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
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.
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.
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.
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!
The Wine Bloggers Conference was held here in S.B. County over the weekend. As presenters, Kymberly and I were invited to participate in the events. The first weekend highlight was visiting five Solvang tasting rooms, followed by dinner at Cecco Ristorante and gelato at Café Dolce. I’m going to list the 5 tasting rooms so that you can visit them when you come to Solvang.
Every single one of them had very outgoing, personable owners. The fact that I know very little about wine was not a deterrent to my experience. I just tuned out the wine talk (you need a translator if you’re not a wine person) and focused on the taste. Turns out I’m a Gewürztraminer and port person (I discovered this at Presidio).
We found out that Aston Martin does tour events too. They have a Pebble Beach – Lake Tahoe – Yosemite event coming up in August. Fast cars and mountain roads. I’ll wait for
James Bond Daniel Craig to pick me up.
The event was based at Bacara Resort, so we took a walk along the beach afterward. No matter what car you drive, or whether you do or don’t stay at the resort, the beach is open to the public. People think it’s private, but locals know it’s not, so you might like to add Haskell’s Beach to your visit.
The third highlight was a tour of some of the wine rooms in Santa Barbara – first in El Paseo downtown, followed by the funk zone. We got around the funk zone via surreys. Did you know you can rent surreys, Segways, scooters, skates and bikes (of course) down by the beach?
And pedaling the surrey counts as exercise. I’ll link to the places that hosted us, and let you decide for yourself which of their wines you prefer.
Au Bon Climat
Grassini Family Vineyards
Margerum Wine Co. & MWC32
Jamie Slone Wines (opening next month, but we got a sneak peek)
C’est Cheese (they sell a huge variety of world cheeses and wine, so get a sandwich to complement your tasting adventures)
Fox Wine Co. (lots of art too)
Municipal Winemakers (my favorite for the vibe – they are in a former scuba shop, complete with swimming pool behind the wall)
Deep Sea (which is over the water on Stearns Wharf)
If beautiful cars, beaches, and people (that’s me, in case you’re confused), plus wineries galore don’t tempt you to come visit Santa Barbara, then you are jaded I tell you, jaded. FYI, Santa Barbara isn’t known for jade, unless it’s the color of the sea. While you’re here, come take our exercise classes so you can speed along during your surrey ride.
Did I mention I won a bottle of wine during the conference? Yeah, I win good stuff. Oh, and standing by an Aston Martin makes you look like a model. See what it did for me?
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
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.
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.
The 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?
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.
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.
As I haven’t gone to a wine-tasting in at least 20 years, and when I did it was as the designated driver, I was hopeful that I would blend in (haha, see that little joke there – One Wine is all about wine blends). Just in case my lack of knowledge was embarrassingly apparent, I brought along a ringer to help me. Turns out, the winemakers were quite friendly; not at all snooty or over my head.
I happen to live in Southern California’s wine country. As I live at the top of a mountain pass that leads from S.B. to Santa Ynez, I see the tour jeeps and buses loaded with visitors headed to the wineries every weekend. I mention this in case you decide to come to S.B., stop at Whole Foods for picnic items, then come up and over the Pass for a tour.
Weekend travel aside, I was a bit trepidatious when I walked into the wine section at Whole Foods for the event, as I actually felt a bit of an imposter. What if someone asked me about “legs” or “nose” or any other body part associated with wine knowledge? So I did what I do at fancy restaurants when there are too many fork choices – I watched what other people did and copied them. First thing learned: the mason jars were for pouring out any extra wine in your glass when you’re done tasting. Second thing learned; lots of snacks available!!!
Actually, I learned a lot. One Wine is a collaborative effort between the So. Cal. Whole Foods markets and specific Central California winemakers. The wines selected to be part of the One Wine label are not only affordable, but also produced locally, by hand, in small batches, and support the local economy and land stewardship. For this event, Margerum Wine Company, Ampelos Cellars, Hearst Ranch Winery, and Sextant Wines were on hand.
I tried the 2013 Margerum Rosé (Grenache, Counoise, Cinsault), the 2013 Margerum White Blend (Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc), the 2012 Sextant Zinfandel (Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah), and the 2013 Ampelos Rosé) Syrah, Riesling, Grenache), in that order. If that’s the wrong tasting order, oh well. I kind of did a circle around the room. And I asked why Petite Sirah has an “I,” while Syrah has a “Y,” and learned it has something to do with them being completely different, yet somehow related way back when. Hmm, might have to do some follow-up work on that explanation.
When I confessed my lack of wine knowledge, Rebecca Work, co-owner of Ampelos Cellars advised me to only concern myself with three questions: 1 – Is it yummy; 2 – Do I lick my lips; and 3 – Do I want more? If that’s all it takes, I’m now a connoisseur! As part of my extensive wine knowledge, I’ll share an interesting tidbit. Ampelos Cellars is the first vineyard (2009) in the U.S. to be certified in all three categories: biodynamic, sustainable, and organic.
I can’t say which of these wines you’ll like, but I ended up buying some of the Margerum Rosé.
And right on the label it says only 224 cases were produced. So if you want some of this year’s One Wine blends, you should probably hurry to one of the So. Cal. Whole Foods markets for these Spring 2014 releases. I left a few cases for you.
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Alexandra: My physical, emotional and mental fitness is important to me. Ever since January, when I wrote about trying to lose the ten pounds that found me, I’ve been working hard at moving differently (“more” isn’t my issue; adding interval training is) and eating smaller portions. And after comparing how many hours I worked in 2013 with how many hours I spent doing things I enjoy with friends, family, and myself, I also promised myself that I’d spend more time AWAY from the computer in 2014.
Sometimes serendipity comes along, which is how I find myself heading to a local Santa Barbara week-long fitness vacation camp with Sky Ranch Fitness.
As everything the camp offers aligns with our mission and values, we are totally jiggy with that!!! Let’s lay it out for you, and you can decide whether you’d find this appealing or not. The event includes:
Kymberly: When interviewing Dr. Michael for our radio episode, Reframe Your Brain to Heal Chronic Pain, he had a comment that I latched onto as an insta-quote to share with you all:
Is that true for you? When it comes to dealing with deadline stresses, the ache of my knee arthritis, bills, my newly developed plantar fascitis, and a never-shortening “to-do” list, I don’t pay attention to the calming whispers. Worries, pains, anxieties, and the feeling of fleeting time create a cacophony that’s hard to turn off.
Even this amazing, fortuitous offer to attend the new Sky Ranch Fitness spa week started the chatter. “Will we alienate our readers by writing about attending such a high end resort or will mainstream midlifers see this as a retreat worth saving up for?” “Can I get all my work done in two days to be able to immerse myself in the experience for the week?” “Can I take advantage of the hikes the spa week offers given my teaching schedule or should I sub out another class?” “Will my foot and knee restrict me?”
And on and on and on. Chit chat fret fret worry drama. Doesn’t this sound like I need a week off? A week that offers the time and space to allow the nurturing whispers to infiltrate? As a baby boomer, I like to think I have the age and experience to make good decisions. Finding out more about a new, local business that combines two things I hold dear — wellness and Santa Barbara County — seems like an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime.
My goal while at the Sky Fitness Ranch at the Bacara Resort, which I am stating aloud AND whispering in my head is to achieve the healing strategies Dr. Michael summarized in our radio show:
My second goal is to share that experience with you in a future post, so you can achieve the same. Maybe vicariously; maybe in person one day in Santa Barbara.
Photo credits: Stuart Gildred of Sky Ranch Fitness
Disclosure: We were not paid to talk about Sky Ranch, though we did receive the week-long adventure at a seriously discounted rate. Seriously!
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).
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!”
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.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: I took these photos while out on various power walks. Get fit; see nature; take pics; pair with quotes; share with you! What could be better?
This last quote–“Strive for Perfection, Not Progress“–is actually one of our favorites as it underscores our philosophy: process over an overwhelming goal; do something consistently versus do nothing or very little perfectly. We have run into so many people who say they want to be active, yet are stopped by “rules.” “Go this often, do exactly this routine, in this order, at this intensity. Don’t eat this; do eat that, and so on.” If you are already fit, then fine tuning like this is important. But if you are minimally active then anything is better than nothing. The key is to take action in the right direction as some action begets more action.
If motivational quotes help kick start your day, then use them (as they can’t be abused, really).
Alexandra: I am motivated by a quote from our colleague Dr. Michael Luan. He says, “What you move, you lose.” So if you twist your upper body when you walk, your chest will get smaller. If you move from the core, you can trim your waist. You can guess which one I prefer! As to my outfit, people have been wondering what we wear besides workout clothing, so this is one outfit that motivates me to stay fit, as I love these crazy shorts and want to fit into them forever!
Blue top – Green Apple Active
Wine top & Shorts – Ann Taylor
P.S. Did you know we compiled e-books chock full of inspirational, funny, on target health and fitness quotes: 63 Motivational Quotes and 73 Exercise Quotes? For one of the e-books (Mind Your Fitness – Mojo-vational Quotes and Sayings) we collaborated with one of best online motivators we know, Heather Frey of SmashFit. You can get our “30 Quotes to Fit You” e-book free by when you purchase any of the other documents. This compilation gives you a progressive quote a day for a month so you can stay on track when you start a new workout effort.
Also free via my Pinterest board, Quotes: Motivation and Exercise are a few Inspirational quotes like the three above. Why not follow us on Pinterest while you’re at it? KymberlyFunFit Pinterest and AlexandraFunFit Pinterest
We took this video of our walk through a butterfly grove in the Santa Barbara area. We are hoping to entice you all to make a visit here! We’ll take you on a walk AND invite you to our exercise classes![youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jeahZ4VRiE[/youtube]
Exercise Tip #1: Strolling through a butterfly grove and along the ocean counts as exercise.
Exercise Tip #2: You don’t have to sweat to be active.
Exercise Tip #3: Go with a friend (and possibly a video camera) to make it more fun.
Bonus Santa Barbara tip: Here is information about the butterfly season and grove from our local paper.
Readers: What are some of your favorite walking spots?
Photo credit: Randy son of Robert