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January 23, 2009

Your Healthy Lifestyle: Are Snowshoes in Your Future?

 Women-snowshoe We received the following write-up from Kim Lung, one of our Green Mountain alumnae, who, like several of us on staff, is a snowshoe addict (well, not that extreme, but she loves it!).

Snowshoeing is a fun, easy addition to a healthy lifestyle that helps you enjoy the delights of the season.  Unlike cross-country skiing which requires a certain amount of skill, balance and athletic ability, snowshoeing is much easier than you might think, and the impact to your knees is less than you might expect. Further, the right snowshoe makes a huge difference in your experience. I’ve compiled some information that can save time and money in selecting snowshoes that will ensure you have fun while you enjoy the snow.

The three big considerations when renting or buying snowshoes is gender, weight and the typical terrain you will snowshoe.  All snowshoes have weight restrictions based on the size of the frame. If you weigh over 180 lbs., you will need a snowshoe that is at least 33-36 inches long. Generally, the greater the weight, the longer the snowshoe for what is called in the industry 'float,' or walking on top of the snow (yes, all snowshoes will sink in fluffy powder but less so with a larger surface area). Also if you are concerned with stability, select a men’s snowshoe because they are a bit wider than woman’s and they keep you on top of the snow a bit better, especially in fluffy, light snow.  

If you only go on groomed trails, you can use smaller shoes with aggressive teeth (crampons) that bite into the ice and densely packed snow. These small sporty snowshoes (around 18-30 inches) will not work as well on powder or fresh snowfall and you may sink down and discover the hardest workout you will ever hope to survive. (I’ve done this, so I know.)

Be sure to check out the binding mechanism, too.  Some snowshoes pivot, causing the snow to flip up off the back when walking. I prefer the type that drags along the snow and doesn't flip up when you bring your leg forward (similar to a flip flop).  This flipping whips snow up the back of your pants and eventually often makes it to the back of your jacket. The non-flipping kind, called floaters, also make it easier to climb over objects because you can move your foot through its full range of motion and engage the teeth better going over logs or up a steep grade.

As far as price, get last year’s model. You can find huge savings on the internet for discontinued models, and all descriptions usually include enough information to ensure you're getting the correct one for you. Don’t spend extra on upgraded bindings. I found them all to be a pain to use, and one was not better than another in the eight pairs of snowshoes that I went through. Columbia makes snow boots that already have the groove for the bindings, but any boot with a firm rubber sole will work well. A nice wide snow boot also improves your ability to float on the snow and keeps your feet from getting cold. Ski poles improve your balance and help you keep a rhythm.  They also provide a means to get some upper body resistance training. Plus, they're invaluable when you fall down and are trying to get up. Get them, they are worth the additional money. Most have interchangeable tips so they can be used for hiking in the summer as well.

Tubbs SnowshoeOne final word of advice. When snowshoeing, try to mimic your natural stride. Keeping your knees stiff and swinging your legs from the hip will cause extreme discomfort when you try to get out of bed the next morning. Practice on a level surface for a bit first till you get comfortable and then hit the great white expanse.

Oh, yeah.  Don't forget to have fun!  Getting out in the woods on snowshoes in the middle of winter, amid nature and its quiet beauty, is awe-inspiring and rejuvenating!

Check out the Tubbs snowshoe site for info on how to dress for snowshoeing as well as basic how-to tips and health benefits.

Posted by Marsha on January 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 13, 2008

Women's Healthy Living: Taking It Outside

241Here in Vermont, August has looked a bit more like September with cooler weather and much more rain than I remember in the last 20+ years I've lived here. Good thing I don't let a little weather get in my way of getting outdoors. 'Cuz without getting outdoors, I might go stir-crazy living up here. I'm a Texas farm girl born and raised, but left the state late in my teenage years and except for a few brief stops along the way, haven't really called Texas my home since. Still, my days living in the country seem to have instilled in me a need for the outdoors. I imagine that most people, even if they didn't grow up on farms or in the country, have a similar need, even if they don't realize it.

There's something about the outdoors that revitalizes. Even when the outdoors is city streets. I spent some of my years since my Texas childhood in New York City and Boston, and remember fondly the walks along city streets with forays into parks that I could find. Still refreshed me, even though the air might not have been as fresh as in Vermont.

LynnAnn Covell, our senior exercise physiologist on staff at Green Mountain at Fox Run, just penned a FitBriefing (our monthly articles looking at issues of interest for women who look to lose weight -- that they gained through unhealthy lifestyles -- in a healthy way by normalizing their eating and finding the joy in physical activity) that addresses finding the fun in outdoor activities. Here's what she has to say about how getting outdoors can revitalize us and help motivate us to move in her article "Healthy Living: Taking It Outside!"

When we spend time outdoors, we can reconnect with the joy and relaxation of physical activity. It also helps us reconnect to the intrinsic motivation for physical activity that we experienced as a child. We were moving, because we could and wanted to, not because we “had” to.

It's a gorgeous day here in Vermont, and I'm not going to sit around too much longer indoors. I plan to spend my day gardening and taking Jack, our golden retriever, on his daily walk (ok, not daily but I try), me with my Nordic walking poles and him with his nose exploring every scent he can pick up along the way. I've got a great day in store. Hope you do, too!

Posted by Marsha on August 13, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 06, 2008

Healthy Lifestyle Program: Nordic Walking

On a recent trip to Minneapolis, my girlfriend introduced me to Nordic walking. And I've been hooked ever since. One promotional site says you work 90% of your muscles with this relatively effortless technique. I've found it improves my posture, works my triceps and back muscles (lats) and leaves me feeling refreshed but not worn out.

The benefits for healthy living and healthy weight loss are obvious. But consider this: I've walked for the last 10 days in a row -- I look forward to it! And I'm not walking my usual 30-40 minutes. I'm going an hour each time. I need to take a day off today because my foot is hurting and it needs rest.

Not much more I can say about this except to encourage you to give it a try. Check out this youtube video that shows details of Nordic walking. And then try it yourself for serious weight loss or fitness help.

Posted by Marsha on August 6, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 09, 2006

Mise en Place

"Mise en Place" (mise en place [MEEZ ahn plahs] a French cooking term meaning "everything in its place”)

What a wonderful concept. What if we could incorporate this wonderful French cooking philosophy into our everyday life? With the holidays rapidly approaching, just think what it would mean to be prepared, rested and ready!

Before I know it, the holiday’s sneak up on me like an uninvited interloper. Disrupting my rhythm and blurring my focus. It’s a time of year where expectations run high and I'm usually left holding the turkey baster. So, with great confidence I say, not this year! Before I start unpacking the good china or shopping for the perfect table runner, I'm commiting myself to getting everything in it's place, before it's too late.

You can too, by joining Green Mountain at Fox Run for a very special program:

‘Everything in its Place – Including You’

Special weekly classes beginning November 12 - December 9, 2006

Move through the season with confidence. Work side by side with our senior fitness expert, Lynn Ann Covell, as she takes you through ‘Holiday Fitness Express and Exercise Strategies.’ Learn how you can fit exercise easily into any busy holiday schedule, yes, even yours!

• Bring your favorite recipe and Green Mountain will supply the aprons. Join our head chef, Nate Worth, in the kitchen and learn how you can prepare family favorites healthfully, while satisfying even those with the most discerning tastes. Marsh mellows on your sweet potatoes? You bet! He’ll also work with you on how to best manage your pantry, go grocery shopping and more!

• Let our behavioral therapist's Mimi Francis and Teri Hirss, guide you through some of that tough holiday terrain, when family and friends may try to sabotage your best intentions. They’ll supply you with real world solutions that will empower you to take control and stay the course.

• We’ve even thrown in some special time for Christmas shopping at local artisans, the popular Vermont Country Store and some of Vermont’s premier outlet shopping in Manchester.

It’s a great time in Vermont, so come join us for this very special program.

Call Gina or Amy at (800) 448-8106 to learn more about how this program can make the difference.

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Picture Source: Unichef.com

Posted by Cindy on October 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 16, 2006

My Father the Dog

Ehbluemle340mftd3in150dpi_2 Earlier this month I came across some old photos of me on the trail of a mountain called “White Rocks Ice Bed Trailwith my friend Elizabeth Bluemle (ps –I learned about White Rocks while at Green Mountain and it’s totally amazing - a short walk to mountain views and a really cool rock slide. Special attractions: Unique views of White Rocks Cliff, potential falcon sightings, and and optional walk to cooling beds of ice).

Soon after I got Elizabeth’s announcement of publication of her first book, My Father the Dog, and decided that it was a sign that I should shamelessly promote a friend (of mine and Green Mountain’s).

Before we get into the book, let me also add that Elizabeth is my favorite bookstore proprietress (however she can only manage the Flying Pig Bookstore with the help of Theo and Inky – sorry Elizabeth, they made me put that in there - as well as Josie Leavitt). I must also thank Elizabeth for introducing me to Diana Gabaldon (for fans of DG, a new Jamie and Claire book is out now!). Don’t hesitate to ask for advice about reading materials for your kids or you – The Flying Pig has something wonderful for everyone.

Elizabeth is someone that is always engaged in life, moving forward and actively seeking to be the light in a dark place. In My Father, the Dog (with illustrations by Randy Cecil) she makes an airtight case that fathers and dogs are one in the same. Uplifting, funny and profound all at the same time.

Here's what KIRKUS REVIEWS says:

MY FATHER THE DOG is an affectionate look at the lovable similarities between dads and dogs.

The title, cover and opening sentence groom readers for this waggish tale. "My father pretends to be human, but I know he is really a dog. Consider the evidence." Dad starts the day with a good scratch; fetches the newspaper; likes the windows down in the car; has used a tree for a pit stop; growls when startled out of a nap; chases a ball; loves snacks; he looks innocent when he "toots"; and thinks "we're the best family in the world." That's a good thing, " 'cause Mom says we can keep him." The comical oil illustrations juxtapose dad and dog in synchronized behavior enacting each activity as they amusingly express the subtly underplayed scenes to a T. Even the typeface is called "SoupBone." Tail-wagging hilarity that's simply doggone funny—and a perfect Father's Day gift. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright 2006 Kirkus Reviews (April 1, 2006)

Please visit Elizabeth’s website and read the “About Me” section and you’ll see what I mean about her sharing her “light” with others – she’s put together really useful sections for Kids and Writers too.

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Posted by Gina V. on May 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 20, 2006

Nature, Nurturing, and Gertie

I’ve been thinking about the idea of retreats lately - from my usual idea about them, like the healthy weight and lifestyle retreat that first came to as a guest 7 years ago this month - to all the one’s that I’ve learned about since. With incredibly diverse agenda’s (from yoga and spirituality to white water rafting and adventures), what struck me suddenly was that almost always they were set outdoors in a place of great natural beauty. A place to say, “stop the world (for a week or so) I want to get off and find where I left me.”

As I considered and pondered this observation to try and clearly define what it is about nature that makes self-reflection easy, stress melt away while the spirit soars, I couldn’t really find a definition that worked. Then I was chased by Gertie, and began to see things more clearly.

Who is Gertie? Well, first her full name is Gertie the Birdie. She’s a female tufted grouse that has adopted Green Mountain’s staff and guests as her own. Showing up one day with a odd aura of tameness about her, she likes to sit with participants, cooing softly while they speak to her, follow you anywhere - around the track and trails, and would come into the building if we let her. No one drives off without a lecture from her to be safe and come back soon.

Gertie has quickly become the most popular “instructor,” with her own fan club and a long list of women that ascribe a lot of emotional healing to her “classes.” It finally hit me why nature “works” - the raw honesty of nature works as a crucible on the human mind and spirit to refine you to your essence. Your roles strip off one by one - not a wife, mother, daughter, employee, employer, just a person; material wealth or possessions are of no consequence to a grouse, or a mountain, or a sunsetGertie_4;  intellect has no influence on a waterfall….so you become you - the real, unadorned, essential you.

Much time and effort goes into seeking ideas, experiences, or things that will make us feel like “the real you.” I suggest that you go outside and say “hi” to the sky, the trees, and maybe a bird or two. Gertie and I both wish you a peaceful day.

                                          This is an actual picture of Gertie -         

Posted by Gina V. on February 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 31, 2006

Vermont - Winter Wonderland

Snow_5 It may look trite in writing, but Vermont never ceases to amaze me - truly a winter wonderland. Coming from the mid-west where I thought I knew snow and winter, I'm awe struck by the "freshness" of new snow on the landscape, but the most amazing thing of all is the smell and feeling that negative ions give you. (The negative ions are the good ones).

A few mornings ago, I opened my door to a wonderful blue sky and bright sunlight that glinted off the newly fallen snow - and it was my favorite kind of snow, where each branch of the trees are covered in white. Taking a deep breathe of the wonderful negative ions swirling around was something you can't get out of a bottle!

There's something about the temperatures here that make you want to go out and enjoy the beauty first hand. My guess is the lack of humidity, so although the temperature is low, it doesn't cut through you, which was always my objection about the winters in the midwest (or worse yet, has anyone ever been in Florida when they have a 20 or 30 degree temp? It feels like -40 degrees, positively bone chilling!).

I must not be the only one that has these thoughts about winter in Vermont - Ludlow (the town where Green Mountain at Fox Run is located) is hosting the Winter Carnival 2006, "50 Years of Winter Fun" - which celebrates the 50th birthday of Okemo Mountain.

I hope you can experience euphoric feeling that beautiful, newly fallen snow in the mountains gives you, and the surprising desire to get out there and experience more of it...the first one's out there are always the ones from Florida or Arizona!

Posted by Gina V. on January 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack