About the author  ⁄ Kristin

Let’s talk stewardship and nutrition.  How as outdoor enthusiasts and fitness aficionados meet fuel up for our adventures while respecting the environs we frequent (forests, deserts, oceans, lakes, rivers, etc.)?  A logical step is to consider eating more locally and more sustainably.  This doesn’t mean we have to be complete loca-vores and forgo the occasional out of season fruit, but living in SoCal we have the opportunity to eat local produce practically year round!

A fantastic way to take a step toward eating locally are the farmers markets we have in the OC.  Huntington Beach has one on Tuesdays, there’s one at The Great Park on Sundays.  The vendors are pretty local (Oxnard to San Diego and generally east towards San Bernardino).  Many follow natural and organic practices, some are certified.  It’s a great way to support small businesses.
For a next step, you may consider CSA shares.  Boxes, paid for on a monthly basis, delivered right to your door each week, every other week or once per month.  These are fun because they are dealers choice, whatever’s ripe is what you get (somewhat tailored to your preferences).  Don’t like broccoli? No sweat, take it off and you’ll get a substitution.
It’s very economical and we’ve found these CSA shares to be a better deal than whole foods or trader joes, provided you use what you get!
Take a look at the local options and consider eating local to lessen the impact your food has on the areas we love.
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It’s apparently “do construction on every road simultaneously” season in Orange County, at least around my neck of the woods.  Which wouldn’t be a problem if the construction projects weren’t scheduled to last until 2014 (I’m looking at you Sand Canyon grade re-alignment).

 So, if we’re determined to get out and ride our bikes, what are the best strategies for staying safe?
Be Predictable
Handle your bid in an assertive and sure manner.  Signal all turns, lane changes and stops (use hand signals).  Also, travel in ways cars are used to seeing other traffic travel.  Stay to the right (unless you’re taking a lane – more on that in a minute), ride with traffic – NEVER against it (“bike salmon-ing is a quick way to die”), don’t weave between cars, stop at signals and signs. All common sense stuff.
Take the Lane
California Vehicle Code Section 21202 states that “When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side”.  If you find yourself in a cone-zone with no shoulder, signal your intent and take the lane.  As soon as it is safe for you o move to the right again, do so, but don’t feel pressure if you’re holding up traffic.  It’s your right to do so.
 
Be Visible
I highly recommend using a flashing bike light on the front and back of your bike day or night.  For the front, use a white light, preferably 100 lumens or more.  On the back use a red light such as the planet bike super flash.
 
 
These tips should help you during your rides.  There’s no substitute for solid bike handling skills and awareness,  stay focused and practice emergency and evasive bike handling skills before you hit the roads, especially if you’re pulling your child(ren) in a trailer.
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In California, we are very lucky to have access to a broad range of ecosystems, from coastal plains, to rugged mountains and arid deserts.  These areas provide us with a multitude of opportunities for outdoor recreation.  To go along with these ecosystems we are also lucky to have  seven (!) species of poisonous snakes that call Southern California home.  They are, the Western Diamondback, Sidewinder, Speckled rattlesnake, Red Diamond rattlesnake, Southern Pacific, Great Basin rattlesnake and the Mojave rattlesnake. I have a legitimate snake phobia, so just typing that made my skin crawl and my palms sweaty.  

 
According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), rattlesnakes are dangerous if provoked; however,  they also provide humans with a valuable service - they eat rodents, other reptiles, and insects, and are in turn eaten by other predators. 
 
Here In California where rattlesnakes are found from sea level up to 10,000 feet, you’re never safe! (Just kidding, sort of).  An essential part of enjoying the outdoors means learning how to avoid contact with rattlesnakes and how to react if you encounter one.  Here are a few tips from the CDFW:
Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas. Wear hiking boots.
When hiking, stick to well-used trails and wear over-the-ankle boots and loose-fitting long pants. Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.
Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark. Step ON logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood for your campsite. Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use.
Never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.
Be careful when stepping over the doorstep as well. Snakes like to crawl along the edge of buildings where they are protected on one side.
Never hike alone. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency.
 
Do not handle a freshly killed snake, it can still inject venom.
Teach children early to respect snakes and to leave them alone. Children are naturally curious and will pick up snakes.
So what happens if you encounter a snake and the strike?
Stay calm
Wash the bite area gently with soap and water
Remove watches, rings, etc, which may constrict swelling
Immobilize the affected area
Transport safely to the nearest medical facility
If possible, contact a ranger or 911 dispatch to provide them with your location and request assistance.
Chances are a snake encounter will end with it slithering away. So go out and have fun.
Also, be glad we don’t live in Florida, where they have 18 ft pythons living in the wild, O-M-G Yuck (invasive species!).

Hiking, biking OC trails

Have a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend!
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Summer is a fantastic time to kick your blender into high gear for some green and delicious smoothies!  Smoothies are a great way to pack vitamins and minerals into a very palatable format (for you, your kids or significant other).  For me, smoothies are better when they are high in greens and veggies, with enough fruit to provide good flavor.  It can be really easy to over do the fruit and knock yourself into a sugar coma…  Here are some items to consider before you blend:

The key to making a delicious green smoothie is the fresh [organic] ingredients!  As we roll into spring and summer fresh veggies and greens should be readily available at the supermarket, farmers market or in a CSA Box.  I try to use a variety for my smoothies – my two favorites are kale and spinach.  There are so many varieties of kale and chard it’s easy to keep mixing things up.
I try to stay at a 2:1 veggie to fruit ratio to make sure I’m getting plenty of vitamins and limiting sugar.  The use of tropical fruit, such as mango and pineapple allows for good flavor without too much fruit required.  Fruits like pears and apples are great for their fiber content, but can easily be overwhelmed.  So it is best to use these as a minor addition to the fruits for flavor.  Something many people forget is that carrots are a “sweet” veggie, and can assist in livening up a green smoothie.
Bananas are a fantastic base fruit as they allow for a creamier texture.  Also, try some raspberries, blueberries and strawberries when they are in season (or bagged in the freezer section).
For liquid I tend to stick to coconut milk or almond milk, to get a strong dose of healthy fats and to avoid soy milk.  With so much soy creeping into the American diet, I figure I can do without adding more (this is especially true for men unless you are into moobs and have no problem with him wearing a “bro”).
Need some extra protein?  You could go with an organic whey protein or egg protein mix.  But you vegans should consider nut butter (I prefer fresh ground almond butter).
Get creative, there are endless combinations to experiment with! Don’t forget yummy additions such as Chia seeds, hemp, flax, and nuts.
Happy blending!
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This past Saturday, May 4th was this year’s Stand Up for the Cure at Newport’s Back Bay.  Their vision is to become SUP’s version of Race for the Cure…They have a ways to go, but put on what was, overall, a great event.  Approximately 650 Paddlers showed up decked out in all shades of pink, some in crazy costumes.  There was a good showing of elite racers, junior pros, average joes and complete beginners.

The only negative about the event was a moderately confusing schedule (done in Microsoft excel) and poorly worded registration.  It wasn’t completely clear based on what I registered for (Adult Fun Event) what time I would start (Elite Race at 9:45, Pink Fleet and Intermediate Races were shown as sometime between 10:00 and 11:00).  Once on-site the event organizer cleared things up, but as someone who likes to know the plan and be prepared for events it made for a bit of a tense morning (especially because we got a late start after a forgotten bag at home).
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I did the 5k paddle.  Audrey and Andy came to watch.  The beach event had a fantastic exhibition area which included free melanoma and breast cancer screening.  Additionally vendors of SUP clothing, products, outdoor gear and health food livened things up while spectators waited for the paddlers.  There was also a super cool silent Auction with opportunities to score sweet gear from the sponsors.
Overall, this is the perfect event if you are new to SUPing or SUP racing.  There was definite competition among the pro and intermediate riders, but there was also a very laid back feel to the event which allowed riders to turn around at any point on the course.  The flat water is perfect for those new to SUP or those who may not be super adventurous. Make sure to keep an eye out for next year’s event, or Check out their Facebook page, Standup for the Cure
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I did a triathlon this past year, and really enjoyed it, but the open water swim made me nervous!  So, in order to review a couple of upcoming events, but avoid some hyperventilation, I have recruited my husband to try a couple open water swimming events this summer.  My husband is no Michael Phelps, but he probably won’t drown!  His past includes growing up in Minnesota, where lake swimming is a part of life and he completed a half iron man about 6 years ago when he was in a lot better shape than he is now.

The best part about open water swimming is that it allows for athletes to get out of their comfort zone and into the natural environment (this is also the scary part!).  There are numerous open water swim classes in Southern California for open-water novices.  Swim Velocity, in Orange County, puts on one of the highest rated classes based on a review of Triathlon and Open Water Swim Message Boards: http://www.swimvelocity.com/Open_Water_Swimming.html.  The best part is that it allows for repeated group swim and refresher classes for those who may take a little extra time to get comfortable in the water.
Another great resource is the OC Open Water Swims google group.  They coordinate informal meetups for weekly swims at the state beaches around Orange County, there is a wealth of knowledge and some fantastic swimmers who attend.
My husband has decided to train for two events in June.  The first is a 1/2 mile “Lap Around the Pier” in Huntington Beach on June 8th. The great part about these swims is that the registration fee is reasonable (unlike many of the Triathlon races in Orange County) only $25, including a t-shirt.  A word of warning, wetsuits are not permitted!
The second is La Jolla’s Pier to Cove swim.  This is a 1.5 mile swim from La Jolla Shores (the Pier) to La Jolla Cove.  This is a challenging but beautiful swim that navigates some of the best nautical preserves in Southern California.  Wildlife is abundant (including sea lions, tuna, dolphins and sometimes whales).  What is interesting about La Jolla is it is home to the largest population of sting-rays in Southern California as well as several (harmless) species of small shark!
If you are feeling brave and are a confident swimmer, you may want to consider these as an enjoyable alternative to the local triathlon races. I’ll keep you posted on how my husband’s training and races go!
-K
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Don’t worry! If you missed last Sunday’s CicLAvia (like my family did) you only have to wait 60 days until the next event.  The last CicLAvia allowed participants to ride, walk or skate from Downtown LA all the way to Santa Monica on closed streets…Next up, is the iconic Wilshire Boulevard.  Wilshire will be shut down from One Wilshire Plaza in Downtown LA all the way to Fairfax (the heart of Museum Row).  The iconic Wilshire Boulevard shut down is a partnership with Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. This collaboration, initiated by the Getty, brings together several local arts institutions for a wide-ranging look at the postwar built environment of the city as a whole, from its famous residential architecture to its vast freeway network, revealing the city’s development and ongoing impact in new ways. Major support for CicLAvia – Iconic Wilshire Boulevard has been provided by the Getty Foundation.

From CicLAvia’s website: “CicLAvia makes the streets  safe for people to walk, skate, play and ride a bike. There are activities along the route. Shop owners and restaurants are encouraged to open their doors to people along the CicLAvia. Connecting communities and giving people a break from the stress of car traffic. The health benefits are immense. Ciclovías bring families outside of their homes to enjoy the streets, our largest public space. In Los Angeles we need CicLAvia more than ever. Our streets are congested with traffic, our air is polluted with toxic fumes, our children suffer from obesity and other health conditions caused by the scarcity of public space and safe, healthy transportation options. CicLAvia creates a temporary park for free, simply by removing cars from city streets. It creates a network of connections between our neighborhoods and businesses and parks with corridors filled with fun. We can’t wait to see you at CicLAvia!”
Come out and enjoy the event…meander slowly down Wilshire, show up early and get a run in with a perspective you don’t often get, dust off the cruisers and pedal till you have a smile on your face.  While you’re there take time to stop at the Museums and marvel at the architecture we normally just speed past.
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Earth Day comes on April 22 each year; it’s a day to celebrate our planet and support environmental protection. In my opinion, Earth Day should be 365 days a year.  Whatever your opinion, its still an opportunity to celebrate our planet, which is so often taken for granted.  The weather is suppose to be amazing in our SoCal 10 day forecast and I plan to take full advantage of catching some much needed Vitamin D!

There are some great events and activities happening within the next week,

Ragnar Relay Series: April 19-20

It kicked off in Huntington Beach this morning and ends 200+ miles away in San Diego (Embarcadero Marina Park South). Teams of 11 runners (or an Ultra Team of 5) alternate running the 200+ mile distance over a 24-hour period. What I love about this race is that, although seemingly daunting, it’s actually realistic for all classes of runners. Each participant runs three separate legs throughout the race and only ranges from about 3-8 miles! Gather your 10 closest friends and prep yourself for next year. Until then, check out a leg of the race and the colorful costumes and upbeat participants will surely entertain you. Runners love to run!

http://www.ragnarrelay.com/race/southerncalifornia/

 

BDR Earth Day Family Fun Run, April 22

Bolsa Chica State Beach

With late morning start time, this race is great for those of us that may not be early birds, want to eat a casual breakfast, or just have a wild toddler to chase and attempt to clothe.

http://www.active.com/5k-race/huntington-beach-ca-ca/bdr-earth-day-family-fun-run-2012

Orangeman Salt Creek Half Marathon 10k/5k

Salt Creek

There’s nothing better than to run with a nice ocean view. This race runs along the Salt Creek Regional Corridor Trail and will surely satisfy your need for a great work out while enjoying mother natures true beauty.

http://goforwardracing.com/salt-creek-half-marathon-5k10k-1k-kids-run

Wine Festival April 19-20

Tickets can be purchased at the site below. Beginning in Laguna Beach this evening, be wined and dined with rare wines and others that are no longer in distribution. Move onto a full afternoon at Doheny State Park on Saturday.

http://www.californiawinefestival.com/eventschedule.html

Citrus Fair La Habra, April 18-21

This fair will surely have something for every member of the family; stage performances, contests, food, and activities for the kiddos.

http://www.citrusfair.com

Pet Expo OC Fair and Event Center, April 19-21

Check out this giant expo for your pet and pet products. They have a great variety of activities scheduled, sure to entertain the whole family. Please, leave fiddo (and all other pets) at home. There will be plenty of animal interaction, and lovely pets available for adoption at the expo!

http://www.petexpooc.com

Plant & Garden Show, Fullerton Arboretum April 20-21

A perfect opportunity to kick-start spring and beautify your garden! Maybe add a new variety, or learn about organic gardening. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, there’s something for everyone.

http://fullertonarboretum.org/event_green.php

Door Open to public, 10:00am-4:00pm

Day at Pretend City, April 22

Ok, not technically out side, but it’ll be a great learning experience for the kiddos!

http://anaheimoc.org/calendar-of-events/155404/earth-day-pretend-city

Volunteer, Anywhere, Everywhere, Anytime

http://www.oneoc.org/get-involved/days-of-service/earth-day/

Check out this website, it has a great list of multiple volunteer opportunities.

Check out more events all over Southern California:

http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/PublicEd/EarthDay/Events/#LosAngeles

I hope that at least on of these events inspires you to get outdoors, enjoy some exercise and time with the family this weekend and don’t forget celebrate our planet!

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Taxes in California are high; however, there is an advantage to paying large tax bills: the Orange County Parks and Recreation department puts on fantastic outdoor activities for free or very low cost ($5.00 and under!).  Most Thursdays at 8:30 there is a Fitness Hike departing one of the OC Parks or Open Spaces.  These hikes are generally 3-7 miles in length and on strenuous terrain.  For beginning hikers, check out the beginner or advanced fitness hikes every other Tuesday.

Looking for something a little more tame? Or are you excited about getting the kiddos out with you?  Opt for the more relaxed Nature Walk at O’Neil Regional Park or the 5 Senses of Nature Park at Carbon Canyon – both occurring most Saturdays (the 5 Senses walk is held twice every Saturday, at 9:30 and 1:00.  The 5 Senses Hike features Redwoods (yep, we have Redwoods in SoCal).

Looking to wind down in nature at the end of a long day?  Make time for the Ranger-hosted campfire program at O’Neil Regional Park or Ronald W. Caspers Regional Park.

As my family and I try these out over the next few weeks, I will update with reviews and pictures.  For a full schedule of outdoor activities visit the OC Parks website here:

 

http://ocparks.com/events

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Stairs. Yep, our society is inundated with advice to take a small step (pun intended) towards getting active. Taking the stairs, instead of the elevator or escalator, wherever you go is advice that usually looms near the top of the list. Get that quick ‘butt blaster’, heart rate increase when walking into the office everyday, and your beginning an active lifestyle, [they] may say.

I have to admit that I used to be that motivated person at the office that skipped past the elevator to climb the whopping three flights of stairs to my office on daily basis.  I will say that even though it was only three flights, the combination of stairs and heels added an extra burn that “hurt so good.”

But, I’m not here to provide an excuse that taking the stairs on a daily basis is a sufficient “work out” to replace 30 minutes of moderate activity, suggested by the American Heart Association, www.heart.org, at least 5 days a week. UNLESS, you are climbing stairs for a continuous 30 minutes, with elevated heart rate, on a daily basis. Then, more power to you, rock those tight jeans or short shorts! I am here to encourage you consider taking stairs when possible, and even suggest adding climbing to new heights into your workout regimen. *GASP*

I honestly cannot stand the stairmaster at the gym. It’s a personal choice, but I struggle with mind-numbing, agonizing climb to no-where. It tends to be a common theme for me to loathe stationary machine work; I will run in a downpour before you see me running miles on a treadmill. With that being said, how do you add climbing stairs into your workout regimen if you loathe the stair master? That answer is simple for me to provide: get out of the GYM!

I am not bashing working out in the gym, I personally include a trip in my daily routine; But, why not take advantage of this gorgeous weather and get outside when you can?!

You will find me at the corner of Golden Lantern and Dana Point Harbor climbing the stairs at Lantern Bay Park almost on a weekly basis. Or I mix it up with a trip to Strands, which is just up the road from Lantern Bay. Don’t live that far south? Check out the almost 230 steps at 1,000 Steps Beach in Laguna. Trust me, there’s a reason behind that beaches namesake. Wherever you may choose, the point is that you don’t have to climb the stairmaster.

So, you may be asking why would I devote an entire blog post to climbing some stairs? Because, it’s a killer work out that has the potential to literally get your booty into shape, while also providing a great cardiovascular, core, and leg workout, and of course, you can do it all while being outdoors! Yay! I’m obsessed, I know, but that is why we have an entire blog about Outdoor Fitness.   Stairs are a great way to focus on aerobic conditioning, anaerobic fitness, lower body strength and lower body power.  Anaerobic fitness can be developed by quick succession stair repeats.  Strength can be developed by deep lunges and focusing on form, and power can be developed with hops, bounds and leaps.  Mix it up, get fit and have amazing legs.

-K

**Please consult your physician before beginning this or any fitness program, this is not medical advice these are merely suggestions and samples of workouts**

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