Lessons From Vacation

I’ve just returned from an amazing trip to Colorado. Being a Midwestern girl I had no idea what to expect.

Words cannot express my appreciation for the beautiful landscape. I often found myself limited to simply conveying my awe with the words, “Wow! God did this!”

The vastly different landscape fascinated me and had some pretty dramatic affects on my body.

The first thing I noticed was a dull headache – nothing too painful but definitely an indication that something was wrong. Thankfully there was plenty of water around and after consuming about double what I normally would I found myself returning to normal.

As a runner and one who enjoys cardio workouts I was shocked when we arrived and I “sucked wind” to just get through my first day on the slopes. Simply walking my snowboard from the bottom of the mountain back to the lift left me feeling completely out of breath and thankful for the long lift ride to recover.

The thing about that long ride is that there is also a long distance down! I saw one sign that said the ride down was 2 miles long. As one who learned to snowboard on hills in Michigan the mountain terrain was unlike anything I had ever seen. Needless to say the trip down required more breaks than normal.

By day four the fatigue had set in. My quad muscles were so tired that just standing caused my legs to bounce and shake. As I headed to the top of the mountain I had lost all the courage I had the first couple days. My trips to the bottom were extremely slow to help me stabilize on the snowboard.

After just 3 trips down I realized that my body had simply had enough. The rest of my afternoon would be spent watching college basketball in the lodge.

While disappointing that my last day turned into a bust for snowboarding I was overall thankful for the lessons I learned on one of the best vacations of my life.

First, when on vacation and participating in physical activity it is imperative that you listen to your body. The headache was my first indication of the possibility of altitude sickness. If I had not taken in the amount of fluids that I did I most certainly would have experienced more dramatic effects of the altitude.

Secondly, it was very apparent that just because I was capable of certain things on my own terrain didn’t necessarily mean that I was going to be able to succeed with those same tasks in a new environment. The steeper and longer slopes kept me from perfecting my turns and the lessened oxygen levels kept me from successfully running the stairs at Red Rocks.

The last and probably most important lesson was despite any physical or environmental limitations I learned how to embrace the challenges and have fun! It’s easy to get discouraged when you are accustomed to performing at a certain level and you’re unable to attain it, however, the simple fact of getting out there and experiencing new challenges. Trying something new is an accomplishment in itself and should be enjoyed and celebrated!

Got the Winter Blues?

Much of our country has been blasted this winter with storms and for many that brings about cabin fever and a longing for warmer temps.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was plagued with the winter blues. The thought of winter and snow put me in a serious funk.

I’m thankful to say that last year I successfully traded my winter blues for rosy wind and sun kissed cheeks. Between learning to snowboard and ice skating and sledding with my kids I find myself watching the weather reports and hoping that the big snow hits us.

Snowboarding has come with its bumps and many bruises but for me there is nothing like breathing in crisp winter air and challenging my mind and body in completely new ways. It can be challenging to exercise outdoors in the winter and snowboarding has been the perfect answer for me.

It’s definitely taken time but you have to start somewhere. Last year I started the day out with about 3 extremely hard falls which left me fearful of taking another one so I spent the entire day “toeside” facing the top of the hill (compared to what Colorado has – believe me, it was just a hill!). I can’t imagine how ridiculous I looked to others but I was determined to stay out there.

With each time we went snowboarding things got a little easier, the falls were fewer and the soreness and bruising was definitely less. I’m happy to say a year later I have tackled turns and my fear of speed is slowly diminishing as well.

I share my snowboarding experience with you because I want you to be encouraged to get out and try something new. But if you’re hesitant to take on an outdoor challenge I encourage you to revisit an activity from your youth.

Our kiddos are finally old enough that an afternoon of sledding or ice skating are great family activities.

The girls and I all got ice skates for Christmas and have had some great times learning how to navigate on the ice. While I can’t say ice skating is a vigorous activity for the pace we move at, it’s a way to get active and build memories with my daughters.

While ice skating isn’t appealing to the boys they are masters at cutting paths for sledding and finding the fastest way to the bottom. Inevitably we end up with a few ramps on some of the paths to make it a little more exciting. The ride to the bottom of the hill is always full of smiles and laughter and the trek back to the top is a great workout in itself. If I’m looking for an extra challenge I take a run up the hill instead of just walking.

So if you’re feeling trapped and sluggish this winter I encourage you to get out and do something fun. It may not serve as a substitute for your workout but I can assure you that just getting active will help you to begin to shed the winter blues. It’s worked for me!