Adventure hiking leads to calories burned and good fun!

by Christine on June 29th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Exercise

GeocachingI reached the top of the trail and looked around. A mile of steep terrain was in my wake, and I was 4,000 feet high, just above the tree line. My navigation system blinked over the bullseye indicating that I had arrived at the destination. I looked around, searching. Nothing stood out to me.  I picked up a stick and started poking at the ground, stirring up leaves and overturning rocks. Nothing.

To my right hand side was a stone ledge, about eight feet high. The craggy ledge smelled faintly of moss and mildew from yesterday’s rainstorm, and it was comforting to me. I noticed that the right hand side of the ledge jutted out in such a way as to resemble a crudely-cut stairway. I climbed up.

Geocaching ContainerI looked at my notes again. I was looking for an ammo container, camouflaged green, of substantial size.  The contents promised to be “sports-themed,” with a “take an object/leave an object” rule. Using my stick, I poked at the leaves and stones. Clunk!  Success! I squatted down and brushed the leaves away. Sure enough, there was the ammo container. Like a child on Christmas morning, I unhooked the clasp and eagerly opened the container.

What a treasure! Trading cards, dice, a small baseball, a soccer trophy, and other items cluttered the box. I picked through the items and found a glittery ice skating shoe in the form of a keychain. I pocketed the keychain and slipped an old leather golfing glove into the box. I pulled out the pad of paper and pencil. A lot of people had been here, I noted, flipping through the spiral-bound notebook.  “First to Find” (FTF) was some guy named “PluckyDucky” and was four years ago. Usually the FTF prize was something fairly substantial. I wondered what the prize was.

Geocaching made hiking and getting exercise fun. I discovered it about a year ago, when a friend took me out on a hike. He had pulled his portable navigation system (the one you use for driving in your car) out of his pocket and plugged in some coordinates that he had scrawled down on a piece of paper. That day the hike took us about a half mile to the edge of a river. The “micro-cache” was a teeny tiny little container hidden cleverly in the crook of a pine tree. If you weren’t looking for it, you never would have found it. There was no prize in that cache; it was too small. There was only an old rolled up piece of paper for signing your name.

Geocaching is totally free; it only requires that you sign in with a username and password. To get started, just go to www.geocaching.com and type in your zipcode and click “search.”  The website will bring up all the caches nearby. The first time I searched, I was shocked to discover that there were two caches on my street!

If you are just starting off, you want to search for caches that have a single green brick as its icon:  That indicates that it is a traditional, one-cache adventure. (The two yellow bricks indicate that the coordinates will lead you to another set of coordinates, and so-on. It can get lengthy. The question mark usually involves a riddle that you have to solve to find the next set of coordinates.)

Once you find a good “green brick” cache that sounds interesting, click on the name/description of the cache. You need to be logged in to see the coordinates, which are located at the top of the page.  Also at the top of the page you will find the difficulty level in finding the cache (how hard it’s hidden) and how hard the terrain is to get to the prize. If you scroll down you will see a description of the cache, perhaps a little history. There is usually an additional hint that you can click on that gives you a cheater of where to look, such as “in a big pine tree” or “Under a rock.”

When you find the cache, it’s nice to log back onto this page and leave a note at the very bottom of the page.  It’s fun to look at other peoples’ comments – sometimes they leave photos of their hunt!

Geocaching is great for kids. It’s free, it’s outdoors, it’s exercise, and it usually involves a prize f some kind. Who doesn’t like a prize?  Look for themed caches for even more fun. I’ve even found caches that are just for dogs and recommend leaving/picking up a treat for your dog.  These sometimes even have toys and special smells so the dog can help you find the cache!

Geocaching can be educational, too.  One day I looked up a cache that took me to a very remote trail that local Native Americans used  and where arrowheads are commonly found. Another cache took me to a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr., who had given a speech in my town (I had no idea)!  Caches are terrific tools for learning about local history.

The best part about geocaching? It burns calories! It’s basically hiking and exploring. The day I searched for the sports cache located on a medium-sized mountain, I burned over 1200 calories!  Not all geocaches are hard to find though. There are about 10 geocaches located in my mall parking lot.

A note about GeoBugs and Geocoins:

On the search page, you’ll find some curious looking icons, representing Geobugs and Geocoins. These are special objects that have a purpose. For instance, I found a Geobug once, in the form of a small gorilla statue with attached dog tag. I went to the website and discovered that this Geobug had come from Germany and whose goal was to make it to the top of the Empire State Building in NYC, then return to Germany.  I was able to take it from my cache to, a few weeks later, a cache a few miles closer to NYC.  It was on its way! I found another Geobug once in the form of a martini glass keychain. The goal of this “bug” was to go to parties and have its photo taken with groups of party-goers! The website had a bunch of photos of merry-makers with the keychain!  Look for Geobugs and help them along their journey!

Many thanks to Heather, from Heather’s Banded Journey, for reminding me about the fun and benefits of geocaching! Visit her blog today! http://heathersbandedjourney.blogspot.com/

Share

Lose weight the Star Wars way‏

by Christine on June 9th, 2010

filed under Diet, Food, Nutrition, Exercise, General Information

Luke Skywalker Working Out with YodaHey there, you scruffy looking nerf herder. Are you looking to get in shape? Lose weight? Get motivated to turn your life around?  Then look no further than your Star Wars mentors! It may not be obvious, but the secret to weight loss is hidden in the movies.

The most important thing to remember about weight loss is that you need to be fully committed to your goals for the right reason: for yourself.  Look at yourself in the mirror and repeat after Han: “It is for ME, sister. Look, I ain’t in this for your revolution, and I’m not in it for you, Princess.”  You’re in it for you, and don’t forget that. There’s no more important lesson that you can take away from the movies.

Are you interested in losing weight and gaining powers with the force? Luke Skywalker taught us that running around, somersaulting, and jumping around a thick and sweaty swamp with Yoda strapped to your back is the best way to get into shape.  If that doesn’t do it for you, consider running away from white-faced storm troopers to burn calories. Did you know that there are exactly 26.2 miles from Docking Bay 327 to Prison Cell 2187 where Leia was kept on the Death Star? Get into shape – get running!

The martial arts can be a great way to get in shape. A great example of burning calories engaging the martial arts would be the Duel of Dates featuring Darth Maul and Qui Gon Jinn in the reactor core. While we cannot condone killing your exercise partner, working out with sticks instead of light sabers should work for the at-home duelist.  Pop the video in and repeat after them. I recommend watching in slow motion.

If you’re looking for great looking buns, look no further than Princess Leia. Tie braided buns to either side of your head; it will help you achieve a great sense of balance. For you yoga-ites, after a week of bun-training, try Garudasana pose (eagle pose) again; you’ll discover that it’s much easier!

Slave Leia doesn't eat candy barsAre you interested in eating well so you can look good? Well, you probably don’t want to have the skinny chicken legs of Kal’Faln C’ndros.  But Jar-Jar Binks keeps a low body fat percentage: take a tip from him and eat an apple when you’re walking from school to a friend’s house.

“Donuts, cookies, and ice cream. These are the ways to the dark side,” said Yoda. Princess Leia clearly works hard to maintain her figure, especially that Slave Leia outfit. We never see her eat in the movies. Are you thinking about eating that candy bar? Put it down and keep your slave outfit in mind!

Pizza the Hut leads to looking like Jabba the Hut. Stay away from the pan-fried pizza! Eating slimy frogs probably doesn’t do much for slimming your hips either.

When it comes to losing weight and looking good, there’s no such thing as luck – only good effort and pre-planning.

Are you interested in strengthening your mind so you can be powerful inside as well as out? Strengthen your mind and not just your arms! Pick up rocks with your mind and let your arms hang free.

Han Solo had confidence that oozed off him in wet, sexy drippings. “What are you looking at? I know what I’m doing,” he said. If you have anyone that questions you, let them know that you are fully capable of acting to your fullest potential! C-3PO, despite his awkardness at times, was equally confident. If someone tries to belittle you, just tell them “Don’t call me a mindless philosopher, you overweight glob of grease.” That’ll show them.

Follow your movie-mentors and learn the proper way to lose weight and maintain overall balance in your life.  When you harness that ability, you’ll achieve the highly-sought-after Jedi Master ranking.  You can do it – start today!

Share

Whipped

by Christine on June 8th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Exercise, General Information

Whipped into shape!Christine:  Hi husband! How was your day? Kisses on cheek.

Husband: Hi Christine. My day was good! I worked hard and goofed off a little with my co-workers. All projects I am working on are on time and on budget. I can’t complain! How was your day my little pumpkin-head?

Christine: Oh, um, my day was okay. You know…the usual.

Husband: gives me a sideways glance

Christine: So what’s the dealie-oh tonight? Do you have any plans?

Husband: I was going to play online games. (Husband plays Lord of the Rings Online) There’s a scheduled raid tonight at 7 p.m.

Christine: Ah. Oh, okay. Um, do you want to take a walk?

Husband: Nope.

Christine: Wanna play basketball outside? Bump a volleyball around?

Husband: Nope. I’ll probably nap and then do my raid. But thanks my little pumpkinhead.

Christine: Ugh. Okay. I’m not going to cook for you tonight, you know.

Husband: That’s fine. I’ve got leftover pizza I’ll eat.  Christine makes a face. Blerg. What are you going to do while I’m off raiding on Middle Earth?

Christine: I don’t know. Watch tv. Sit on my ass. Be lazy.

Husband: Oh, I don’t think so. I think that you want to go to the gym.

Christine: What? Gym? I don’t think so. I’m tired. Fakes a yawn and stretch.

Husband: Nope, I think you want to go to the gym. You have a busy week ahead of you. It’s going to be hard for you to fit the gym into your schedule. You’re free tonight, so you should go to the gym.

Christine: feeling cornered by Husband’s ability to use Good Logic on her. It’s his jedi mind-trick ability. Dammit! Uhhhhhh but I don’t WANT TO.

Husband: Go. To the gym.  Opens closet door and takes out gym shoes for me. You’ll feel better afterwards.

Christine: dammit. More jedi mind tricks. But but I don’t know! I’m so TIRED. It was such a LONG day at work.

Husband: GO. If you go, I’ll give you a little corner of some Mister Goodbar when you get back.

Christine: Damn, he’s good. He even knows how to tempt me with chocolate. Damn that smart husband! FINE I’LL GO BUT I WON’T LIKE IT.

(Christine goes to the gym and has a great workout)

Husband: How was the gym?

Christine: Great! Now give me my chocolate, you Luke Skywalker wannabe mind-trickster. You better not hold out on me because I’ll thump you over the head with my arms-o-steel like Fezzig from Princess Bride and jog your memory.

Husband: Sure you get chocolate! Kisses me on the head. Great job! I’m so proud of you for going and doing so well at running! Gives me a teeny tiny little morsel of chocolate…the perfect amount.

Moral to the story: Sometimes having a supportive spouse is the best motivation and best present a girl could ever have.

Share

Gym celebration

by Christine on June 7th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Exercise, General Information

I went to the gym and beat my last 5k time!

Last time: 37:05, incline 0.0.

This time: 35.20 and incline set at 0.5!!  WOOHOO!

I’m not winning any awards (yet) but I’m doing consistently better!

When someone accomplishes a goal at the gym, I think the gym needs to set of alarms and celebration bells, drop confetti, etc., to celebrate workout achievements with its patrons. Seriously…I beat an old time and all I get is a row of tvs blaring at me to celebrate me.  Gnar!  I DESERVE APPLAUSE DAMMIT!!  :)

Share

Climbing Mount Fuji

by Christine on June 2nd, 2010

filed under Exercise, General Information

Mount Fuji in SpringToday I was reading through one of my favorite blogs, “Did I Just Eat That Out Loud” (click here for link), where the author asked, “Have you ever had a chance to make one of your wildest dreams come true?”

I did, actually.  How many people can really say “yes” to that question?

In 2001 I went to Japan for the second time. I went with a group of international exchange students from my college, and we stayed with a friend who was from Japan.  We represented the USA (me), Japan (Ayako), France, The Netherlands, South Korea, and the Ivory Coast.  Our wonderful hostess asked us all to pick out one thing we wanted to do while we were in Japan. France picked karaoke, The Netherlands picked visiting a famous temple. I chose something totally nuts: I wanted to climb Mount Fuji.

Mount Fuji Seen from Green Tea Field in AprilNow, keep in mind I was 220 pounds (at 5’2) and hardly in any athletic condition to be tackling a real mountain. Furthermore, I grew up in Illinois had had never even seen a real mountain first-hand, much less attempted to walk up one. Yet, I said, “I want to climb Mount Fuji,” so off we went on a bus trip to the mountain.

Lava Rock so sharp!Mount Fuji is not just a mountain. It’s a volcano.  There’s not much difference, except perhaps for the landscape and footing. While a real mountain has dirt, evergreen needles, rocks and tree roots (vegetation) to give you a pretty landscape and the all-important foothold, Mount Fuji does not. It’s comprised of palm-sized lava rock, which is sharp as hell if you fall on them. (see photo to the left) It’s very loose, like gravel. You take one big step and slide 2/3 of the way backwards. You take another step and slide backwards yet again. Climbing Mount Fuji is literally like climbing uphill while constantly sliding downhill.  (See photos below)

Lava Rock on Mount FujiWe started out climb at 4:30 p.m., and we climbed until we reached the top at sunRISE, which was about 6 a.m. That’s 14+ hours of nonstop climbing upwards for those of you who are math-deficient.   The goal is to reach the top of the mountain at sunrise in order to epitomize the spiritual journey needed to reach the top.  Well, I hadn’t really signed up for that, but we were stuck on a tour of Japanese-only speakers, and I didn’t speak a single bit of Japanese, so I didn’t really know.  In fact, the entire trip was a calamity of errors. For instance:

  • We started the climb in July, and it was 110 degrees F where we began. Thinking that the trip would be warm, I embarked wearing only shorts, a t-shirt, a pair of gym shoes, and a pair of socks. But I planned ahead (I thought)!! I packed an extra pair of socks. JUST IN CASE.  I’m such a dumbshit. At 12,000 feet, it was less than 30 degrees at the top of the mountain, complete with snow and sleeting rainstorm.  Did I mention that I wore gym shoes? Not hiking boots (with crampons) appropriate for climbing in loose gravel?
  • I brought one bottle of water. ONE. BOTTLE.  Because I thought it would be a short jaunt to the top.
  • I brought one package of salty crackers. One package.  Because I thought it would be a quick trip to the top. That same package of crackers literally EXPLODED in my backpack on the way up, from the altitude.  Did I mention that it took 14 hours just to reach the top?

Climbing up lava rock on Mount FujiWe started about one-third of the way up the mountain, and I knew instantly that I was in trouble.  For starters, I was getting passed by 60 year old Japanese men fully decked out in hiking gear. They scoffed at my t-shirt and shorts. I scoffed at their jackets and trekking poles. Let’s guess who was doing the laughing three hours later

I felt the hiking burn about 2 hours into the trip. I thought I would need to quit right then and there. But I looked up and the top didn’t look so far away, so I thought, “Gee, how bad can it be?” Then it turned black as night out there. They do not have lights illuminating the walkway.  (The professional hikers had the foresight to bring headlights. I did not.)  There were no bathrooms — well, none that were free, anyway.  I peed crouched down along the path when I had thirty seconds between groups passing me.

The second sign that I was in way over my head: They sold oxygen along the way.  Real oxygen.  Soon I found out why: my international group of friends began puking like crazy. The altitude got to them. Slowly they started dropping off, deciding to go back rather than go forwards. I kept plugging along.  It wasn’t a conscious decision; I was in a total exhausted haze. I was alone, in a foreign country, without water or food, 100 pounds too heavy for the trip, but I wasn’t going to stop now, not nine hours into the hike!

My legs found a rhythm and I completely blanked everything out. Every inch of my body hurt. I ached. I was mentally done. I was ill-prepared. I was freezing. I used the extra pair of socks as mittens on my hands. Some 70 year old hiker took pity on me and gave me an extra sweatshirt. I don’t even remember the transaction now, or if I paid him for the sweater. I cried at least a third of the way up to the top. I told myself a million times, “I can’t do this. I’m too fat. I’m too out of shape. What the hell was I thinking? Stop now! ” but I kept talking to myself while walking in that mind-numbing motion forwards. Upwards. I didn’t stop.

At the top, the climb turned more treacherous.  Instead of loose gravel, it became large boulders that you needed to climb hand-over-hand.  It was sleeting and my extra sock-gloves were soaked. I had icicles on my eyelashes, and my eyes kept literally freezing shut. I was wet and freezing. I couldn’t stop shivering. But I didn’t stop moving.  I followed professional climbers that used rock-climbing gear, carribeaners, crampons, and climbing picks to reach the top, but I didn’t have any of that stuff: only my hands and feet. I cried the whole way.

Top of Mount FujiThen I reached the top. My friend told me that I would reach the top and see the crater of the volcano. The sunrise would occur in front of me, and it would be magical, like a movie. That image kept me moving during the climb, but it didn’t really work out that way in reality.  I only knew I reached the top because there was  a warming hut (free!) at the top. The sleeting storm got worse. It was hazy and dark. There was no sunrise. There was no crater. There was nothing but freezing rain and a poorly lit fire.

I cried for a solid hour. I couldn’t believe I did it. I couldn’t believe I reached the top. Never in my wildest dreams could I have dreamt that I would achieve something so huge. I climbed 12,388 feet to the top of Mount Fuji.

With an amazing amount of non-ceremony, I stood up from my seat and started sliding my way down the gravel, down the hill. Trumpets did not blare. I didn’t get a handshake from the Prime Minister congratulating me on my challenge. I didn’t even have a single friend with whom I could celebrate. I reached the top, I was exhausted, I started going back down. Going down was remarkably fast due to the gravel. I fell a thousand times, backwards, onto my hands and butt. My hands were raw and bloody from landing on the sharp lava rock.  I cried on the way down too.  When I met my friends at the bottom of the mountain, I had little to say, and little emotion left in me. I was drained in every way possible. I found my way to the charter bus and watched the scenery pass me by as we drove back to Kyoto.  I may have dozed a little, but mostly I was just numb. It took me weeks to process what had just happened to me.

Thank you to Mrs.FatAss for reminding me of that journey. It changed my life. Without a doubt.

Have you ever had a chance to make your wildest dream come true? Tell me all about it. Or, tell me what dream you would LIKE to make come true?

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Share