set. These are U.S. postal prices. Anything else, you just have to ask and I’ll check at the post office. Notify me at info@funandfit.org with the number of sets you’d like. See how easy it is to enjoy California without paying airfare? I’m thoughtful that way.parallel masts in the harbor

bike and garage

Santa Barbara Mission

Alexandra Williams, MA

Sign up to start "youthifying" today.

10

Life is About Experiences, Not Stuff

When you are active and in relatively good health, you can do things – walk in your neighborhood, travel, join a dance team, go out and meet people, wander around interesting buildings, climb stairs to see giant telescopes, climb rocks to look for seals in the bay – and everything else that YOU would add to this list.

Griffith Observatory TelescopeHollywood signGriffith ObservatoryAs I write this, yet another mass shooting has occurred a few hours’ drive from here, this one at a center for those with developmental disabilities. That’s too close to home, as one of my sons has disabilities. And my heart is still with a friend who lost her child and is left to savor the experiences and memories she built with love.

Find your personal motivating movement factor and focus on it for 2016. Click To Tweet

What do you love in your life? Traumatic events make you think of the things you love. I love my boys. It’s that simple and basic. So I am consciously choosing (did you think I’d say “uncoupling”?) events that can include them.

Hollywood ParadeHollywood ParadeHollywood ParadeIf you read my post about joining the Hollywood Hotel team as part of the Hollywood Christmas Parade you know I went with my younger son to celebrate his birthday.

If you read my post about visiting the Hyatt in Palm Springs, then you saw me with my older son.

Hollywood Christmas ParadeHollywood Christmas ParadeBoth events required me to walk a lot. Yeah, one of my knees is bone on bone and needs surgery (long story why that’s postponed till 2016), but I can still do MOST things, so I do. We have so many videos and posts about the ways and whys to exercise (and Kymberly has a downloadable Ultimate Abs series coming out soon), and as 2015 comes to a close, I beseech you to find your personal motivating movement factor and focus on it for 2016. Spend time with grandkids? Be the hottest hottie at your high school reunion? Prevent disease? Feel comfortable in your own body? Whatever is between you and the experiences you want (excluding those financially out of reach), is it within your power to close that gap?

Police motorcycles Hollywood ParadeEntrance to Hollywood HotelAnd if you’re headed to Hollywood or Palm Springs, I really had great experiences at both the Hollywood Hotel and the Hyatt Palm Springs. If you’re in the Santa Barbara area, come watch the Downtown Holiday Parade this Friday, Dec. 04 at 6:30 pm. I’ll be dancing with the La Boheme Professional Dance Group (just before Santa’s float). No matter where you are, we invite you to subscribe to our blog using the handy box right over there ——>La Boheme Christmas Parade

Alexandra Williams, MA

Photo credits: All photos are mine, though I wasn’t able to have my external flash with me on the parade route

9

Hobbies and Mental Fitness

Has a hobby ever made a big difference in your happiness or ability to persevere during times of stress? Do you think having a hobby can help you be more mentally “fit?”

sculpture in a Santa Barbara office gardenA 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.

library at nightAs 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.

colorful office garden in downtownAt 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?”

palm trees in Santa BarbaraThe 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.

abandoned warehouse in Santa BarbaraFor 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.

Tamrac Anvil Camera BagWhat hobby do you have that puts the You back into You, especially during difficult times. What calms your mind?

Abandoned-shopping-cart-1

stairs at Hendry's Beach in Santa BarbaraOh, 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

For more great tips on all kinds of fitness and health, subscribe to our twice-weekly blog posts. Handy button to your right —–>

11

Decrease Stress Now

Have you ever had a terribly long, stressful week where you are busy every day, all day, yet feel like you got nothing done? That’s been my week.

sailboats on a foggy day in black and white Normally I have relatives in town who help me with various caretaking, chauffeuring, and supervising chores. But not this week. So I spend all day driving people to appointments and practices, always aware that I am not getting my own work done. And some of it has deadlines. That have passed. Sigh….

UCSB lagoonWe live on top of a mountain, so it’s not feasible to drop someone off, go home, then go back for them. So while I wait, I like to walk around, rather than sit in the car or lobby. If you saw my post earlier this week about relaxing, you know I like to take pictures. Taking pictures keeps me from feeling sorry for myself. Besides, I never actually got an official invitation to a pity party, and I don’t know what to wear to one. Sharing my pictures makes me happy.

car with lichenI’ve also downloaded an app called Periscope that allows me to take and share videos in real time, then replay them. So I’ve gotten into doing video “scopes” of my walks around town. I also share some great ab moves here and there too. If you have a Twitter account (or are already on Periscope), you can join and share your videos in real time too. I’m AlexandraFunFit in case you want to follow me. I will follow you right back. In a non-stalkerish way. You will love this scope of our amazing Santa Barbara sunset (Periscope only has portrait view).

picture of manzanitaWhile I’m sharing, you might want to get in on this Honest Tea Giveaway we’re hosting. If you have a U.S. mailing address (not a P.O. box), you can enter for a chance to win a case of Honest Tea Cinnamon Sunrise Herbal Teas. One winner will be picked at random and notified. If no response is received within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

locked gate a Rafflecopter giveaway

Honest Tea

shadow of person on bridge

What do you do to reduce chronic stress?

by Alexandra Williams, MA

26

How Do You Relax?

Do you think relaxing is part of a healthy, active life? For some, relaxing is the opposite of activity. For others, it’s congruent with it. Maybe it just depends on how you define “relax.”

rocks at Hendry's in Santa BarbaraI 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.

house dwarfed by lilac treeFor 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).

two cormorants, entwinedJust 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.

art on building in Los AngelesAlmost 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:

dog jumping off rock at beach* 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

waves hitting old pier
bridge at Bacara Resort
fallen logs on the beach cliffsWhat 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.

funny comic about relaxing

Found on Facebook. Artist’s name is on the comic.

by Alexandra Williams, MA

16

Emotional Benefits of Walking Outdoors

Are you lucky enough to enjoy outdoor walks? Do you live in an area conducive to walking? Do you live where you can see the blue sea? What about the blue sky?

In addition to all the physical benefits of exercise, you can also reap emotional benefits. Read ‘em and Reap. heh heh

Foothills Nature Preserve in Santa BarbaraWhether 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.

A walk outside is a mood improver. Click To Tweet

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?”

Boogie boards at Hendry's beach, Santa BarbaraWhen 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.

Enjoy these pictures taken on some of my adventures. Then get yourself outside and take your own pictures.
Arlington Theatre Lobby in Santa Barbara

Rope swing on big tree

discarded flower on marble bench

curved wall at Orpet Park, Santa Barbara

sun float at Solstice Parade

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 

6

A Salty Sea Story involving Strength, Stamina, and Swimming

A Salty Sea Story involving Strength, Stamina, and Swimming

Kymberly post paddling w/ almondsThis past Saturday, my outrigger paddling teammates and I set a record. But not the kind we meant to. In hindsight, it was fitting that I powered up on Blue Diamond Sea Salt almonds before heading out to sea for my second race. Maybe “fitting” is not the right word and “portending” is.

For those of you who like the bottom line on top and don’t mind a spoiler: I made it back alive.

As my five boat mates and I listened to our coach’s advice on how to launch successfully through surf, we thought we were pretty lucky to go in the morning. Novice women compete in the initial heats, theoretically when the winds, currents, swells, and chop are lowest. Not this day though. Conditions were already pretty rough, but we were too prepared, focused, and excited to let that dampen our intent to race well. Ha hah ha “dampen;” that’s what’s called “foreshadowing.”

We paddled our way towards the starting line about half a mile offshore, fighting the ocean the whole way. Our steerswoman did a great job leading us through the messy water and other novice boats as we navigated our way to the line-up.  Wind was blowing hard; water was already washing over us, but we had a race to win. Until we huli’ed.

Paddling back to shore post huli

I’m in seat 5. Soaking wet

Huli is the fancy, “cool paddling people in the know” term for “capsize.” Yeah, we huli’ed big time and in seeming slow mo’. No biggie — outrigger boats capsize all the time. Earlier in the season we’d even practiced How to Huli. First, we all count that six heads pop back up from the cold water. Did I mention cold? Then we each make our way to a designated spot around the boat to re-right it, collect the floating paddles and other items, bail out the waterlogged canoe, clamber back in and rejoin the race. Or not.

Grab a Bucket for this Bucket List Item

Without belaboring the details, let’s just say that water is slippery. Wet boat undersides are very slippery. My hands and booties were also — wait for it — slippery. Getting our feet and hands to grab ahold where needed was a huge challenge, especially when the swells kept pushing us hard and the wind kept knocking back down the outrigger (ama) that we were trying to flip.  To be specific, MY stoopid foot kept slipping off the wooden piece I was supposed to stand and push down on as another teammate heaves the ama up.

For the record, courtesy of exercising all my life, I had the strength and flexibility to get my leg above my head and into position. It was staying there that was la problema grande. Where is waterproof velcro when you need it?

Yeah, we were still in the water when the horn sounded for the race to begin. Ooops, guess we missed that. We were still in the water when the other boats were a mere speck in the distance. But we had not noticed that yet as we were working together to get that darn boat righted.

After many failed attempts to push the ama back up and over according to the huli plan, our steerswoman had a brilliant idea. I needed to swim under the boat and climb up and over it from the opposite side so I could descend my foot into position instead of trying to get my leg above my shoulder from in the water. Yes, this was much easier. Well, easier in a relative way as I managed to still slip off the boat and wooden foot stub another four times. Stay with me readers as that meant four more swims under the boat then back over it. Not my comfort zone activity, but then spending the rest of my baby boomer days in the ocean seemed less appealing, so under and over I went.

Canoes on beach

Pre-race, pre-epic huli! Looks so benign and pretty. Photo courtesy of Dan Seibert

Finally our new plan worked! The woman pushing up the ama did her part; the two of us on the stubs timed our heave hos on the opposite side; the others had the bail bucket ready to go, paddles collected; and we got the boat overturned, the water bailed out, and all six of us back in our seats. After twenty minutes in the water. Did you catch that part about being in the cold, Pacific ocean water for 20 minutes? Never thought menopot weight gain insulation fat would come in so handy! I actually felt worried and sorry for my slender, young teammates who were shivering like crazy.

The way race rules read, we had the option to go ahead and finish the course (um, which in our case actually meant start the course as we had — well, you know, — huli’ed before getting to the start line. Hesh up now!)

Or we could head back to shore.

Keep in mind that I love outrigger paddling; I love competing; I love being part of a team, this team! I also revel in the exercise paddling offers. Cardio intensity for 45 minutes/ 5 miles plus upper body muscle endurance training. Very knee joint friendly. Great views of the shore and sea. In a boat with five other amazing women all united in a common goal — Survival. I mean, enjoying our new sport.

On the other hand, we had set a record for the looooooongest huli recovery evahhh! Yep, we are award-winning Huli Queens, self-designated.

What do you think we chose? What would you have chosen?

Almonds and paddleLeave comments and I’ll let you know. I will reveal that once I changed into dry clothes, I decided to reach past the Sea Salt almonds (you can well imagine I thought it best to wait before diving again into anything involving sea and salt.) Instead  it was time to bust open the Dark Chocolate Almonds, mateys! I EARNED those babies! Paddles Up!
This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. Nature sponsored our epic Huli.

by Kymberly Williams-Evans, Huli Queen

10

Can’t Run or Jump? Paddle and Drink Up!

Can’t Run or Jump? Paddle and Drink Up!

Outrigger canoe on sandHave you had to make a bunch of adjustments in order to stay active in midlife? Or cut things out that you used to enjoy because they hurt too much or put too much wear and tear on your baby boomer body? I sure have. From joint issues to knee surgery to menopot weight gain, the last few years have created physical changes that threaten to limit and redefine me.

This year has been a particularly challenging and painful one as I have not been able to teach my beloved step classes for four months now. Since tearing menisci in my right knee just after Christmas, I have been rehabbing and unable to return to activities I’ve loved for decades. Soccer and running had to go after my first knee surgery (the left knee) back in the day. And as I age, it’s been so long to impact workouts; sayonara snowboarding; say good-bye to ……..  screeeccchhhh. Enough of the “loss” talk. The point of this post is to share with you two key points:

  1. Some physical issues cannot be turned around despite training, positive mental attitude, good biomechanics, anti-inflammatory foods, and great products. Denying knee and foot pain does not make joint problems such as osteoarthritis go away. (I tried this approach for way too long).
  2. When one activity no longer works, other options do exist. I am determined to be as active in my 50s and 60s as I was in my younger, jump around days — just differently. But getting to that phase of “different” was not easy or obvious.

My life has always included some combination of competitive sports, dance, or teaching group fitness classes. As my sister has written and claimed, we need to rechannel our focus on what we can do, as we move on from what we can’t.  To figure out what I could do to replace step, high intensity cardio workouts, kickboxing, mountain climbing, and power walking, I had to reframe the criteria.

Novice Women Padding

Photo courtesy of Dan Seibert. The views from Seat 4 are breathtaking!

Instead of “if I take out the power moves, turns, and plyometric jumps, will I be able to get through this step class?,” I had to ask myself “what do the exercise modes I love(d) had in common:

  • usually with others  (team stuff and group classes are for me! Basically I like people, unless you jack with me, then look out!)
  • medium to high intensity (I want to sweat during, after, and maybe even before I work out just thinking about the movement ahead)
  • a competitive or performance aspect (explains why yoga and I never really meshed)
  • medium to high energy (while I happily strength train, I prefer cardio and heavy breathing)
  • follow a beat or rhythm
  • have an intellectual component or learning aspect

Then I added what I DON’T want or the criteria of omission:

  • does not hurt my knees
  • does not hurt my feet
  • ok, ok, let’s just say “does not hurt”  — although muscle soreness is totally acceptable

Factor in that I live in a coastal city with warm weather, stunning vistas, and a seductive harbor and I finally found the PERFECT solution: Did you guess it? Outrigger paddling. Shout out big time to the Santa Barbara Outrigger Canoe Club and my novice women teammies! Hut ho!

Paddling in at Sunset

Photo courtesy of Dan Seibert. Ending on a beautiful note!

Since I don’t like being cold and wet (seriously, who does?) I had not been considering going into our ocean waters.  Brrr. Fortunately one of the women who took my step classes talked me into giving the sport a try. Love at first sight is true. One dip of my paddle and I knew I could get past grieving for what I could no longer do. And we don’t get that wet unless we “huli,” which is fancy talk for capsizing. Haven’t done that yet!

I love everything about outrigger paddling. It’s a team sport;  The technique is precise with a steep learning curve, so I have to work hard and focus each and every minute; Our coaches are very positive with high standards; Paddling uses a ton of the major muscles, but not the knee joints; Our goal is to win races; And who can’t enjoy seeing seals, dolphins, pelicans, sunrises, sunsets, and the Channel Islands when working out?

Learning a new sport is good for my body and brain in so many ways. But the bottom line is I found a replacement activity I radically enjoy. I count the minutes until practice time. I visualize improving my paddle stroke. I get a kick out of my teammates, who range from their 20s to 60s. And when I exit the canoe and get out of the water after practice, I am exhausted. But not in pain. I am happy. Just happy.

Coconut Almond MIlk and Paddling

Combine one delish drink, one new water sport, and my fave car cup and you get: Happy!

Almond Breeze Coconut Almond Milk Unsweetened“This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk.” You might wonder what Unsweetened Almond Breeze CoconutMilk and outrigger paddling have in common. Well, they do both make me happy. More practically, my go-to drink as I drive down our mountain to the ocean is a Chai Tea/ Almond Milk iced drink combo. I pack a water bottle in the canoe. But that pre-workout Blue Diamond almond coconut milk – chai tea – ice cube indulgence sits right in my car’s cup holder motivating me as I jam-a-lam to practice. Sweet, but not cloying; cool, though not cold; fulfilling while healthy. Hey, kind of like me! Ah aha haha aha Actually, it’s also describing my new, midlife love–outrigger paddling. Drinking in this new water sport and my liquid concoction are new, good habits that were easy to make!

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA