Blissfully Unplugged: Camping in Lopez Lake

Hello everyone! This weekend, I went camping for my third annual grad school girls camping trip (here are the posts from 2012 and 2013). I met these ladies in grad school, and we quickly bonded over an insatiable need for caffeine, the horrors of mass communication theories, and how many times we cried each week. I jest (kind of. grad school aint for sissies). We drove north from Los Angeles to Lopez Lake near Arroyo Grande, which is about an hour south of San Luis Obispo. Our campsite was “Buck 12″ and was on a shady hill looking over the madmade Lopez Lake, surrounded by oak trees. Isn’t this beautiful?

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We set up our tent on Friday night and made a fancy gourmet dinner of fire-roasted hot dogs and chili cheese fritos, in addition to s’mores. In typical Alyssa fashion I enjoyed the indulgence at the time, but later paid for it when I woke up at 1 a.m. in a swirly nauseous junk food haze. I was really excited this camping trip to try out my new Klymit Static V Camping Mattress because for the past two years I’ve relied on a yoga mat or towel to shield my soft body from the unforgiving rocks. This year I splurged a little and got this camping mattress, which comes to you the size of a Nalgene water bottle, you blow it up with 15-20 breaths, and BOOM! Instant mattress. I was really happy and surprised with how durable and comfy this thing is… and it totally doubles as a fashionable skirt. See?

Klymit_SleepingPad_Camping_DoubleChinDiary

We woke up the next morning and headed out on what was supposed to be a 1.1 mile hike, but ended up being about four miles because we got lost several times trying to actually find the trail. It was all good training for the 3-Day, especially because it was in hills, in the middle of the day, in the sun. While we tried to find the trail, we enjoyed seeing the numerous deer at the campground who were totally unafraid of humans.

Deer_LopezLake

We finally made our way to Blackberry Trail and were so excited we had to take a picture with the sign. The hike was beautiful, with lots of fluttery butterflies, shady fern groves, and brambles of berries. Because we’re awesome, we actually got on to another trail after some other hikers had told us they had seen a bear on it (Yes, we wanted to see a bear!). Sadly, we did not run into any California Black Bears, though I did hear one huffing and puffing around our tent later that night (bears have a very distinct huff n’ puff style breathing. See?)

Hiking_BlackberryTrail

Training for the 3-Day has really shown me how important the right shoes are, and I was happy for this hike to be wearing my Ahnu Women’s Sugarpine Air Mesh Hiking Shoe. I actually won these on Facebook (and so did my friend Julie – see? She’s wearing hers, too!), and I have to say I’m loving this shoe for hikes. They have plenty of support around the arch and toe box, and the grip was great as we scaled up loose dirt and tip-toed down shale-covered ravines. Plus they come in cute colors in a size 11, which is actually a big deal because most shoe manufacturers stop making cute things past a size 10 (thanks, Ahnu!).

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After our hike, we schlepped back down the mountain to the Marine store, treated ourselves to a well deserved cheese burger, and then hiked all over the campground again to go lay on the lake beach for a few hours. Sprawling in the sun felt SO GOOD. Then, it was back to our campsite for dinner for night 2 – ceasar salad and JIFFY POP! Jiffy Pop is kind of the best thing ever when you’re camping, just because it’s so fun to make over a fire. You basically shake it like crazy and then watch the foil on top turn into this huge martian head filled with delicious buttery corn.  It’s worth the $2. Do it!

JiffyPop_DoubleChinDiary

I think I so badly needed this camping trip because early Saturday morning, my phone ran out of battery and I was able to super unplug for the whole weekend. As much as I love tweeting and instagramming, there’s nothing like taking a break from being “on” and spending time really being present, like the amazing colors in this sunset, or the tiny tomato plant growing in the camp water fountain — or, even better, laughing with my friends!

LopezLake_Sunset_DoubleChinDiary

When was the last time you went camping? Are you a fan of camping or is it not for you? I definitely love camping but have learned over the years it’s better to go a little closer to “glamping” and splurge on things like a sleeping pad, bringing a table cloth for the camp, and choosing a campground with showers. Those little things can make a big difference in your comfort level! What did you do this weekend?

GradSchoolGirls

*I was not compensated in any way to write about the sleeping pad or Ahnu shoes, just wanted to share two things that made my trip less campy and more glampy. There are affiliate links in here which will earn me a few pennies if you end up deciding to check either item out :)

Dropping those pounds!

Happy Friday, everyone!!!

I’m excited as I’ve got the next two weeks off and I’ve got lots of plans for getting active in nature! I hope all of you have been able to have a fun summer so far. I feel like I’ve had a ton of fun working for the humane society’s summer camp but besides that – my weekends were pretty tame. My summer critical thinking English class was ultra demanding. There was hardly a time when I wasn’t having to write a ton of pages on some deep topic like Columbine or the effect of globalization on whaling. I’m going to blame my lack of blogging on my class taking up all my writing abilities. Yup.

Besides the fun getting to hold puppies, kittens, and pigeons all the time, working full time for the summer gave me a chance to get super routine about my eating habits. I was able to figure out the perfect on-the-go breakfast thanks to the advice of you guys, our awesome readers. I’ll be posting up a recipe next week of an incredible egg “muffin” I created after being inspired by a bunch of the advice. With my egg muffin, chili, and a ton of lettuce – I’ve been able to lose twelve pounds these past two months… I’m sure getting rid of the foods I was allergic to has helped SO MUCH as well.

As for exercise this past week, I’ve been struggling with not wanting to walk in 90 degree weather. Alyssa called me the other night and I was so amazed that she didn’t mind walking in the intense heat of Southern California. At least here it gets down in the low 60′s by the time sunset arrives. I truly am spoiled in that I can have two completely different types of climates just from night to day here in the bay area, especially in a city so close to the ocean that we are constantly covered with a gray blanket of fog. I’ve been doing the majority of my walks in San Francisco either on  the Golden Gate Bridge, in Golden Gate Park, or along the coastline by Baker Beach. I love it because it’s always breezy and seeing the tourists just makes me happy to hear different languages.

How have you guys been keeping cool this summer when you work out? Or do you just deal with the heat and get through it anyway?

And in the spirit of  staying chilled, here is a baby polar bear from a zoo in Germany!

http://www.reddit.com/r/aww/

Thank you, reddit aww.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bye bye!

AprilSignatur

Fat Girl Fear Debunked: Being Naked at Korean Spa

As I thought about this post, I thought, “How do I write a post title that isn’t like, all about being naked at a Korean Spa, because it’s about so much more than being naked?” But then, let’s face it; the notable thing I want to tell you guys about IS being naked at a Korean Spa, cuz’ this blog explores the adventures of an adventurous plus-sized gal and her quest to live a full-life as a full-figured lady. My journey to health the past few years has gleefully invited pampering into my life. Massages? Love them. Acupuncture? Bring it on. Hot Springs? I’m there. Pedicures? Every month and a half. My paychecks may dwindle, but while I can get away with this pampering and relaxation, I fully intend to reward my hard-working self with non-food items. My awesome acupuncturist has been recommending that I visit a Korean Spa for several months, but I always had the same reaction “Don’t you have to be NAKED?”. My acupuncturist, who has the cool and calm European attitude about nudity that people should (i.e., it’s no big deal, there’s nothing sexual about a spa!), would shrug and casually say that’s not what it’s about. I mulled this around in my head for a while before ultimately deciding, that nope, while learning to navigate a newfound confidence with my body, going au naturale in front of others (willingly) just wasn’t for me.

…Until, I saw an awesome deal on a Groupon for a Women Only Korean Spa, and my friend Jenny mentioned it to me, wooing me by the description of bath tubs filled with tiny, heated, clay balls that you submerge yourself under. Bathtubs with hot clay balls? Steamy rooms filled with aromatic herbs? An oxygen room, rumored to be the cure for insomnia? An ICE room, like a walk in refrigerator, when it’s been 102 degrees? The heated Himalayan Salt room with burlap sacks sent me over the edge, and like that, my groupon was purchased, my anxiety was amping up, and I had a date for a Friday night Korean Spa adventure with Jenny. We discussed this very bold transition in our friendship; after all, few friends have seen my shockingly white birthday suit. Luckily, we laughed about it, decided our eyes would stay up, and chose to adopt the aforementioned European attitude. She soothed some of my fat girl fears like only a friend can; with rationale: Would I be the only overweight person at the spa? Probably not. Would somebody say something to me, like they had in Thailand, and make my self-confidence disappear? Probably not, and if they did, I could smack them with my towel. Would my body be pointed at and ridiculed? See #2.

Once we arrived at the spa, in true Alyssa fashion, I blurted out my insecurities to the woman at the front desk. She laughed, assured me I was not the only person nervous about being naked, and told me I would feel great. With a deep breath, we walked into the locker room, stripped down to our fashionable pink robe, and headed to the shower room, the place where the nakedness would go down. (At Korean Spas, the principal is that you need to be clean and free from chemicals that may be lurking in your swimsuit from pool chemicals or laundry detergents.) It was a large room, with multiple showers along each wall, a narrow bathtub with buckets for rinsing your feet, and a heated Himalayan salt tub. Upon first inspection I saw: butt cheeks. All of the naked women stood with their fronts facing the wall. I can handle some butts, I thought, after all, while varying in size, all butts look the same, pretty much. As I rinsed myself, I made a decision. I could either be coy and ashamed of my body, trying to hide it, or I could embrace this opportunity and own my body like an Amazonian queen. I chose the latter, got myself nice and clean, and moved into the wonderfully relaxing salt tub. The longer I sat naked, the more I saw, but here’s the thing. As is with most matters in the world, nobody is ever as focused on YOU as you are with you. The things we worry about, stress about, freak out about; these personal insecurities and vulnerabilities are personal in the sense that nobody is really giving it the mental real estate you might think it would occupy. I couldn’t care less about the bodies I saw, and did I pass judgement? No. There were bodies of all shapes and sizes, all colors and textures, but I wasn’t there to observe. I was there to relax.

After my hot tub dip, I put the robe back on, because all of the sauna rooms actually require you to be dressed so that you don’t flash your bits and shock someone out of a steam-induced zen. Once I was back into the false sense of security that clothing promises, my vulnerability was hidden again, tucked safely out of sight. Something strange happened then: I realized with the heat swirling around me, the steam gently clinging to my body, that being naked would make more sense. It wasn’t a sexual experience, it wasn’t about vanity. It was about relaxation and healing, free from the hindrance (and very real practicalities, like sweat), that clothes can provoke. I relaxed, took a few deep breaths, and was reminded in a very subtle way of the same lesson my body has been telling me for years: that this body of mine, while big, is perfect because it is strong. It is capable. It is mine.

De-stress with Organic India Tea: Review and Giveaway

Disclosure: I received free samples of Organic India Tea in exchange for a review.

Stress. No matter how many downward dogs, deep breaths, or meditation chants I do, stress always finds a way back into my life. It’s kind of just the age we live in; life is chaotic. Cell phones buzzing, emails pinging… the constant connection, though delightful, can also add up. When you think about a de-stressing beverage, you probably think of beer or wine. Oh yes; a nice buzz can sometimes be a great way to de-stress. But! If you’re seeking a de-stressing beverage that is appropriate for the work day, or one you can consume while in a moving vehicle, I think I have a solution.  ORGANIC INDIA has over 18 different flavors of its signature organic Tulsi, Holy Basil herb, that helps reduce stress, aid in digestion, balance metabolism, support anti-aging and overall immune system.

I was sent three types of tea to try; Original Tulsi Teabags, Raspberry Peach Tulsi Loose-Leaf, and Moringa Tulsi Teabags. First of all, I love that these teas are organic, because I recently learned that some big-name tea companies cover their tea with all sorts of pesticides (that sucks – but Organic India doesn’t). Holy Basil itself has a slightly peppery taste to it with a sweetness I really like, and don’t worry — it doesn’t taste like the classic Italian pesto, so you’re not going to feel like you’re sipping a mug of pesto. The Raspberry Peach was my favorite out of this batch, tastewise, for its fruity undertones. However, Moringa takes the cake for the coolest attributes — “Tulsi (Holy Basil) and Moringa (Moringa oleifera) are two of the most unique herbs to come out of India, and together they offer a myriad of health benefits. Tulsi is well known in the west for its adaptogenic benefits and uses in combating stress. The antioxidant activity in Moringa is extremely high, and the easiest way for your body to assimilate them is in tea form. There is one antioxidant in particular that Moringa contains called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, which is twice as powerful resveratrol, one of the most popular anti-aging antioxidant supplements on the market. EGCG has been shown to help maintain healthy LDL cholesterol levels and protect cardiovascular health.” I try and drink a cup of tea daily anyways; can you imagine if I replaced my daily breakfast tea with this one? Cashing in on the health benefits!

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The concept behind Tulsi that I love, besides the organic, non-GMO, sustainible farming side, is that you’re taking the very relaxing act of drinking a cup of tea and turning it into even more of a “chill” moment by using an herb that’s shown to be a mood lifter. Some people think that herbal remedies are hocus pocus, but having had my own garden for years and seeing how cats take to catnip and how aloe soothes burns and how peppermint can cure a gnarly stomach has proven to me that herbs are powerful forms of medicine. One note about Tulsi Looseleaf that’s just good to know: it is a smaller brew of leaf product, so you’ll end up with some sediment at the bottom of your mug (shown above). It won’t harm ya, and you’ll barely notice it, but if you’re a super picky tea drinker, you can brew through a coffee filter or use a french press.

Because I’d rather show you than tell you, let’s get to the good stuff! One lucky reader will win a nice starter pack of Tulsi Teas, in Pomegranate Green tea, Original Tulsi, and India Breakfast. Please use the rafflecopter to enter to win, and note all the extra ways you can score entries! This contest will run until Thursday, July 31 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Winner must be 18 years or older and live in the United States. GOOD LUCK!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’m Friday’s Featured Female!

Hi Friends!

Today, I’m honored to be the Friday Featured Female over on my friend Melissa’s blog, The Valentine RD. I first met Melissa at Fitbloggin’ in 2013, and realized not only do I live near this lady, but she’s super sweet, super smart about all things food, and in general, that person that everybody just loves! It’s an honor to be on her blog today, so please go check it out. I’m sharing a little bit about my “A-ha!” moment when I realized I needed to let go of binge-eating. Hope you have a wonderful day!

AlyssaMelissaValentineRDDoubleChinDiary

Obese, morbidly.

 

Greetings, readers! I’m back with my attempt to blog at least once a week and this week I want to talk about something that I’ve known but never really thought too much about. I visited the doctor this week and we did a check-up on my blood work  with my discovery of food allergies and such. My blood ended up being just fine but there was something that came up on my lab reports that disturbed me.

 

My doctor had officially noted me as obese, morbidly. I was well aware of what the medical world calls people with high weights but I like to live in my happy bubble where I can just consider myself as an obese person working towards better health. Unfortunately the medical way to describe my weight, specifically with the use of the word “morbid”, makes it seem like I’ve got one foot on the gas and one foot in the grave. I just don’t agree with the word morbid. Obese, fine. Fat, whatever. But morbid? It makes me feel like I should start dressing like Morticia Addams and never smile again. Why not just call it, “super obese?” Like, you’re fat, but you’re also SUPER! It’s bad enough to just BE obese, but why does it still have to sound so harsh? It’s like the only expression that hasn’t been sugar-coated over the past few decades.

I know the amount of fat on my body isn’t healthy but I don’t feel like I’m one more soda away from immediate death. The doctor also tested all sorts of things like cholesterol, calcium, sodium, thyroid, potassium, and glucose levels. Everything was perfectly in the normal range. I also was weighed and had lost seven pounds since I found out about the food allergies. I’ve been feeling pretty good about myself. I’ve been walking more at night and forcing myself to attempt to jog. I set up little goals of amount of blocks and it’s been pretty cool to see how quickly I’ve improved over the past couple of weeks.

According to my training walk schedule, I’m a few miles short of the suggested amount I should be doing every week to prepare for the 60-mile walk. I have been thinking about ways I could fund raise as I still have $1,800 to go and am stoked that I’ll be getting the pink in my hair done today! I still want to do a “Brews for BOObs” event so I hope I can do that to help raise money. I also have been thinking of a way to craft together a promised “training walk sponsorship” where maybe I could ask people to “sponsor” my training walks – They give me a goal for a month during my pre-training, say 50 miles – and they’ll promise to donate $50 when I achieve it. I log all my walks on a fabulous app called Runtastic so it would be legitimate to track my progress… and hopefully everyone who promises to donate will follow through.  What do you all think of that idea? Would any of YOU sponsor my training walks?  ;)

I hope you all have a super spiffy Thursday and if you’re looking for some good laughs, check out my hidden link coated in sugar.

Bye bye!

AprilSignatur

 

 

 

 

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