On the Move: Fitting in Fitness for Fun

Hello everyone! I’m writing to you with sore calves and quads, and for once, the soreness is for good reason rather than “Oh yeah, I work fulltime from home and forget to get up and sometimes six hours goes past and I haven’t moved.” I’m preparing for my big walk this weekend (EEEEK! But I’m not nervous, more just excited!), so I really have been trying to kick up the physical activity this week.

Starting last weekend, I flew up to San Francisco to see my friend Sarah and Emily. Sarah and I decided to walk the Define Brave 5k together, and we grabbed her adorable Westies and hit the trails early on a Sunday morning. (Well, I thought it was early at 8:30 but in Sarah’s terms, at that point we had ‘slept the day away!’) Check out the Define Brave 5k if you’d like to participate in a fun virtual 5k — you get a cute shirt, awesome empowerment bracelet, special medal, bib, and a portion of the proceeds go to charity.

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Then, this weekend, I met up with a quarter of the Double Chin Divas, Monique, to do a nice long training walk. Our walk ended up being more of a hike, and we hoofed it about five miles through the beautiful Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks. We climbed up into an Indian cave, jumped across stepping stones, sat in a teepee, and challenged ourselves with hills. I definitely felt the burn and am hoping my walk in San Diego is less hill and more… flat.

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Lastly, tonight Matt and I ventured to an ice rink! I was offered complimentary admission to Woodland Hills Ice in exchange for coverage on my blog, so Matt and I bundled up and headed to the rink. I used to be a good ice skater but let’s just say my talents now lie elsewhere. However, we had a blast teetering around the ice (I may have had to hold the wall the whole time) and dancing to the music. It’s also humbling to see little six year old kids whiz past you like pros.

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Admission is $15 for adults and includes skate rental for a two hour session. Kid’s prices are $13 though kids under 3 get in free with a paid adult. The rink also sells pizza, burgers, and hot chocolate and is right in the Westfield Mall parking lot — perfect if you want to squeeze in some holiday shopping. Even though I may have fallen flat on my butt right after this photo was taken, I loved the immediate calorie burn I felt from just a few minutes on the ice.

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They’re open late, sometimes as late as 11 p.m., so if the urge strikes you, get thee too Woodland Hills Ice to lace up and skate!

So, that’s how I’ve been keeping active lately, in addition to nice long walks. I can’t believe come Friday I’ll be lacing up for my first part of my 60-mile journey. I’m feeling a little bit undertrained, but I know if I do the best I can, it will be great!

Now: if you and I had to exercise together, what would you want to do: Walk, Hike, or Skate?

 

Out and About: Alyssa Explores Sequoia National Park

This year has been a weird one in terms of vacations — rather than one week in one particular place, Matt and I have ended up going on lots of mini trips this year. One of those mini trips was to celebrate Matt’s 30th birthday. His request was for trees – lots of ‘em. We ended up booking a cozy cabin on Air B n’ B and headed up north to Sequoia National Park, about 3.5 hours from where we live in Los Angeles. The first picture below is when you’re about an hour outside of Sequoia. The last hour of the drive is very curvy and into the woods.

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Here’s the inside of our cabin. Note the VHS player, which enabled us to indulge in film classics like the Birdcage and Mrs. Doubtfire (We’re still missing you, Robin Williams.)

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We woke up the next morning after our arrival and headed to the Trail of 100 Giants. It was an easy three mile loop through a gorgeous… well, trail of giants. Giant trees, that is! The first picture shown below is of two trees, each over 240 feet long, that fell after a storm. Insanity!

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After a few hours exploring the Trail of Giants, we headed off to Dome Rock, a secret little vista that overlooked all over the Sequoia Canyon, recommended to us by the park ranger. This place was incredibly stunning, and we showed up at just the right time, when a storm was rolling in and the clouds were dramatic and gray. The only slightly freaky thing about this place is there are no stairs, no guard rails (and a 5,000 foot drop, as warned by the ranger), and no civilization – so if you see a hungry bear or happen to take a tumble down the rock face, well, you’re on your own. Matt and I were the only people at this place, so when he was scurrying over rocks and up into trees I was lecturing him about how if he fell, we’d be up Shit Creek without a paddle (and without cell service!). We hung out for about 30 minutes and then had to hightail it down the mountain when hail starting hurling down on us.

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How amazing is that view, right? There ended up being so many parts of Sequoia we didn’t even see, like the General Sherman Tree, but now I know for next time that we need much longer than two days. This part of California usually gets all the buzz for Yosemite, but now I know that if you stay just an hour or so south, you’re in for some incredible scenic viewpoints and a quieter, more mellow vibe; with no cell phone reception or wi-fi. (Sometimes that’s paradise, as long as you don’t fall off a mountain.)

Have you ever been to this part of California?

Step by Step

On Saturday, Matt and I headed out to Charmlee Wilderness Park for a hike. Charmlee is nestled in the Santa Monica mountains, and hikers are rewarded with sweeping views of the coast, complete with crashing waves and bird’s eye views of millionaire mansions.

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I had been looking forward to a nature retreat — where the only tweets I’d be interacting with were from real live birds. I was also excited to log some miles towards my 3-Day training, as I’m now to the point where I need to be totaling at least nine miles a week. The hike started out perfectly — not too hard, not too hot, not too many people. I played with my new camera, stopping to photograph buzzing bees and the occasional bumbling butterfly.

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We did two miles easily, enjoying the relatively flat trail. On the second part of the loop, we decided to explore a few trails we hadn’t tried before. I got nervous when the trail started leading us way down into the valleys of the hills, because I knew that what goes down must goes up.

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The hills started climbing. I put one foot in front of the other, determined, triumphant. Surely my walk training counted for something. 3 miles done. I was doing fine. And then all of a sudden I wasn’t. It was like I hit a wall. I was hot, thirsty, and tired. I was out of breath. I was sweaty. I suddenly felt the weight of every single extra pound I carry, the pounds I’ve carried for many, many years. I wanted to stop. I wanted to give up.

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I had no choice. If I decided to stop hiking at that very minute, no bus, train, plane, car, horse, Rapunzel braid or carrier pigeon was coming to pick me up. No bike would suddenly materialize by my side. No rope would cascade down the side of the mountain to help me hoist myself up its side. I had no choice but to keep going.

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So I did. I put one foot in front of the other. I took small steps and deep breaths. I battled the voice in my head that was telling me I couldn’t do this. I kept going. Because I had to. Because I had no choice. I asked Matt to take these pictures, because I wanted to show you the struggle. Finally, I saw the parking lot below us. At that point we had made it five miles, and I smiled.

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All that sweat, all that struggle. All a reminder that the best I can do is just take this journey step by step, and slowly, but surely, I will succeed.

 

 

 

 

 

A Friday check-in for April

Hello, blogging world!  It has been an exciting past week and I’m happy to announce that I lost 3.2 pounds!  I was quite proud of myself as I stepped on the scale this morning at Weight Watchers and saw that I was back on the road of losing, rather than the past two weeks when I was creeping up.  I finally shed my birthday weight!  Haha!

I spent last weekend on an impromptu trip to the incredible Yosemite and Mono Lake.  Even though I’ve been a nature lover my whole life, this was only my first time in one of the United State’s many gorgeous national parks.  My spectacular adventure pal, his schnugglific dog, and I basically “camped” in my car for Friday night, ten thousand feet up beneath a snow covered Mt. Dana.  It was just 28 degrees so while I was actually pretty warm in my car, the lack of sleep made it very motivating for me to try to act ultra healthy after I returned from the trip.  My body needed it.

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This week I was able to integrate more salads into my day and by keenly preparing all my lettuce earlier in the week, it made it easy not to make an excuse not to eat it.  I started to work my hula hoop back into my nightly routine and am spicing it up by using my hand weights at the same time.  I use the timer on my phone because it makes it easy to build up the time I spend hooping and fluttering my arms like a baby bird trying to fly.  With that, more walking, more hiking, and a combination of some yoga and Pilates moves, my body is starting to feel much stronger.  Especially my core. :)

A rejuvenated April at Mono Lake

I have a nice rush of confidence after the past week.  Yosemite was great, the gorgeous views, fresh air, and seeing a BEAR made it easy to enter into the week with a rejuvenated energy.  I had a job interview on Monday to be a summer camp assistant for a Humane Society here, combining my love of working with kids with my love of science and animals.  I am SO STOKED because right after my positive weigh-in experience, I came outside to see that I had been chosen for the job!

So with a new job, a lighter weight, and awesome visual memories of a bear, I’m ready to continue on my path of awesomeness… AND I managed to get up to $95 in donations for my breast cancer walk!  I still have a long journey ahead of me but with all this confidence, I know that I’ll achieve my goals.  :)

Thanks for the support everyone and I hope you all have a weekend full of new visions for you to focus on!

Help me reach my goal for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day

 

Love,

AprilSignatur

Snacks on the trail.

First off, since Alyssa “gently encouraged” me to “stay accountable” in regards to my weigh-ins, I shall be honest.  I haven’t officially weighed in at Weight Watchers for four weeks, this Friday.

I’ve been super sick.

It is birthday season.

School is hard.

I’ve got my reasons, haha!  But the biggest reason I have yet to weigh-in is because I know I haven’t lost anything.  I’ve been up roughly two pounds the whole month, fluctuating up and down depending on how much birthday cake I ate the day before.

But whatever, I have accepted it and am getting real about exercising more since I’m officially registered for the 60 mile breast cancer walk.  I’ll go to a meeting on by the end of the week.  There, now I’m totally accountable.

April is at peace with her gain of two pounds for her month of April.

April is at peace with her gain of two pounds for her month of April.

I’ve been doing a bunch more hiking over the past few weeks with the help of inspiration from my random new nature buddy and his adventurous dog. Over this past weekend we wandered the woods for six miles. I was nervous about whether or not my sickness was going to make me pass out and fall over a steep edge, however I survived just fine as I had the help of something SO important to bring with you on long energy-depleting activities like hiking… SNACKS!

Staying nourished with snacks allows April to balance on fallen trees without falling.

Staying nourished with snacks allows April to balance on fallen trees without falling.

My buddy and I discussed how important we think it is to stay nourished during long hikes.   Besides hiking, this is a big thing for me through any activity as I start to get super dizzy and shaky if I go too many hours without some sort of food.  So snacks are super important for me to have with while hiking.  Typically I make an afternoon out of my nature activities and bring a sandwich for a picnic.  Snacks like bananas, apples, cheese sticks, oranges, granola bars, and popcorn are some of the other happy trail foods I’ve brought with me.  Of course, I’m always willing to carry a backpack with me and my precious Dakine backpack has a cooler built in, so bringing snacks that need chilling is no problem. 

What kind of snacks do you like to bring with you when you go on long adventures?

Love,

AprilSignatur

 

 

 

*There’s an amazon affiliate link to the Dakine backpack. If someone buys it, we make 7c! Woohoo! :)

Ticks.

Warning:  This isn’t relating to weight loss or fitness but it has a lot to do with health awareness.

Continuing on…

Ticks.   I hate ticks.  The very thought of them as I write this makes me feel like I have at least four on me right now.   Ideally, it would be great if you are reading this and you have no idea what this nasty little bugger I’m talking about is.  However chances are, since there are roughly 900 different species of ticks in the WORLD, you probably have at least heard of ticks.

Ticks have been a part of my life ever since I first discovered how magnificent nature is.  My family and I would do “tick checks” after our adventures outside and if one was found, my Dad would carefully pry it out of our bodies as we screamed in horror as if he was removing a toe.  What was just as bad though was when we failed to find the ticks on the dogs and they would go around for days before we discovered the sweltering beast on their bodies.

My motivation for this post came for two reasons: One is that I went for a hike on Sunday with Maggie, our golden retriever, and twice I found two different types of ticks on her.  I was so worried about finding another tick on her that I constantly was rubbing down her majestically fuzzy fur, picking out every tiny thing that wasn’t part of her coat.  I did the same to myself, scratching at my head on the drive home, thinking of the many times I had pulled ticks off me doing the very same thing before.

The other reason I wanted to talk about ticks is because there is so much more to them than just finding them and picking them off.  The scariest thing about ticks isn’t that they fall down from the trees above you as they detect your body heat moving below and then latching on and burrowing into your body, filling itself with your delicious blood.   No no, as scary as that is, the most horrifying thing about ticks is that they CARRY DISEASE.

I know two women who have contracted diseases from a tick.  One case, not as serious, was my own mother.  While I can’t recall the name of what she got, I remember how she came down with it.  She found a tick in her arm and within a few days of removing it, she noticed the spot start to get really irritated.  After it got worse and worse, she finally went to the doctor and was put on medication to “cure” her.  She’s fine now, but it was a wake up call that no matter how careful you think you can be, there is still always a chance that ticks are out to bite you.

 

Stacy and her friend who organized the fundraiser, Sasha

Stacy and her friend who organized the fundraiser, Sasha
Click here to view Stacy’s Gofundme Page!

The next case, much more serious, is that of my high school friend Stacy.  Stacy got diagnosed with lyme disease a few years ago after being bit by a tick in the very county I live in today (Sonoma County).  Stacy started losing her hair and was constantly incredibly tired.  She would get migraines, blurred vision, heart palpitations, insomnia, sensitivity to light and sound, issues with speaking, memory loss… SO many symptoms that continue on.  Now that she is in the last and final stage of the disease, she described it was living with the flu, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Of course our American healthcare system doesn’t do much to help her situation unfortunately, people with lyme disease were often denied coverage. (I hope Obamacare will truly change that!)  Stacy has had the best luck using homeopathic remedies to relieve her awful symptoms.  There are some organizations out there that help people like Stacy, but people with serious diseases like Stacy could always use all the help they could get.

I was aware of Stacy having lyme disease for a while now but I didn’t know how severe it had gotten until her friend Sasha made Stacy a fundraising page and tagged her on it.  If you are able to help Sasha make Stacy’s life a little easier, please check out her Gofundme.com page!What steps do you take to avoid ticks?  Are they on your mind when you go out in nature?

Thanks for your attention, blogging world!

Love,

AprilSignatur