When to Take a Break From Vacation

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The pool at the MARC, Park City, UT

My husband and I planned a week’s getaway in the gorgeous mountains of Park City, UT. We booked a townhome on Airbnb months ago. Finally, the big day arrived.

We were packed, ready to go, when something came up with my husband’s work and we had to make a detour for a meeting two hours out of the way. Hey, we weren’t on any schedule so it was no big deal.

While I waited for him in a Starbucks, my stomach churned. Hours later, he picked me up and we were officially on vacation with a 10-hour drive ahead of us. We decided to break it up into a two-day drive, since half the day was gone already.

My stomach acted up and we stopped in every town from Pasadena to Las Vegas. Finally, I felt better. We slept in a hotel across the border in St. George, Utah and made our way to our destination the following day. We were exhausted when we arrived and took some small walks around town. The following day we met with friends and had a great day. But then, my husband got sick! It lasted for another a few days.

This was not what we planned for an ideal vacation, but sometimes it’s what life throws at you. You roll with it. There was nothing seriously wrong or life threatening. Just annoying. We’re looking forward to trying out Park City next summer. There’s so much we wanted to do, but didn’t have the time. 

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Views from our hike on the slopes of Park City.

When we finally felt normal, we hiked in the mountains with our friends who live here for the summer. It was tough because we weren’t used to the altitude, but we were so thankful to be out and about in nature. After our hike, we drove to the MARC, the Municipal Aquatic and Recreation Center. I swam and felt wonderful while my husband worked out in one of the most amazing weight rooms he’s ever seen.

At the end of the day, our first day with lots of activity, I barely could walk up the hill to our Airbnb. My legs felt like jello and I was breathing so hard. I checked my health app on my phone. We had walked or hiked more than 10 miles and I swam a mile in the pool. Yikes!

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One of the hiking trails.

Needless to, say, it was not a good thing to make up for lost time on our vacation. Now, we need to recover from too much vacation!

Please share some of your vacation stories when things didn’t go as planned.

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Viewpoint from the big hike.

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About those 10,000 steps…

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The Tram Road.

I’ve upped my game in my favorite part of my day — my morning walk. I walk seven days a week every morning, without fail. This is a big accomplishment for me, since I fell skiing in 2018 and had knee surgery. My typical morning walk has been a lap around Ruth Hardy Park and back home winding through the neighborhood going about two miles.

After visiting my son two months ago in the Bay Area where we walked all over the place, I realized I was averaging more than 10,000 steps a day — closer to five miles. I decided there’s no reason why I couldn’t continue this trend at home.

I read a book called Flourish by Martin E. P. Seligman. Seligman talks about his own walking and he categorized people as active or inactive. To be active, he said you have to walk 10,000 steps.

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Mt. San Jacinto view from Ruth Hardy Park.

So be it. The last few weeks, I’ve achieved that goal! Plus, I added more stress to the walk. Rather than lapping my park a few times, my husband and I advanced to the Tram Road which has a steep grade of 10%. It’s starting to heat up, so we had been going early.

Now that it’s too hot outside and early no longer cuts it, we bought our summer passes for the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and we hiked at an altitude of about 8,000 feet in the San Jacinto Wilderness yesterday.

So I’m feeling pretty good about myself, despite my sore legs. Then I read this:

10,000 steps a day: Is it necessary for better health?

A recently published paper in the highly respected Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that 4,400 steps a day was strongly related to lower mortality rates when compared to 2,700 steps. As the steps increased, risk of dying decreased, until about 7,500 steps a day, when the risk benefit started to level off.

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Yesterday’s hike in the San Jacinto Wilderness.

The authors are talking about mortality rates, and say there are benefits to walking 10,000 steps a day:

“With this recent finding, it is now appropriate to question the merits of the 10,000-steps-a-day goal. Besides the obviously arbitrary number, there still is value to achieving the goal. If people take more steps, it means they are spending less time being sedentary. A growing body of research is finding that sitting is the new smoking, contributing to metabolic disorders, cancers and heart disease. If getting more steps can potentially prevent many common disorders and diseases, it is a simple and inexpensive way to reduce leading causes of death every year.”

 

I’ve decided that I’ll shoot for 10,000 steps a day, but won’t freak out if I don’t make it. I’m walking, hiking, swimming and getting in better shape. That’s the main goal after all, not 10,000 arbitrary steps.

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View of Palm Springs from the Tram Road.

What are your thoughts about walking 10,000 a day?

 

How to improve happiness in 10 minutes a day

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A view from our “Wellness Park” in Palm Springs.

Is it possible to make yourself feel better and happier by doing a simple 10-minute exercise daily? In a book I’m reading called Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, I learned about a simple practice called What-Went-Well Exercise or Three Blessings:

“Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well. You may use a journal or your computer to write about the events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote. The three things need not be earthshaking in importance. (“My husband picked up my favorite ice cream for dessert on the way home from work today”), but they can be important (“My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy”).

“Next to each positive event, answer the question “Why did this happen?” For example, if you wrote that your husband picked up ice cream, write “because my husband is really thoughtful sometimes” or “because I remembered to call him from work and remind him to stop by the grocery store.” Or if you wrote, “My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy,” you might pick as the cause “God was looking out for her” or “She did everything right during her pregnancy.”

“Writing about why the positive events in your life happened may seem awkward at first, but please stick with it for one week. It will get easier. The odds are that you will be less depressed, happier, and addicted to this exercise six months from now.”

The book Flourish is written by Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D. bestselling author of Authentic Happiness. He’s world renowned for his work on Positive Psychology and is the Zellerbach Family Professor Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. I heard about the book from David Benzel of Growing Champions for Life, who is used as a consultant by USA Swimming, and holds monthly webinars about Sports Parenting.

Here’s why Seligman says this Three Blessings exercise works:

“We think too much about what goes wrong and not enough about what goes right in our lives. Of course, sometimes it makes sense to analyze bad events so that we can learn from and avoid them in the future. However, people tend to spend more time thinking about what is bad in life than is helpful. Worse, this focus on negative events sets us up for anxiety and depression. One way to keep this from happening is to get better at thinking about and savoring what went well.”

I’ve only begun reading the book, but this simple exercise seems like something not too difficult to do. If it increases a sense of well-being then why not give it a try? Yesterday, I was thankful for more than three things. They included having a pedicure and glancing at my daughter in the seat next to me–because it’s a mother-daughter tradition we’ve done for years and I cherish our time together. Second, was working on a book proposal. The reason why is because I’m making progress and accomplishment is satisfying. Third was a phone call with a friend I’ve had since my oldest was in kindergarten. We met in the women’s restroom after dropping our oldest kids off on their first day of school! It’s so nice to know I have supportive friends in my life that will come to my aid when I need them.

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What are your thoughts about what you’re thankful for today? Do you think you’ll give the Three Blessings exercise a try? If you do, please let me know if you notice any changes in your sense of happiness and well-being.

Getting back to my normal routine

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This is my view as I write.

After a busy week celebrating Christmas with my kids and guests, today I’m having a normal day. My routine feels great. I swam for the first time since last Friday and also found time to work on writing projects. Yay for me!

We were fortunate to have a houseful of interesting, intelligent people in our house for Christmas. My son’s girlfriend arrived with her mom and six siblings. They’re all talented go getters and crazily accomplished. I felt at first like we were being invaded by a superior race of human beings.

On Christmas Eve, we were treated to a viola concert by two of the sisters, who happen to be professional musicians. One was a Cal grad and the other has two Masters degrees from Yale. I came from a musical home, and having a live concert in our home moved me to tears. My dad was with us and he was amazed and delighted, too.

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One of our meals together.

The family drove up to Joshua Tree to watch the sunrise, ran the Tram road, hiked the Karl Lykken Trail, and worked out in the gym. We managed to fit in a walk to Robolights, too.

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Robolights

Athletically gifted, most of the family rows and they work out and run. One was an NCAA champion from Cal and coaches for the East Bay Rowing Club. I wrote about one of the daughters and her first running race — the Boston Marathon — here. The second to the youngest is double majoring at U Penn in Engineering and the Wharton School of Business — while being team captain of the Women’s Rowing. Yikes, it’s mind boggling to have so much going on in one family. It makes me feel like a slouch.

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The nightly charcuterie board created by my son.

Along with the energy and big personalities, everyone seemed so happy and appreciative to be in Palm Springs. They lifted my spirits and filled my empty nest. They also ate an amazing amount of apples. On Christmas Day, I bought 24 Honeycrisp apples and the next day I was off to the store for 18 more.

 

 

As much as I loved having guests, my empty nest is welcomed once again. I was sad at first to have my kids leave and our newfound friends, but getting back to my normal routine is nice, too.

 

For Your Health: Just Breathe! And Act Silly!

 

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Act like a child to improve your health. You too can pretend to be Sailor Moon!

I’m beginning the New Year with a focus on health. It is something I attempt each year, to do something more and better than the year before. I started walking seven days a week several years ago, and have doubled the miles I do each day. Then, I started swimming and I definitely have improved—from not wanting to drown to swimming five thousand yards. In addition to freestyle, I’m getting the hang of breast and back, too. Butterfly is still an enigma. However, this year after I tweaked my knee skiing, my health goals have little to do with activity.

Instead, I ran across two articles that I can do while awaiting knee surgery—work on breathing and acting silly. Yes, according to these articles breathing and acting like a child can improve your physical and mental health.

When I took a prep course to pass the Series 7, a financial advisor exam, our instructor Tina from Training Consultants gave us some advice about breathing. She said during the exam, to stop every 45 minutes and breathe. She said to lift our arms to the sky and inhale through our nose, release our arms slowly and exhale through our mouth and repeat five or six times. She guaranteed a five-percentage-point higher score if we did the breathing during the test. I did it and didn’t worry about looking weird. I wanted to pass–and did.

In The New York Times “Want a Better Workout? Just Breathe” by TATIANA BONCOMPAGNI the article gives several tips to better breathing, gives some app ideas, and tells you the benefits:

 

Twice a week, often between video calls or meetings, Andrew Lowenthal takes a break from work to open an app on his phone that helps him focus on his breathing.

The payoff? Better stress management, clearer thinking at work and — to Mr. Lowenthal’s surprise — more strength and power in the gym. “It’s such a fundamental part of being human but not something that we think about often,” Mr. Lowenthal said about his breathwork.

As the executive director of Out in Tech, a Manhattan-based nonprofit, Mr. Lowenthal, 33, typically spends three to 10 minutes on an app created by Inscape, a New York meditation studio. He inhales, holding and exhaling his breath for various lengths of time according to prompts. Mr. Lowenthal said that he now exercises more regularly and takes care of himself better because of his breathing exercises. “It definitely helps me with my endurance,” he said.

Long a key part of meditation and some kinds of yoga, breathwork is now becoming a discipline in its own right, with proponents offering classes, one-on-one sessions and apps dedicated to the practice. And whereas the focus has predominantly been on the mental and psychological benefits of breathwork, fitness industry professionals are increasingly saying that it can also enhance athletic performance or speed muscular recovery after a workout.

As far as acting silly, I will always remember when we were visiting our daughter in Salt Lake City and she was cranky and angry. We tried to lighten the mood, but it seemed to frustrate her more. Then, my husband stopped at a Walgreen’s for a quick errand. A few minutes later, he sat behind the steering wheel and slipped on a big red clown nose (which he found in the store.) He turned and looked at my daughter and we couldn’t stop laughing.

I found a story on a website called StudyFinds.org, “Be Sillier For Long, Happy Life? Study Finds Key To Feeling Younger Is Acting Younger.” This article inspired me because I felt so much younger by taking up something I did as a child—skiing. However, it was short lived as my old body didn’t live up to my memories. So, I may try some card or board games instead–or just stick my tongue out at someone while waving my hands from my ears.

LONDON — It’s hard to ignore tired feet and that constantly-achy back as we get older, but a new study finds that a key to a long life of good health and always feeling younger — no matter our age — is to simply act younger from time to time.

Researchers from Healthspan, a supplier of vitamins and health supplements in the United Kingdom, polled 2,000 British adults on the effects of nostalgia and youthful behavior on mental and physical health.

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Being silly gets tougher as we get older, but a new study finds that acting immature is actually good for your health and well-being, and a great way to start feeling younger.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents indicated that occasionally forgetting you’re an adult and tapping into a more immature mindset — be it watching old cartoons, pulling pranks on friends, or playing classic board games — was important for their health.

 

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Smile and don’t forget to breathe!

What goals do you do to improve your health each New Year?

 

About This Adventuring: The Toboggan Ride Was Fun

 

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A perfect day at Alta, Utah.

All my excitement of the New Year came to a crash on the slopes when I made one turn and lost my balance. I went skidding down the mountain spinning on my back and side—but only after feeling a rather awful snap in my left knee.

I stood after a friendly stranger helped me up and I thought I was okay. I skied a hundred yards more and “yikes!” The pain in my knee was sharp, intense and I collapsed. After a third try with the same result, I told my ski companion that I needed help down the mountain. I crossed my poles and we waited until a ski instructor stopped and called a number for the ski patrol to come get me.

Long story, short…actually, it’s a short story because it was only the first turn of my third run on a perfectly beautiful, sunny day in Alta. I was lifted into a toboggan with my left leg in a splint and wrapped like a burrito as ski patrol Chris, skied me to a snowmobile patrol, who took me the rest of the way to the clinic. I held onto a little flap of tarp over my head because the ski patrol Chris said it would keep the snow kicked up by the snowmobile from hitting my face on the way off the mountain.

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My view from the Ski Patrol toboggan.

 

The nurse, doctor and receptionist were really kind. They empathize with all their patients whose vacation has been ruined. In my case, I’m not worried about the torn ACL ruining my skiing days. I’m worried about the rest of this week taking care of my daughter’s house and puppy. (I’m in Salt Lake City, Utah to housesit and puppysit for my daughter, who is with her swim team in Florida. I thought I’d take advantage of her proximity to gorgeous ski resorts and ski for the first time in a decade.)

I have a lot going on and I don’t have time for this. In addition to taking care of the pup, there’s a swim meet I was going to compete in early February. Also, I’m traveling back to Salt Lake for my daughter’s senior day and final dual meet. Plus her final PAC 12 swim meet in Seattle. My cousin is coming to visit. My high school friend plans to stay with me. Yikes again. How do I have surgery and participate in all the momentous occasions ahead? What will I do to keep my sanity without my daily walks and swims?

I think a lot will depend on my attitude and outlook. After a good cry that hasn’t happened yet, I’ll pull myself together and face life every hour the way it’s put before me. I remember after my big accident in college, when I was crossing a street and hit by a pick-up truck going 35 miles per hour, it hit me to appreciate the little blessings in life. Don’t take anything for granted. And live life the best you can.IMG_9968

Happy New Year Adventure: Day 3

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This was our view leaving the day for Friday’s ski adventure.

After not skiing for about a decade, guess what? I can still do it and it’s not that bad! Yesterday we hauled our equipment into our friends’ Sequoia under a gorgeous pink sky. Driving to Brighton from Salt Lake City was filled with the most breathtaking views. Once we reached the top of the mountain, I was stunned. I listened to the “oohs and ahhs” of other skiers getting off the chairlift, who experienced the view for the first time like me. I didn’t stop to take a bunch of pictures, and the one I did had my thumb across the bottom, but the iPhone wouldn’t do it justice anyway. I have those spectacular views embedded in my mind’s eye.IMG_9918

I felt a bit wobbly at first, as did my son, but soon we got up to speed and our skis were like old friends we’ve lost touch with but when you get together again, it’s like no time has lapsed. We skied most of the day with our friend from Santa Barbara and raced down the slopes maybe not like pros, but better than I anticipated. After not skiing for so many years, it felt amazing. For some silly reason, I had decided I was too old and that my ski days were behind me. When I was younger–before I was a wife, mother or a writer–I was a skier, sort of like how my daughter identifies as a swimmer. Giving it up, was like letting go of a small piece of my personality. It turns out I’m still a decent skier and my son and I have made a pact to ski together every year—as long as we can.IMG_9901

Rather than teaching my son’s girlfriend how to ski for her first time, we decided that she should enroll in a learner’s class. I think that was the best idea because I know how hard the first day of skiing can be for adults. We may have saved their relationship!

Today, I’m especially sore. Yikes, I do not remember this feeling from decades ago!

Two days ago, I really stepped out of my comfort zone and impulsively rented Nordic skis with my girlfriend. With all my downhill skiing days, I didn’t know there were Nordic centers where you can rent equipment, buy a pass and have trails to follow. It was awkward until I settled in and let go of my nerves. Then it became rhythmic and restful, all the time breathing the fresh outdoor air. It reminded me of swimming freestyle with the breathing patterns, alternating limbs and physicality. They’re very similar.

I think cross country skiing is something I’d like to do more of. It’s less exhilarating than downhill skiing, but it’s more peaceful and quiet. I love downhill skiing too and am so glad to have more days of skiing ahead.

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Tracks at the Nordic Center.

 

How are you starting off your New Year? Have you ever returned to an activity you gave up years ago?