Big Girls Gone Kayaking

On our last day of Fitcation, we were going kayaking in Morro Bay. Having recently kayaked, I felt powerful and strong when wielding a fiberglass boat, especially after debunking my fears of being too fat to fit, making it sink, etc. I pretty much went into kayaking with the “Heck yes! I can do this!” attitude, which usually serves me pretty well.

As we pulled up to Kayak Horizons, I noticed nerves fluttering around many of the other bloggers. By the time life jackets were handed out, I realized half of our group was heading towards a bar! I was disappointed but realized that water isn’t for everyone, with the addition of water in a chilly bay. I have only kayaked in lakes before, so I knew that it would be a more difficult ride out in the ocean.

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I was honored to be asked to partner with Meagan, a lovely mom from North Carolina. She picked me because of my previous kayaking prowess and I could tell she was hopeful that my skills would make me a natural kayak partner. We got into our kayak and began attempting to paddle off. I noticed immediately that I had WAY underestimated how much more difficult ocean water is to paddle in. We had a rough current pushing us the opposite direction and despite our attempts to get in sync, we were floundering. I was kind of embarrassed that I had been so confident in my kayaking skills because at this point, I was no better than a newbie kayaker. Luckily though, Meagan is kind and has a sense of humor. After about an hour of frustrated paddling and at one point even bumping into the buoy of a stationary boat (whoopsies!), we finally got on track and made it across the bay to a little island.

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As we were pulling on to the island, it dawned us. Why had it been SO DAMN HARD for us to row that kayak? We couldn’t maneuever it well, and it took us triple the time to get across the bay as some of the other ladies in the boat. At that moment we had the shared realization of WHY it was a little more different… because the two big girls got in the same boat! Oh. DUH! Hahaha! Now, when I say Meagan is big, I don’t mean she’s fat. I would never say that about her, or anyone except myself, for that matter – she’s the one who prompted it, but as we howled with laughter, we realized that yep, sure enough, the two tall, broad shouldered, mighty women got into the same kayak. And while Meagan’s recently lost over 120 pounds (WOW!), I know that I was responsible for some extra junk in the trunk that made us row a little bit harder. (It all works out. More weight = more cardio = more rowing = stronger arms?)

After we cheekily explained our situation to others, several volunteered to switch with us to lighten our load. Though the idea of an easier ride back was tempting, Meagan and I had a flash of inspiration. We would finish what we started. We wouldn’t give up. NO WAY would we give up! Big, strong women are exactly that – big and strong. We didn’t need to lighten our load. This weight and heft, though cumbersome, was ours, and we would rock it. We got back into our kayaks with a renewed sense of vigor, and sure enough, the paddle back wasn’t nearly as hard as anticipated. Though the opposing current helped with that, I like to think that somewhere, as attitudes lighten and positivity prevails, things get a little easier all around. This story makes me smile when I think about it, because it was the one weight related hurdle I faced at Fitcation. Going to Fitcation, I was nervous that I’d be the only big girl, that I’d be out of shape on our hikes, etc – but I felt great and kept up with the pack just fine, and my body shape and size wasn’t an issue. While my kayak experience was a little more “heavy” than the rest of the trip, I think this story serves as a fine reminder of why this journey isn’t going to be so much about the destination for me, but enjoying the ride.

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It always goes back to attitude. I may not be happy with the body I have now, but it’s capable and strong. With the right attitude, I know that I’ll eventually get where I want to be, and even if I feel like I’m sinking, I need to just keep paddling.

 

 

Fitcation Recap 3: Earth Footwear, Halter Ranch, Hearst Castle and Morro Bay

Disclosure: The costs of the events and activities for Fitcation were defrayed by sponsors, and the attendees were contractually obligated to write a summary of the experience and also received free swag items. However, the thoughts and opinions I’m sharing in this post are honest and my own.

I’ve written about Fitcation 13′ here and here, and even though I wish I could have stayed on this vacation forevvvvver, I have to wrap it up! Last I left off, we were on our way to the beautiful Halter Ranch, another gorgeous location in the lovely Travel Paso region. When you arrive at Halter Ranch, you first see this beautiful Victorian home and lovely wooden bridge. However, once you walk past the wooden bridge is where the true splendor awaits; hundreds of rolling acres of winding grape vines, dusty dirt paths and expanse of beautiful blue sky.

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Beautiful vineyards at Halter Ranch in Paso Robles, Calif.

We took a hike up to a very special oak tree, called the Ancestor Tree, one of the oldest oak trees in California. The branches of this tree were large enough to shade over 35 people! Here I am looking tickled to be in such an amazing place.

The Ancestor Tree, Halter Ranch

The Ancestor Tree, Halter Ranch

After hiking up to the tree, we headed back to the winery, where we treated with a tour of the wine-making rooms. I loooooove the smell of wine being made. It’s not only deliciously boozy, it’s a rich, sweet smell… grown up grape juice, y’all. We learned more about the SIP Certification and how important ethical, green business practices are in today’s green-washed consumer culture (green washing = everyone and their mom saying things are green because they’re “natural” – marketing buzz words that have no truth or verification behind them!).

Where the magic happens - Inside Halter Ranch

Where the magic happens – Inside Halter Ranch

After our education, it was off to a beautifully decorated barn for dinner and EARTH SHOES! Now, if you know me in person, you know I have a bit of a problem with shoes. As in, there’s a whole storage trunk full of shoes in my house. Only one problem… they’re all MY shoes. Yup. Maybe it’s the big-girl syndrome, but often, shoes are the only things I can buy without worrying about size, and even saying that is a stretch — as a size 11, I’m lovably larger in all ways! I was excited to learn more about Earth footwear because one of my favorite stories about my mom and dad’s relationship is that when they first started dating in the 1980s, my mom thought my dad was a hippie because he wore Earth shoes. Back then they were way less fashionable, but made of premium materials, as they still are today. We got to try on shoes and I was generously gifted with these adorable Bellflower shoes in Pewter. These shoes have not left my feet for the past week! They’ve really molded to my feet and are sooo comfortable. They’re padded with three layers of material and the leather has definitely conformed to the shape of my foot. If you “like” Earth on Facebook, you’ll be the first to know about sales and deals. Believe me — these shoes are worth the price, and for those of you who want shoes in non-animal material, they have plenty of adorable vegan options as well.

Loving my new Earth Brand Bellflower Flat!

Loving my new Earth Brand Bellflower Flat!

After our shoe presentation (did I mention we each got a five minute reflexology foot massage? Mmmhmmm. It was awesome), we enjoyed an amazingly yummy dinner of spaghetti squash with turkey bolognese, roasted zucchini and squash, kale salad and some delicious artisan bread. And wine! LOTS OF WINE! I have some very funny pictures from this evening that I’ll not post on this blog, as I’d like to keep some of my new friends 😉 Let’s just say 35 women who are all pretty chatty (aka BLOGGERS) plus booze plus vacation = some pretty wild conversation.

Locally sourced dinner at Halter Ranch

Locally sourced dinner at Halter Ranch

After dinner, it was back to the hotel for a night of sleep before DAY THREE: MY FAVORITE! We woke up early in the morning and headed to the amazing Hearst Castle! I had been to Hearst Castle before with Matt, but it’d been a few years. I enjoyed a private car pool with three of my new buddies, Deb, June and Ana-Lydz. One thing that sounds corny but I think is important for women to remember is that we really need to value friendship with women of ALL ages. In that car, we had many different ages, but each of us had something special to contribute to the conversation. Our chatter never stopped, and I felt so lucky to get to gab to them! We arrived at the amazing Hearst Castle, boarded the shuttle up the hill, and were off to William Hearst’s castle in the hills. I have to say, I’m a big sap, because seeing those amazing mountains and the ocean in the distance was just breath-taking and brought a tear to my eye. I’m so glad my Dad moved us here 15 years ago 🙂

Hearst Castle in the San Simeon Hills

Hearst Castle in the San Simeon Hills

Check out some of the gorgeous sculptures and flora around his home. I wouldn’t mind living here for awhile. I’ll say this much, none of the houses we’ve been hunting for look like this…

The grounds at Hearst Castle

The grounds at Hearst Castle

One of my favorite spots is the Neptune Pool. I wanted to rip off my jacket, throw on a swimsuit, grab a trashy magazine and set up shop RIGHT HERE. Sounds good, right?! Here I am with Leah, the founder of Fitcation and Mamavation!

Alyssa and Leah at the Neptune Pool

Alyssa and Leah at the Neptune Pool

And because one pool wouldn’t be enough, Hearst also had a second pool, the Roman Pool. I think I might almost like this one better. Breathtaking.

The Roman Pool, Hearst Castle

The Roman Pool, Hearst Castle

After Hearst castle we got back into our cars and headed to Cambria! We enjoyed a yummy lunch from Robin’s Restaurant, and then we did some yoga on the beach, led by Kia. It felt soooo good to stretch out my body with the sun on my face, the sea breeze gently lapping my hair, and the sound of the waves crashing against the sand. I need to get into yoga again, because it’s a great workout and has a magical calming effect on my monkey mind.  How amazingly gorgeous is this picture of Kia from Bodhi Bear doing Yoga on the cliffs?

Kia and the waves.

Kia and the waves.

Here I am with Meagan doing the Warrior Pose. Meagan and I have a great story to tell you sometime this week about our amazing kayaking trip, but it’s such an awesome story that it needs its own post 🙂

Warrior Girls aren't afraid of a little sand in their clothes!

Warrior Girls aren’t afraid of a little sand in their clothes!

We wrapped up the activities of the day at Morro Bay, a lovely seaside town with a huge rock jutting out of the bay. I definitely need to return here for a fun weekend trip with the husband. Half of the gals went kayaking, while the other half enjoyed some libations at the Morro Bay Yacht Club. I have lots more to say about the awesomeness that ensued while kayaking, but like I said, I’m saving that for another post 🙂

The amazingly beautiful Morro Bay

The amazingly beautiful Morro Bay

The final Fitcation gathering was enjoying a feast of yummy pizzas at Eatz  in San Louis Obispo, and then I said my goodbyes. I feel so very, very lucky to have met all of the women I did, and hopefully, we’ll all stay in touch. Also, a huge thank you to the wonderful sponsors of Fitcation for the meals, activities, swag and education. It’s amazing to think this little blog has brought about so many wonderful experiences. Last week, I noticed that in October of 2012, I was celebrating 150 Facebook likes. Today, I’m just over 1,400. WOW! While I know my journey has barely even started in terms of getting the weight OFF, I’ve learned so much about myself, fitness, food and health in general that it’s safe to say this blog has become a very special part of my heart. Thank you for that! *cheese fest over*

Now — because I can’t be the only one who gets to enjoy the awesomeness of this trip, if you leave a comment on this post, you’ll be entered to win a MYSTERY GRAB BAG of some of my swag items! Just leave me a comment and let me know if you’d like to travel to Paso Robles, Cambria, Morro Bay and San Louis Obispo, too. I’m pretty sure you would 😉 Have an amazing day!

 

Love,

The Double Chin Diary Siggy