Your Tax Dollars At Work

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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Climb to New Heights

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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Kids and an Outdoor Lifestyle

 

If you have read my previous posts, you most likely already know that I am a mother of a [beautiful] three year-old daughter, Audrey, and my second child is a 100-pound black lab, Turner. If you are just tuning in, welcome, you will be reading about my family and an outdoor lifestyle frequently. I have always been naturally drawn to the outdoors and only hope to instill that same affection in my daughter.

Recently, my husband and I decided that it was time for me to quit the 9-5 and become a stay-at-home mom. This was terrifying to me; don’t get me wrong, I adore my child and am grateful to have the opportunity to spend more time with her, but the “stay- at- home” phrase terrified me. How do you teach, encourage, engage, and entertain a three year-old, all day every day? I have found my answer to be creativity and Mother Nature.

We’re still working on a routine, but our typical day includes a trip to the gym (some social interaction for Audrey at day care, and some mommy time for me!), a long walk with the dog, and playtime at the park.  We check out different flowers, leaves, and bugs on our walks and talk about our surroundings (she actually walks or rides a bike the entire time, she doesn’t even ride in the stroller if it is presented as an option).

I have decided to take a bit further and combine educational activities with movement and exercise. On the weekends, my husband and I love to take Audrey to discover new parks or beaches. We also love to stand up paddleboard (SUP). Currently, our favorite family friendly beach location is Doheny State Park, Baby beach. It’s calm water, easy for the kiddo to play in and we can SUP in the small bay with Audrey on the board (PFD and wet suit always on) OR we trade off staying on the beach with Audrey while the other SUPs the harbor loop. How does this apply to education for Audrey? Well, Audrey loves to sit on the board out in the water and discuss all kinds of life that lives in the water. We talk about how the sand feels between her toes, and count the seashells we find on the beach (or rocks, same objective). How much more fun is it to learn counting by lining up seashells on the beach than sitting inside working on an activity sheet?

I’m not a certified educator, but I am a mom trying to live a healthy lifestyle and raise a healthy, confident child. We love being outside, and if I have said it once, I’ll say it again, SoCal’s temperate climate is perfect for outdoor activities! I plan on taking Audrey out on bike rides, pulling her in the trailer, and stopping to discover new parks; discussing how honeybees are beneficial towards making beautiful flowers and delicious honey or learning her ABC’s and spelling by using street signs as well as the plants, trees, and animals surrounding us.

One of my favorite activities is when the whole family walks to the soccer fields near our house and we run sprints together. I’m sure there is a learning opportunity for counting, spelling, science, or even art, but I absolutely LOVE spending the quality time with my family. We probably look like crazy people; our sprints turn into a game of tag or “AHHH! MONSTERS” and tag turns into passing out on the grass, but I love it.

No, with kiddos tagging along your outdoor time may not always include training for a marathon (mine hates the stroller). Overall, adjust your expectations for excise and focus on the activities outside. Ultimately we’re all trying to live a healthier life, the only way to teach a new generation those values is to lead by example.  Think outside the box and you will find it’s easy to lead a healthy, active lifestyle, while enjoying what matters most: being with those you love.

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Doggie Day Hikes

What dog doesn’t love a long walk?  Why not shake things up, get out of the neighborhood and go for a hike?  Orange County has fantastic open space and park areas where you and your four-legged friend can spend time on the trail. Today we are going to focus on gear and preparation for hikes with your dog.

 

Trail Etiquette and Regulations

 

Not all Orange County Parks or State Parks or dog friendly. We will review local Orange County Dog Hikes in the near future.  It is important that dogs be kept on a leash at all times.  I recommend that the leash be no longer than 6 feet and that good old-fashioned leather or webbing leash be used (not a retractable leash).  This ensures that your dog is close by (for his safety and the safety of others); also, a retractable leash failure on a hike can result in a lost dog.

 

Always be cognizant of your surroundings.  Pay attention and watch for approaching people, other dogs and children (especially if your dog gets excited, nervous or aggressive).  Not everyone appreciates a sniff or slobber from a strange dog!

 

Hydration

 

We have a black lab, he may have been a fish in a past life, and I have never seen a dog drink so much water!  It is important to ensure that you bring enough water for both you and your dog.  Never rely on streams, lakes or ponds for your dog to drink from (unless you bring a filter with you). Dogs, just like humans, are susceptible to giardia.  Giardia is a bacterium that causes gastro-intestinal distress. Turner (our dog) was on the receiving end of a nasty bout after drinking from a puddle formed by reclaimed water used for watering grass.  Trust me, you don’t want to experience the awful upset doggy tummy that goes along with giardia.

 

Water filters range from about $50 to $200 depending on the brand, filtration system, model and capacity.  Unless you are going for a multi-day hiking trip, packing extra water and a collapsible bowl is probably the best way to ensure your dog has enough water.  Alternatively, the Ruff Wear Palisades pack has a built-in hydration system.

 

Cooling

 

Dogs pant to lower their body temperature (one reason ensuring your dog has enough water is so important).  However, there are other measures you can take to help your dog keep cool on the trail.  The first, and most obvious, is to hike in the morning or evening hours when the sun is not at its peak (be aware that early morning and late evening hours are also the time that predators are most active, so extra vigilance is required).  Alternatively, you may consider the kool collar to help keep your pet cool.  Also, for dogs who seem very heat sensitive (like Turner) you might try the Ruff Wear Swamp Cooler dog vest which allows for evaporative cooling of your dog.

 

Paw Protection and First Aid

 

Dogs paws are pretty tough.  But they aren’t always as tough as the terrain you’ll be hiking on. We found this out during one hike after a very long 6 mile hike in Colorado, our dog tore open a pad.  Unfortunately we didn’t have any booties for him and he had to limp the last mile back to the car.  One option to address this are Ruff Wear’s Dog Boots.  Unfortunately, your dog probably isn’t going to like these, so it is best to do some trial runs around the house and neighborhood before trying to use them on the trail.

 

Just as you should be prepared physically and mentally to deal with an injury to yourself or others on the trail, it is part of being a responsible pet owner that you prepare yourself to treat and injury to your dog on the trail.  Consider bringing a first aid kit with you (there are pre-packaged versions on Amazon), ask your veterinarian for suggested supplies and be sure to review a book such as Field Guide to Dog First Aid by Randy Acker, DVM or attend one of Petco or the Red Cross’s dog first aid classes.

 

Hiking with a dog can be a very fun and rewarding experience.  It is also a good way to make sure you both get an uninterrupted nap in the afternoon! With a little bit of thought and preparation, you can be fully prepared to tackle the trails.

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SUP Training for a Good Cause

About a week ago we posted about Paddle for the Cure.  As we’re only a few weeks out, it is time to start some specific training on and off the water to be ready for the event.  Paddle for the Cure isn’t a race, but if you want to complete the long paddle (4 miles) it is probably a good idea to put in time out on the board as well as in the gym.  Those workouts will focus on overall fitness as well as injury prevention (the most common injury for new paddlers is rotator cuff injury).

 
Pre-habbing for Shoulders
 
Shoulder mobility and stability is essential for paddling efficiency and injury prevention.  As we age, shoulder mobility tends to decrease.  In order to counter act this try the following exercises:
 
1. Lie on your back, clasp your hands behind your head and touch your shoulders to the ground.
2. Lie on your back  and place a lacrosse ball underneath you and roll the ball between the C-5 and T-2 vertebrae.  (Right side for right arm, left side for left arm).  Move your arm in a swimming motion, find the sore spots (this may be painful given your overall flexibility).  As an alternative, place the lacrosse ball between you and the wall and do the same.
3.  PVC bar pass over.  Grab a PVC bar (or broomstick), place your hands in a snatch grip (hold the bar with arms straight, making a “v” shape over-head so the bar is approximately 3 inches overhead).  Move the bar from waist level in front of you, slowly overhead and behind until it touches your lower back.  Keep thumb and fore-finger in the same position on the bar.  This is also known as “shoulder-dislocates” and you have probably seen baseball players do this during batting practice.  The key is to keep your chest puffed up and don’t hunch your shoulders.
 
On-board Fitness

Workout 1

 
Paddle 20 mins, for distance:
Every minute on the minute, perform one of the following in rotation:

  •  20 pushups
  •  20 over head squats (use paddle as bar)
  •  20 “flutterkicks” (lie on your back, hold paddle over head, a few inches above the board)
  •  ”Warrior pose” for 1 minute
 
Workout 2
 
Paddle for 1 hour at a conversational pace.  Every 5 minutes do 30 seconds of short-quick pulls with the paddle or long-hard pulls with the paddle.  On short pulls, the paddle should enter the water approximately 2 feet in front of you and you should remain relatively upright.  On long pulls, the paddle should enter the water 4 feet in front of you and you should bend significantly at e waist to power through.
 
See this video for paddling technique basics http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mHGHEtcJI0A&feature=related
Gym Fitness
Paddling is a full body workout.  It requires the paddler to use strength while maintaining balance. The best strength training for paddling are exercises and groups of exercises which require active stabilization (not curls kneeling on a boss ball) and incorporate compound muscle movements.  Barbell complexes, kettlebells and Olympic lifts are fantastic.  Get ready to get super-fit (don’t worry women, this doesn’t mean bulky).
Workout 1 – Barbell Complex
Do the following exercises grouped together without setting the bar down between exercises:
  • Straight-leg dead lift
  • Hang power clean
  • Overhead press
  • Overhead squat
  • Back squat
  • Barbell good morning
  • (Bring bar back down I front of you)
  • Bent over row
The overhead press will likely be the limiting lift weight wise.  So choose. Weight at you can do 8 repetitions with (for me it is 50 lbs, for my husband it is 135 lbs).  You can do this 3-4 times per week.  I recommend switching between 3 sets of 5 repetitions and 3 sets of 8 repetitions (using lighter weights for the 8 repetition workouts).
Workout 2 – Kettlebells
Do 50 repetitions total of each of the following (you can break up the repetitions anyway that is necessary).
  • 1 arm swing
  • 1 arm snatch
  • 1 arm clean
  • 1 arm press
  • Goblet squat
There are a number of great videos on you tube demonstrating these exercises.  Try googling Pavel or Dan John on kettlebell and barbell complex technique.
See you on the water!
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