Saturday, October 24, 2020

Holiday Gift Guide Top Pick

November 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Gear, Miscellaneous, Uncommon Sense

Our Top Outdoor Gift Idea is a HEADLAMP.  See link at bottom of this post which will take you directly to our favorite source.  Why a headlamp?   Because we care….PLUS:620621_torc_spot_headlamp_web

For those of us who use poles, it’s a no-brainer.  Put in your pack even if you know  you’ll be done before dark.  Stuff happens OTT (on the trail). Explore caves, tunnels, enjoy!  Why this model?  Black Diamond Spot is lightweight, waterproof and has great features.   The red light is used at night so we don’t blind our buddies or lose our night vision.  It comes in great colors – get a bright one for yourself and your favorite hiking buddy.
But also use for:

  • Travel ~ If you’re in a hotel room and want to continue reading while your partner wants the light out – BINGO! The aim-hinge helps your neck and posture.   (So does putting your book on a pillow)
  • Safety ~ for those of us in earthquake land, we know to keep a pair of sturdy shoes under our bed, at the ready. A pair of socks goes in one and the headlamp (when not in the hiking pack) goes in   the other.  That way we have our hands available.
  • Neck Health!  Reading with a headlamp is SO much better for your neck, eyes and shoulders (for so many reasons).

As we get older (beats the alternative), we need ways to stay safe.  Once you get accustomed to using a headlamp, you’ll never go back.  But – please – use it.

Note:  when in your pack – LOCK IT  so you don’t end up with a dead battery/useless headlamp.  So read the instructions and use in health!

Custom Directions:

I find the directions a little murky, so here’s a recap:  Open with the little lever on the side &  install batteries (included).   Then give yourself a tutorial:

  • One press for strong spot. One press for off
  • 2 quick presses for double (reading) light
  • 3 quick presses for flashing lights
  • Press and hold (about 2 seconds) for red (night) light

Keep pressing (4 to 6 seconds) to lock – again – VERY IMPORTANT to keep light from accidentally going on and draining the battery – blue lock light will come on.  Press and hold (4 to 6 seconds) to unlock.

Notice battery monitor – cool huh?

Once on, if you press and hold, all lights will dim.

Power tap on side will alternate between custom dimmed setting and full strength.

This really is the coolest headlamp – now practice, have fun and please USE IT.   Aim it vs. straining your neck.  If reluctant, try reading with it and we hope you think it’s the best reading lamp ever!

Holiday Gift Guide #3

Take care of your feet!  These massage balls saved mine and keep me hiking.  (5 part series on Plantar Fasciitis on this blog)

I keep at least one ball  in my car ALL the time – it lives under the passenger seat. After a hike (IF I’m a passenger of course), I can soothe/fix my feet by just using the relaxed weight of my leg and gently holding or slowly rolling the bottom of my feet. It’s SO healing.  I also use in the morning to relieve the plantar flexion that occurs in bed and tightens my feet.  If you get all 4, keep 2 and gift 2 buddies 🙂

Another tip for keep feet in neutral at night – I put a pillow at the foot of the bed to make a little “tent” space so the blanket does not weigh down on my feet all night long.

If you have not discovered Amazon Prime – it’s AMAZING.  The free shipping pays for the fee pretty fast and I love  the convenience and time-saving of finding almost anything and getting it fast.  It’s truly a gift (like Bay Nature Magazine) that gives all year long.

In case you have someone who has trouble getting out of your car (aging parents?), here’s a handy tool – I keep one in my car.

Hiking Guidelines

November 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Trail Tips, Uncommon Sense

BUDDY HIKES:  As people join our energetic hiking-for-exercise group, it’s helpful to communicate how we are VERY different from other groups.  I know this list seems like a LOT, but every single one of these guidelines has emerged from some issue or concern.

Our primary goal when hiking is safety, followed by exercise, and we hope for everyone to have a good time.  Since that’s different for everyone, please read before you join us:

Our prime directive is exercise – that’s why the Morning Hikers Buddy Hikes were formed.  Secondarily, we love nature.  That we can get great exercise – outside – and connect with our buddies is wonderful, but the social is an ancillary benefit of being outside exercising.

Chatter:   Many people go into nature for the serenity.  4+ hours of competing conversations is not serene. We are a “small” group by design.  Large groups of 16 to 20 can have 8 to 9 different, competing conversations.  It can get loud, when some of us want to hear the birds, the frogs, the burbling water, even the wind in the groaning trees.

  • Some hikers are sound sensitive; some are hard of hearing.  One hiker I knew got migraines from the loud voices and stopped hiking with us.
  • Our hiking group is not the usual – show up, hike, social/chatty hiking group; hence these guidelines.
  • Quiet zones are where we walk in complete silence (except for trail hazard warnings).  They include early starts in places like Muir Woods where people go for serenity,  morning walks through campgrounds where people might be sleeping or waking, places where hazards are present so everyone can hear the warnings, as well as along streams, entering non-system trails or anytime a hiker requests “radio silence.”
  • Be aware of your surroundings and, if in doubt,  listen.  Remember Shinrin Yoku!
  • Please do not wait for the leader to call a quiet zone.
  • Repartee and wit welcome.  No whining.  NO drama.
  • Consider this guideline:  If you find you’ve been discussing the same topic for over 15 minutes consider that there are other hikers around you who are hearing your conversation.  On one hike the subject of death came up.  2 hikers were talking loudly for over an hour about death and dying.  While this can be an important topic, it was not an inclusive experience and – enough already.  It was difficult to get far enough away from the voices to have the nature experience and catharsis that being on the trail brings.
  • Inclusion:  If a hiker or the hike coordinator requests a check-in, please honor that.  Some hikes start on a fire road or wide trail.  This is an excellent time to hear from one hiker at a time.  When one person is talking, others are actively listening.  Starting a separate conversation during this time is divisive, disrespectful and against the “friend code.”

Trail Hazards & Conditions:  We call warnings – “Low Branch,” “Poison Oak in the Trail,” “NEWT!” We ask the last person on the trail to acknowledge this so we know everyone has heard it.   This means that conversations must take second place to trail awareness.   Please be aware and ON so that everyone is safe and has a good time, even if part of that time is quiet.  If anyone steps on a newt – the consequences are too severe to put in writing.

Confirm:  Trail head locations and start times can change due to weather or whim.  We ask that you reply to the hike coordinator to let him/her know of your intention to join us.

RSVP:  If it’s a meet-up hike, keep your status current.  Always check the hike listing the night before or morning of in case of changes.  Changes can occur due to weather or whim.

Plus One:  Please do not extend an invitation to someone  without first checking with the hike coordinator.  If you do bring a buddy, please make sure s/he reads these guidelines before joining us.

OTT:  We start walking at the posted start time – it’s our OTT (on the trail) time.  If you have a specific time you must finish by, let the hike leader know before the hike starts.

Stopping:  We plan our gear adjustment stops/pauses collectively to minimize non-hiking time.  When hiking in rain – many more stops!  If you are stopping for photos, it is up to you to catch up with the group.

Biology breaks:  call your need (for this or any other reason to pause or stop), we’ll either wait or continue more slowly (if it’s a trail without an intersection).  Please do not walk ahead of the group for a biology break and then expect everyone to wait for you.

Trail Etiquette: 

  • Wait at intersections and bridges.
  • If there’s a substantial spacing in the group, it’s important to make sure the last person is with the group.  If you’re in the lead, occasionally look back.
  • If you’re lagging, try to keep up, even if/especially if, it means less talking, more walking.  It might surprise you how much more expeditiously you can hike if you focus on the trail instead of chatting with your buddies.   But, if you’re having trouble, let the leader or another hiker know.
  • If your plan is to go at your own pace, let the leader know at the start.  Do not leave the hike without informing the leader.
  • Please do not stop in the middle of the trail causing everyone behind you to stop.  Pull off to the side so those who like to keep moving (even if more slowly so you can catch up) can do so.
  • If you have your cell on (for GPS, work or medical reasons), try to turn it low or vibrate.  If you get a call while hiking, please hang back away from the group to have your conversation.
  • Carry a map.  You are ultimately responsible for yourself.

Perfume:  don’t wear it.

No Cussing:  Profanity isn’t pretty.

Ill?:  Do not show up with an active cold.    It is a myth that we are not contagious towards the end of a cold – we are contagious until we are well.   Particles from a sneeze can travel up to 25′.

Pole Etiquette:  make sure your pole tips are under your control and not aiming at other hikers.  Make your intentions clear as hikers pass you.  Practice active pole etiquette.

Hike Descriptions:   We try to accurately describe the hikes so that hikers can decide if they’d like to join us for that hike.  If you confirm your intention to join us, please plan to join us for the stated hike.  This helps prevent schisms and extra conversation on the trail.  However, sometimes people need to shorten the hike for all kinds of reasons.   If you need to peel off, inform the hike coordinator as soon as possible.   Hiking back alone, especially if your reason is a medical one, may be contraindicated.

Know your average hiking pace so if a hike is listed as 2.4 mph you know you are comfortable with that pace.  2.4 average means that we’ll be pushing on flat and easy sections up to 3 mph to achieve the average.

Car Pooling: 

  • Not everyone is comfortable car-pooling.  Do not offer someone else’s car or coordinate for someone else.
  • Car poolers:  Be early.  Consider tolls, parking fees and gas contributions.  Bring extra shoes for wearing in the car after the hike (or some protection for muddy boots on floor mats).  Err on the side of overly gracious.

Hike Ratings (when we use them):  Hike ratings consist of a number-letter code where the number is the distance and the letter is the amount of uphill climbing.  Most of our morning hikes tend to be 2-B/C.

Length (miles)

1: Up to 5
2: 5 – 10
3: 10 – 15
4: 15 – 20

Elevation Gain (feet)

A: under 1,000
B: 1,000 to 2,000
C: 2,000 to 3,000
D: 3,000 to 4,000

Staying Active, Fit AND Maintaining Muscle

You work hard to stay fit and active.

You hike, but do you strength train?  If so, are you doing everything you can to HOLD ONTO your muscles?

“Bodyweight underestimates body fat during the aging process because adults lose 5 to 7 lbs of muscle every decade of life unless they perform regular strength exercises.”

“Perhaps the main reason that diets do not work over the long term is that up to 25% of the weight lost on low-calorie diets is muscle tissue….muscle loss leads to a reduction in resting metabolic rate, which greatly increases the difficulty of maintaining the weight loss.”

“Several studies have demonstrated greater strength and muscle gains when extra protein is consumed just before or just after the weight workout.”

**A growing body of research has found that another way to increase protein synthesis is to consume some protein right after strength training.  This doesn’t call for protein supplements – a cup of milk or yogurt after a workout may be enough.**

Above in quotes are excerpts from Chapter 10 of the manual Fitness Professional’s Guide to Strength Training Older Adults.

Above in ** is taken from the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, Nov 2015 issue

These 2 excellent resources are saying the SAME thing.

And then there’s the question of whether or not you’re doing the BEST exercises for YOU.  That’s another blog post, but the word that describes doing the most efficient, most beneficial exercises for YOU (including the concept of injury prevention) – is programming.  It’s what trainers do for their clients.  Form matters!

 

Improving Balance

What body part is

  1. critically important for balance?
  2. largely ignored?
  3. incredibly responsive to minimal attention?

Hint:  It’s a joint

Give yourself a moment to consider the answer (unless you know immediately).   Click on the link only after you’ve worked the question a bit – please.

NYTimes Article

Limited ROM (range of motion) of this joint can significantly affect your balance.  So, if you have limited ROM, you can improve your ROM and, consequently, your balance within a very short period of time – like magic (really!)

Pole Etiquette, Safety and READ BEFORE you Borrow My Poles

September 17, 2015 by  
Filed under Pole Tips, Poles, Uncommon Sense

The other day a participant in my class was walking and eating an apple with her poles dangling in front of her.  My immediate response was – STOP!  Please don’t walk with your poles dangling down because you can trip on them.  I know this because I have (several times) gotten all mixed up – poles, legs, hiking – yikes!

Then it registered to me that she was EATING an apple.  She was borrowing my top end, foam grip poles.  They’re discontinued and I have only a few pairs left to loan or sell.

This put me in the VERY uncomfortable position of having to ask her to please finish her apple and wipe off her hands before she resumed with my poles.  She completely understood and was gracious.   I loan gear and people expect it to be CLEAN.

Please, if you are a participant in one of my classes, consider that bananas, apples, sticky energy bars, etc.  do not mix well with high-performing pole grips.  Sticky grips – yick!

 

Disposable Society – Warning, this is a rant

Yesterday I was watching one of my all-time  favorite cooking shows – a lady from California making a wonderful vegan soup recipe.  She poured the thick contents of the blender into the bowl, leaving a large amount in the blender then added water to the bowl to thin the soup.

She put the blender aside without scraping any of the remaining soup into the bowl.  She COULD have put the water into the blender and swished it around, capturing all the yummy ingredients instead of wasting them.  This would have taken NO extra time and would have demonstrated what I consider the essence of ecology cooking  **

Television chefs need to set good examples.  Silicone spatulas are a cook’s friend.  Scrape all that yummy (expensive, healthy ingredients) food into the bowl/pot/container or onto your plate.  Don’t waste it and, for heaven sake, don’t teach others to waste.

This chef’s wasteful behavior was frustrating to me because of all the people out there who might copy her example and has earned my rant.

Whether it’s mellow yellow in California or preservation of some resource – we all need to do our part.  Our recent journey to Glacier National Park was bittersweet.  The glaciers are disappearing.  The naysayers of climate change seem to want to give us permission to not pay attention.  Imagine a world without clean water.  Be thankful of light switches that work.  Hug a tree.

End of rant.

** What is ecology cooking?

Joyfully creating dishes
that are healthy and tasty
& conserve or preserve
energy, resources and/or time.

Mindfulness prevents falls

This is the exercise I teach at all my mobility classes because it encourages and enhances mindfulness.  Mindfulness is the syncing of the brain with the body.  As our body slows and our brain speeds ahead at its “regular” rat-race pace, this imbalance puts us at increased risk for falls.  When using poles for mobility, this mindfulness enables you to take a moment to remember to take your hands out of the straps.  Remember, never stand up or sit down with your hands in the straps. 

MODIFIED SQUAT:  This one simple exercise is excellent for slowing the brain down as well as improving:

  • leg strength (great for balance)
  • circulation
  • improved function (what’s more functional than standing up/sitting down?)
  • core strength which can significantly relieve back pain/discomfort/strain
  • plus it “tunes” the vestibular system  **  (see below)
  • excellent for posture and posture awareness (again, when done optimally)

The key to this exercise is the breath.  Learn and practice pursed lip breathing (also known as Pilates breathing)

  • Inhale fully thru your nose
  • Exhale thru pursed lips as if whistling
  • Notice the feeling in your tummy muscles (rectus abdominus) – the tightening (engagement/contraction/recruitment) of these core muscles is what helps your back

Starting Position:

  • Standing in front of a chair, feel the front of the chair at the back of your legs
  • Neutral Spine (see elsewhere on this blog for tips on optimal posture)
  • Feet and legs approx. hip width apart, keep parallel
  • Knees aim in same direction as feet (either straight ahead or slightly out – not in)

To Sit down:

  • Inhale and stand tall, feel front of chair at back of legs
  • Pursed lip exhale as you Slowly lower into chair, hinging at the hips (stick your bottom back – this is where you think of a public toilet)
  • Use arms if needed
  • Don’t “plop.”  Plopping Impact is really bad for the back
  • Use an arm chair if necessary – it’s the same amount of effort, but redistributed
  • Keep knees aligned (weakness in legs often brings knees together as a compensation)

To Stand:

  • Inhale while seated, elongating spine
  • Pursed lip exhale to rise, exhale throughout the entire standing process
  • Shift weight forward and rise. (as rising, lift from hamstrings, push forward with gluts and press in to feet – as in a dead lift)
  • Pause standing, check your balance
  • Squeeze gluts as you stand
  • Use an armchair if you tend to “hoist” yourself up.  This use of momentum often involves the low back vs. using the breath and the core

Return to seated position with legs also wide apart and knees pointing same direction as toes.

  • Each one of these is a rep (short for repetition)
  • Do up to 10 reps at a time until fatigue.
  • No pain!  Nothing should hurt even a little.  Use a sturdy arm chair if your knees complain.
  • When this is easy, slow them down .  Slower is harder and works (strengthens) the legs more.  Follow your breath.

FREE DO-OVERS

  • If you stand up without good form, you didn’t forget – you remembered late and you get free do-overs for life!
  • Called public toilets because as you sit down you stick your bottom out as if you don’t want to touch the toilet
  • Really focus on your body mechanics on this exercise.
  • This highly functional exercise will strengthen your legs.
  • Do these more slowly as you progress
  • Progress to arms crossing chest as legs get stronger.  You can also reach arms forward as you rise

**How to create healthy new habits that improve performance & safety.  Going the Distance, Article in 12/29/13 Parade Magazine by Bruce Grierson

“Simply standing up more is the best thing sedentary people can do to start becoming healthier, maintains Joan Vernikos, Ph.D., the former director of Life Sciences for NASA and author of the book Sitting Kills. The painless act of rising from your chair pumps blood from the feet to the head, and tunes the vestibular system, which helps maintain blood pressure and keeps you steady on your feet.”

Hiking Etiquette – Listening to nature

June 22, 2015 by  
Filed under Nature, Trail Tips, Uncommon Sense

I was MORTIFIED the other day when hiking with a regular hiking group.

We started at Muir Woods and I wanted to go ahead to warm up before our climb.  Plus, the quiet of Muir Woods early in the morning is magical.  I passed a gentleman and his son experiencing the wonder of this national monument.  I overheard the tourist quietly challenging his son to find a more wondrous experience.  He said it’s better than being in church.   I stopped to point out a few of the natural wonders with them.  We found ourselves whispering because the silence of the woods was serene and profound.  There’s even a sign asking people to respect the quiet of the woods.

Towards the end of the woods, I heard a cacophony of sound resonating thru the forest.  I knew immediately that it was “my” hiking group approaching.  I felt embarrassed.  The man and his son pulled to the side so the group could pass and I told him to go along because – thankfully – we were heading up a trail out of Muir Woods.

This hike was on the small side for this group – maybe 10 people, vs. the usual 15 to 20.  Imagine what that kind of noise an even larger group would have made.  This is a nature experience people go to early so they can enjoy the serenity and majesty of the big trees.

Large groups often have multiple conversations going on and people have to speak more loudly as they compete to be heard.  Long ago a woman, standing on a bridge over the stream at Muir Woods, asked our small group of 4 to be quiet.  I thanked her for reminding me.   I have a friend who hikes behind just so he can hear the sounds of nature.  Many times, I’ve had to remind  our hiking group to please be quiet as we approach and are near water.   I wish I did not have to remind people that part of the experience of hiking – in addition to the EXERCISE and the socialization –  is being able to hear the birds and the water and the wind.

I am going to request RADIO SILENCE the next time I lead an early morning group through Muir Woods.  Good luck to me.

Does this post resonate with you?  Or tick you off?  Either way, thanks for reading!

Annual Gift Guide for Health and Wellness in 2015

Top of the list again this year.  If you love the outdoors, Bay Nature Magazine is a gift that gives all year long.

If you have a skeleton, Dr. Lani’s Bone Health book is a must read.  I waited to read Susan Love’s Breast Book until AFTER I was fighting breast cancer.  Please DO NOT wait for a diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis to read this book.

Click here to order Bay Naturegiftforallseasons

Eating on the Wild Side:  This life-changing (but badly named) book will help you make better, more nutritious choices.  Learn how to buy, store, prepare fruits and veggies in order to make more nutritious choices, save money and shop smarter.   More info and great pod cast – click here.

Once again this year – if you have feet – these massage balls will help them stay healthy.  If you have a HINT of Plantar Fasciitis (or know someone who does), get them – don’t wait!

With Dad dying this year and mother-in-law failing, I’m aware that many of us are helping or dealing with an older adult who is at fall risk.  This simple, high quality bed rail helps stabilize at one of the most risky times – getting out of bed.  This is the one you want!  Also, I carry a Handy Bar for helping clients get out of the car, it’s a great stabilizer as well as a seat belt cutter and window smasher.  I hope I never need to use it for that!

What gift guide would be complete without a plug for POLES?  Consider gifting a class (if you’re in Northern CA) or a video (for hiking or mobility) and or a new set of poles.   To learn which poles best fit a person (and will help him/her achieve her goals), just complete the consultation form on this web page.  I have some poles that are discontinued, so my stock of high quality poles is selectively available for special needs (like extra tall people, wrist or shoulder issues, etc).

For locals (Bay Area Residents), anytime tickets to the Mountain Play are a great gift.  We go every year and the anytime tickets enable us to go when the weather is what we want (not hot).  They are only on sale for a short time in December.

Happy & Safe Holidays! 

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