Why Nature and Minimalism Go Hand-in-Hand

To me, being outside is about letting go of everything that’s weighing me down. Life’s little stressors, baggage from work, the minor failures that slowly add up every day, and impact overall happiness and health. Being on top of a mountain, in the forest, or on a freshly groomed slope can help whisk all of the negativity away.

I realized that nature doesn’t have to be my only escape. There are little things I can do in my day-to-day life to minimize the stresses and be more relaxed. Here is how I got started:

Clean up and clean out 

Keeping my house clean isn’t a huge task, but after a weekend away or a long work week, there always seem to be a few more dishes in the sink and a few more piles of laundry. Cleaning things as I go has helped me keep everything in order all the time.

Periodically cleaning out each area of my life has also led to a more organized existence. With the exception of sporting apparel, cleaning out my closet was a ruthless endeavor. I’m not much for fashion, so anything I wasn’t consistently wearing I donated.

Don’t decorate, fill your house with things you love

When I got my house, I put things on the walls – prints and all the trail maps I’ve collected. It’s normal to add some personality to your home. But clutter is distracting. Solve this problem by keeping the things you love, that make you happy when you see them and throw away the excess. The vintage skis my dad and I found in a thrift store on one of my first big ski trips? Those are staying on my wall. The experts only wall decal from Amazon in the kitchen? That can go.

Spend time doing things you love 

For me, adopting a more minimalist lifestyle wasn’t about organization and order. It was about freeing up my time and space to do the things that really matter. Minimizing one area of my life allows my to maximize another. I’d much rather have a relaxing Sunday hiking outside than stressing about what I need to accomplish for the week ahead. 

The idea to gradually change lifestyles occurred to me on a hike. The things I own am just weighing me down. To me, nature is about being present in the moment, enjoying the wind in your face or the views in front of you. I can carry that feeling through the rest of my life by simplifying.

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How Many Things Can You Do with a GoPro?

A lot of us skiers and snowboarders have GoPros to use during the winter to catch all of our crazy tricks and crashes. But what do you use your GoPro for in the summer?

I’ve been trying to unleash my more creative side this summer so here are a few ideas of how to use your GoPro:

  1. Get a variety of mounts. Head mounts, suction mounts, clamp mounts, bike mounts, and tripods can all be found for a reasonable price on Amazon. Now you have the right setup for every situation!
  2. Start making timelapse videos. Film the sunrise, sunset, the stars coming out, your remodeling project, or the traffic below your city apartment. You’ll end up with something artsy and cool.
  3. Film your everyday life. Some call this vlogging, I consider it a way to candidly catch my favorite moments. I’m not suggesting you set it to run 24/7, but making brunch or walking the dog can make a surprisingly awesome video. Bonus points if you get a POV footage from your dog’s collar.
  4. Take it camping. Setting up a tripod outside your tent will let you see what roams around your campsite at night. And if you are backpacking or bikepacking, you can mount it to capture the journey as well.

Does anyone else use their GoPros for something other than action sports?

5 Tips to for a Better Lunch-Hour Workout

 

If you are tied to a desk 9-5, you understand the difficulty of balancing a fitness regimen with other demands of your life. Family, social events, work events, and chores are all vying for your time and attention in those hours you call “free time.” Even though I find exercise to be fun, invigorating, and relaxing, it’s often hard to work up the motivation to get to the gym before the sun is up, or to put on my running shoes after a long day of meetings.

To stay on track, I’ll hit the gym during my lunch hour instead of going out with coworkers.  Here my 5 tips to make squeezing in a workout during your lunch hour a breeze.

1. The Night Before

Prep, prep, prep! I set out my breakfast, lunch or post-workout shake, and put a water bottle in the freezer. I also get my gym bag together and put it out next to my work briefcase so I can’t forget anything. Just a few minutes at night can streamline the morning and make sure you get to work with everything you need.

2. Keep it Simple

For a lunch workout, you have about 40 minutes to actually work out, less if your gym isn’t right around the corner. Creating a simple workout strategy will keep you on track so you don’t end up with aimlessly wandering through machines wondering what to work on next. The easiest way is to pick one focus: like cardio, HIIT, or strength training. Some gyms offer special classes to really pack a punch during the lunch rush.

3. Make it Social Hour

If you feel like you are missing out on the social aspect of lunch with coworkers, grab a friend. Meeting up at the gym holds you accountable, and you can motivate each other to work harder. The best qualities in a workout partner differ for everyone. Some people like to instruct, other liked to be instructed. Some people just want to meet up with a friendly face before plugging in their ear phones and doing their own thing. As long as you and your workout partner are on the same page, there is no good reason not to work out with a friend! Not only does meeting a friend make you less likely to cancel a gym session, but talking while running can also increase your cardiovascular capacity!

4. Save Time for Shower Time

If I’ve done cardio, I usually need a shower in order to stay on good terms with my coworkers. I will hop right off the treadmill and head for the shower line. While I’m in line, I’ll do some basic standing stretches to loosen up. If you don’t have time to stretch, it’s okay. Studies have shown that stretches even hours after the workout are still beneficial. It’s all about what works for you. I prefer to do a quick basic stretch routine so my calves don’t tighten up while I sit at my desk.

5. Don’t Run on Fumes

Whether you are rushing back from the gym or have some time to spare, you can’t forget about post-workout fuel. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and bring your lunch on the days you will be gymming it up during lunch so you don’t have to complicate your plans with an extra stop. If I have afternoon meetings, I like to leave freeze a smoothie in the office freezer and toss it in my bag to thaw so I can have a quick snack right after I work out. If I have free time, I’ll eat at my desk while I get organized for the afternoon.

With these tips, you’ll have no problem crafting a lunchtime workout routine that you’ll stick with. As long as it is enjoyable, there’s no reason to quit. Running back and forth to the gym can be a lot of effort, so if you streamline it by planning ahead, it’s more likely to become a habit. Lunchtime workouts can easily become an escape from the office commotion, and they’ll help you blow off some steam so you’ll be sharp and focused for your busy afternoon.

Best Fitness Trackers

We all analyze the stats and records of our favorite athletes and sports teams, so why not monitor your own stats and PR’s? While runners have had GPS watches for a long time, fitness trackers of all kinds are finding different niches in the sports industry.

I haven’t used CARV since it’s currently pre-order only, but I’m thinking about getting on that list and seeing what this can tell me about my skiing. There are a handful of apps that track your vertical feet and speed, but nothing quite like this tracker that analyzes your technique and gives you feedback.

I’ve been a fan of the Garmin Forerunner watch for a long time. I’ve got a pretty old model and the thing won’t quit! They last a long time, pick up GPS quickly and tell me exactly the stats I want to know without a ton of unnecessary buttons. I don’t train off heart rate, but some of the models have that feature in case you like those numbers too. I’ve taken a few of the new ones for a spin with my running group and I will definitely be sticking with the Forerunner line when it’s time to upgrade my watch.

Fitbits and Jawbones are great for everyday if you’re like me and you have an office job – they will remind you to get up and move around! That’s my favorite feature because it helps me remember to go for a short walk and stretch out my legs and back. Sitting at a computer all day is rough and for me causes shoulder knots. Having a little reminder to move around regularly has helped me combat that issue.

What fitness trackers do you guys use? I haven’t found one that I particularly like for hiking, although I wear my fitbit and it will equate my hike to climbing stairs which always makes me laugh.

-Just a note: I’m not paid to blog, or mention any products. All opinions are my own, and these are products I find suitable for myself.-

Hammocks vs. Tents

Camping season is upon us, and if you’re planning on trekking for a few days or just chilling out by a fire with some friends you need a place to sleep in the woods. Tents are utilitarian, but not so comfortable if you’ve set up your stakes on rocky ground. Hammocks are versatile and lightweight to carry, and they are super comfy to sleep on. But beware, if trees are sparse you’ve got a glorified sack to sleep in. Here are my pros and cons:

Hammocks

Pro: Hammocks are lightweight and easy to carry if you’re hiking.

Con: If they don’t have a built in bug net and rain fly you have to pack those separately. In cold weather, you’ll need an underquilt in addition to your sleeping bag.

Pro: Hammocks make camping on rocky uneven ground a breeze.

Con: You need two big sturdy trees at the right distance apart. Good luck hammocking in the grand canyon or on the beach if you don’t bring a stand.

Tents

Pro: Tents are usable anywhere, trees or not.

Con: Rocky grounds and hills can make for a less-than-stellar sleeping experience. This can be remedied with a high quality sleeping pad as long as you don’t mind carrying it.

Pro: Tents are roomier. You can sit up in a tent, keep your shoes in a tent if it’s raining, and you can fit more than one person in a tent.

Con: Two person tents mean two people sleeping shoulder-to-shoulder. If you’re not cool with snuggling, you’ll need a bigger tent.

Basically, you need to decide what is best for the trip you have planned, and get creative to make it work. One quick tip – make sure your hammock is tethered to sturdy trees! I once pulled a tree right out of the ground with my hammock after a week of rain softened the ground. If I’d looked up at the branches, I would have noticed the tree was dead! Live and learn my friends.

 

Rock Climbing from Your Couch

Rock climbing is a fun sport, but it can really beat you up. When you don’t have the time, money, or friends to go with you, there’s another way to get your adrenaline fix. Video game rock climbing seems kind of like a cop-out, but with new tech like Virtual Reality, it’s getting more and more realistic. It’s so awesome it will make your palms sweat like you are standing on a ledge.

Check out some of Google’s cool projects with street view rock climbing for El Capitan and Mont Blanc and Crytek’s new game coming for Oculus Rift.

While you won’t get the wind in your face, Crytek comes pretty close with jaw-dropping views and sound effects.

So for those days when you can’t be bothered to leave the couch, you can still enjoy the great outdoors!

Spring Cleaning: 3 Great Workouts

Now that winter is coming to a close, it’s time to focus on the adventures spring has in store!

I’m thinking lots of rock climbing, mountain biking, trail running, and maybe a couple of lazy days at the lake.

While skiing helps keep me strong for spring sports, I like to throw some specialized workouts in there to keep my arms and back strong for climbing, my legs strong for mountain biking, and my endurance up for running (skiing 4 miles > running 4 miles).

Here are some great workouts and ideas to get you started:

http://www.outsideonline.com/2007426/how-do-i-improve-my-pull-technique

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/issa21.htm

https://www.trailrunnermag.com/training/cross-training/article/1769-5-workouts-to-build-trail-race-ready-strength/page-2