Category Archives: Lifestyle

lifestyle

INTENTION

Whether unrolling your yoga mat, unzipping your gym bag, lacing up your running shoes, clicking into your pedals, or tapping ‘start’ on your fitness computer of choice, what is your intention? Why are you about to do what you are about to do?

For many years I have urged my students to define their goals, be able to explain to themselves just why they are trying to manage heart rate, increase flexibility, build strength, achieve quickness and agility. Furthermore, what is the purpose behind each training session, each exercise? OK, you might be trying to tweak your fuel, increase your sleep, include Yoga in your training – but why?

Of course there is science behind all of it, but perhaps the more significant element might be why do you WANT to do___________________ (fill in the blank)?

Are you seeking happiness? According to Bridget Jones in her Diary, ‘Happiness does not come from wealth or power, but from the attainment of reachable goals.’ (paraphrased)

Each January 1st I ask my clients to hone in on a goal or two for the coming year – specific and attainable. This year the stars came out and I was able to post an entire board of wonderful, meaningful and achievable goals.

There were specific goals such as more ski days this year, prepare for knee replacement surgery, develop a home Yoga practice, improve my golf game, mountain bike 3x per week, improve posture, ride the Kelly Brush Century, hike some of New Hampshire’s 4,000’ers, run a faster 10k.

There were generalizations such as enhance balance, maintain ability to work in the woods, continue with personal training, increase arm strength, build core stability.

I received a card that read: “Live with Intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you like. Live as if this is all there is.” (Mary Anne Radmacher)

This morning I attended a Yoga class that was packed to capacity. It was sheer joy. Our mats were nearly touching and our limbs moved through space with the exquisite awareness of our neighbor’s nearness. Cognizant of each other’s tiniest movements and aware of each subtle nuance and breath, I felt as if I sank ever more deeply into my own practice, my personal and individual experience.

I had entered the studio thinking that my Sankalpa would be something along the lines of practicing more expansively, enhancing strength and balance, moving fully extending my flexibility and skills as I stretched my heart and mind.

And then it shifted. My intention became itself – simply to practice with intention. And to share the 90 minutes with those with whom I also shared space, and oxygen, and the practice of Yoga. Lovely.

As I ponder the concept of intention, I think that Confucius had it right way back when … “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

LINKING THE HOLIDAYS TO YOUR TRAINING PLANS

Depending on where you are in your annual cycle of training (periodization); depending on your priorities and goals; depending on your personal commitments and family obligations; depending on your profession, the climate, and just about anything you can think of (or excuse), your fitness or sports training plan may be blown out of the water during extended weeks of holiday celebrations.

However, look at some of the elements of the season that directly link to the subject.

HANUKKAH. The word literally means rededication. Though the eight days of celebration in the Jewish tradition relate to the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabean Revolt, an athlete might ponder the general concept of rededication as applied to his or her training goals, motivation or even values.

ADVENT. The word literally means coming. In the Christian tradition the Advent season is a time of waiting, preparation and patience. Aha. Once again there are significant associations to be made. Whether one’s exercise and healthy lifestyle lead to fitness or performance, preparation and patience are integral parts of the whole.

HOLIDAYS. A long time ago, (maybe as early as 1659), someone wisely remarked: “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” A more modern translation might be “all work with no recovery/rest makes Jack or Jill both bored and boring!” A blatant symptom of overtraining is declining performance. So, look ahead and give yourself permission to take that break.

CELEBRATE! “Celebrate good times, come on!… Let’s celebrate, it’s all right.”

OK, only some of us of a certain age start singing the song when we think the word celebration, but the message is ageless – “it’s all right.” Why do we need permission to stop what we’re so earnestly doing and take some time off? Maybe this is one of the most important seasonal connections for an athlete or fitness enthusiast to make – it’s OK to be spontaneous, to have fun, to play, to relax, to read a book, eat a cookie or test a new microbrew. Just don’t celebrate beyond the appointed time – usually January 1st.

New Year’s RESOLUTIONS? Forget it. Rather than setting up for failure with extraordinary aspirations of goodness, why not pull out the 2018 calendar, research the events you’d like to do, write them down, and work backwards. Note when you should begin to ramp up your training or exercise in order to compete or complete your goals and send off NOW any entry forms, hotel reservations, etc. that you might need to do.

BOTTOM LINE. Holidays can play havoc with one’s fitness, performance, health and self-respect. Run amok, overindulgence, under-activity, inappropriate ingestion, too much/too little of anything has an adverse affect on well-being. Better to enjoy, have fun, honor the season for personal reasons, value time spent with family, friends and loved ones, pause to savor the moment – rather than sabotage present gains. Seek balance in all of its facets – and shine.

As 2017 closes, I wish you days to cherish with loved ones, hours to regenerate and moments to hold in your heart.

NOTHING BEATS HIKING FOR AUTUMN FITNESS

Mt.Laramore, Vermont, 9-16-2017.lfreeman

Nothing beats hiking for autumn fitness – at least not here in New England. If you do not live in an area of seasonal changes, please plan to visit. Even with the strange weather conditions we have all been experiencing this year, autumn is still heralded by shorter days and falling leaves. True, temperatures have been disturbingly higher than usual, but it appears we are now back on track and the 30s-50s are on their way.

Each of us has a seasonal preference. I love the summer months and can’t get enough of the outdoors. Others hide from the sun and break out when the snows fall. Thankfully there’s something for everyone in a four-season state (Though here in Vermont we credit an extra season for stick season or mud season – don’t ask!).

Typical September field and mountain scene in Northern Vermont. 9-23-2017 Greensboro.lfreeman

But why might hiking get such high marks in the fall? Serious athletes are often transitioning from one training or racing season to another and there’s a short lull in their work. Recreationally active individuals are eager to rebound from summer sports and land on something significant enough to tax their muscles yet relaxing enough to calm their hectic brains.

HIKING – For purposes of this post, hiking refers to trails that go up and down, over brooks and around boulders. Rocks, roots, ruts, mud, stone steps, wooden planks, ladders, ledge, exposure, fragile vegetation and weather conditions are all parts of the hiking experience. Trails, such as the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail provide sections or side hikes that offer day hikers a piece of the pleasure of a thru-hike. Though walking paths through towns, fields or forests are very pleasant and surely an excellent outdoor experience in and of themselves, that’s not what we’re talking about here. Nor are the more extreme hikes of weeks or even months that demand a level of expertise, fitness and preparedness beyond that of the day hike.

PROS – Most able bodied individuals who can walk can hike. Get outdoors. Gain strength, agility, endurance. See beautiful sights along the trail and vistas from the top. Hike alone or with others. Steady pace is calming and allows time to think. Get away from it all for even a few hours. Feed your appetite for adventure and challenge. Enjoy a sense of accomplishment when you return to your car.

CONS – Most disadvantages of hiking can be summed up in one word – preparedness (or lack there of). Finding yourself on a hike that is too long or too strenuous is a deal breaker. Blisters or strained ankles from inappropriate footwear can ruin an otherwise remarkable day. Getting lost, failing to carry water or food, not enough layers to be comfortable in cooler temperatures at the top or unanticipated rain … the list could go on and on.

PREPARATION – Though I said this above: Most able bodied individuals who can walk can hike… Gain strength, agility, endurance, it also must be said that preparation is critical to thoroughly enjoy a mountainous day hike. You do need to have a certain amount of strength (especially in the lower body and core – many complain of quadriceps soreness after a good hike), a sense of balance and practice dealing with uneven terrain, and should have built a level of endurance that keeps you moving for any where from 2-8 hours. Hiking can be both a reward from having diligently maintained fitness over the preceding months and a means to enhance that fitness by its practice.

see also http://lindafreemanfitness.com/2014/05/24/hiking-promotes-demands-fitness/ 

LOVE these blazes! lfreeman

Furthermore, it is imperative to know where you are going. There are books, the internet and other resources available to help you chose a trail that is appropriate for you and/or your group. Personally I like to back up my cell phone (coverage is spotty) with AllTrails app and even a few notes on paper that will help me find my way. I rely heavily on trail markings (that white blaze is such a happy sight when I have mistakenly left the main trail) and make note of such things as unusual trees or rock formations or whether I am following a brook. (Cell phone pics are useful here.) I famously get lost driving to a trail head (even with Google maps) and then again somewhere along the trail. So perhaps my preparation is a little more significant than yours might be!

You don’t want to be a packhorse and carry so much gear as to burden your play, but you do need to have the basic necessities. My go-to pack includes water, energy bars, gloves, hat, at least one long sleeved layer and a windbreaker. I usually add dry socks, sunscreen, insect repellant, small first aid kit, cell phone and headlamp. Basically I know the distance I intend to hike and that I will probably not run into trouble. (I have, however, exited a hike at the wrong place necessitating several miles of road walking to find my car.) I also know that hikers are very friendly and will help each other if possible. If you rely on this, be sure to choose a hike that is heavily trafficked!

Elmore Mountain trail (now expanded with Ridge Loop trail) 9-17-2017. lfreeman

HIKING WITH MY DOG – For many years I have wanted to hike but am usually alone so have been hesitant. As a city slicker pretending to be an active outdoors Vermont girl, I’m pretty much a wuss. This year I have upped the ante and have hiked as often as possible. My now one-year old Lab, Sophie, is my constant companion. We have played in the woods on local trails, MTB trails, and town forests – all of which are great for building up both conditioning and behavior on long days when there is plenty of time after work in the evenings to do so. We laid the foundation for several months (on leash and off) before heading to the hills.

Now we are adventuring every weekend and plan to move up to New Hampshire’s 4000 footers in the near future. I am learning how to pack her water, leash, treats, extra food, and water bowl. I have studied a wonderful little guide to hiking with your dog in New Hampshire and Vermont. Though written in 2005 and somewhat dated, it is super helpful. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0898869889/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I do my best to practice good trail manners, leash my pup when it is best to do so and unleash her when it is equally appropriate. On a good day, on a busy hike, she will be leashed and sit to the side and wait while hikers pass. On a good day off leash on a lightly traveled hike she will run up to greet an oncoming hiker, but sit when she gets there and wag her tail. If another dog is off leash, I allow her to be the same and often she and her new friends romp for a few minutes while we proud parents swap dog stories. If all dogs are leashed, it’s harder as she is uber eager to make new friends. In fact, as you might expect, my Lab pup is often uber eager about most things.

Sophie after Mt Cube’s 7 miles with lots of vertical and play time in the woods and brook! lfreeman

Alas, another Hiking Pro – she sleeps very well after a long hike!

WHAT NEXT? – What happens next is anyone’s guess. As the days grow shorter we working folks have less time for the outdoors and often become weekend warriors. Hiking trails become treacherous in fall rains and wet leaves and downright nasty when covered by thin layers of ice. Maybe it’s back to walking the country roads for a few weeks? But then the white stuff will come to beautify the world and nudge us on from boots to microspikes to snowshoes to skis and to more fun adventures ahead. The trick is to just keep getting out there, right?

DUALITIES. BALANCE. THINK ABOUT IT.

Dualities. Balance. Yin and Yang. Effort and ease. Activity and stillness. Community and solitude. Sound and silence. The list just might be infinite. Sage Rountree (http://sagerountree.com) introduced the concept of dualities to those of us participating in training at Kripalu to Teach Yoga to Athletes. It is a profound concept.

It’s something we think about – a lot – in the practice of Yoga. Life is so full of ups and downs, ins and outs, happy and sad, ease and disease. Our quality of life, our emotional and mental stability, in fact our very lives, depend on the balance of these opposites, these dualities, these partners in each individual existence. And it is, in fact, a balance rather than the elimination of one or the other. Many dualities are equally positive or equally challenging, just different. Often it is a matter of coincidence, coordination, comingling, cooperation.

In our Yoga practice, we give equal time to stretch and strength, twist and bend, prone and supine, kneeling, standing, lunging, forward fold, back bend, Tadasana and Savasana. And those are just the Asanas, or physical poses. (Asanas are but one of the eight limbs of Yoga so there’s plenty more to practice!)

In the gym we make certain to cover all our bases: warm up and cool down, challenge ourselves aerobically, build muscular strength, enhance quickness and coordination, balance without falling as well as balancing opposing muscle groups in training, and, of course, flexibility.

Once again I am reminded of the shared elements of all forms of training. Yoga has been around for a very long time, so coincidences in functional training, physical therapy, Pilates, and so much more can usually be traced back to some form of Yoga. Likewise, practice in one discipline aids performance in another.

Perhaps I find it most significant to remember that there is no right or wrong. Of course, asking each individual body to move in a way appropriate to that body, seeking maximal alignment for each, is key. Repeatedly practicing a movement, a training exercise or a Yoga pose inappropriately leads only to overuse or even wear and tear that negates the effort invested over long periods of time.

But that being said, there should be no feuds between instructors, coaches, athletes, or schools of practice.

Josh Summers (https://joshsummers.net/podcast/what-is-yin-yoga/) presents an excellent definition of Yin Yoga. The notion that Yin and Yang are BOTH valid and should BOTH be practiced, simply triggers the imagination to consider the value of blending opposites of all kinds.

Balance is, after all, equilibrium.

*****************************************************************

For the past three weeks I have indulged in shared time spent with my dog, or friends, or family. Each dynamic generously gifts its own special blessing. This year has been different from past in that my “me-time” has been with my 11 month old Lab. (As my brother quipped, “it’s just like having a toddler!”) She has been by my side for multiple and daily trail walks, swims, off leash runs/on leash training, and even a little rock scrambling in Camdenhttp://www.mainetrailfinder.com/trails/trail/camden-hills-state-park-interior-trail-network). We’ve both learned a great deal about each other and have kept each other moving almost constantly, mutually increasing fitness as we go.

Balancing outdoor activity have been hours of Yoga practice (both Vinyasa and Yin at Freeport Yoga Company, http://freeportyogaco.com) and the deck.

Time spent on the deck where I am living is time sketched in gold. Vivid oranges and pinks fire up the day even before the sun makes its early appearance, bouncing color and energy off the surface of the water. (No wonder Sun Salutations are integral to one’s Yoga practice.) Though the sunset on the other side of the peninsula is equally dramatic, there is something oh so lovely about its residual glow from our deck. And the full moon? There are not words …. But if it weren’t for the deck, would I pause to sit there and observe?

The deck is the intuitive gathering place for all of us. Sophie could sit there and look for hours. My family and I can talk endlessly, but there always comes the fall into a reverent or contemplative silence – just watching. Tides ebb and flow, lobster boats motor up and down the sound working while I play, fish rise and re-enter with a significant slap, ducks search for food as cormorants dive under for so long I wonder if they’ll ever reappear. They do.

But it is not in stillness that my random thoughts are born. Movement, not stillness, generates curiosity, the attempt to define, ponder or even organize what floats in and out of mind. Hours spent hiking the trails, walking the rocky shoreline, or riding the roads are the hours that produce thoughts that beg follow up study.

So, in my experience this summer, it seems that balance has been paramount. The Yin and Yang of the hours teach. May I be a receptive student.

CREATE YOUR OWN, PERSONAL LOGO? WHY NOT?

 

A logo is a symbol that helps to represent or identify a particular business, organization or individual. A logo plays a key role in “branding.”

Did you notice that I said “individual?” Do you have a logo? If not, why not?

Creating your own, personal logo is not just crafting a design, but it is an exercise in probing who you are, how you identify, what you would like others to see in you, and perhaps peeling away a few layers to find core values, purpose and preferences.

After developing this website in 2014, I waited to work with a professional to design a logo. I’m glad I waited. This is not something to do frivolously or hurriedly. And, most likely, it is not something to do only once.

With a few simple lines, colors or words, one must snapshot a profession, service, career, qualifications, or even a belief system. Good grief! While a logo might characterize services available, it equally suggests more intrinsic values and personality.

Let me use my own new logo as an example. While I chose to work with a professional designer, it was also significant that she is a friend who knows me – my work and enthusiasm. What I thought would be a quick and easy exercise (since I had done plenty of groundwork prior to our first meeting), turned into months of give and take, trial and error, introspection and expression.

Professionally I have altered my course. Yes, I am still a dedicated Personal Trainer working with individuals and small groups. Yes, I have untold hours of continuing education and training in many aspects of fitness, sports performance and rehabilitation. And while I am still passionate about cycling, I am no longer teaching multiple Spinning® classes per week or spending hours and indeed days on the road riding and training.

My life has taken a turn that perhaps is more a continuum, bringing me back full circle to my early days. As a 13 year old, I began a series of 3 summers on scholarship at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Lee, Massachusetts. (I went on to have a long and successful classical dance career performing and later teaching.) When I began the study of yoga in January 2015, I attended an eye-opening workshop, Yoga for Athletes, with Sage Rountree, at Kripalu – just a stone’s throw from Jacob’s Pillow. Full circle?

In any event, I am now a dedicated Yoga practitioner, thrilled to be a student, and, with my RYT 200 completed, am on my way to 500 hours. I am also eager to share what I am learning, to enrich the work that I do with my clients and classes, and perhaps more. I am also passionate about family, Vermont, the outdoors, and well-being in its broadest sense.

Linda Freeman Fitness logo designed by
Carrie Baker Stahler, 2017.

Therefore my logo embodies more than a superficial business. Hopefully this one small design suggests life, health and wholeness as organic – to be lived, loved and savored.

The central design suggests an athletic body in a yoga pose that is part of the Dancing Warrior sequence, a composite of strength and grace. The mountain is Camel’s Hump, Central Vermont’s well-loved and well-hiked mountain.

The rings represent miles of cycling as well as full circles or life’s spirals. The colors? Spring green is all about newness, freshness, birth, curiosity and possibilities. Shades of blue touch on the spiritual. And orange? Orange, of course, is all about fun: laughter, playfulness, the ability to let go, be spontaneous, recognize happiness, honor joy.

It is quite possible that when I look at this logo, only I know what brought this design into being. That’s ok. It works.

What about you? You may well have a professional or business logo with which you work day in and day out. But what about yourself? Given the opportunity, how would you design a logo for yourself? What would you like to put out there for others to see? What would your logo say about you? Are you willing to expose yourself, to share, to relate, to touch?

Designing a logo can be fun/meaningful; frivolous/intense; disturbing/satisfying….

“Given the opportunity?” Well, why not? Maybe it will be just for you, tucked away in a journal or the wallpaper on your computer screen. But I suggest that the process of conceiving a personal logo is an act of self-awareness, identification and perhaps meeting yourself as others might meet you. Go ahead. Take the “opportunity” and have a go at it. What have you got to lose?

SPRING CLEAN: REPRIORITIZE FITNESS & LIFESTYLE

         It’s that time of year again – time to do our spring cleaning. I suggest that here we are talking about more than our house – though that’s nice to do as well. Spring is a time of renewal, a time to organize and order, a time to review everything from fitness goals and nutritional plans to budgets and vacations. It’s a time to pick and choose, eliminate and supplement, take stock and plan ahead, and perhaps most importantly, to embrace change, prioritize and balance.

         This is all personal stuff. Only we know what we want most out of our training and out of our lives. Somewhere deep inside of each of us is the flame of passion. That flame should be protected as carefully as a Faberge egg or the Olympic torch. It is both fragile and fierce. It is alive and must remain so or we will shrivel up and die.

         When we spring clean we must do so without disturbing that flame. As each year passes, we define our goals differently. We have more or less to assess. With practice we develop the skills necessary to review, reevaluate and reorganized. To these we add others: refuel, recover and regenerate. Can you apply these concepts to your training, to your fitness, to your recreation, to your passion?

         When planning our training and slotting it into our daily and weekly schedules, we often find we have limited time. Considering training options, intensity, duration, etc. (Don’t forget time to recover, regenerate and renew.) Take whatever time we can and MAKE THE MOST OF IT.

         Spring clean. Make a bucket list, if you will. Strategize. Allocate. Practice. Honor stillness as well as action. Embrace hopes, dreams and passions. Consider ways to grow, connect, thrive. Eliminate what does not work and try something new. Spring clean thoroughly and effectively, with head and heart.

EVERYONE DESERVES YOGA

 

While at Kripalu in January, I picked up this post card.

EVERYONE DESERVES YOGA. courtesy of Kripalu

EVERYONE DESERVES YOGA. courtesy of Kripalu

It is a request for donations to help share the Yoga experience, but the message is an apt reminder that Yoga is, indeed, for everyone. Whatever one’s age, physical ability, educational, social or political beliefs, anyone and everyone has within his or her reach the practice of Yoga.

Full disclosure. Oh how I resisted Yoga! With a long-ago professional ballet career in my resume and a boatload of training and certifications as Personal Trainer, athlete and Fitness Professional, I was sure that, in addition to strength and cardio training, a sensible, flexibility routine was all that one needed to remain healthfully fit and functionally sound.

Then, just two years ago, I woke up one morning and thought “Yoga is missing.” A quick check on my computer identified an attractive Yoga studio just minutes from my house. “Serendipity,” I thought. And I was off.

I began with a one-hour class each week. Then two. Then I explored classes in my area and while on vacation. I started to read. And read. Bottom line, I was, and am, HOOKED. Within weeks I will have completed three certifications including my basic 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training, Teaching Yoga to Athletes, and level one of YIN yoga.

I am fully cognizant that this is just the beginning, the tip of the iceberg, the scratch on the surface. Yoga is so very much more than the asanas (the Yoga poses) and the “workout.” Yoga is the epitome of mind-body connection. In fact, it sounds trite to say even that. I am humbled by all that Yoga is. I do not have enough years left available to me to learn enough about Yoga to teach the many aspects of the practice, but I can share what I do know and share my respect for this ancient wisdom.

Perhaps the first thing I want to share is this – whoever you are and whatever you do, wherever you are in life’s journey, I encourage you to cast aside preconceived notions, find a legitimate Yoga studio in your area and begin at the beginning. Check in with the studio, introduce yourself as a newbie, ask about an appropriate class to attend, and then attend several. Give it a chance. Take time to openly experience breathing techniques, flexibility, balance, and, yes, strength challenges, honor Savasana (you might welcome the stillness at the end of the class or be popping to get on with your day, but stay…) and listen to the cues flowing from your instructor. Then pay heed. How do you feel later the day of your class, the next day, the day after? Do you notice a change in your energy, your mental acuity, or your spirits? Does your body feel leaner, primed? (Over time you will even note that your performance is enhanced and you acquire tools to help you get through your days, activities, workouts, meetings and competitions.)

Remember Yoga has been around for thousands of years. You are not going to take a big bite out of it in just a few weeks. Become an observer, a participant and a friend.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey), “Everyone deserves a few moments when life is quite perfect.” Might those few moments be found in Yoga practice? .imagesYes, Yoga is for everyone and Yes, EVERYONE DESERVES YOGA.

2017. HISTORY INFORMS THE NEW YEAR.

We seem to be balanced on a precipice – one year is nearly over and another is about to begin. We have weathered storms, politics, health and financial issues. As individuals, we grapple with the world around us as we struggle to maintain a physical and emotional balance within ourselves.

January is nearly here. January 1st marks a date of many “re” words: review, renew, regenerate, realign, rebalance, recharge, reflect, reset and, of course, the inevitable – resolve i.e. those blasted, ubiquitous New Year’s Resolutions.

JANUS and HISTORY

Janus is the god of beginnings and endings, of transitions and of time itself. The two-faced head of Janus often crowns doors and gates with one face looking back and the other looking forward. Is this not what we are doing at this time of year: looking back over the year that has just passed and looking forward to the year ahead?JANUS An interesting aspect of the Janus head that I recently observed is that each face is the same. One is not looking forward with furrowed brow or looking back frantically as if to say “where has the time gone?” Both faces consider what has gone before and what lies ahead with equivalent composure.

I don’t know about you, but I am a firm believer in history. Yes, there is history to be revered, individuals to be honored. There is history made up of dates and wars. There is history made vibrant by inventions and discoveries. The history that intrigues me begins with the development of cultures and communities. What benefits us immediately, however, is our own personal history.

Within the context of the spiral theory of history in which history repeats itself and what came around once will sure do so again, we can look to our own personal history to see what lessons we have learned and what we might do differently. After all, as somebody once said (it is usually attributed to Einstein) “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Within the context of fitness and training, history provides important information of one’s progress. Dedicated efforts result in diminished limitations and increased capabilities. Weakness develops into strengths, skills are acquired and goals are either scored or reached.

Best of all, there is a history of immediate feedback related to one’s dedication, one’s efforts. Become sedentary and our body and health will bottom out. Continue our efforts to exercise, fuel appropriately, live healthfully, and train for our sport or activity of choice and we see positive results over time. We can look back on interaction with others, the evolution of like-minded individuals enjoying the benefits of community. Bodies and minds are enhanced. Enthusiasm is nourished. Energy multiplies.

Confidence, born of experience, gives us a powerful tool upon which to rely.

History allows us to dream, to formulate achievable goals, to make a bucket-list and then to stretch ourselves in pursuit of what we identify as important to us.
2017There’s something lovely about a brand new year, one that is, as of January 1st, unspoiled, untarnished. Like a beautiful journal open to the first page, the first of many such blank pages waiting for our words to create something new and personal, the new year hints tenuously of promise.

We have passed the shortest day of the year and are now making our way towards tiny increments of light each day. What will we do with that light? Must life go on day after day as it is or can we mix it up a bit, let that about which we are curious guide us to discoveries and experiences large or small, but all pieces of the puzzle that make us who we are – perhaps not a complete picture but a work in progress.

This quote rolled into my inbox this morning: “Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb.” (Macrina Wiederkehr, O.S.B.)

May you look back on 2016 and glean from your memories and observations that which will be useful to you as you transition, like Janus, into 2017. And may you, as a friend generously wished me, “Reach for the stars. Celebrate the starlight within.” Happy New Year. Happy 2017.

Linda Freeman 12-26-2016

CHANGE – SEASONAL, PERSONAL AND ATHLETIC

 

October at Blueberry Lake in Warren, Vermont. L. Freeman

October at Blueberry Lake in Warren, Vermont. L. Freeman

Periodized training often corresponds to seasonal changes, sports and each individual’s personal preferences. Here in Vermont the autumn of 2016 has been sunny, warm and dangerously dry. However, it has also been an excellent season to view an unusually vibrant foliage season and steal as many outdoor hours as possible to train and/or play.

Transition means integrating the new with the old - not replacement. L.Freeman

Transition means integrating the new with the old – not replacement. L.Freeman

Fall can be a tricky time. For those of us who thrive in the warmer months of high energy and correspondingly high enthusiasm, the shorter days and cooler temperatures of autumn can drop us into a bleak state of imbalance, susceptible to cold, low energy and a lack of motivation. Perhaps it is the loss of summer’s bounty that makes us feel this way – the inability to play late in the day after work, the need for layers of clothing, (and, yes, gloves), the loss of our cycling season (for those of us who road bike only above 50 degrees!), the advent of hunting seasons that limit our hiking and woods time, and an undefined heaviness of heart that manifests itself in leaden legs and slow feet.

Contrasting greens and colors mimic our need for balance from summer to winter. L.Freeman

Contrasting greens and colors mimic our need for balance from summer to winter. L.Freeman

Yoga students might find that they check the boxes of VATA characteristics and determine that this year they will find balance through their Yoga practice. Athletes might begin their transition into the gym to emphasize strength training to support their summer aerobic training and activities. Fitness enthusiasts might need to join classes to maintain motivation and to replace their after-dinner walks or group activities on lakes or trails.

Though water shortage is not good, there is something positive about being able to explore new shores. L.Freeman

Then there are the others who are chomping at the bit for the first signs of snow – those who wait and/or train for months following the spring’s melt until there is enough snow cover to pursue their sport. For skiers and boarders the long hours of endurance work are done and they are already ramping it up for strength, power, quickness and agility, activities that generate enough body heat to eventually nullify freezing temperatures.

We are so very individual – in body type, preference, adaptation and spirit. There is no right or wrong. We are all needed to complete the human portrait.

A sense of humor helps make any journey lighter! L.Freeman

A sense of humor helps make any journey lighter! L.Freeman

Balance may well be the key to transitioning from one season to the next. We live and move and breathe in cycles; the pendulum swings from lethargy to adrenalin, weak to strong, slow to fast, defeated to victorious. Should we fight or go with the flow? Should we make excuses for ourselves or push through? Is there something wrong with us? NO. We are fine. We are human. We ebb and flow like the ocean, rise and set like the sun and moon, and change as the seasons.

There are tools to be used and our contemporary civilization is seeking answers to ancient questions. It’s true, some are affected quite seriously by seasonal disorders and need more that self-help. But others of us who simply notice our seasonal preferences might want to delve more deeply into researching tools that are available such as updated information about nutrition, sleep, meditation, exercise and counsel.

Adjust the lens. Look for something you might otherwise pass by. L.Freeman

Adjust the lens. Look for something you might otherwise pass by. L.Freeman

Plan ahead. Just as you would fill your backpack with fuel, liquids, layers, cell phone and other safety needs prior to a hike, so fill your toolbox of helpful aids as changes near. For example, when you must put your kayak or road bike away for the season, replace those hours with something different such as mountain biking, walking or, when appropriate, hiking. Not only will you work different muscles while maintaining a certain amount of aerobic conditioning, you will also begin to acclimate your body and resistance to cooling temperatures. And then there’s the concept of trying something new like indoor climbing, swimming, Spinning®, martial arts, Yoga or square dancing.

Enough said. YOU are the one to best identify your needs and select options that spur your interest and tease your motivation.

Even a setting sun coaxes new sights and colors to the field of vision - physical and emotional. L.Freeman

Even a setting sun coaxes new sights and colors to the field of vision – physical and emotional. L.Freeman

Bottom line? Plan ahead; seek balance; try something new; take heart. Each season ultimately segues into the next whether we like it or not!

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October 18. 2016:  I have heard from a number of you that this time of year is all about putting things away. In the spring we get “things” out – sports equipment, gardening supplies, etc and now we put them away. It is also a time of harvest. In the spring we plant, and in the autumn we reap. Perhaps here in Vermont we mimic the former farming lifestyle that turned inward during the wintemonths to mend harnesses rather than plow fields.

Read what one of you had to say about autumn:

“I love the changes that accompany the fall season.

The garden has been put to bed, the fields mowed,

the woodshed is full and it is time to explore the

woods. You see things during stick season you

never see any other time of year and hunting lends

a bit of excitement and focus. As soon as the hunting

season ends we can put on our skis and skim along

through the serene, brilliant white landscape in

the cold and invigorating air. Then you come inside

to the warmth of a wood stove, a hearty dinner and a

night of reading and listening to classical music.

What could be better.”                                  Rodney Buck

HEAT, HUMIDITY, EXERCISE & EDIBLE SUNSCREEN

Respect the impact of summer elements on your exercise.

You either like the heat, or you don’t. Those who live in Vermont because they prefer cooler temperatures, and snow and winter sports, just might start to complain when the thermometer hits 70 degrees. Others luxuriate in the penetrating heat of a sunny Vermont day. Both camps often agree, however, that high heat combined with elevated humidity often cause a game change.

In any event, longer daylight hours married to pleasing temperatures lure most outdoors. An added bonus is how little one needs to wear in summer versus winter conditions.

That does not mean, however, that one should be unprepared for what summer elements may produce.

— Weather: It may change any minute. If it rains, will you be prepared? Be sure to check the forecast. Right or wrong, it will at least give you a good idea of what is possible. Above all, avoid getting caught unprepared when dangerous lightening strikes.

— Heat: The condition of heat exhaustion is preventable; heat stroke is deadly. Learn the symptoms and treatments for both (see, for example, www.mayoclinic.org). Your troubles may appear initially as heat cramps. If these escalate to dizziness, hot and clammy skin, rapid pulse, headache, nausea, fatigue (to name a few symptoms), it’s time to take action. Or rather, it’s time to stop, find a cooler place (even the shade of a tree) and hydrate with water or a sports drink. Untreated, heat exhaustion can become unmanageable and dangerous. If symptoms continue for an hour and body temperature is elevated to 104 F or above, seek immediate medical attention.

A warm, dry day is an excellent time to get outdoors to train for a sport or participate in a game, competition or event. However, if conditions are adverse, best to err on the side of caution: Play it safe, dial it back, reduce the intensity or length of your training, take special care to hydrate well and spend every available minute out of the direct sun.

— Wind: Unintended consequences prevail when one embarks on an adventure on a windy day. When checking the weather forecast, also be sure to note the wind. When cycling, paddling or running, for example, a headwind is disadvantageous because of the effort involved. Yet a tailwind, though often an exciting relief, just might be more than you bargained for. On water it’s easy to be blown off course, and on a bike those pesky cross winds can be unsettling. Wind is also unexpectedly dehydrating.

— First aid: It’s smart to refresh your memory of basic first-aid and to pack along a few simple aids that could make the difference between a blip on the day and a sad experience.

— Bugs and bee stings: Oh my; these do come with the territory. Some people seem to attract insects more than others. Know your personal tolerance level and bring along whatever you need to protect yourself whether it’s a topical spray or lotion or long sleeves and pant legs, or even netting. If, of course, you are allergic to bee stings, always be prepared with an EpiPen (epinephrine injection) or whatever antidote you use, and inform your companions of your allergy.

— Poisonous plants: Learn to identify poisonous plants such as ivy, oak, sumac, parsnips, and even common plants such as sunflowers wild grapes and clematis (www.uvm.edu). Reactions to toxins from these plants vary in different individuals.

Surely when your work is in the outdoors, choices are limited and precautions take on new meaning. If, however, you are off for a day of fun, think ahead to insure a safe and pleasant outing for yourself and those with whom you spend your hours.

— Sun protection: Finally, by now, unless you live on another planet, you have heard repeated warnings to protect your skin from the ravages of skin cancer due to exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. Apply and reapply sunscreen as needed.

Read below to see what Kimberly Evans, a registered dietitian, has to say about nutrition and the sun.

EDIBLE SUNSCREEN

by Kimberly Evans, MS, RD.

The sunscreen dilemma is a frequent problem with athletes and outdoor enthusiasts come summer.  One might think that this is a no brainer.  After all, for a very long time now we have been programmed to lather up on sunblock before we even step outside.  You do this to protect your skin from harmful sunrays, and therefore protect your skin from cancer.  For the most part, we can all agree that skin protection is an important consideration for those who are active outside in the summer months.

But wait, there are some cons; maybe even more cons than pros.  For one, not only does sunblock keep out harmful sun rays, it also keeps out very beneficial Vitamin D.  Vitamin D is a crucial hormone-like-vitamin that not only keeps athlete’s immune systems healthy, but also plays a role in preventing stress fractures and other sports-related injuries. 

It is a good practice for active people to get vitamin D levels tested once a year, especially if they are sun-avoidant or heavy sun block users.  Salmon and mushrooms are a great natural source of Vitamin D, but many folks find that they need to take supplemental Vitamin D3.

Another very real sun block con is that many sunscreens are loaded with harmful chemicals, commonly referred to as endocrine disruptors. 

The skin is the largest organ of the body and creams, oils, and lotions applied to the skin quickly make their way into the blood stream.  Chemicals such as PABA, paraben, sulphates, phthalates, oxybenzone, and forms of Vitamin A are common sunscreen additives. 

If you lather up before going outside, a good rule of thumb is to choose a sunscreen that has strong broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, such as those containing zinc oxide.  Badger All-Natural Sunscreen and Aubrey Organics are two good examples. 

The Environmental Working Group (a non-profit research group focused on public health protection) has several guides to choosing a good sunscreen, as well as several interesting articles such as “Eight Little Known Facts About Sunscreens.”

 As a registered dietitian and food enthusiast, I find there is always a celebration to be had when food comes to the rescue. In my world it often does.  Beyond topical sunscreen, foods themselves can offer sun protection for the skin. 

The next time you are heading out for a run, hike, bike, walk, swim, round of golf or any other outdoor activity, plan a meal where you can eat your sun block or take sun protecting snacks along. 

Wait, what?  Yes. I am not talking about finding an edible sunscreen here.  I am saying that many foods in your kitchen contain natural protection against solar radiation. 

The phytochemicals in foods actually make their way to the upper layers of your skin, increasing resistance to UV damage. Think of these foods as part of your summer medicine cabinet that can be found in your kitchen and your garden.

Here are the top foods that offer skin protection.

TOMATOES. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a phytochemical that has been shown to protect the skin against sunburn.  This protein is enhanced by olive oil and cooking the tomatoes. (Bruschetta anyone?) 

AVOCADOS. The oils in avocados help protect the skin from damaging effects of the sun.  Avocados make a great addition to a smoothie, a salad, or as a sandwich spread.  (Although I have been known to simply cut them in half and eat with a spoon right out of the skin.)

APPLES, particularly red apples.  The triterpenoids in the skin of apples fight cancer cells by inducing apoptosis, or death of cancer cells.

GREEN TEA. The catechins in green tea offer skin protection.  Make a goal of two cups per day.  Green tea can be a good liquid to add to a smoothie, use in a sports drink or to make a simple iced tea.

CITRUS. Beyond the healing properties of the Vitamin C found in citrus, the essential oils found in the skin of lemons, limes, and all citrus contain limonene, an essential oil that offers a dose of skin protein when eaten.  Zest lemons or limes into your tea (hot or iced) or even onto a nut butter sandwich. (Trust me on this one; it is delish.)

OMEGA – RICH FOODS. Salmon, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are omega powerhouses.  The omega-3 fats act as sunscreen and have been shown to decrease squamous cell skin cancer by 20%.

POMEGRANATES are rich in ellagic acid and support glutathione production in the body. These phytonutrients offer antioxidant protection and fight skin damage caused by free radicals. Pomegranate juice is always available and makes a tasty pink lemonade. 

Pomegranates also make an excellent addition to guacamole. This is a win-win. Try this recipe.

Pomegranate Guacamole

 2 ripe avocados

¼ cup diced red onions

3 TBSP freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tsp salt

½ cup finely diced cilantro (mint or parsley can be used for those non-cilantro lovers – cut down to ¼ cup)

½ cup pomegranate seeds

Halve and pit the avocados and scoop out the flesh with a spoon into a bowl. Add red onion, lime juice, salt, and cilantro to the bowl. Mash the mixture together with a fork. Stir in pomegranate seeds and serve with chips or crudité (jicama is very nice here)

If you are active outside in the summer, add these foods to your shopping list.  Food does not need to replace sunblock entirely, but it can work together with it to increase its effectiveness in a most tasty and delicious way. Culinary medicine is a growing science that combines the art of cooking with the emerging science of nutrition, genomics, and biochemistry. Eating your way to skin protection is just one example of culinary medicine. 

To contact Evans, email Kimberly@wholehealthnutritionvt.com or visit her website: www.wholehealthnutritionvt.com