My husband, Rob and I had been wanting to explore Banff National Park since we discovered this magical land existed, which wasn't until we moved to Seattle about 2 1/2 years ago. If you know us, then you also know that we love to explore via camper vans. From Hawaii to New Zealand, and now Banff, Jasper, and Mt Robson National Parks it's our favorite way to explore to see as much as possible!
With Rob turning 30 we decided to make this road trip one for the books and booked our flights for June, just after his birthday. June-August/September is the best time of the year to go weather wise, but it is also CROWDED. So you may want to consider off season if you are trying to avoid the crowds and are okay with a little bit of snow and colder weather. With that said, I do have some tips to avoid the crowds and see just as much beauty if you want the warm weather and blue skies, so continue to read on.
We took a late flight after work on a Friday into Calgary, Alberta and when we arrived we spent the night close to the airport (where I made friends with the only cat I will ever like). The next morning, we took it slow after a long work week, went for a short run (the elevation got to us), picked up some coffee, showered (because who knows when we get our next shower) and headed out to pick up one of the coolest (decor wise) vans we have rented thus far from Karma Camper Vans. They are a newer company and we were the first to take the van out, so this gave me all kinds of giddiness and feels.
After picking up our camper van, next stop was to a grocery store where we needed to stock up on food for the week! Cooking on the road is one my favorite parts. I can't really explain why. I think it's because we take it back to the basics and who doesn't like to cook outside? There is something freeing and liberating about it, no distractions, just connecting with the outdoors and paying full attention to the food you are preparing and putting into your body. There is no better way to reconnect to our most basic needs than being outside exploring and camping. After we picked up groceries, we headed off towards Banff, which is about an hour and half west. Since we took our morning slow and spent a decent amount of time learning about the van before we headed off, we didn't have much daylight left, so once we got into Banff we decided to find a campground close by to settle in, make dinner, relax, and plan the rest of our trip.
After cooking up some dinner, we decided to hit the hay early so we could venture to the famous Lake Louis a 50 minute drive NW in the morning.
Day 2: Lake Louis and The Plain of Six Glaciers Hike. The drive was beautiful, but when we arrived to the town of Lake Louis, we soon realized we were not the only ones with this idea. Since it is a huge tourist attraction, we were re-rerouted to shuttles, with over an hour and a half wait, which would then take you from the parking lot (11KM away from Lake Louis) to the Lake, should have done a little more research on this ourselves! This is not the way Lake Louis was marketed to us through the instagramsss... AnyWHO once we got to the shuttles, I asked one of the rangers if there was any way to walk up to Lake Louis, rather than waiting over an hour. He suggested we park in the town of Lake Louis which was only 5KM away from the lake and walk from there rather than the shuttle parking lot. This was genius, because there was a hiking trail we found along the way that took us from the town to the lake, but “OH SNAP!” once we arrived, DISNEY LAND on steroids once again. Tourist, selfie sticks, Instagram models ERRYYWHERE. My recommendation is to go early (like 6AM early) we got there around 10AM and this most certainly was not early enough.
To our relief, the further you trekked down the lake path, the more dispersed the people were and the less crowded it became. There are a few hikes you can take around the lake, but I would recommend doing one of the tea house hikes, which start at Lake Louis.
We did The Plain of Six Glaciers hike to the Teahouse, a 13.8 km out and back hike. This hike was incredible! Not only were the views breath taking, with views of Lake Louis from behind and Glaciers in your face, but you also get to enjoy a treat at the painfully charming tea house, tucked in the Glacier Valley. Fill your belly mid hike with your choice of freshly baked scones, pies, cakes, hummus, breads, and of course TEA- which will be at 3.7 miles in! Everything is made from scratch and all of the ingredients are either hiked in or flown in by helicopter. The servers hike in themselves and spend a few days up in the valley. This sounds like an epic summer job to me for college/high school students! If only I could go back in time. We stopped prior to heading to the top of the trail. There are also out houses available, if an emergency arises!
After stopping at the tea house, we trekked to our destination, which is where we found the most solitude. We hiked atop the ridges of old moraines on the north edge of the Victoria Glacier, where you eventually end up at a dead end on steep rocks, over looking the glacier and for us, a waterfall.
Since we hiked from our car, this ended up being close to an 11 mile day for us so we were pretty pooped by the end. We hiked our way down, which was just as breathtaking, met a friend from Australia, relaxed a little at Lake Louis, and headed to our next campsite for the evening. Although we wanted to explore more in the Banff area, we also wanted to get away from the crowds, so Jasper was our next destination. If you can, Lake Moraine is another destination in Banff close by. The next three days of our trip into Jasper and Mt Robson will be posted soon!
Adventures can be found in any city. I have shared bits and pieces of my heritage on the blog and social interwebs. If you follow along on Instagram, I am sure you saw that my recent two-week vacation included some sweats with a view. I owe my favorite one to my husband. He wanted to find a unique activity for us during our time in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Unlike the PNW, there is not a huge trails association in Bosnia. You can imagine my surprise when he suggested we change our plans for a ride on the new cable car in Sarajevo to a hike to the top of Trebević Mountain.
He found a few blogs through a quick google search that supplied limited information on hikes, including this one. The blog posts were fairly new and did not give the clearest directions on how to find the trail, but we took some screenshots before departing the safety of wifi! We drove to the Pino Nature Hotel, which is where the cable car ends its journey from Stari Grad (Old Town) Sarajevo, and spent a couple of hours exploring the old bobsled track that remains from the 1984 Winter Olympics. If you are in Sarajevo on Holiday, I would highly recommend walking through the track. It has deteriorated and is riddled with graffiti, but there is something stunning about the way it is shaped by the mountainous landscape.
After exploring the bobsled track remains, we decided to continue on with our planned hike. I will admit that we were a little confused by the prior blog directions and drove up to a second lodge that sits above the new Pino Hotel. We parked our car and argued about where the trail markers could be. We knew from a video that the trail should be marked by paint on the trees—a white circle with a red outline. Andy found a trail, but it was for one of the smaller, side hiking trails leading to the “Planinarski Dom.” We saw the appropriate markings and a screenshot of the trail map that I took by the Hotel confirmed that the side hiking trail would link up with the main trail. We were warmly greeted by a stray dog, who was unexpectedly friendly and decided to join us for the adventure. Meet “Smoki”, who I named after a nostalgic Bosnian snack of peanut flavored puffs that kids enjoy.
Andy, Smoki, and I set out on our adventure expecting the hike to take about 3 hours round trip based on previous reports. We had water, pretzels, dried apricots, and cashews in our pack and turned on Map My Run to log the hike. It had been raining in Sarajevo for the past few days, but our Seattle souls weren’t going to a let a little sprinkle stop us. UNTIL WE GOT LOST. Or disoriented might be a better description? The side hiking trail linked us up to a gravel road, but without wifi or google maps, it was difficult to discern which way to go. We looked at our screen shots and the satellite signal we were getting on our phones, and tried to sort out which way to go. Unfortunately, due to the recent rain the trail was muddy and turned into a slip and slide for Andy and I in our Nikes. Smoki did just fine. We eventually stumbled across the real, main route after a minor panic attack by me. For those of you that aren’t aware, the mountains surrounding Sarajevo is where numerous snipers and ammunition resided during the war. There were also mines planted throughout the mountains and for years I was warned about this. It was a little paralyzing, but my husband calmed me down with some logic and promised me we would stick to the trail and not off road it anymore. Continuing on despite this mental obstacle and our limited knowledge was the first summit of the day.
Once you are on the main trail, it is clearly marked and a steady climb with a 1079 meter elevation gain including some switchbacks to the top of Trebević Peak (sits at 1629 meters). The three of us did not encounter any other hikers and only crossed paths with a lone mountain biker. There was something therapeutic about hiking in my hometown, on an unknown trail, with no other souls. We entertained ourselves by teaching Andy more Bosnian (he can now proudly count to 10). When we got to the top we found a bulletin that shared details of the trail, including that the beginning of the work and end occurred in October and November of 2017, respectively. It was new! No wonder my family wasn’t aware of the trail and it was impossible to find blog posts or much info out there. The bulletin shared additional information, including the total length of the trail which is listed as 10 km roundtrip (6.2 miles). The total hike distance we tracked ended up being just about 7 miles and took under 3 hours round trip!
Andy and I enjoyed the views of stunning Sarajevo and Bosnia at the summit and shared our hiking snacks with Smoki, who was loyal to us throughout the whole adventure. We saw other towns in the distance, mountain peaks for kilmeters on end, and below us a sheep herder with his flock. I felt a different type of pride in accomplishing this peak with Andy. It was not the most challenging hike we have done together nor was it the most breathtaking view (Mount Rainier and Vesper still take the cake), but it was the most meaningful. In a way my two worlds collided –the little girl who was born in Sarajevo and returned to see her country and family and the younger woman I am today who loves chasing summits.
I wanted to make this hike simpler for anyone who chooses to visit Sarajevo and take a chance on adventure. Drive up to the Pino Nature Hotel and park in their lot. To the right of the café/restaurant you will see a children’s playground. Walk past that and you will see the trail markers for Vrh Trebevića (Trebević Peak). Follow the marked, painted trees that will take you to your destination. If it’s been raining, I would recommend hiking shoes in place of tennies, although it is doable albeit dirty. This trail is year-round and can be used for mountaineering in the winter. After you accomplish your summit, enjoy a treat at the Hotel. Word to the wise, it is a “dry” hotel so no alcohol on site. Hoping for more trails to conquer on future travels back to Bosnia.
I have been an inspirational quote and motivational book junkie since I can remember. I have always craved something more and I was able to gain bits of wisdom and advice here. Although my roots shaped me, they do not define me. I also recognoize that fear is a real thing. It creeps in when clarity arises, it will do everything in it's power to stop us from from making decisions that are aligned with our greater purpose. For me, it has become increasingly important to feed my soul with bits of motivation and truth to remind myself that I am the owner of my dreams and that fear and excuses are the only thing standing between my dreams and reality. No matter what you believe in, I think we can all agree that it's important to deepen our soul, grow personally, and gain clarity on what we want out of this life.
One tool Ives and I both use to nurture our personal growth is podcast and motivational books. We wanted to provide you with a list of some of our personal favorites that have helped give us energy towards this dream of ours and that we continue to use to gain clarity and light us on fire for life. The first inspirational book I ever read that I can remember, which made a huge impact on my mindset at a young age was, The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon. It goes through 10 rules to fuel your life, work, and team with positive energy. It's all about refocusing your thoughts and although it's been so long since I read it, I truly think it changed the way I think and has helped me stayed positive throughout the years.
-The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris: It's more than just a motivational book, it's the definition of "busy doesn't always mean productive". He helps you navigate how to escape the 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich.
-You are a Badass by Jen Sincero: To give you a taste, here's a quote from the book: "The Universe wants us to succeed and wants us to partake in all it can offer by sending little wake-up calls. The only thing we need to do is to learn to be aware of them. The things that we want to have already exist in the universe. The money that seems elusive is already there for the taking. The life partner we want to meet is already alive. The things that we want to experience are already available to us. We just need to manifest those things into our reality."
-The Universe Has Your Back by Gaby Bernstein- tranform fear to faith, I just started listening to the audiobook and am going to put the meditation practices into place!
-The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F by Mark Manson: I haven't read this one, but have heard crazy good things about it and is another Ives has dug into.
-Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson: This is one is also one of Ives' favorites, but who wouldn't want some insight from Richard Branson??
On the list to read:
-Girl Wash your Face by Rachel Hollis
-The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
-How I Built This with Guy Raz - Hands down my favorite podcast, Guy interviews the founders of now HUGE companies like Lululemon, Kate Spade, 5 Guys, Patagonia, Sam Adams... the list goes on and they give you the good, bad, and ugly from the very beginning!
-Side Hustle School with Chris Guillebeau - Any curious in what goes into a side hustle? Chris shares real life stories and advice on how to make your side hustle a success! I also have the book, Side Hustle (which I didn't mention above, but it's a great step by step guide on how to get your side hustle started)
-Goal Digger with Jenna Kutcher- This is a business specific podcast, giving expert advice on how to conquer your goals and create a thriving business!
-Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations- Need I say more?
Some I have been wanting to check out:
-Eventual Millionaire with Jaime Tardy
-This your Life with Micheal Hyatt
-The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes
-Bulletproof Radio with Dave Asprey
In order to see big improvements, you have to put in big effort.
I am a firm believer that you cannot just want or wish for something and expect it to be handed to you. Making goals reality, no matter how big or small, takes effort. Now, I also believe there are different types of effort. So let me share a little bit about my marathon running history with you. I am by no means an expert on the topic, but I have 3 years and 4 marathons of real life experience.
I was never a “runner” or an “athlete,” but I have ALWAYS been stubborn and driven. Running intimidated me, but one year into my running affair, I signed up and completed my first marathon –Rock n Roll Seattle in 2015. It was more to prove to myself that I could train for and succeed at a race. I will be honest, I had wanted to time qualify for the Boston Marathon (BQ) on my first race. Probably not the most realistic goal for a first marathon, but that should give a lil insight into my personality. I trained by running 2 days per week and cross-training with spin classes and HIIT classes. I had fractured my ankle in 2012 and didn’t want to run “too much”. One of my running days was my long run, which increased each week by about 10-20% of the previous week’s mileage. The other run day was usually anywhere between 3 and 8 miles. I didn’t do a run taper and I didn’t really have anyone to train with so I had a lot of solo time. I didn’t realize they had updated the Boston Marathon qualifying times and I thought I had for sure made the cut off based on my pace (3 hours 37 minutes 22 seconds). I ended up missing the BQ by a little over 2 minutes! I was devastated, sore, and hungry. Literally, hungry from running 26.2 miles, but also hungry to sign up for another marathon and make my BQ dream a reality.
I took some time off running and signed up for the Wenatchee Marathon in 2016, which was a fairly flat and fast course. Only downside is that this race is in April, which means the bulk of training is during cold, rainy Seattle winter (not V FUN). I did not really learn my lesson and trained in a similar way, but with the encouragement of my husband and pup on the course I PR’d and made the Boston qualifying time by just under 3 minutes (3 hours 31 minutes 53 seconds)! I don’t know if I was more excited when I BQ’d or when I actually found out that I was accepted to run the Boston Marathon in 2017. BUCKET LIST! Boston would be marathon number 3 and about 6 weeks before the race, I joined Club Seattle Runners Division (CSRD).
So logically, I signed up for marathon number 4 –California International Marathon (CIM) 2017 with her and I slowly integrated a bit more hill and sprint training, running 2-3 days a week instead of just 2. My two goals for this marathon: don’t get injured and help my friend BQ. I even told Christy the weeks leading up to the race to not let me hold her back. If I felt the old injury bothering me, she should keep reaching for her goals. You can read more about our race in her blog post, but spoiler alert: WE DID IT. Both of us ran our fastest marathons on this notoriously quick course (3 hours 27 minutes 57 seconds). After running Boston and racing with no pain at CIM, I decided that I wanted to run all 7 Major World Marathons by the time I turn 35. This led to signing up for Chicago Marathon 2018.
I have decided to try something different for marathon number 5. I could be wrong, but I know that I am ready to commit to a more runtensive (mileage intensive) training program. Limting my running to twice weekly and augmenting my training with cycling classes works, but I also truly believe that I can race smarter and faster. The train smarter part: I decided to focus on strength training more intensively the past 2 months to build more core and glute stability before logging extra miles. I also started going to Tangelo Health 1-2 days per week a few months before training to prepare my body for the mileage it would be taking on. I cannot say enough POSITIVE things about the team at Tangelo! The train faster part: I reached out to Ashley, former collegiate track star and badass group fitness instructor for help. I wanted to ramp up the mileage gradually, integrate tempo runs/sprints/hills, and still be able to cross-train with weight lifting. She created an amazing training guide for us. She also shared some wisdom: not to become obsessed with following the guide to a T. LIFE HAPPENS. If you can’t get the miles in on a particular day, adapt and add some more on another day. I hope to keep you all updated on how this training cycle goes with blog posts along the way. In the mean time, I encourage you to take a step closer to your next big goal. TO THINK YES, NOT NO.
It's FINALLY here. We promised to share our ULA Travel Guide for Palm Springs with you all and man does it make us want to go back! If you followed along on instagram, we went to Palm Springs for a wellness weekend girls get away in April. Both of us needed a reset, a break from work, and wanted the perfect mix of sweat and relaxation.
When To Go:
We wanted to avoid the Coachella crowds and did not find out until after we booked our flights that we were going during the Stage Coach Festival weekend. Oops! Honestly we did not have any issues with the festival being the same weekend as our trip since we avoided the Coachella Valley. The city itself was probably a bit sleepier because most of the visitors were either at the festival grounds or at their Air BnB rentals. The airport is literally less 5 minutes from the main strip of restaurants and bars in the city and we were able to get around easily with our rental car!
Just a heads up that the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival takes place the middle two weekends of April and Stagecoach Festival wraps up the last weekend of April.
The best time of year to visit Palm Springs is between January and April. The temperature is perfect and for us PNWers it's a great time to escape the grey and rain. If you really LOVE THE HEAT then you can brave the weather in May through September, but expect the temp to creep into the 90s to 100s! We don't know about you all, but that makes it hard for us to lay out or hike. Alternatively, in the Fall, October to December, temps start to cool down. So you could also plan a getaway then as a good mental reset before the stress of the Holidays :)
Where We Stayed:
Everyone has different preferences when they travel. We both prefer to spend our money on activities and food (duh) rather than a fancy resort. Renal options were also limited given the Stagecoach Festival attendees. We did a lot of research on Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park, Desert Hot Springs, and Palm Dessert. We were definitely leaning toward glamping in Joshua Tree so that we could sleep under the stars, but decided for our first trip that we didn't want to just limit ourselves to the park. Palm Springs hotels tended to be a bit pricier so we picked middle ground and stayed in Desert Hot Springs. Desert Hot Springs is known for it's mineral spas and a spa treatment was a MUST DO for this wellness weekend.
The El Morocco Inn & Spa was a great, quirky oasis to relax for the weekend. This quaint, boutique inn has all the amenities. We stayed in a cute poolside room decked out in Moroccan-inspired tapestries. There was cold water and iced mint tea lemonade available throughout the day, as well as an assortment of dried fruits. The complimentary breakfast was a perfect way to start the day. There were hardboiled eggs, granola, fresh and dried fruits, avocados, veggies, and plenty of other light breaks goodies. Our favorite part of our stay was the onsite spa with various packages. We booked a combination of the Marrakesh Melting Massage with their Moroccan clay treatment. IT WAS DIVINE. Note to anyone that is trying to party, this isn't the place for you.
We may have gotten a few looks for too many belly laughs when we enjoyed a homemade marg before heading to dinner on Saturday night.
If you are looking for alternate places to stay, this article from The Everygirl gives a great breakdown on where to stay based on various budgets.
Where We Ate & Drank:
Your girls LOVE to eat and enjoy a good adult bevvie. We received so many great recommendations from friends are places to eat. I think we had about 15-20 suggestions and with less than 48 hours, there was only so much room in our bellies. Below is a quick breakdown of our meals, but here is a list with some noteworthy options!
Our flight landed around 10 PM and we decided to celebrate right away. We found ourselves at Bootlegger Tiki. The cocktails are so fun and the name of the bar describes the vibe and decor perfectly! The bartenders are a great resource if you find yourselves stuck choosing between drinks (menu anxiety is a real problem and we both have it). The tiki bar also shares a space with THE BEST coffee spot in the city. We literally drove back Saturday morning for cold brews before our Bikram pilates class.
After Pilates we went back to Palm Springs and hit up the ACE Hotel Pool Party. This pool was highly recommended by friends and it was so different than we expected. Most of the pool parties we have attended have been Vegas style. The ACE Hotel opens its pool to guests of the hotel and outsiders for a small fee. We mingled with bachelor/bachelorette parties, families, and faces from all over. It was actually a great chill vibe with a DJ spinning in the background. YOU MUST ORDER THE FROZEN WATERMELON MARGARITA. Game changer. (If anyone has a great recipe, please share.) Along with our cocktails we inhaled our favorite version of lunch. We preach balance and our food choices reflect it. The frites and season crudités were the perfect combo of savory, salty, greasy, crunchy, and fresh wrapped into one meal.
After day drinking we went back to our inn to relax and freshen up for dinner back in Palm Springs. If you can only make it to one place to eat in Palm Springs, then make it Birba. From the cute courtyard dining to the mouthwatering wood-fired pizza, this is the type of restaurant you want to keep going back to. We split the three kale salad and a pizza. Literally, the perfect dinner. After dinner we made our way to the Workshop Kitchen and Bar, but to be honest we were exhausted from a full day and ride-shared back for some much needed zzz's.
We bought snacks on Saturday to bring on our hike/road trip to Joshua Tree. Lunch ended up being a typical hiker's meal: hummus, fresh cantaloupe (we snagged from our break buffet), crackers, wasabi and soy roasted almonds, chocolate, and coconut H2O. Nothing fancy, but so satisfying. After our adventures, we went back for our luxurious spa day and decided to continue the simple, healthy treats with a vegan dinner pre-flight. Native Foods Cafe dishes up some amaze vegan cuisine. We opted to share the kimchi bulgogi jack fruit tacos and the BBQ chicken salad. If you are looking for great vegan, another spot that we wanted to check out was Natural Sister's Cafe by Joshua Tree.
Breakfast daily was enjoyed poolside at our inn. However, there are SO MANY PLACES we wanted to try.
Where We Sweat:
We wanted to a bit of everything while on this wellness getaway: a hike, a run, and a studio/group fitness class were on our to-do list. Desert Hot Springs has plenty of hikes and activities in the vicinity. We woke up early on Saturday and decided to explore our city with a road/trail run combo. This was a great way to get some mental clarity before venturing out for the day! After our sub 3 mile run, we freshened up and hit the road en route for that epic cold brew before our pilates class.
Inferno Pilates HIIT. It's as pleasant as it sounds. Leave it to Christy to find the hardest, hottest yoga and pilates studio on vacation ;). The class was at 11:15 which allowed us plenty of time to ease into the day and lasted an hour so we had the whole afternoon to enjoy poolside after. Since the studio is heated to 95 degrees and 40% humidity, the desert heat poolside didn't phase us one bit after the class. This is a great bodyweight, dynamic work out that leaves you in pools of sweat. Detox to retox anyone?
Sunday was our Joshua Tree exploring day. Initially, we had wanted to do a sunrise hike, but that was before tequila came into the picture and we realized sunrise was at 6 AM and we had an hour to commute! We woke up and drove the hour from our inn to the start of Ryan Mountain Trailhead. This 2.7 mile round trip hike boasts 1062 ft of elevation gain, but the summit views are worth the steep ascent. If you regularly hike in the PNW, this trail won't seem too bad. At the top we did a little content shooting with some HIIT workouts, but we also took time for ourselves. Mindfulness and reflection was a great way to enjoy the desert. There are so many other trails in the park, but due to our limited time, we stuck just to the one.
Why We Want To Go Back:
So obviously our list of restaurants and bars alone means we need to do another adventure to this gem in the desert. But there are a few other activities that we are dying to check off the list.
Our Palm Springs Bucket List:
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway + Hiking Mt. San Jacinto State Park
Joshua Tree Overnight (starry skies and desert hikes sounds pretty spectacular to us, Barker Dam is a trail we'd love to see)
Bike Tour of the Neighborhoods/Architecture
Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
Indian Canyons Trails
Azucar Bar for cocktails
Cheeky's or FARM for Brunch
Copley's or The Pantry for a fancier din din
If you have any recommendations or other activities that we might have overlooked please drop a comment below!
Memorial Day is not just a 3-day Holiday weekend. It is a day dedicated to honoring those who have served our country. The CrossFit community dedicates their Hero WOD (workout of the day) on Memorial Day to the men and women who have fallen serving our country. They have a specific workout, named "Murph" that box members complete. "Murph" is in honor of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 28th, 2005. I was introduced to this workout by Liz who is featured in this post.
So what is a traditional "Murph"* ?!?!?
1 mile run
100 pull-ups (usually kipping pull-ups)
1 mile run
*Suggested to complete with a 20 lb weighted vest
The traditional way to complete this challenge is to go through the reps in 20 rounds of "Cindy" (more CrossFit terms aka 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 air-squats). Typically it takes an average of 48-52 minutes to get through this workout. You can read more about "Murph" here.
I chose to complete a modified Murph and want to shared more with you all. I have been working on strength and wanted to get in my weighted squats. I also run on Monday nights with my run club CSRD and will be putting in 3-5 miles later. For these reasons I did the following format: squats to pull-ups to push-ups as detailed below.
My break down gets a little messy:
I did 2 sets of 10 squats with the 45 lb bar to warm up and then 1 set of 10 squats with 95 lbs of weight (bar + 50 lbs in weight plates). I am slowly increasing my maximum squat weight by 5 lbs per week. I do 5 sets of 5 max weight squats with breaks between. This week the goal weight was 145 lbs. I decided to integrate each set of 5 with 25 air squats to follow before moving on to pull ups. Once I completed all 5 rounds of 145 lb squats and air-squats then I did squats with a 35 lb kettlebell (50x, 35x, 35x).
For the pull-ups, one of the big goals I set this year was to build up the strength to get to 10 unassisted chin-ups by the end of the year. I typically alternate my max weight squats to 5 sets of 3 unassisted chin-ups. Today I tried 3 for the first round and it felt really good! So I did 4 chin-ups for the each of the remaining 4 rounds. After that I did 2 sets of 10 chin-ups with a black resistance band, 2 sets of 10 chin-ups with a blue resistance band, and 3 sets of 10 chin-ups (11 on the last round) with a green resistance band. My husband helped me with that last set...my hand arms and back were jellos and my calluses were screaming --not bleeding.
For the push-ups, I did 25 reps each cycle. Finished the push-ups before the squats or pull-ups, which I was more than fine with...but they felt good!
This workout was a butt-kicker. It was hella motivating, as well as physically and mentally challenging. Pull-ups are my weakness, but it felt so good to power through that. Hats off to everyone who did the full traditional "Murph" Hero WOD today and THANK YOU to everyone who has served and continues to serve our country.
Ever wonder what one of our events is like? We decided to do a write up of our most recent bootcamp for those of you who haven't been to one yet. The hype is real and this community continues to grow in such a positive way!
As you know, we were extremely excited to host our event this weekend at Westland Distillery, as their space is swoon worthy with a mix of rustic, old-world architecture and impressive industrial equipment! Phoebe, the Events Manager, who coordinated the event with us and did the whiskey tasting at the end is the bomb.com.
To start off, our hope for these events is to make movement fun! We want you to break a sweat, but we also want you to laugh with an old or new friend nearby and be able to let loose after doing something good for your body! An attendee from this weekend put it best, "Even though I was in pain , I had a smile on my face the entire time. I was either laughing or feeling very motivated!" You will be surrounded by positive energy and good vibes ALL around as we deliver a unique, body weight workout that allows you to let go of the to-do list and have a freakin' good time while sweating. Knowing there is an adult beverage at the end, doesn't hurt either!
When you come to an ULA event, you will always be greeted with warm smiles and usually a husband to help check you in, (also known as MULAs- Men who ULA)... a new term they have coined for themselves that makes us almost pee our pants (so bring your husbands or sig others ladies)! We TOTALLY GET that trying something new can be intimidating and we are always SO honored when we see new faces taking a chance on us.
Once everyone is checked in and has found a spot to sweat, we kick things off by giving an introduction about who we are, give the low down on the local charity we are donating to, and then move into our warm up. During the warm up, we always set an intention! This week, the the intention was to silence your inner critic and choose positive talk throughout the workout. Pick a mantra and when it gets tough continue to repeat this mantra. Setting a positive intention has been proven to help you push through challenging physical feats. I chose STRONG BODY, STRONG MIND and told the group that if it resonated with them, to repeat this mantra throughout the workout.
Once our bodies are nice and warmed up, we move into a 45 minute workout, in which the two of us trade off between teaching, while the other walks around to help correct form, motivate, and joins in next to an attendee! Our workout always focuses on whole-body, body weight, functional movements. We work to get your heart rate up while toning lean muscles. We typically incorporate loop resistance bands and from time to time, other equipment when our workout is station based (such as at Queen Anne Beer Hall). Modifications and next level challenges will always be offered. Below is a quick screen shot of this weekend's workouts to give you an idea of what to expect.
We encourage hooting and hollering, dancing, and calling out our husbands throughout the workout (especially when they hold hands at the end... if nothing else, hopefully they make you laugh!) After we burn out the body and have worked up a good sweat, it's time for the ZEN. We cool it down, stretch it out, and end class in savasana pose (because sometimes we try to be yogis, but only after we have worked out the crazies). One of our favorite parts is leaving our amazing community with an affirmation and this week's inspo came from the below quote:
“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” ~Joseph Campbell
Makes you think, huh?
Now on to what we imagine everyone actually comes for! The WHISKEY (or beer if it's a Burn and Brew). Phoebe poured 2 neat tastings and 2 cocktail tastings for every attendee... and they were tasty! She walked us through the process of distilling the different single malt whiskies and the different notes we would taste. Apparently the PNW (A.K.A. ULA) is graced with some of the finest ingredients for making their unique single-malt whiskey. I would definitely recommend checking them out if you haven't already! From there, everyone hangs around and socializes for about an hour or sometimes longer, depending on the crew. If you are in the mood, some have checked out a few other breweries in the neighborhood or grabbed brunch nearby! It's definitely not a bad way to spend your Saturday friends, and we would love to see you there! If you are curious, check us out at our next event in June at Populuxe Brewing in Ballard, get tickets here!
This week our affirmation was, "excuse the excuses!" It is so easy to list a million reasons why we can't accomplish a task, but most of the time we all feel better when we just do it. This week one of my Flywheel instructors said, you can either choose progress or excuses and that really resonated with me. Christy and I decided to really take this to heart and squeezed in a hike this past Saturday. We had a million reasons why we didn't need to hike, including not wanting to set another early alarm, Cinco de Mayo or Derby activities, and other workout engagements. But we are SO SO SOOOO HAPPY that we chose to conquer a summit.
Whether you are new to hiking or just finding your groove for the season, the Heybrook Lookout Trail is a perfect climb. Even better, it's a dog friendly trail! The trailhead is about an hour outside of Seattle off Highway 2 (so the drive itself is a stunner by Index, WA). The trail is just under 3 miles round trip and under 900 ft of elevation gain. We would describe it as an easy-moderate hike due to the distance and moderate elevation gain. The trail is well groomed and there is no snow. You definitely can get breathless on the way up if you are hiking a fast clip, but there is good tree cover which will be perfect as the weather gets warmer. Just before the lookout, you get to see stunning views of the mountains but just turn the corner and you will see a 6-story lookout tower with EPIC VIEWS.
We met at the trail around 9 AM. Started hiking by about 9:15 AM, enjoyed the views and of course a lil photoshoot at the tower. We made it back down by 10:30 AM and were in Seattle by 11:30 with plenty of time to celebrate with friends! It's possible you guys, it really is.
Fun fact: you can rent out the lookout for a fun overnight experience :) Also, there are no facilities at the trailhead so make sure you stop at the cutest espresso stand (Index Espresso Chalet) with the cleanest port-a-potties about a quarter mile, on your passenger side, before the trail. The espresso stand also has picnic tables in the back with spectacular mountain views.
If you live in the Pacific Northwest, chances are you have heard of this beautiful area in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Since moving to this part of the country, I look forward to hiking season every year. Last year we decided to sign up for The Enchantment area lottery. This was a BIG deal because it would be my first official backpacking trip. Andy and I had signed up to climb Mt. Rainier for our anniversary so we figured we would be able to handle an overnight camping adventure! Here is a quick break down of how this lottery works, but you can read more details on the website.
All visitors must obtain a permit if they are planning to overnight The Enchantment area May 15th through October 31st. If you want a day use permit, this is free and available at the trailheads. There are three ways to get a permit. The first, is the pre-season lottery, which is held February 15th through March 2nd every year. About 75% of the permits are reserved for the lottery. After the pre-season lottery, the remaining permits are available first come, first serve basis by making a reservation online. There are a handful of permits that are unreserved and available daily at the ranger station on a walk-in basis (more about that later).
For the pre-season lottery, you create an account on recreation.gov and request your preferred zones and dates. Only one application is allowed per person with up to 2 alternate choices. A $10 non-refundable fee is charged. If you are one of the lucky applicants that wins the lottery, you still need to confirm your date and site online. The individual that is the permit holder, must be present when you overnight! Also, you have to include your party size on the permit and keep a printed copy along with photo ID with you while you camp.
UPDATE: Soooo I tried for the pre-season lottery (second year in a row) and still did not get it! But then I lucked out and snagged the Stuart Zone for the first weekend of October when the remaining entries were available online (they post these April 1st). Christy and Rob, as well as a few other friends were all signed up too...I was SO EXCITED...it was finally happening. Fast forward to October and all the forest fires :(. Unfortunately, the Stuart Zone was impacted by the fires and we lost our permit/camp site. Christy and Rob could no longer make the backpacking trip due to a wedding and our other friends backed out due to the lack of permit and potential snow on the forecast. This is where my stubbornness really shines. I am luck to have an amazing, supportive husband that is equally as stubborn. We decided to drive up bright and early and try to get one of the unreserved day use permits. Worst case scenario, we don't get it and we still hike part of the trail. Best case scenario, we get it and I get to find out if I truly love backpacking as much as I think I do!
IF YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THIS DAILY "WALK-IN" PERMIT SITUATION, READ THIS:
Andy and I arrived at the Wenatchee River Ranger District Office in Leavenworth around 7 A.M. on Saturday and I had the same adrenaline and nerves that I do on race days. I wanted the day use permit SO BAD. For a much needed distraction, we stopped at a cute bakery for a coffee and treat while we waited for 7:30 A.M. This is when you should arrive to put your name in the drawing. The rangers will draw the names for the permits at 7:45 A.M. There is ONE permit per zone in the walk up lottery, which typically means 5 permits but with Stuart closed there were 4 remaining permits. There were about 10 of us, which honestly is not that bad since per the website there can be up to 50 people there in the summer months. I would say we were lucky because it was cold and definitely going to snow. FYI the daily "walk-in" permits are only available Monday-Saturday, so don't try to do this on a Sunday!
UPDATE: There was only one couple that wanted the Eightmile zone and they got it, but there was a smattering of us that were interested in the other zones --Core, Colchuck, and Snow Lake. We put our names down for Core Zone (ambitious). I have never won anything in my life. Okay that may be an exaggeration, I am sure I have won things but I do not consider myself a lucky person. Somehow our name was called!!! [Insert victory dance]
It took about another 20 minutes to get our map and permit from the ranger station and then we were off driving toward the trailhead. We decided to hike in from the Snow Lakes Trailhead. We did not want to worry about hiking through to Colchuck Lake and Aasgard Pass since the forecast was snow and we were getting a later start. We wanted to hike the greatest distance, but still be able to set up camp and enjoy the larches and views before nightfall. We had our backpacking packs, hiking poles, Yaktrax, plenty of water, food, and a bag of wine (duh...and no it was not Franzia --college glory days). All I can say is that this overnight is TOTALLY WORTH IT. If you decide to hike through, you need to coordinate leaving a car at each trailhead and the distance is about 18 miles. We ended up doing a similar distance (maybe a bit more), but we were able to enjoy the views, take breaks along the way, drink wine in a tent while snow flurries came down around us, and sleep through the snowfall. Our campsite was at Leprechaun Lake and the view was EVERYTHING. The best part was waking up naturally with the sunrise. We had time to enjoy warm oatmeal and hot coffee for breakfast before packing up our camp and slowly making our way back to the car. We saw a mountain goat family on our way out, which is more wildlife than you typically get hiking in the Seattle area! We were back home that same afternoon and were able to decompress, clean up, and get ready for the work week without feeling exhausted.
I cannot wait to explore The Enchantments again this Summer or Fall and try the Colchuck Trailhead for some more Alpine Lake views!
“Simplify your life, to make room for what matters." This quote struck a chord with me in 2018, as we are continuously trying to optimize our time. I am 100% guilty of being SO optimistic that I over estimate how much I can get done in a day. The first step is to recognize your own struggle and from there, determine what tools you can put in place to help, because I realize it ain't just going to go away... so how can I help myself, help myself? Ya with me? Ya girl needs help!
One easy way to simplify life and save time, is to determine what you can outsource. Taking something off of your plate and paying someone else to do it, so you can focus your efforts on something more meaningful or maybe just something that is needed in your phase of life. Sun Basket, a meal kit delivery service is one example of how I have been doing just that.
Sun Basket is my solution to provide nutritious meals to me and my little family, without the hassle of meal planning or grocery shopping! Don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoy recipe searching and grocery shopping is one of my top favorite things to do, but I needed a little time back in my Sunday. When I received a discount for Sun Basket, with a coupon code for $40 off, I thought why not give it a try, I can always use a hand in the kitchen!
So here's my review for anyone that may be pandering the idea of meal kits.
The Low Down:
You get 3 delicious recipes per week for 2 or 4 people, $11.99 per serving. They are delivered on auto-pilot weekly (each Wednesday in my case) and I recently found out that they launched a feature where you can schedule a basket every two weeks, or once a month rather than every week! Long term, I will probably opt for this!
If you only want it occasionally and when you decide, you can set the default to skip so that you only schedule a basket at your convenience.
Why it wouldn’t work for you:
All in all, I really enjoyed it. It does take away the creative freedom, but you can absolutely add your own ingredients/spices if you chose to do so (obviously, whose stopping you!? Unless you are a rule follower stopping yourself😊). The meals were SO delicious (husband approved), we loved them ALL (no joke) and have stashed some recipes away to make on my own, even without Sun Basket meal kit delivered. It’s a good way to try new recipes that you typically wouldn’t want to buy all the ingredients for or just simply wouldn’t think to give a whirl!
If you are interested in checking it out, use the following link to claim your own $40 off here and let me know what you think!
Ives Hot & Christy Talamo
Always searching for the next summit.