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6

10 Reasons to Chillax at the Hyatt Palm Springs

The Hyatt Palm Springs invited me and a guest to come stay with them for a few nights to experience their “Chill” packages. I’m a pretty smart person, so I said yes and invited my older son.

It can will get over 100 degrees in August in Palm Springs, but don’t let that deter you. We had a blast, but not a heat blast.Rocks in the road, Indian Canyons, Palm Springs

1. Get up early and hike – We hiked Andreas Canyon Trail in Indian Canyons – an oasis of fan palms, a running stream, and stunning rock formations, and Lykken South Trail – switchbacks up a steepish trail with sweeping views of Palm Springs and the surrounding desert. If you go first thing in the morning, you’ll have the trails and views to yourself. Bring water and a camera.Indian Canyons Palm Springs

Lykken Trail, Palm Springs2. Work out in the fitness room, then take a midday nap at the pool – We had the fitness room all to ourselves, so we got rebellious and turned off the TV during our workout. Then we found a shady spot by the pool and took a siesta. You can order drinks and ice cream poolside. We ordered the adult Buzz ice cream bars – Cookies ‘n Cream and Bourbon, and Vanilla and Cognac. Next time we’ll try the Coffee and Irish Cream bar.Buzz Bar at Hyatt Palm Springs

3. Eat breakfast in the Share Restaurant & Lounge – the food was organic, local, free range and healthy and the portions were huge. Like Trump’s ego – yuuuuuge. The buffet on Saturday morning had about 10 different kinds of fruit. Me, I had a spinach frittata one day, and a crab omelet the other.

4. Eat dinner in the outdoor HooDoo Cocktail Garden – Both the food and drink menus are amazing, as is the free Thursday night entertainment. The Hyatt is right in the heart of downtown, so we were in the center of the action. We also ate dinner in the Share Lounge, and want to “share” this hot tip – ask the bartender Brianna to make you a mint mojito or her special “Breeze.” They are the two best drinks I’ve ever had (and I’ve been over 21 for a long time).HooDoo menu Hyatt Palm Springs

singers-PS-525

Share Restaurant & Lounge, Hyatt Palm Springs5. Shop the incredible summer deals – I am not a fan of crowds. If you aren’t either, then this is the time to shop in Palm Springs. The prices are low, and the A/C is high.

6. Drive south on the 74 to Vista Point – The view over the Coachella Valley is unbelievable at sunset. 11899865_10153495617732660_2636170394409420667_n

Vista Point, Palm Springs

7. Wander through the outdoor market on Thursday nights – it runs 6:30 to 10 pm – art, food, crafts, clothing, leather goods, dancing, and a rabbi who answers questions.Outdoor art in Palm Springs

The 3 “Chill” packages are good until the end of September, and they are RGD (Really Good Deals):

8. Happy Hour Package – Two nights in a balcony suite, up to four cocktails, and appetizers of choice.

9. Buy 2 nights, Get the 3rd Free – Arrive Sunday – Tuesday and you’ll get your 3rd consecutive night free, starting at $129.

10. Bed & Breakfast for Two – I was with my son, so this was the perfect choice for us. The room was huge, and included a separate living room.Pool at the Hyatt Palm Springs

On the drive home, we stopped at the outlet mall that’s just west of Palm Springs, and spent all the money we saved at the Hyatt. I’m a sucker for buying clothes for my sartorially-oriented, very handsome son.Wind Farm, Palm Springs

There is one more thing that I thought the Hyatt really excelled at – customer service. Every single person we came in contact with seemed to take pride in going beyond the basics – Trouble with our internet? Two engineers showed up in minutes. An underinflated stability ball in the fitness room? They sent someone to inflate it. The valet/ bellhops asked us each time we got our car if we needed directions or sightseeing advice. The breakfast waiter remembered that I like grapefruit juice. They treated everyone like this, and most of them had no idea I was a VIP media guest, so it wasn’t “for show.” And the crème de la crème? They treated my son with courtesy and respect, which you don’t always see extended toward a 21-year-old.Fountain in Palm Springs

All in all, a perfect summer adventure. Enjoy my pictures, and if you decide to book your own Hyatt trip to Palm Springs, I promise to enjoy your pictures.cactus on a rock in Indian Canyons, Palm Springs

If you like short videos of the places I travel, please follow me on Periscope at @AlexandraFunFit

By Alexandra Williams, MA

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this post, though my stay at the Hyatt Palm Springs was covered, for which I am grateful. 

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

9

Earth Day Food and Wine Weekend: Sustainability in Practice

Alexandra Williams, MA

Wine glass at Earth Day Food & Wine eventRaise your hand (and glass) if you like wine. Now keep your hands and value system up, as you are about to discover a wine event that celebrates sustainability in food AND wine – Earth Day Food and Wine Weekend in Paso Robles, California.

Pssst – if you don’t live in California, read this anyway, as you can probably buy one of the 1.5 millions cases of Sustainability in Practice (SIP) wines near you, which might cheer you up about missing the event.

What is SIP?
When a winery achieves this certification, it means they are committed to practices that support workers and the environment, as well as contributing to cleaner processes. As we’re in a major drought in California, these vintners, ranchers and farmers are leading the way in trying to work with, not against, the land and weather, as no crops will be sustainable if we don’t do something now.
cheers to SIP wines - Sustainability in Practice
Every time you buy a SIP-certified bottle of wine, you are putting your money toward growers who share your (and my) preferences for sustainable practices. You are casting a vote to keep these vintners in business. By drinking wine! Can you say “win win?” If you’re into social media, you can even use the hashtag #ispySIP. And if you have no idea what a hashtag is, and wonder why I’m co-opting the pound sign, no worries – just ask your local shop if they carry SIP certified wines.

Besides me, who now wants to say, “I spy with my little eye…. wine?”

eat locally grown food at Earth Day Food & WineEarth Day Food & Wine Weekend
Let’s say you are somewhat close to Paso Robles in Central California and want to come to the event April 18th. Held at Castoro Cellars, it’s a food and wine experience that’s high class and low key. Heck, you can wear your flip flops and “I Love California” t-shirt while dancing to the Cali Funk tunes of Proxima Parada if you want. Guess where much of your admission money goes? To educational scholarships for relatives of farmworkers and Spanish education programs. Drink Well and Do Good should be their motto. But it’s not, because I just made it up.

Learn more at the Earth Day Food and Wine site
Register at this link (prices range from $75 to $800 for a table for 8)
Get general information here

dessert sorbet at Earth Day Food and WineIf you are social media savvy, you can find them on Facebook , Twitter, and Instagram.

For the record, this is not a sponsored post. They are giving me free admission, but I’m writing about this because one of the organizers is my friend and I know what a fun event it will be. For example, on their Facebook page, I just saw reference to locally grown onion, Gruyere, bacon quiches that will be at the event. Besides, they know the difference between “borne” and “born.” The editor in me is savoring this grammatical knowledge. You know, like a good glass of wine.

Photo credits: Earth Day Food and Wine

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!

19

Travel to Tucson

Alexandra Williams, MA

You might think it’s crazy to visit Tucson in August, but it can be done without overheating or oversunburning. Benefits – sights are less crowded and hotels are less expensive. No other benefits that I can think of. Oh, wait. You also get the docents and parking lot to yourself. Total bonus.

picture of Sonora Desert

View toward Sonora Desert Museum west of Tucson

 

Son #2 and I went to Tucson to see my cousins. One cousin is foolish enough to live there (don’t get upset Tucson friends, you have to admit it’s way too hot in summer), and the other flew in from D.C. We decided to drive because we have air conditioning. And because I didn’t realize it was a 12, not 8 hour drive. I should have trusted you Google Maps.

No matter your means of conveyance (that’s gotta be old western talk, right?), you’ll want to visit the following three places:

 

 

 

Pima Air & Space Museum 

pictures of Pima Air & Space Museum

Over 300 aircraft at this museum

The largest privately owned air museum in the U.S., it has over 300 military, civilian and commercial aircraft. In the main hangar you’ll see a variety of planes, ranging from a Lear Jet that was owned and flown by the first woman to get type-rated in a Lear, to a homemade Bumble Bee plane that took the record for world’s smallest plane in 1984. Two WWII hangars (Pacific and European) are dedicated to the history and aircraft from the war. The SR-71 Blackbird spy plane and B-29 Bomber are spectacular, and made doubly so if you can get a docent to tell you their stories.
My favorite was the 390th Memorial Museum hangar, as I’m a history buff way more than an aviation fan. The POW exhibit and memorial plaques were especially moving.
More than half of the planes are outdoors, so we did a quick walk around due to the heat. You can take a tram tour of the 80+ outdoor acres, but we didn’t want to spend an hour sitting on the tram. We did find a number of Air Force One (so fancy) planes, plus a bunch of commercial planes from defunct airlines (remember TWA and PanAm?).

Biosphere2

pictures of biosphere2

Biosphere2 – Where you can never leave.

In the early 90s, scientists were sealed up inside the biosphere for two years to measure survivability in a contained environment. Now owned by the University of Arizona as a research facility (mostly for climate change studies), it’s still a contained environment with a rainforest, desert, ocean, and their support systems – air flow “lungs”, energy center, water & life experiments.
We learned that preventing ultraviolet light (for human benefit) was detrimental to the bees and coral, both of which died out. We also heard that the trees were flopping over until the researchers realized they needed wind, which then had to be created. We also found out that the immense amount of concrete supporting the biosphere absorbed so much of the oxygen while curing that oxygen had to be pumped in via the “lungs” so the scientists could survive. And according to my cousin, the second scientific “two-year sleepover” only lasted 6 months partly because the scientists didn’t get along. He also told me that one of the scientists was caught ordering take-away pizza. I don’t know if it was thin or thick crust. And in case you’re wondering, Biosphere1 is that big blue thing – earth.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

pictures of Sonora Desert Museum

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my (okay, no tigers)

Wake up early and get to this (mainly) outdoor museum when it opens at 7:30. Not only will the animals be awake, but it’s cool enough for you to remain outside for several hours. Not cool, just cool enough, by which I mean tolerable upper 80s, lower 90s. I think we were the very first visitors of the day, which meant that the docents were happy to talk to us for as long as we wanted. Some of the museum is like a zoo in that the animals are in outdoor enclosures that separate them from us. As you can see from my photo collage, we saw all kinds of critters. The mountain lion paced back and forth in front of us for quite a while, rubbing against the viewing glass. I am pretty sure he was purring.
Along the pathway, we saw some commotion with a squirrel and several museum workers. They told us that a squirrel was protecting its nest from a poaching rattlesnake. We made the mistake of asking where the snake was. So, yeah, about 2 feet in front of us, in the grass. Not separated from humans. After we backed way up, Karl the Docent with the Animal Grabbers drove up in his golf cart and plucked the snake up and put it into a box, on its way to a part of the desert where humans did not necessarily wander.
The Desert Museum also has an aquarium, botanical gardens, walking trails, aviaries, a cave/ geology center, art center, and demonstrations. Eighty-five percent of the museum is outdoors, so we had hats, sunblock and lots of water. And by 10:30 a.m. we were back in the car and on the road home to California.

pic of the Colorado River between AZ and CA

The border between Arizona and California – the Colorado River

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This post contains affiliate links and we will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on our links. Working on those college fees!
21

7 Quirky Exercise Options When Traveling

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Climbing the road

Alexandra Works Out on The Road, Literally (Click on the photos to extend your journey!)

 Summer time is travel time. That can also mean spending more time sitting in planes, cars, hotel rooms, and on relatives’ couches. Vacations and travel also disrupt workout and exercise routines. Get in some movement while on the road or in the air by looking at options from a new angle.

1. Escalate Your Choices

Alexandra: Yes, you can take the stairs NEXT to the escalator, or climb the escalator steps instead of standing in place, just as easily as you can walk on the airport moving walkway instead of standing still. But what about going the wrong way? If few people are about, why not walk up the down escalator, or jog the opposite way on the moving walkway? Kids do it all the time, so why can’t we adults?

2. Check Out the Hotel at Check In

Kymberly: Overcome travel fatigue by taking advantage of fitness opportunities in your hotel. Check into your room, then check out the options.

Casita at the Ranch

Exercise Your Right to Nap in Your Room

First stop: the fitness room. No matter how modest or spacious, this is usually one of the quietest places at the hotel, which means you may have it to yourself. Wear whatever works, sing along to your iPod, put the tv channel on your favorite re-run as you get in a brisk walk on the treadmill.

3. Step It Up and Down

Next up: Stairs instead of elevators! That first trip with luggage deserves the elevator. After that, step it up! So obvious, yet how many people do you see using hotel stairs? If you’re staying on a high floor, take the elevator halfway, get out and walk the rest of the way. If your room is on a lower level, take the elevator a few flights past your floor and walk down. Do a mini-step class on the bottom step or landing.

4. Keep Hair Dry with This Water Workout

Water workout pool

Admit it – This Pool Beckons (Click on the Photo to Dive In)

What next?: the pool! Hate swimming? Want to keep your hair dry? Can do! Jog in place at waist to chest depth or do a few powerwalking laps. Stand in a lunge position and jump-switch legs back and forth. Be creative moving your arms and legs about underwater creating resistance for a nifty and refreshing muscular endurance workout.

5. Take Off with This Plane Program

Alexandra: On a very long flight to Thailand a year ago, Kymberly and I were in physical discomfort from being seated for too long. Ever since 9/11, it seems we are discouraged from moving about during flights. Fortunately we found out that our plane had two levels with a stairwell at the back. So we climbed up and down for a while, then did stretches and leg work in place on the stairs. No-one gave us unfriendly looks, and we even spotted a few copycats after we were done.

Trip to Thailand

Walk Those Runways

6. Trot on and off Trolleys

Some cities offer sightseeing trolleys that allow you to hop off, visit an interesting place, then hop back on, including our home base Santa Barbara. I was just in Savannah, Georgia, and the free on/off buses were a perfect way to sightsee without having to walk the entire historic district or stay on a bus the whole time.

7. Pop a Squat Set

Even if you are stuck in the crappy middle seat of a domestic flight, and cannot “get up and move about the cabin,” you can still do squats. Unbuckle, start to stand, then sit back down. Do this ten times at repeated intervals and you will feel so much better when the flight’s over. You might even avoid having your legs fall asleep, which is what happens to me on flights if I stay still. Who cares if people stare? They are envious of your talents and ingenuity.

Chevy Volt and Alexandra in trunk

No junk in your trunk with these travel moves.

Kymberly: They are probably also jealous of your hot fun in the summertime! Road song! Click to sing along.

Travel to related posts by clicking on the pictures. Where will they take you?

Then journey our way:

1) Follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit.

2) Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

44

A Trip to The Past in a Car For the Future: Driving Around Los Angeles in a Chevy Volt

Alexandra Williams, MA

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Chevy.

Trunk space in the Chevy Volt

Either I am giving myself a jolt with the Volt battery, or demonstrating the roominess of the trunk. Or just being dorky!

pic of Hermosa Pier plaque

The Hermosa Beach Plaque at the Pier

I grew up in Hermosa Beach, in Los Angeles County. Over the past 30 years, I’ve probably gone back 5 times, mostly because I had moved far away. Thanks to Chevy, I was offered a Volt to drive around for the weekend anywhere I wanted to go in L.A. Immediately I knew I’d head to Hermosa for day one. For day two, I picked downtown L.A., as I fell in love with the downtown area when I took a tour with the Los Angeles Conservancy a few months ago.

 

 

Day One – Hermosa Beach:

When I was growing up, Hermosa was a family beach town. Parking was not really an issue. It is now! First off, I didn’t care how far I had to park from the beach, as I like walking. Secondly, it was a moot point, because I was so excited by the OnStar feature that I called to get locations of charging stations, and was directed to a spot about 2 blocks from the beach, right in front of the local surf shop. Not only was the charging station free, I got to park for as long as I wanted, as opposed to the 2 hour max for everyone else. Score!

collage of Pier Ave. Jr. High

I went here when it was Pier Ave. Jr. High. Shop and Home Ec. were where the museum now is. My friend’s parents are listed on the plaque as supporters of the community center that it became. And I played volleyball (dressed in ugly green stretchy one-piece gym suits) where the skate park now is. As to the art show, it’s worth a visit when they hold it. Truly gorgeous works. Oh, the movie “Carrie” with Sissy Spacek was filmed here.

pictures from the Hermosa Beach Pier

The Hermosa Beach Pier doesn’t have concession stands or rides, so it’s uncrowded and worth a visit. You can see south all the way to Palos Verdes, and north to Santa Monica. A few years ago, city leaders added a Surfer’s Walk of Fame, including a high school cohort of mine. If you like to people-watch, walk, bike ride, play or watch volleyball, surf, swim, paddleboard, stand-up paddle, or build a sand-castle, this is the perfect spot.

picture of lifeguard station at 22nd street in Hermosa Beach

This is my favorite picture from the weekend because it’s the 22nd St. lifeguard station at the beach by my childhood home. We would dig for sand dabs, get sunburned, put sand in our hair, bury each other in the sand, swim in the ocean, and even build July 4th bonfires before they were outlawed. I sat here for a while and teared up, thinking of my childhood. Enjoy the present so that you can have happy memories when it’s the past.

picture of charging station at surf shop in Hermosa Beach

A free charging station in front of the surf shop on Pier Ave. & Monterey in Hermosa Beach. I parked here for 4 hours for free! And the Chevy Volt got fully charged in that time!

After walking around H.B. all day, I called my new BFF at OnStar, and headed off to a party that a high school friend was giving. In the 70s, my mom directed plays, and she encouraged this friend in his love of working with sound. He grew up to own one of the most respected sound companies around, doing many of the concerts you’ve probably been to. You just never know how a seemingly small act of encouragement can grow. He credits my mom for his path. I credit him for throwing a party that had fire-dancers, aerial silk artists, and excellent music, sound and a light show. I wore hot pink shorts for the hot tub and completely ruined my niece’s life. I forgot the Auntie Dress Code for a moment! hahahahah. She’s now scarred for life.

Day Two – Downtown L.A:

After sleeping in till 8:30 (it was a non-alcoholic party, FYI; I was just tired), I drove the Volt downtown. Did you know you can park in Pershing Square on the weekend for just $7 all day?

picture of Pershing Square

Pershing Square. Look for the inlaid river going into the fountain. And the pet walk area. In the winter they convert part of the Square to an ice rink.

We (family tagged along) wandered around looking at whatever caught our fancy, and swore that we’d do a Conservancy Theatre tour soon.

Exterior views in downtown L.A.

When you go downtown, remember to look up, as there’s always a unique detail to catch your eye. Or art. Or the reconstruction of a landmark. And even the grand opening of a quirkily-named shop! Watch out for griffins!

When we were kids our mom took us to lots of museums, including the La Brea Tar Pits, where we all threatened to push each other in (my parents had 5 kids, hoping to eventually strike gold, I guess), but I don’t have memories of going downtown. I love history (my undergrad degree was in medieval history, which my dad said qualified me for government work), so I am that nerd who reads every plaque on every building. Downtown L.A. has a lot of historic buildings, so it will take me years.

picture of interior scenes in L.A.

Did you know you can go inside the Bradbury Building, the Biltmore, and of course, The Last Bookstore.

picture of Angel's flight and farmer's market in downtown L.A.

No trip to downtown L.A. is complete without a visit to Angel’s Flight (you can ride it when it’s working, which is rare, sadly) and the Farmer’s Market.

You got that, Chevy Volt people? I need the car again FOR YEARS, as I finish these trips through history and my memory. I promise to stop yelling, “Charge me up, baby” at all the charging stations!

pic of some oddities seen in downtown L.A.

I decided that I need to wear THIS and decorate the tailpipe of the Chevy Volt with THIS. So L.A.

This trip started and ended with the Chevy Volt, so it’s fitting it should start and end with pictures of it. In my own inimitable style, of course. If you are on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, you can see my other photos using the hashtag #ChevyFitTrip. Four other bloggers will be sharing their trips around Los Angeles and New York using this same hashtag, so follow along all summer.IMG_7876

And of course, for more about fitness, fun and active aging, follow Kymberly and me:

1) Follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit.

2) Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

7

What is Your Health Worth?

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Retreat to A Week at Sky Ranch Fitness

From Spa to Shining Sea

From Spa to Shining Sea

Is a fitness spa or resort vacation in your future?

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.

The Serendipitous Steps to a Week at Sky Ranch Fitness

  1. Start a new radio show in 2014
  2. Interview movement expert Dr. Michael Luan on our radio show
    wine tasting at SkyRanch Fitness

    Wine Tasting

  3. Perk up ears when Dr. Michael talks about his upcoming presentations at Sky Ranch Fitness/ Bacara Resort
  4. Perk up mood when Dr. Michael introduces us to the owner of Sky Ranch Fitness
  5. Pack up when we are invited to participate in a week of Sky Ranch fitness fun As part of being participants in this luxury fitness event (yes, those two words DO go together), we have promised to help get the word out about Sky Ranch.
Bacara Resort and the beach - Santa Barbara

A few of the 354 luxury rooms at Bacara Resort

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:

  •  Six nights at Bacara Resort, which sits on the beach in Santa Barbara
  • Complete fitness assessments
  • Nutrition education, including a cooking class in a local setting
  • Sunset dinner cruise along the California coast
  • Wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley (made famous in the movie “Sideways”)
  • Hikes, fitness classes and personal training
  • Massages
  • Lectures on wellness and health
  • Take-home individualized fitness and nutrition plans
  • Post-event accountability check-ins

 

Santa Ynez Valley

The location of one of the hikes

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:

“The healing whispers we hear in our mind are drowned out by the chatter in our heads and dramas of the day.”

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:

  1. Smile as often as possible to reset my brain
  2. Re-evaluate my walking technique and style
  3. Find, form, and pursue my passions

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.

hiking with Sky Ranch Fitness

Beautiful hikes every day

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!

17

Take a City Walking Tour: Exercise & History Together!

Alexandra Williams, MA
What movie with Harrison Ford was filmed here?

What movie with Harrison Ford was filmed here?

Many people ask us, “I am not ready to join a gym, yet I know I need to exercise. What can I do?” While there are many answers, one that I find really fun is to take a walking tour. You stop so often, and are focused on the history and design of the local sights, so it’s easy to get in a nice long walk without even realizing it…or sweating!

Downtown Walking Tour

A few weeks ago I was part of an invited group of bloggers who got to participate in a walking tour of downtown Los Angeles, courtesy of the Los Angeles Conservancy. First off, I learned that the Conservancy came into being in order to save the downtown L.A. Central Library from being torn down after an earthquake, then arson, put it on the list for demolition. Can you even imagine the library NOT being there?

Until the 1950s, L.A.’s skyscrapers were limited to 150’ in height in order to let in as much of the Southern California sun as possible. The rule was then changed to a rule called 13:1, which meant you could build a 13-story skyscraper under certain space conditions. So the Conservancy worked a deal where they sold the air space above them to U.S. Bank (aka Library Tower), which wanted to build up higher than 13 stories. Go take the tour, look at the very tall buildings next to the library, and do the math!

History in Pictures

In the past, I walked around downtown L.A simply to get from point A to point B. Little did I know how much beauty and history was lurking all around me! These pictures give a hint:

Time for a walk around downtown L.A.

Time for a walk around downtown L.A.

Entrance to the Pacific Mutual Building - Designed to Impress

Entrance to the Pacific Mutual Building – Designed to Impress

Detail from the Pacific Mutual Building Entrance

Detail from the Pacific Mutual Building Entrance

Built in 1945, one of the last vestiges of Book Row.

Built in 1954, one of the last vestiges of Book Row.

Pool at the L.A. Central Library

Pool at the L.A. Central Library

Words of Wisdom

Words of Wisdom

Islamic-influenced ceiling in the L.A. Central Library.

Islamic-influenced ceiling in the L.A. Central Library.

Entrance to the Edison Building, aka Torrey Pines Bank

Entrance to the Edison Building, aka Torrey Pines Bank

The elevator lobby in the Edison Building

The elevator lobby in the Edison Building

Art isn't Always Small

Art isn’t Always Small

Angel's Flight - Closed for Repairs

Angel’s Flight – Closed for Repairs

Central Market L.A. - We tasted our way through it!

Central Market L.A. – We tasted our way through it!

Entrance to Grand Central Market in downtown L.A.

Entrance to Grand Central Market in downtown L.A.

Sadly, Harrison Ford isn't listed on this Bradbury Building Directory.

Sadly, Harrison Ford isn’t listed on this Bradbury Building Directory

Look up: The Bradbury Building

Look up: The Bradbury Building

Our Excellent Guide from the L.A. Conservancy

Our Excellent Guide from the L.A. Conservancy

Even though I grew up in L.A. County and went to many museums and events as a kid (my mom was big on getting us all cultured up!!!), I hadn’t really explored downtown before (nor been interested to do so). Strange, considering how many city walking tours I’ve been on around the world. No matter; I’m hooked now, and have already made plans to return. As a matter of fact, the tickets to see “The Nightmare Before Christmas” at the stunning Orpheum Theatre arrived yesterday!

By the time the tour was over, I guessed that we had walked just a few blocks. According to my Charity Miles app, we had actually done 2 miles! All without breaking a sweat. I wholeheartedly recommend a city walking tour as a way to exercise. You’ll enjoy the process and be happy with the benefits. Kind of like having kids! Hahahahahh. And if you are near Los Angeles, try one of the Conservancy tours. Our volunteer guide, David Fitzgerald, was enthusiastic, knowledgeable, friendly and emanated love for Los Angeles and her history.

Join us and Omax3 for a Twitter chat about Omega-3s this Thursday, Nov. 21 at 6pm PST/ 9pm EST. Hashtag #Omax3Omega. You bring the questions; Omax3 will bring the prizes – Boxes of Omega-3 capsules and GNC cards. 

Want to work with a prize team? 

A) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

B) Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.

C) Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

21

Baking and Cooking in Seattle with Miele

Alexandra Williams, MA

First-Class Treatment from a First-Class Company

Miele Combi-Steam OvenLast week I was one of eight bloggers invited to Seattle to learn about the Miele Combi-Steam Oven. But this was not a “come to a demo of our oven” trip, noooooooo. It was a “let’s treat you as an esteemed visitor to the city and our gallery slash showroom slash demo kitchen slash restaurant” kind of trip.

Indulge me while we start at the start. In January 2013 I was part of the Modenus BlogTour to Cologne. Miele was one of the sponsors, so I learned all about their original steam oven, as well as their super-intelligent coffeemakers. Perhaps when Miele learned I had stowed away inside their booth (they had food, unlimited coffee and wifi), they decided I might be a good candidate for the Seattle junket (come on, who doesn’t want an excuse to say “junket?”). Or perhaps my famous bread-baking skills persuaded them to invite me  (I am taking license with the word “skills”).

Day One with Miele

The TV screen Welcomed me by Name. Gifts from the Hotel and Miele Awaited.

I flew into Sea-Tac airport to find my driver awaiting me. He drove me to the luxury Hotel 1000. Note the word “luxury” there. It permeated the weekend. We met up as a group for dinner at Altura Italian restaurant in Capitol Hill. We had our own menu, plus a few surprises, including the chef’s gift of squash panna cotta with black truffle and popcorn. We toasted to Miele with both red and white wine!!

A menu made just for Miele Seattle. And they added extras, including truffles & a blood orange, cardamon & apple palate cleanser

A menu made just for Miele Seattle. And they added extras, including truffles & a blood orange, cardamon & apple palate cleanser

Day Two with Miele

Color, color, everywhere

Color, color, everywhere

Yes, they really do throw the fish! And that is peanut butter encrusted ham.

Yes, they really do throw the fish! And that is peanut butter encrusted ham.

The day started with a behind the scenes tour of Pike Place Market with Savor Seattle. Our tour guide Brett had even worse puns than I do, so I adopted him. Pastry chef Dianne of Dianne’s Delights joined us, and later taught us how to make jam-filled pastry tarts! Yup, our very own pastry chef. We got to taste test all kinds of delicious Market items, from salmon to donuts to coconut lime balsamic vinegar to cheese to cabernet pepper jelly to, to, to, Infinity and Beyond!! And even though I don’t eat meat, a special shout-out goes to BB Ranch, where owner Bill has gone to great lengths to use every single part of the animal in a way that takes care of the land and animals (humans included).

Fresh Water all Lined Up

Fresh Water all Lined Up

The Combi-Steam Oven Belongs to Whomever Last Touched It

The Combi-Steam Oven Belongs to Whomever Last Touched It

The Main Miele Event took place in the afternoon and evening. The pictures tell the story of the roasting and baking we all did, including my stint rolling out dough when they asked for someone with muscles!!

Roll It & Make It &  Bake it with Some Jam!

Roll It & Make It &
Bake it with Some Jam!

What the pictures don’t tell you is how I broke up with my former boyfriend the Miele Steam Oven once I had this first date with the Combi-Oven. As a bread baker, I went ga-ga (drool included) over the steam and convection combination that makes it possible to cut two-thirds of the proofing time off. We didn’t make bread though; we made galettes, and the crust was perfect – crisp, flaky, golden-brown and melt-in-the-mouth delicious. Okay, Team Galette Girls (my team of three) made the crust, so I might be biased. And we actually had to do some troubleshooting after overwatering our dough, but the combi-steam oven fixed our almost-mistake.

The Galette Girls

The Galette Girls

For people like my sister, this “Immer Besser” oven is “Always Better” (Miele’s slogan), because she is not a cook, and the oven knows that. It is Immer Smarter, so has over 100 automated programs, plus five specialty gourmet programs for turkey, chicken, baby back ribs, salmon and beef tenderloin. If you can work a smartphone, you can follow control panel instructions. Miele cleverly hides something behind the control panel. Can you guess what it is?

We made the chicken, ribs and salmon, as well as two different types of galette, pumpkin pot de crème, roasted fingerling potatoes with carrots, and cookies. This was all after we made the jam tarts. To fortify ourselves for the excruciating chore of cooking all this deliciousness, we drank German coffees all day. A few of the bloggers had wine and champagne too, but I am sworn to secrecy (they posted a lot of pictures on Instagram, in other words).

Top Quality From German firm Miele. I thought they said, "Choose a vacuum on the way out." They Didn't.

Top Quality From German firm Miele. I thought they said, “Choose a vacuum on the way out.” They Didn’t.

When dinner was over, someone else did the dishes (say, does that feature come with the combi-oven?), then we sort of rolled ourselves into the shuttle van for the ride back to the hotel. On the way out I tried to stuff a dishwasher and orange vacuum into my bag, but it didn’t work. I need a bigger bag! Oh, to demonstrate how quiet their dishwashers are, one of the Miele team members put her phone into the machine. Even though she had music playing on Loud, we heard nothing once the door was shut. I volunteered to put my boys into the machine.

Day Three with Miele

The public relations specialist for Miele invited us to breakfast. I ordered oatmeal. Please don’t hate me because I love oatmeal. It got me all fortified up for the walking and shopping I did before my flight home. And even though all my flights both to and from Seattle were delayed (hey, Miele, next time can you invent a fog-lifter machine?), I was cheery. Skipping and hopping were involved! Why? Because who wouldn’t be grateful for such an adventure with Miele? I got to visit a city I love, make new friends, and learn more about a quality product that I’ve loved since I lived in Berlin in the cough cough 1980s.

A decaf macchiato toast to the public relations team at White Good!! They recognize the value of hard-working ethical bloggers, and went way beyond the expected to make this a truly first-class experience that exemplified the “Immer Besser” Miele slogan.

A perfect decaf Miele Macchiato

A perfect decaf Miele Macchiato

Need some bread baked? Or just some all-around great info?

A) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

B) Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.

C) Follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

Photo credits: All were taken by Alexandra’s magical skill-improving phone. And I was not paid to write this post. All opinions are my own. Miele did cover all my expenses in a very generous fashion, yet did not ask for anything in return. They are fully aware of my undying love for their high-quality products. Besides, I like to say, “Immer Besser.” It just sounds cool.