Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Enjoyable (and free!) Online Workouts for All Women

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend found me in the basement pumping some iron while sitting in a kitchen chair and watching a youtube video. My foot was still in a stiff-sandal for my toe and I couldn't walk, but I was desperate to workout. "THIS CHAIR WORKOUT IS ACTUALLY REALLY HARD and SATISFYING!" I yelled, hoisting a 5 lb weight over my head. He rolled his eyes and kept on with his business. (He's used to me doing weird stuff.) But the weird part is that I was being serious. I REALLY WAS enjoying my workout. 

Jessica (my new online workout buddy) and I, were like peas in a pod. Most days for the last few weeks, I have visited Jessica's website to do one of her workouts. The classes are full-length, free, effective, positive, and friendly. The best part is that her dog is usually in the videos, which for some reason cracks me up. I find it so funny I feel the need to make other people watch the scenes the dog is in. ("OH MY GOD! ISN'T IT SO FUNNY WHEN PEANUT EATS JESSICA'S MAT RIGHT THERE?")

The best part of the videos, though, is the variety. I found a lot that I could do even with my fractured toe, and there's so many different videos that I haven't done any workout twice yet. 

If you have any other go-to workout sites, let me know!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Surf Camp Part III: My Takeaways

This is probably a given, but I learned a lot by traveling half way around the world to attend surf camp:

1. Sometimes doing what makes me happy is hard.
2. I will get homesick when I travel, but I will be happy that I did it in the end.
3. I will get frustrated when I try to surf, but I will be happy that I tried.
3. Make what you want to happen...happen.  Edison came to Hawaii with nothing and now is a successful surfer and business man. (Get him to tell you the story if you can. It's one of the reasons I left the first school I got hired at and switched to a new one.)
4. Get involved in the culture around you.
5. Get outside.

What are some lessons you have learned from traveling?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Surf Camp-Part II: Things Start To Go Down Hill and Then a Little Up

The first morning out on the water, my instructor for the day (not Edison-he has a few different instructors who work for him and I enjoyed them all) took me to a spot on the North Shore of Oahu called Pua'ena Point. This is a good beginner spot, as it has a gentle inside break that is small and away from the real surfers.

After describing the basics of surfing to me on the shore and pointing out the reef in the water that I was "not to step on or touch for any reason," we got on our boards and paddled out. By "paddle," I mean I flailed my arms in something like an awful free-style stroke. When we got to the break, my instructor would tell me to paddle, and then he would push me into the wave and yell at me to stand up. I stood up on my first try, so I pretty much thought I was awesome at this sport. I didn't realize at the time that my instructor was pushing me into the waves, but no matter, I was a natural.

The next day I came to my senses. I went out with a different instructor to the same spot. I was still using a giant 13-foot foam surfboard, which means that standing on it is about as hard as standing on dry land. The waves were a little bigger than the day before, and my instructor was busy with the other person in my group lesson for that day: a crying 8-year-old. I tried to catch waves on my own but got none. Dark clouds rolled in and it started raining. Then the instructor had two crying clients to deal with.  I was no natural.

On the third day, a new girl, Claire, arrived, and we went out for an evening surf  with our instructor. We paddled out to the real break at Pua'ena Point, and we were told us that if we got caught in a set on the paddle out, that we should paddle to the right to get into a channel. I paddled too far right one time and almost got smashed into a shallow reef. Another instructor (there's a lot of them in the water) saw my distress and paddled over to help me.

On the fourth day, I had 3-4 inch board rash on the inside of both of my legs, and my shoulders were so tired I could barely lift my arms to paddle. We also discovered that I had an annoying habit of not actually standing up on my board: my instructor would push me into a wave and instead of standing, I would just hang on to my board as if it were a boogie board and ride it all the way in. Then, 2 minutes later, I would stand...when the water was a little calmer. Claire and my instructor for the day would implore me to STAND UP IMMEDIATELY when I caught a wave, but that seemed impossible. Did I LOOK LIKE I wanted to be tossed off my board and thrown into the maelstrom while trying to stand? Also, I had been given a real surfboard to use that day, which I managed to smack myself in the head with. My only consolation was that I was better than the 20-year-old Frenchman in the group, which wasn't saying much. I was tired. I was rashy. I was lonely. I was awkward and quiet around new people. I hated surfing. I didn't want to go out for my 5th and last session the next day.

As luck would have it, though, I talked myself back into my last session. The waves were small, so there was a lot of down time. I was free to put my head on board and float around while enjoying the lush green mountains surrounding me. When I was pushed into a wave, and as I cruised to shore laying down on my board, other instructors in the water, most of whom recognized me from the day before, all encouraged me to "stand up! stand up!!" as I passed them by. Even strangers were tired of me boogie boarding on my surfboard. Finally, during my last few attempts, I did manage to stand up early on my board, and people cheered for me the whole ride in. Although I was clearly no real surfer, victory was still mine. I had conquered a ridiculous amount of personal fears over the course of the week.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

My First Surf Camp-Part I: The Arrival

I've always wanted to learn how to surf. After years of just watching everyone else do it, I finally went bonkers and booked multiple flights out to Hawaii, where I would stay with a pro-surfer Edison de Paula ( and his wife and learn to surf all week. This was seven years ago now, but it still feels like a recent adventure.

I booked the flight a week before Thanksgiving, and broke the news to my family that I wouldn't be home over Christmas because I was going to surf camp. Through their tears of laughter, I heard the words "don't get eaten by a shark" and other sage pieces of advice. No one else questioned where I was going or what I was doing until I arrived at midnight in Hawaii and had the following conversation with my mom:
Mom: "Wait...who is picking you up at the airport?"
Me: "Some dude in an truck."
Mom: "Oh my God."
Me: "Okay! Byeeeeeeeee!!!"

Luckily, the man who picked me up was just plain ol' nice Edison, and he took me back to his house in Haleiwa while pointing out the mountains near Pearl Harbor on the way. At his house, I met his yogi-wife Julianna, her brother, Julianna's mom and Julianna's dad. Turns out they were visiting from Brazil. Lucky for me, I had just read the back of a POM bottle, so I knew to say "BOM DIA" or "Good day" in Portuguese. The rest of the week her parents and I just mimed to each other and giggled.

I was shown to my bunk and was told that we would be going out on the water around 8:00 the next morning. I was sick and excited at the same time.

Stay tuned! More to come later this week.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

I Actually Need That Toe!

Well. I fractured my little, baby middle toe, and it turns out I need that little toe to do pretty much everything I enjoy. It's been sort of a frustrating year in this way- in that it's been a year of fitness starts and stops. I never really got into a workout routine at the beginning of the year, I then pulled my intercostals over the winter, and now I'm trying to deal with my toe. Every once in awhile I would get a good workout out in, but overall I've been pretty inconsistent. This is unusual for me, but I think I was especially cranky this year at not being a part of a gym or a fitness group that I enjoyed, and sort of just gave up for a bit. Not a good idea, but I did anyway.

As you may guess, I'm especially bummed about my toe/sprained foot because it's taking a big bite out of the little time I have to work on my poor, poor surfing skills. I'm trying not to dwell on this,  and I am instead trying to focus on regaining the consistency and routine I used to have in my workouts. This means I come home from work and workout from anywhere from 30-90 minutes. Because of my toe, I'm really limited in what I can do, but I've found a lot of YouTube videos to help me get around it and that makes me feel good about myself despite not really being able to do too much.

As Jackie and I discussed after my last post, working out in any way, even if you're not losing weight or doing something you want to do (such as mountain biking,etc.) it still gets the endorphins going and buoys the spirits. I have to wear my little boot thing for 3 more weeks, but instead of sulking (as I've done for the last two weeks), I'm working on ways to get around it.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Women Who Play Sports To Fight Off Depression

My trail running career lasted just a few weeks and just a few miles. I didn't know I would give up on the sport so fast, but by the time I figured it out, it was too late: I was already subscribed to Trail Runner magazine. Even though I never got into trail running, I read the magazine anyway when it turns up in my mailbox. Heck. Why not? What kind of rebel would I be if I only read magazines about sports I actually played?

This month, though, I was lucky enough to come across an article in Trail Runner titled "The Hope Seekers" by Meghan Hicks. The article profiles 3 women who run in order to fight against depression.

The first woman, Nikki Kimball battles severe depressive episodes. At one point in the article she stated "I thought about death every day. I wanted to be dead, yet I didn't have the motivation to do it. But the idea of death was a relaxing thought." Then she goes on to say, "All the things I should do for myself in this situation were the hardest things to do. I couldn't get out of bed for morning runs. I didn't answer calls or respond to e-mails from friends." 

The last two lines of this passage jumped out at me because they are so true. Every day I try to wrap my head around the idea that being happy is hard. That seems so backwards. Being happy should come naturally but instead it does not. Why is that? Shouldn't doing the things that make us happy be easy to do? Personally, I find (all the time) that in order to get myself to do the things that quiet my head and bring me satisfaction, I have to overcome the negative side of my mind-which always seems to be encouraging me to be a slothmit (sloth + hermit). I'm slowly...slowly... learning to ignore this voice.

The second woman is Devon Yanko, and she was a victim of sexual assault. She feels that the running helped her distance herself from that traumatic period. She feels that "through running, I had accumulated all these miles that both literally and figuratively separated me from that time."

The last woman is Lisa Smith-Batchen, who also suffers from depression. She understands that if she is feeling down, she needs to run through it. According to Smith-Batchen, "running is my best friend. I know it's the one thing that will always help me. It doesn't solve problems, but it makes them feel a lot better."

These quotes are cover so little of what this article has to offer. It was one that I want everyone to read, but unfortunately, I can't dig up a digital copy. For now, your homework is to go to your closest Barnes and Nobles and buy the June 2014 copy of Trail Runner. But since I know you won't do that, let's hope this article starts making its way around the internet.

Since I can't find a link to the original article, below is one article about Nikki and one about Lisa Smith-Batchen. I also included another about a woman I read about in Experience Life today. Truly amazing and self-aware people.

Nikki Kimball:

Lisa Smith-Batchen: (go to page 68)

Kandace MacKaben's:

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Skin Care for Outdoor Women-Article from Women's Adventure

Somebody please smack me. I let myself get a sunburn today. Seriously? I should know better. Today I promised myself that I would take better care of my skin, but I wasn't really sure where to start. I am outside a lot, so besides wearing sunscreen (which I need to buy-any suggestions?), I wanted to know what else I should be doing. I found this article in Women's Adventure (which is a great magazine that all outdoorsy women should subscribe to and read), and it was a good start:

...but I would like more specifics about products. I'll keep you updated on what I find and what I like, but if you use any all natural moisturizers or sunscreens that you swear by, please let me know. After reading the above article, I know I need to throw away the products I currently own, but what exactly should I replace them with?