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18

3 Santa Barbara Walks Only Locals Know

Alexandra Williams, MA

picture of Ellwood Butterfly Preserve in Goleta, CA

Today is the first day of Fall. Get outside for a walk while the weather is still cooperating. As our post “Nature Lovers Live Longer and Leaner” states, you get smarter, happier and healthier when you spend time outdoors. And if you want to know how many steps you need to take to stave off weight gain, read this post too.

No matter where you live, walking outside is beneficial, even if you have to strap on snowshoes on the first day of Fall! And the nice thing about where you live is that your town has a few hiking paths that only locals seems to know about. Santa Barbara is no exception. Even though we’ll never get a chance to strap on snowshoes (well, we can strap them on, but we can’t walk around on snow on them unless we drive far away), we at least have the benefit of some fantastic walking spots. I’m going to share three that will put you “in the know” for the day you come to town: one on the beach, one at a lake, and one in the mountains.

Ellwood Butterfly Grove

From late October to late February you can see the monarch butterflies in this preserve that has 137 acres of open space. Parking and admission are free, and docents give educational talks on the weekends during butterfly season.picture of Ellwood Beach, Santa Barbarapicture of Ellwood Butterfly Grove, Santa Barbarapicture of Butterfly Preserve, Goleta

Lake Los Carneros

Right next to the 101 freeway, this park has a lake, easy walking trail, wooden bridge over the reeds, a railroad museum and Stow House (the oldest frame house in the Goleta Valley).picture of Lake Los Carneros, Santa Barbara picture of Stow House, Goletapicture of bridge over reeds, Lake Los Carneros, Goletapicture of rope swing tree, Lake Los Carneros, Santa Barbara

Lizard’s Mouth

High above Santa Barbara, you get here by driving to the top of Hwy 154 (the Pass), and turning left onto West Camino Cielo. One of the few easily accessible boulder fields (we’ve taken a 4 year old and 84 year old), you follow a trail in for ¼ mile, then climb on, in, over, and even inside the rock outcroppings. Or just have a picnic and watch the sunset.picture at Lizard's Mouth, Santa Barbarapicture of cave at Lizard's Mouth, Santa Barbarapicture of fog at Lizard's Mouth, Santa Barbarapicture of fog at Lizard's Mouth, Santa Barbara
If you need comfy, cute shoes for your outdoor adventures, we love Ahnu.  Not an affiliate link; we just love them. Check them out and decide for yourself. Then lace up and get outside!

7

Hiking at Sky Ranch Fitness Spa: My Naughty Dog Story

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Sky Ranch trailAre you ready for a low class poop story to reveal how high class the Sky Ranch Fitness Spa experience is? First, to cut to the chase: If you are looking for a beautiful, healthy, intimate spa getaway that emphasizes hiking, movement classes, personal attention and nutritious meals, this is the place for you. (Read our post asking what your health is worth) Now back to the part of my week that was really stinky!

Last month, Alexandra and I were invited to Santa Barbara County’s newest week long wellness resort. With accommodations at the world class Bacara Resort, and adventures throughout the county, we left Sky Ranch Fitness quite impressed with the level of passion, instructor quality, and commitment to improving guests’ healthy living habits.

My notiebook from Sky Ranch Fitness

They spelled my name right!

Chef's meal Sky Ranch

This smelled great, unlike poop dog!

We especially loved the looooong, calorie burning hikes to places even we had not seen in our 30+ years living in Santa Barbara. Starting our day at 6:15 with a stretch or “foundation” class was worth waking for. Ending the day with a massage, or visit to a local winery for an exclusive dinner with a top level chef made me feel pampered and almost ready to move to a ranch.  Or to have a personal chef at the very least.

However, it was the daily 3 hour hikes I really loved. Ok, maybe at the time as we were going uphill, both ways, in the heat, forever and ever, I might have moaned and whimpered a bit. And sung the Gilligan’s Island song. A Three Hour Tour. From coastline to mountain to meadow, Sky Ranch Fitness Spa took us on trails they had spent months researching and culling to provide the perfect options for a range of guest levels.

Gaviota hike with Sky RanchThe hikes were so lovely and the staff so encouraging, offering so many great water bottles biomechanical walking tips, that a FUN thought occurred to me. Would it be ok to bring Kila princess doggie number one best and most loyal pup in the whole wide world who lives to run and walk and move and groove, as she still needed her daily walk? (Confession – I also did not want to have to miss the Sky Ranch afternoon classes, drive home, and walk Kila after spending the day exercising.) Or would it be tacky and intrusive to be THAT person who had to bring her dog along? So I asked Sky Ranch owner, Stuart Gildred plus checked with the other hikers. who all said “no prob.” Yeah, we had a great group of comrades the week Alexandra and I were at Sky Ranch Fitness! Since Tuesday’s hike took place on owner, Stuart’s private ranch, it seemed the perfect day to pack Kila in the Sky Ranch van and tote her along.

As Kila’s human guardian, I knew she would be easy to control and sweet with other people and animals.  Plus I keep a sharp eye on her as she zips up hill and down dale. Except for that one minute I lost sight of her (possibly due to some heavy breathing on my part on a steep hill that necessitated a “photo opp” stop.) The fink! In fewer than 60 seconds of unsupervised excitement, that rat’s patootie of a pup found the freshest –as in wet, greenish brown, and still fermenting — cow pie ever. And rolled in it. A lot. All over. As in totally covered in sticky, stinky, socially unacceptable poop. Remember we came in a van? How was Mz Stank Thang going to get home?

Best hike dog ever

Scratch, but don’t sniff.

Yes, she and I were facing social pariah status. Here is where you get an example of the level of service the Sky Ranch Fitness Spa offers. As we sweated our way back down the trail to Stuart’s ranch and the van waiting to take us back to an amazing lunch at the Bacara Resort, Stuart came up big! He brought over his hose to wash off some of the semi-dry, half squishy and still wet poop that could have fertilized an entire field.  Then he fetched several towels from his personal stash. Towels I suggested would not recover from the duty they were about to perform. Towels that no human will want to touch ever again despite the cute, pink horsey theme they had going on.

And to top it off, the Sky Ranch staff and Stuart would not let me rinse, stash, pay for, nor burn them. They allowed me to abandon them in the parking lot where they said they’d take care of it. Trust me that these no pink horsies showed through the brown and green layers any more. Like the 1987 movie, these were Untouchables. And Kila was still Unpettable. But van Acceptable.

picture at Bacara running drills

Doing drills outside. I beat the trainer at least once.

My point is that if you go to Sky Ranch Fitness, you will get this level of service, attention, and kindness of heart. From the Bacara maid to the certified fitness instructors to the owner himself, the Sky Ranch staff had our best interests in mind from morning to night.  You will play hard and be rewarded for it. Though it’s only fair that you wash your own poop covered dog.
And now for some pictures of our week to really make you want to come to Santa Barbara! And maybe even to move more than usual as we head into summer.

 

 

Hiking near Gaviota

I claim this land as mine!

Hiking near Gaviota

Shh, don’t tell her that my arm is dripping sweat onto her hat.

 

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22

Women Over 50: Some Days Just Suck – Angst, Exercise & Optimism

Alexandra Williams, MA
I am SO becoming!

I am SO becoming!

Some days, being a woman over 50 sucks. I would describe myself as happy and optimistic. I have a good life. I work at things I enjoy. My kids are easy to love and live with. Yet lately I wake up tired and feeling beaten down, and don’t know why.

It’s like I’m stuck in a Cheech and Chong skit The first day on my vacation, I woke up. Then, I went downtown to look for job. Then I hung out in front of the drugstore. The second day on my summer vacation, I woke up, then I went downtown to look for a job. Then I hung out in front of the drugstore. The third day… (If you don’t get that 1972 reference, you are not a boomer). I’m not depressed or sad or weepy or pessimistic or grumpy or or or… But I’m off. Instead of feeling like I am a participant in my world, I feel like the world is happening around me.

I was thinking it might be hormones or menopause, yet nothing seems to be different. In any case, I decided last night that I’d had enough of waiting. Waiting for my usual energy or cheeriness or joie de vivre to return. Instead of waking up sort of rumbly and angsty, I decided to shake things up a bit. The relationship between exercise and moodis well-established, so I gave myself the same advice I’d give to a client – get moving!

Let a little light shine on my hike

Let a little light shine on my hike

And so I did. I got up at 0600 and got a ride to the bottom of the mountain pass near my home, then hiked up to the top. As part of a sponsored Under Armour challenge I had declared a goal of hiking up this pass, so I figured getting up super early (for me) would be an added achievement. Besides, it’s easy to spot the mood-elevating endolphins swimming around the harbor that early in the morning!!!

Endolphins

Endolphins

hahahah it’s a joke – these neurotransmitters are really called endorphins, and they are like happy pills, except they are created by your own body and no pills are involved. According to Dr. William Sears, we are our own pharmacology site.

What I learned as I walked up the hill this morning:
* the nasty black flies aren’t out in massive numbers early in the morning
* lots of cars come down the winding road at that time
* the views are amazing, especially as the sun comes over the hills
* the people driving those cars like to wave hello
* it’s as steep as I believed it to be
* it was easier than I expected
* being outside on a gorgeous day, with amazing views, good music in my ears and my body movin’ and groovin’ works perfectly as a mood-enhancer.

I'm almost there. I hope someone made breakfast.

I’m almost there. I hope someone made breakfast.

No wonder I don’t need any medications (my doc is always amazed, due to “my age,” which is actually kind of scary in its implications) – I have hiking in my veins, so there’s no room for artificial stimulants in them! In any case, I cheered right up and have been productive all morning. The only thing is…I’ve completed my What’s Beautiful goal. So I guess I’ll change it and go up, then back down the mountain. If that comes too easily, I’ll do it without stopping for pictures every few minutes! Pssst, that What’s Beautiful link is to my profile in case you want to follow my progress.

Now turn around and do it again

Now turn around and do it again

I have a question for all of you, especially the boomer women – do you ever get into a mood rut, where you just can’t find your mojo, or passion, or gumption, or meaning, or even your special purpose (alert: 1979 Steve Martin reference)? What did you do to get out of it? I want to copy your ideas in case I get sick of that hike.

By the way, when I’m not being a grumpus, I like to have fun. If you want to know how I define “fun,” you’ll have to read the interview at Bite Size Wellness.

We are professional writers, speakers and editors. Do you need our services? Please contact us at info@funandfit.org.

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.

Photo credit: Dolphins  ryn413.

22

What’s Beautiful? Health at Any Age

Alexandra Williams, MA

How do you define beauty? Does it have age parameters? Size parameters? Is one skin shade preferable to another? Is your mental image tied up with the word “skinny?” More importantly, is your self-image affected (probably negatively) by your wish to be beautiful, even though that term is so nebulous that it can differ from person to person, and culture to culture?

What's Beautiful? Me!Kymberly and I were invited to be part of the sponsored “What’s Beautiful” campaign by Under Armour and FitFluential (in this case, this means we are being sent free Under Armour apparel to wear for the challenge). I cannot speak to Kymberly’s goals or reasons for accepting the invitation (her internet is down, so her post is a-coming), but I took them up on it because I want my midlife Boomer voice to be heard when it comes to determining what beauty is.
Essentially, Under Armour has an 8-week campaign for women who want to create a goal or challenge, and we document our progress. A few of the women can win prizes, and I like winning, but my actual motivation is to show as many women as possible that beauty is not confined to the first half of the lifespan. In truth, I am acutely aware that the previous winners are all young, which either means only young women can win…or no older women are doing the challenge. So, Boom, Alexandra Quixote here to tilt at the windmill!

My video should enlighten you beyond belief, so please watch it!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLEzjE7pHDI[/youtube]

If you didn’t watch this very short video (why didn’t you?), then you don’t know that I believe beautiful to be health-related. As I put in a tweet today, if you are healthy, confident, happy, have energy, friends, and are kind, you are truly beautiful. Nothing at all related to age.

That being said, I want to ask your help. For the What’s Beautiful campaign we had to choose a goal. I chose to hike up the steep, winding road that goes from the city below, up near the top of the mountain where I live. You can simply follow my progress by hitting the Follow button on my What’s Beautiful profile (you might have to sign in via Facebook), or if you want to climb your own personal hill (sure, it can be metaphorical), then please join my team “Up Yours: Hill, That Is” so we can encourage each other and share our progress. I plan to hike approximately 7 miles, going from bottom to top, then back down (where my car will be waiting for me). If you want to join my “Up Yours: Hill, That Is” team, you can choose whether you want to hike up an actual hill or overcome an obstacle that’s between you and better health. I especially welcome Boomer women (and their daughters).

IMG_3352

The more color, the more fun. Proven by research…that I made up

Late last year I did a different What’s Beautiful challenge (unofficially; I didn’t compete) entitled Challenge Yourself to a Healthier You, and I hope you read it. I won’t tell you what challenge I picked for myself, but I will say that I did accomplish it and realized that I am Awesome and Amazing in the process!

The official description of this year’s What’s Beautiful campaign: a community and a competition to redefine the female athlete. Under Armour invites YOU to aim high and declare a goal in their What’s Beautiful competition. Complete challenges and share your journey; join teams if you like for additional challenges, support and motivation.

Please click the link above to follow my What’s Beautiful profile, as well as the one to join my Up Yours team. With your help and encouragement, I will get to the top! More importantly, all the exercise will keep me healthy and beautiful for the next 50 years. If you don’t agree, piss off! Wait, maybe I should have said “Up Yours!”

After the hike back down the Pass

 

Before the hike up the Pass

Before the hike up the Pass

What is your definition of beauty?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tote that bale, lift that load, and climb that hill 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.

34

Hiking with the Leeches and Wildlife in Thailand

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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

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.

Rocking the leech gaiters!

Rocking the leech gaiters!

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!

DSCI1957See that worried expression – leech fear. I hated standing still, as they’d take advantage and crawl into my shoes
DSCI1958

I used my magic scraping stick to remove 28 leeches

DSCI1963

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!

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

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.

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. Unless high muslin socks are recommended. Cuz’ leeches really suck!

Am I safe from leeches this high up?

Are we safe from leeches this high up?

The leech that attacked Alexandra (as described by her)

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)

Hike on over and 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 for a nature walk. In a museum.

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

14

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

IMG_2730

Sukhothai wat

IMG_2908

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

25

Pain Free Movement in 2013: Who Wants In?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Joints that are Pain Free, Born Free, Live Free, Stay Free

To move and exercise pain-free–That’s one of my huge desires for 2013. Who else has that hope? Yet certain baby boomer joints just don’t want to cooperate, darn it anyway!

Green plants, native plants, and a butt plant

Green plants, native plants, and a butt plant

Lately I have been more and more frustrated with the fact that my knee and foot issues are preventing me from working out as often, intensely, and comfortably as I want. The optimist in me is convinced I will wake up one day and discover that my left knee has forgotten it ever had two surgeries. As a result, my right foot would then decide it no longer has to compensate for that knee by bearing the impact brunt in a painful manner.

Fortunately, I am still able to  teach fitness, walk my dog, and engage in lots of activities (though lunges and snowboarding are now out barring some medical or aging miracle).  But I definitely worry about limited days or types of action. Ahhh, to enjoy high impact aerobics again! And I feel the pain. Nevertheless, I persevere in trying solutions, solutions I want to share with you in case you are experiencing similar joint pain.

A combination of factors helps me continue going for the gusto in my beloved step classes, on powerwalks, and in all forms of dance and cardio classes. If you are also suffering from joint pain and want to stay or become more active, try the following. Let me know if any of my strategies work for you. For sure speak up if you have found other ways to move pain-free with each added year of an active life.

One set of shoes for walking; Sport specific shoes for fitness classes

First and foremost, get shoes that are comfortable, supportive, and designed for each exercise mode. Don’t follow trends; follow your medical or fitness professional’s advice and your own body. I invest in several pair of workout shoes, and wear them only for the designated activity. I fully embrace my boom chicka boomer status at this point and care more about pain-free movement than fashion, style, and low cost. Vive la TheraFits when it comes to my fave walking shoes!

Orthotics

Confession time: I pooh poohed orthotics for years, advocating fixing movement patterns instead. A youthful biomechanics snob was I. Experience (code word for “joint pain”) has taught me that even good form, attention to footfall, and body awareness can’t totally fix my foot problems. Orthotics are taking the pressure off my arthritic big toe, which makes me hopeful I will avoid the toe surgery my sister had for this same problem. But now I have new pains in the pad of my foot. The gait shift from the orthotics may be the culprit. Or the savior. I am still experimenting with the orthotics. Any tips?

Looking for pain in all the right places

Looking for pain in all the right places

Supplements for Joint Health

I’m currently in the first month of a two month trial of Pure Matters Joint Health supps. At first it seemed as though the supplements were not making much of a difference. I believed they would work miracles; I wanted them to be the magic pills; yet my knee still hurt. Maybe I expected too much. Then I neglected to bring the tablets with me on a 2 day trip and boy, did my knee hurt – a lot!. You bet I raced back to the tablets before teaching advanced step yesterday. Yes, my knee felt better. This stark comparison makes me hopeful that joint supplements do provide some relief, albeit subtle at first.  More on the Pure Matters Joint Health effects in another month or so.

Strength Training for Supporting and Surrounding Muscles

No surprise that I advocate and abide by having strong muscles to bear as much load and impact from exercise as possible. The stronger my core and lower body, the more I can count on muscles and less on joints and ligaments to power me through activity.

Pool Classes

I hate being cold and wet. Don’t you? So I get into pools only when both the water and air temp are toasty. Or when my joints scream after mountain hikes like a slipped fan belt. ( I LOVE hiking and powerwalking except when every step hurts). When at Rancho la Puerta I hiked every morning, then hopped myself into several aqua classes as I really, really, really wanted to exercise without holding back.  Ignoring the pain was not really working any longer as an option. (Forgot to mention that the “ignore” solution has been one of my go to strategies for years.)  While I prefer land classes, I gotta give full props to aqua classes as the place to plunge in for joint protection while working out hard and heartily!

Cranial Sacral Therapy

Rock Star as I Live Free, Stay Free!

Rock Star as I Live Free, Stay Free!

Bring on the mind/body healing modalities! Suffice to say that you’ll be reading more in a future post about the Cranial Sacral Therapy sessions I took while at Rancho la Puerta. Spoiler alert – my knee pain has gone down a bit since then. Will more sessions help more? Can this modality actually realign my knee, foot, and gait and bring them back to their pre-soccer injury condition? Hello knee from my twenties! Good-bye aging joints! Stay posted as I seek out a few more CS sessions.

Where does that leave us? Combining all of the above has allowed me to keep on keepin’ on. No solution alone seems enough. Is it unrealistic to believe I will again be pain free? I really want to do MORE with the rest of my life, not less.

Makes me think of the song Alexandra and I sang in a talent contest at age 10 — Andy Williams’s hit, Born Free. Verse one went great as we wooed the judges in our matching wool plaid skirts and knee socks. We were soooo cute, if our mom did say so herself. Born Free, as free as the wind blows.

Then came the painful part. One of us went with “Stay Free” as verse two; the other launched with “Live Free.” Twins fighting, then laughing hysterically onstage in the middle of our song did not make for a big talent win. Or place. Or show. Ahhh, good times!

Is it too much to ask that my joints Live Free and Stay Free, as free as the roaring tide. Life is worth living, especially worth living if it’s Pain Free! Who’s with me on this singalong?

Dear Readers: Have joint issues changed your exercise life? If so, what strategies have you put into action in order to stay active?

Free yourself in 2013 with action that will help you live free:  Subscribe now 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. Please share and subscribe!

 

14

End of Summer Trip to Rancho la Puerta

Alexandra Williams, MA

A Spa Stay is the Perfect Way to Spend a Few Relaxing Days

We went to Rancho la Puerta spa in Tecate, Mexico last weekend, not to teach, but to hear author Dr. John Ratey speak about his book “Spark.” Have you heard of Rancho la Puerta? We’ve been going there as guest fitness instructors and presenters since the mid-80s, when Kymberly was first hired to teach fitness for them as part of the cruise ship staff.

The Ranch staff know how much Kymberly loves Dr. Ratey’s research and book about the link between exercise and the brain (more from Kymberly in an upcoming post about her dream-come-true experience of meeting Dr. Ratey, who is very droll and excellent company), so they invited us to come down while he was a presenting guest. Try to feel our pain, as we had to choose every hour between lectures, massages, pool classes, group fitness classes, hikes, meditation, and eating organic, vegetarian food. Yeah, exactly. Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful (trivia: did you know that Rancho la Puerta: Golden Door has a long history with Pantene?)

Actually, our pictures can show you some of the beauty that is the Ranch.

Breakfast is my favorite morning meal

The Ranch Kitties Participate in Meditation

These are just the "extra" Daily Activities

Look Ma, I'm Lounging

Forced to Relax in the Great Outdoors

In a Spurt of Energy, I Moved My Lounging over to the Pool

 Thank you LongSailSports, for the cool googles and GELIE bag! Perfect timing for this trip!

The Daily Quotes are Great, and I especially Love the Squirrel

I dedicate the picture above to John Poole, as he has a tremendous love for squirrels and their antics.

Dreams Do Come True: Eating with new Pals, including John Ratey

I'm Such a Plankster!

Did you know there are many activities you can do when you are (still) recovering from foot surgery? I even took a water class, then did laps, right after 3 miles on the bike and a mile on the treadmill. I was awesomely awesome somewhat nauseous afterward!

I Melted the Pool Water 'Cause I'm so Hot!

These Are Your Glutes on Ranch Fitness!

I was so gracious; I let them use my glutes as the model for these male torso sculptures.

The Butterfly Door at the Rec Center

My bedroom! Not really; it's the Library Lounge

My mind is a Labyrinth (so are the ground and the sculpture)

Every day at the Ranch, I was asked about my compression leggings and socks by Zensah. You don’t have to have foot surgery to be a fashionista, by the way!

Sunrise during the Breakfast Hike to the Organic Garden & Kitchen

Yes, I woke up at 5:45 to take the morning hike to the organic garden and kitchen for breakfast. But look at the picture below and you’ll see that it was totally worth it!

The Only Place at the Spa with a Secret Stash of Chocolate Chip Muffins

La Cocina que Canta: You Eat Where the Food is Grown

Before Kymberly left town to visit her daughter at college, she made this short video that has some gorgeous views of the Ranch. Take a look.

By the way, if you are considering a trip to the Ranch, don’t listen to the dire warnings about Mexico. Rancho la Puerta is only 43 miles east of San Diego, and about 2 miles over the border at Tecate. You are escorted the entire way in the Ranch shuttle and you never have to leave the spa (although we lots of people like to go into town for pinatas, chocolate, wine, lard-based donuts)!

Have you ever gone to a spa? What did you like best about it?

We want to give a shout-out here to our friends at Mr. Steam. They had nothing to do with our trip to Rancho la Puerta, but they do offer us the same feeling of spa luxury with their products. We’re proud to be ambassadors for them! 

29

3 Excuses You Can Use When Mountain Hiking

by Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Go for a free hike up the Rocky Mountains with an outdoor Breathe yoga class afterwards, deluxe charter bus, lunch and snacks provided? Count us in!

Alexandra and I just finished attending and presenting at the Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference that took place at the deeevine, high tech, and new Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, just outside Denver. CO (yes, I liked it so much I wanted to go back to grad school just to take advantage of all the Anschutz Center offers).

Prior to taking off we were offered two of 20 spots on a bonus pre-conference tour put on by Goodness Knows  Snack Squares and Zephyr Adventures. Fun fact #1 – I am SO glad I went on the excursion, which was beautiful, amazing, well-organized, and a great chance to take advantage of the beauty the area offers. Not so Fun Fact #2 – I SUCKED at this hike. As in sucked air. Big, wheezy, gaspy time. Yes, I was “THAT PERSON” at the tail end of the group who had to stop every 5 minutes to “enjoy the view,” “check my Omron Heart Rate Monitor,” “get my water bottle out of my backpack,”  “retie my trail shoes.” (THANK YOU Overland Equipment and Vasque Velocity for the super comfy backpack and trail shoes. At least I looked like a pro hiker and my feet felt great!)

So I compiled my excuses during the many breaks I took while climbing. Perhaps you can use some of them in your next outdoor workout:

1) I just flew in from sea level living to mile high altitude climbing. No wonder I felt my heart imitating the alien explosion birth in Alien. Pretty sure I did not look as good as Sigourney Weaver though. The fact that stoopidhead Alexandra whisked her little way up at the head of the pack was not taking this excuse away from me. Gasp Gasp Sweat pouring down back of my knees, face, underarms. Oh wait, she drove from Santa Barbara to Boulder so had time to acclimate. Excuse still intact and usable! And I was ahead of the 25 year old from New Jersey and 40 year old from Boulder. The three of us were making the front pack possible!

2) I have had 2 knee surgeries after all. Ok, so my knees did not actually hurt on the climb up since I have strong lower body muscles and powered each step through my glutes. Still, past surgeries and injuries are something to think about when contemplating a path straight up. I might think better if I sit down for just a panting moment.

Something was hot on this hike and it wasn't I

3) It was HOT! Yes, I flew in just in time for record heat in Denver. Don’t even start with that whole “it was just as hot for everyone else who was ahead of you, prancing, frolicking, and talking while climbing.” Heat makes me cranky so back off and let me enjoy the exercise, scenery, new experience, and rest stops.

Honestly, I thought I would ace this hike with lipstick and reputation intact given that I teach fitness 5 days a week and power walk almost every day. And I am happy to report that while my heart rate shot up to 158 while climbing, it dropped to 115 within a minute so my recovery rate was good.

What I learned from this potentially humbling experience:

  • Thank goodness I hike a lot at home as I had no muscle soreness the next day.
  • Breaks are my friend. Interval training is my friend. Guides who say “go as slowly as you want” are my friend.
  • For every thought I had to turn around early I had four positive, encouraging thoughts that kept me on track (literally).
  • The view at the top was worth the effort. I actually LOVED this whole day and was so grateful for the opportunity.
  • I don’t always have to be at the front or the best.
  • Alexandra gets to wear the backpack on the way up, not down next time.

As for the yoga class awaiting us back at the bottom of the mountain? I managed 5 minutes following the darling teachers’ well-cued Down Dogs, then took full advantage of the Corpse pose for the rest of class. Namaste ZZZzzzzz

Goodness Knows Alexandra did the whole yoga class. Grrrrr

Disclaimer: We were not asked to write about any of the above companies or products. However, we did receive the excursion free as well as the Overland backpack, Vasque trail shoes, and even a water bottle and yoga mat from Goodness Knows. All opinions are my own.

Actions you can take right now without any sweat or mussy hair. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Subscribe to our blog. Follow us on twitter: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit Heck also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.