Weekend Hiking

I’ve begun to think differently about movement and exercise in general. There’s something about that gym lighting, that repetitive gym motion that just doesn’t satisfy me as much as finding other ways to move.

My thoughts on this were probably influenced by an audiobook I listened to recently (incidentally, while walking). The book is called “Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization.” It’s written by John J. Ratey, Richard Manning, and David Perlmutter. 

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m highly afflicted by the afflictions of civilization. I try to be zen about it, and while I enjoy ordering food on grubhub, I also long for the days without email and constant contact.  I need to spend some time in nature, and disconnect. I think we probably all should.

In any event, this book talks about a lot of things. But one of them is the many benefits of taking a “wilder” approach to exercise. And I’m kind of loving the approach.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the gym is great. But I find myself lately focusing more on movement that just comes through natural activity. And while I’m hiking less than I did in previous years, I’m being careful not to let Fall entirely pass me by without getting at least a few nice hikes in.

Last weekend, I did two mini-hikes that I thought I’d share with anyone who might happen to live in the NY/NJ area.

Hike One

On the weekend, a few friends and I hiked Campgaw Mountain County Reservation .

This one was surprisingly close to home, although not very challenging. And I hate to say, it wasn’t the most exciting hike I’ve done.

However! There was one exciting aspect, a ski lift at the top. Sitting on it was fun 🙂 Why didn’t I take any pictures??? GRR.

Also – it’s Fall. So everything is orange and pretty. Plus, friends. ❤

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moderate, but festively fall

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view from the top 🙂 

Would I recommend? Maybe. If you live close by, it’s worthwhile.

Hike Two (barely a hike, but still).

This one I’d definitely recommend!!

I’m lucky enough to live just off the Hudson River in New Jersey, which means I’m super close to palisades hiking.  This was a weekday, and it was already late afternoon, so we kept it short. But you could hike all day if you’d like to!

We took an Uber from West New York to Fort Lee Historic Park which was nice and beautiful and orange everywhere. It’s part of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, which has a ton of highly unique terrain you can only really find here.

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Fuck People Who Hate on NJ

We then did a short hike on the “Long Trail” towards the bottom of the palisades, where we chilled in some chairs. It’s pretty there and I’d recommend it.

You can hike up or down, and theres also a shore trail.  A nice starting point is the Alpine Picnic Area (although, that’s where we ended up).

Anyway…

These were not the most intense hikes, and I have not been the most intense hiker lately. But still a great way to spend time outdoors with friends, while working out the hot bod. Exercise really doesn’t have to be a chore – it could be awesome.

If you know of any local hikes, I’m always on the lookout so hollz at me.

Happy Hiking!

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Craving Nature

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Hubby and our dog, Marty

 

I never understood why Professionals (Doctors and Teachers) are so quick to diagnose children with attention disorders the second they “act out” or decide not to pay attention for a split second. I can’t believe I am about to say this…. but, “when people my age were younger” and acted out, all we needed to do was be engaged in an activity.

We didn’t have time to be bored or restless. I remember riding bikes with Dorit, Val, and Co. after school till it got dark out and if I wasn’t riding bikes or running around, I was in karate lessons, dance lessons, acting classes. I didn’t get my first cell phone till the age of 17 when I started driving and now you see children who aren’t even able to walk yet playing with an iPad!

Nature is the best medicine.

I find myself getting so restless, some days more than others. It’s been raining since Sunday and will continue raining through tomorrow… these rainy days are bad but what gets me more is when the sun is shining and I am suffocating inside.

While looking up the forecast for this weekend, I came across this article  titled, “Are You Nature-Deprived?”  It begins by telling a story about a family bringing their child to the Doctor to discuss her temper tantrums. Dr.Zarr learned that the majority of their weekends were spent inside. Instead of diagnosing her with behavioral issues, he advised the family to spend time outdoors. At the follow-up visit, the family noted the tantrums had stopped.

Negative effects of nature deprivation:

  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • ADD
  • Auto-immune disorders

Interesting note taken from Richard Louv’s, “Last Child in the Woods” :

Today, average eight-year-olds are better able to identify cartoon characters than native species, such as beetles and oak trees, in their own community. The rate at which doctors prescribe antidepressants to children has doubled in the last five years, and recent studies show that too much computer use spells trouble for the developing mind.

 

The same goes for adults… People spend so much time behind a computer and phone that they forget how to socialize. We make plans via texting rather than calling, we tell stories via email or texting rather than face-to-face. It seems to be a burden to be around people.

Instead of trying to make connections with people online, why don’t you join a club or group activity? Come on my flower children, go outside, enjoy the world around you.

Positive effects of spending time outdoors:

  • Boosts mental health
  • Reduces stress
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Helps with focus and creativity
  • Burn calories (walk, run, play!)

So, my question to you is, when was the last time you were outside? Did you feel better? Parents- do you find that time spent outdoors with your children result in better behavior?

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I love my fur baby. Missing warm weather.

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Seven Reasons Why You Should Hike for Fitness

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I love hiking more than anything else in the whole world. I just want to be one with nature. And then I want to come home to all of my modern amenities and never look at nature again.

Don’t Do it to Lose Weight.

When it comes to weight loss, physical activity is secondary to food intake.  And not everything has to be about weight loss. Sometimes it’s just about hugging a tree.

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I hike because I desperately enjoy sitting on unfamiliar rocks.

But, seriously. Do it to lose weight. 

But realistically speaking – who cares about nature? I, for one, haven’t stopped celebrating global warming since the moment Al Gore invented the internet.

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Just look how sweaty my back is. I am definitely losing weight!

Hiking and the Deep Burn.

Hiking is fantastic because…

1.   God gave you muscles. God gave you a variety of muscles. He wants you to roam this earth in sorrow and longing, constantly questioning his existence as well the purpose of your own. And he wants you to do this at various elevations.

Scrambling up and down hills engages a variety of muscle groups. This makes hiking a dynamic activity which brings you closer to God. Just ask a Rabbi and he will confirm that he has no idea what you’re talking about.

2.   You can take pictures. Hiking is scenic. When hiking, take a picture and post it on social media. This will accomplish two things. First, it will let everyone else know how much better you are than them. And second, it will create a cherished memory of a time when you let everyone else know how much better you were than them.

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Just check out this this glorious view.

 

3.   It takes a while. When you hike, the time flies because you are among friends, invariably talking shit about all of your other friends. A weekly hike gives me the extended workout I need to allow me to eat as many french fries as I can find under my couch cushion.

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Friends who hike together, talk shit together.

 

4.   It’s Conducive to Planning. At the gym, it’s easy to fall behind. One bad day at work, and suddenly you’re six tacos deep instead of six squats deep. Hiking, on the other hand, is conducive to planning.

Plan to hike EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY beginning on March 1. Compile a list of hikes, and actually schedule them out with friends. You will be accountable because these specific hikes are now in your calendar.

5.   It gives you something to talk about with fit people. Fit people love expending energy in various extraneous ways.  So if you want to talk to a fit person, try bringing up the hike you did last week. If the person is truly fit, then he or she was probably doing the very same hike as you, and at the same exact time.  Now the fit person is more likely to have sex with you.

6.   It’s good for your physical and mental health. With the exception of that scary thing from The Little Shop of Horrors, being around plants is good for your mental and physical health.

And since most of the plants on earth will be dead soon, you should take in as much nature as you can, while you still can.

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All of these plants will soon be dead.


7.    Trail Mix. 

Hiking is the only time when you are allowed to feel good about eating M&M’s. Don’t let this moment pass you by.

Downsides of Hiking

If you go hiking, you will probably get lost or worse – eaten by a bear. In either event, it won’t be a particularly pleasant way to go.

But in case you’re still interested, I find many of my hikes here. You can also check out Meetup.com for hiking groups near you.

Happy Hiking 😀

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14 Days of Probiotic Foods

We are beginning to understand a thing or two about what a healthy gut environment looks like. But that’s about it – a thing or two. So how can you use this limited information to improve your life?

We know of a few strains of bacteria that are probably “good” in general. And we don’t even know for a fact that they are “good” in and of themselves. It could simply be that the presence of these strains is a sign of a healthy gut, which is healthy for other (unrelated) reasons.

But we know at least this. For patients afflicted with C. Diff, fecal transplants save lives. And fecal transplants have shown some very interesting results in studies on humans and rats. So a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut is essential. We just don’t know exactly what a healthy gut looks like.

What does your gut look like? 

We also don’t know what your gut looks like. Partly because we don’t care, but mostly because you haven’t shit in a cup and sent it to us. And even if you did send us a cup full of feces, we wouldn’t look at it. We’d probably just call the police.

Even if we did know what your gut bugs looked like – what would we do with that information? Sure, we could see if you had an overgrowth of something terrible. Or a deficiency of good stuff. But is there an ideal to aspire to? Is it the same for everyone? Is it even the same at every stage of life? We simply don’t know.

So we’re working with limited information. Which is why incorporating probiotic foods is, in general, your best bet for a healthy gut.

Probiotic Supplements versus Fermented Foods

When you buy a probiotic supplement, you could be getting one strain of bacteria, or five strains or whatever. Sure, these strains have been studied – but the question is, do we even know enough about gut bugs to know what to look for? How likely is it that these supplements capture the bigger picture of what we want in the gut?

The other issue with supplements is that they only contain bacteria. And there is more to your microbiome than that. Even if you have the right gut bugs, they might thrive better when delivered along their perfect fuel.

Fermented foods, unlike supplements, are whole. Fermentation goes back a long way in human history. We have evolved with these foods, and they have evolved with us.

When we look at the diversity of fermented foods that we can eat, we realize that if we begin to regularly incorporate fermented foods into our diet, we can increase the chances that we are putting a variety of healthy bugs into our gut.

Beware of Yogurt

Yogurt is great. But many yogurts that purport to contain “healthy” bacteria also contain a ton of added sugar. It is very possible that too much sugar in the diet fuels an overgrowth of “unhealthy” bacteria. Plus, added sugar is generally a bad idea – especially for breakfast. There are better ways to shape up your gut.

Fermented Foods

Yogurt can be good, just pick something without added sugar. And given the overuse of antibiotics in modern society, you probably won’t get everything your gut needs from yogurt alone.

So try to include a variety of other probiotic foods and beverages into your diet. Including:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir
  • Pickled anything
  • Miso Soup
  • Tempeh
  • fresh sourdough breads (but watch out, for the same reason as yogurt)
  • Kombucha

14 Days of Probiotic Foods

I challenge you to incorporate at least one of the foods from the above list into your diet every day for the next 14 days. And try mixing it up if you can.

If you don’t regularly eat any of the foods on this list, it’s likely that increasing your intake will put you in the direction of a better, stronger, and more diverse gut microbiome. Especially if you have a long history with antibiotics, as most of us do.

After the 14 days is up, continue to regularly incorporate these foods into your diet. I am confident that as time marches on, we’ll learn so much more about the nature of our insides that this post will look silly. But until then, it’s the least we can do.

Happy Cultivating 🙂

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How to be a Hippie and also a Skeptic

Funny hippie man holding a love heart and pointing up.

Is Detoxifying Real? 

I am a skeptic. So I understand why words like “toxin” and “liver” sound made-up and stupid.

But I’m also a hippie. So at least once a week, you can find me in a meditative trance, removing “toxins” from my “liver” by way of complete abstention from food. That’s right, I fast weekly. Fuck. You.

I Don’t Know What Toxins Are

What the hell are toxins? Where do they live?

I don’t like magical terminology because I love science. And in the name of science, I truly abhor catch-all words (like toxins). But that doesn’t mean that toxins aren’t real. In fact, I’m beginning to strongly suspect that livers might be real too.

Toxins may include, but are not limited to –> pesticides, traces of antibiotics, chlorine (from your drinking water), MSG, BPA, preservatives, pollutants from various plastics and emissions. Dear god, even glucose is toxic to your blood (why do you think your body is so good at clearing it?).

Some of these toxins live in your fat. When you lose weight, they are released into your blood. These are called “fat soluble.” Yikes.

Some toxins are stored in other places, like your left eye, or your right eye. Maybe this explains why you can’t look at your mother straight.

Some of the above listed compounds might not even be toxic. Who knows? But some probably are. And some might not be toxic to you, per se. They simply destroy your microbiome and cause your ass to leak blood at the most inconvenient times (a phenomenon we fitness bloggers refer to as “anal menstruation.”)

It drives me crazy when people dismiss detoxifying as pseudo-science.

I apologize, on behalf of the hippies, for failing to effectively articulate their filthy-hippie points of view.  Maybe they’re too busy chanting at a crystal.

But despite never showering, the hippies might be onto something. And the hippie within me feels it intuitively.

Your so-called “liver”

Your body detoxifies constantly. Through sweat, through breath – even through your incontinent bladder. Your body is a homeostasis MACHINE. And it cannot LIVE without constantly detoxifying. How can you not respect its amazing homeostatic powers?

This alleged “liver” of yours supposedly plays a role. Sure, whatever. Maybe Unicorns play a role too.

Imaginary or not, I don’t think that your so called “liver” is helped by a bed of rose petals, cayenne pepper, maple syrup, or whatever stupid thing you probably believe in. Namely, because all of those things are moronic.

…But perhaps, just perhaps, we should at least consider the possibility that this mythical organ might be helped by a short break from the never ending onslaught of FOOD FOOD FOOD and chemicals that you’ve stuffed down your gullet every 3-5 hours (as recommended by ‘professionals’) for the past 38 years of your  life.

Fasting and/or Just Not Taking in Toxins

Fasting is both ancient and new. Short fasts have shown health promise in so many ways. When there are problems with blood work, fasts often improve those problems.

I’m not going to cite specific studies here, because it’s so much easier to just make my claims without any support at all. But if you’d like to learn more – here are some great books that I love: “The Fast Diet” by Dr. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer and “Grain Brain” by Dr. Perlmutter. Dr. Joel Fuhrman also has great book on this topic, but it’s slightly dated.

If you don’t want to fast, you can detoxify in other ways. And in fact – fasting alone will never be enough.

You can simply reduce the amount of toxins you take in. And that’s real. Here is a story about a family who went fully organic for just two weeks.  The amount of pesticides in their blood plummeted. We still don’t know what effects, if any, this has on health. But I suspect that chemicals often have consequences. Why wouldn’t they?

Detoxifying Could Simply Mean Not Eating Weird Chemicals 

You don’t have to be a hippie to simply not eat weird chemicals.

Just try not to eat them, or at least to eat less of them. Chemicals go to the places where you put them. Why wouldn’t they? And even if your body is fantastic at getting rid of them, you don’t have to make it work so hard.

And while it is probably true that your liver is nothing but a myth perpetuated by the media, that doesn’t make it infallible. Everything degrades over time, even things that were invented in the cold sterile boardroom of some heartless corporation trying to sell you liver pills.

For more information on how you can avoid weird chemicals in your produce, check out EWG’s Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen lists. These lists tell you which fruits and veggies are most likely (and least likely) to be contaminated with pesticides.

It’s nice to create a nice environment for the things you love, and it’s nice not to take chances with your hot body.  Treat your so-called liver with respect, and your so-called liver just might thank you by not killing you.

Peace. Love. Detox.

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