fitness · holiday fitness

My imaginary fitness vacation (vs. my real one)

This week I’m in Arizona on vacation. What I mean by “vacation” is: I’m not at a conference and adding on a couple of days of travel, and I’m not visiting any relatives (I’m off the hook, as I have no relatives in Arizona). I’m in a place of my own choosing, engaging in non-pre-planned leisure activities. I’m staying at a luxurious (to me) hotel in Scottsdale, The Hotel Valley Ho.

On my imaginary fitness vacation, I was going to take advantage of the 3-hour time change from Boston to transform me into an early morning activity person. Imaginary early-morning-Catherine had big plans:

  1. daily hikes 7–9/10am (because of the extreme heat– 95F/35C by 10am).
  2. back-to-back yoga classes afterward, ending around 1pm.
  3. hanging out at the pool under an umbrella, reading my kindle.
  4. Minimum work tasks done (no more than 30 mins/day).
  5. heading out mid-afternoon to museums in the area.
  6. Early evening laps in the pool, followed by easy yoga before bed at 10pm.

Let’s examine these in order. First, daily 7am hikes.

Here’s where I imagined spending the 7–9am slot:

The desert outside Scottsdale. I was actually here, but not for a big hike. It is soooo hot!
The desert outside Scottsdale. I was actually here, but not for a big hike. It is soooo hot!

Here’s where I actually spent the 7–9am slot.

A king-sized bed in a midcentury-modern designed hotel room.
A king-sized bed in a midcentury-modern designed hotel room.

I did a lot of resting, lolling, internet surfing, idle reading. I even ordered room service breakfast one morning. Lucious.

What about those yoga classes? I did do back-to-back yoga classes the first day. I got reacquainted with kundalini; it was hard but interesting. Then there was a one-hour yoga nidra with sound healing. What is sound healing? Someone plays gongs (very cool) and crystal bowls (less cool to me) and talks in a quiet voice. For an hour.

I imagined this experience creating blissfulness. Instead, I spent the whole yoga nidra class lying on the mat, thinking about lunch. Pro tip: don’t do a yoga nidra/sound journey class while hungry. There were no repeats of this plan.

What about pool lounging? How did that go in reality? Here’s the pool I thought I would find fun for chilling out.

The main pool of my hotel, replete with sunny and shady lounge chairs.
The main pool of my hotel, replete with sunny and shady lounge chairs.

Instead, after lunch, I chilled out here and here:

Honestly, I did work in my room during the heat of the day. I’m teaching an online logic class for summer school, and the students require care and feeding each day. I knew this when I went on vacation, but in the imaginary version, this work took only about 10–15 minutes a day. On my real vacation, it took 1–1.5 hours. There was also some end-of-fiscal-year paperwork to do, which always takes about 4 times as long as I expect. No biggie– it’s what real life is like.

I also found the big pool area too loud, too hot, and too public for me. I really wanted a retreat from the world, which surprised me. But I was lucky in that I had a retreat– the above-pictured spaces. I read and napped and worked some and chatted on the phone (yes, I’m an outlier who uses phones for real-time voice communication). It was great.

What about those museum trips? Not so much. I did go to Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s western desert home. It is marvelous and I highly recommend it. But I didn’t make it to other museums. In the end, I preferred meeting up with some friends in the area for drinks and early dinner. It was so much fun, hanging out and laughing and talking and eating super yummy southwest Mexican food.

Okay, fine. I needed a rest, and I got one despite my imaginary vacation plans. But what about the evening pool laps? Did I do those?

Yes, after a fashion. I went to the other pool 2 of the 3 nights I was there. I had the place all to myself, and there was no music, no bar, no nothing. Just me, palm trees, water, dark sky, and stars. I did lazy laps, and lots of floating. Here are a bunch of pics. The water in real life is blue, but my iphone preferred purple. Hey, no problem– it accurately reflects the cosmic grooviness of my swim experiences.

This pool was one of my favorite vacation experiences ever. It was relaxing, quiet, sublime. yes, I did some laps– at a chill lazy pace– followed by lots of floating. Ahhhh.

I learned a good lesson this week: sometimes, we need a vacation from everything, including our own vacation plans. What I ended up doing was so satisfying– I rested, I read, I swam and floated, I yoga-ed a bit, and I took a lot of photographs. So much fun.

The second half of my Arizona vacation is a trip to the Grand Canyon and Sedona with friends and their three kids. It will be more active, less spontaneous, and certainly less quiet. I’m ready, having rested well on my real vacation here.

Readers– do you plan imaginary vacations and actually do them? Do you change plans a lot? Ever? Never? What counts as a real vacation for you? I’d love to hear from you.

cycling · fitness · holiday fitness · holidays · trackers · training

Her digital assistants are tracking and watching over Sam

So last week I was in Clermont, Florida riding my bike. Instead of my super short commutes and running errands by bike, I was logging 50+ km a day in some pretty hilly territory.

I use my Garmin bike computer to track rides. It uploads rides to my phone where both Garmin Connect and Strava provide analysis. See above.

I’m also letting Google Fit track my activity. It counts steps and active minutes, sets goals, and provides commentary. See below.

What’s amusing is the different tones they take. Strava is all about bike training. In serious tones I’m told that my mileage has taken a substantial jump and I should be cautious about overtraining. That was even after our rest day!

GoogleFit is all positive thinking. “What workout! You deserve a break.” But that sounds like it would also be okay if I didn’t take one. It’s just cheering me on.

My own ‘rest day’ motivation was something else entirely.  I wanted to enjoy all 5 days of riding. For me that means taking a break. I wasn’t really worried about overtraining. But I also didn’t take a break because I’d earned it. I’d rather ride more.  If I were a stronger rider in January I’d rather ride all 5 days.  But I’m not and so I didn’t and I’m okay with that.

fitness · holiday fitness · holidays · tbt · Throwback Thursday

On Pacing Yourself *During* the Holidays #tbt

We aren’t quite there yet and I’m not having any guests this year, but this post about pacing ourselves during the holidays seems like a timely #tbt nonetheless. Enjoy!

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

christmastreeI’ve just emerged from a couple of solid days in the kitchen (a treat for me, since I love to cook and don’t usually have time to make it a priority).

Sam posted the other day about pacing yourself after the holidays. But since by my count we still have a week of revelry to go, I thought it might not be too late to post about pacing yourself during the holidays.

I’m not talking about food, though of course there is that.  No shortage of magazine articles telling us how to deal with holiday parties and cookie exchanges and a time of year when it seems we’re surrounded by delicious food almost every where we go.  My advice on that isn’t all that helpful: eat it.

I’m more interested in pacing ourselves activity-wise. For some of us, when the routine gets thrown sideways, even by good things, it’s…

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diets · eating · fitness · food · holiday fitness · holidays · Martha's Musings · nutrition · season transitions

T’is the season to detox yourself from cleanses, diets and weird wellness claims

By MarthaFitat55

It’s not even December 1 and I have been seeing a non-stop stream of ads, posts and recommended links on all manner of cleanses. Some are short, some are long, some are liquid, and some are minimal. All are useless.

Timothey Caulfield at the University of Alberta debunks the latest holiday cleanses in this article. Caulfield writes:

The idea that we need to cleanse and detoxify our bodies seems to have become a culturally accepted fact. This feels especially true around the holidays which are associated with heavy foods and even heavier shame about what that turkey and gravy and wine might be doing to our insides. After a weekend of indulgence, wellness gurus cry, your body is begging for a detox. But is it?

 While there is something to be said for countering a week (or two) of indulgence with lighter fare, unless you were born liver-less or you lost your liver along the way, the human body has its own detox system right inside you: the aforementioned liver and kidneys.

 There’s a huge market out there and if you build it, make it, sell it, they will come. The promises are endless but the long and short of it is simple: today’s cleanses and detox programs are primarily designed to relieve you of your money.

The sellers of these cleanses rely on fear and vanity, and also on society’s preoccupation on thinness. The messages are often wrapped upin social beliefs about health and wellness.

 We empower people to take charge of their health, especially women who are often responsible for managing their well being along with those of their families. Who wants to be known as someone who does not care about their health? Not me.

While the social imperative to diet, to cleanse, to eat clean is present year-round, there seems to be special pressure in December to do any number of things to ensure we have the perfect body.

 All the ads I have seen lead me to believe that we must cleanse the body the same way we cleanse our homes for special occasions this time of year. In January, when the new year has begun and we barely have had time to vacuum the pine needles and expunge the last piece of glitter from our homes, we get a different chorus but still with the same tune.

I suggest, if we are to cleanse anything, it is these sorts of unhelpful and unhealthy approaches to wellness.

So if you are confused and challenged by all that you see, remember this: everything in moderation. Your body will do what it needs to do. Fuel it appropriately.  Move lots (preferably outside if it isn’t blowing a gale). Get lots of sleep. Drink lots of water. Have fun.

MarthaFitat55 lives and writes in St. John’s.

charity · cycling · holiday fitness · holidays · motivation · training

Big Hills and Big Cities: Sam’s Summer Cycling Plans

In my no excuses winter cycling plan I talked about making big summer cycling commitments as one of the ways I motivate myself to train for cycling through the cold snowy months of winter.

I thought I’d share those summer commitments with you. Now I’m doubly committed. I planned to do the thing and I told you about it.

In May Sarah, Jeff, and I kick things off with the Five Boros Bike Tour.

“The Five Boro Bike Tour is an annual recreational cycling event in New York City. It is produced by Bike New York. Conducted on the first Sunday of May, the 40-mile ride includes over 30,000 riders. The route takes riders through all five of New York’s boroughs and across five major bridges.”

Sarah and I did it in 2017. See our blog post 5 boros, 32,000 riders, 40 miles, 0 cars, and 1 great day, #tdfbbt.

The other Sarah who blogs here occasionally did it in 2015 and again in years after. Her post is called NYC 5 Boroughs Bike Tour (Guest Post)

It’s a great ride. Come join us!

Here’s Kim and Sarah R and me and Sarah lining up at the start.


June is our biggest thing. We’re doing a ten day bike tour of the northwest coast of Newfoundland. It’s a lot of riding, a lot of hills, and also likely some rain. It’s June 29-July 8. So far it’s Sarah, Cate, David and me. But if you’re interested, sign up!

On August 11 we’re doing the One Day Friends for Life Bike Rally. Sponsor me here.

And then on August 16-18, 2019 Sarah and I are Trying the tri-adventure in its last. year… Join us!!!

Sponsor us here.

cycling · holiday fitness · holidays · running

Streaking Sam Style

I’ve had some great holiday running streaks. See here and here and here.

But I’ve said a sad goodbye to running. I still struggle see here. When Running World put out their annual call to streak, I shared it on our Facebook page and said I wouldn’t be joining in.

What’s the #RWRunStreak?
The rules are simple: Run at least one mile per day, every day, starting on Thanksgiving (November 22) and ending on New Year’s Day (January 1). That’s 41 consecutive days of running.

And then it hit me. I could do a bike version. Ride everyday from November 22 to January 1. I laid out my winter options here.

I’m going to count riding outside (obviously) but also spin classes and riding on the bike trainer. 41 days in a row of riding over the holidays. I’m in.

Join me? (You can do your own version. Running, biking, swimming, whatever. You choose.)

cycling · fitness · holiday fitness · holidays

Sam brakes for iguanas

I’ve never stayed at a  resort before. Weird, I know.

But going south in the winter isn’t something I’d ever done before last year’s cruise. And going south in October? No way.

But Sarah’s work was having a celebration of a successful year and so I found myself in Mexico on Canadian Thanksgiving weekend at a resort just outside Cancun. 

Fitness? I’m swimming, of course. But I was also happy to see that the resort had bikes. Nice ones, even. And they offered guided rides every morning at 9:30.  Yes, it was a zillion degrees with lots of humidity there was a good ocean breeze and the paths that wound around the resort were reasonably well shaded. Usually we’d been driven around by the staff on golf carts so it felt nice to see the place under our own steam.

We got to see some cool old ranch buildings that were abandoned after Hurricane Wilma and nature had taken over them. But the highlight of my ride was the iguana on the path. I know they’re common but I’ve got a soft spot for lizards.

 

Sam braking on the path to look at an iguana
Everything you need to know about iguanas. A sign at the resort on the path.

Me and my snazzy hotel bike, complete with fluoro vest
Iguana, not my iguana. An iguana from Unsplash