Tag Archives: Portland to Coast

Exercise is NOT a dirty word(Just ask my Portland to Coast team!)

I love my work. I get to spend time with thousands of women every year in my role as a health care provider and as a result, I meet some amazing individuals. My office is in ‘the Pearl’ in NW Portland, which is an area similar to Soho in NYC:  shops, restaurants, bookstores(Powells Books is the largest bookstore in the U.S.and is a mere 3 blocks from my office), businesses and high density living quarters.  It is a vibrant neighborhood filled with pedestrians, cyclists, dogs on leashes, people hustling back and forth: for work, to shop, or to meet a friend over coffee or happy hour.

Our beautiful city of Portland: this is one vibrant town

Our beautiful city of Portland: this is one vibrant town

I hear many stories everyday and some common threads that emerge are all too often frustration with weight(too much, especially that dreaded ‘muffin top’), stress and feeling tired/overwhelmed. In my role as a provider, I try to elicit details of a person’s diet, stress management techniques and exercise routine. Most importantly, I have learned NOT to make assumptions: many people still don’t know how to eat ‘cleanly’ or how to incorporate exercise into daily living. Not surprisingly, women who eat well and exercise regularly tend to look and feel better/younger and handle life’s stressors with more grace.

So often I hear “I don’t have time to exercise” “I get bored” “I have bad knees” ” I just hate how I look: I can’t imagine putting on a bathing suit/workout clothes”. But then again, these are often the same women who are at their wit’s end with weight and fatigue issues.

The solution is obvious: Exercise! but the path back can be difficult for many.  But I love this kind of challenge: helping people find what works for them to get them back to feeling good, balanced, energized, alive…So many people hear the word ‘exercise’ and they want to run, but not outside, but to the couch. It can be a bit daunting for someone who has never been very active or for others who have adopted a sedentary lifestyle.

But it doesn’t have to be insurmountable. Start small. Set some goals. Let me give you some REALISTIC suggestions:

~Get a fitness app for your smart phone: there are some great ones out there. One that I use all the time is ‘endomondo’: this is a sports tracker with a GPS that makes fitness fun, helping you to measure your progress over time: I used it to train for Portland to Coast and it helped me to walk my fastest mile ever! Some others are ‘adidas-mi coach’, ‘couch to 5 k'(one of my co-workers is using that one: helping her to walk/jog and get moving!), ‘nike-fit’ …the choice is endless. Pick something that works for your lifestyle: they really make exercise fun!

~Find a group or a friend and start working towards a goal together. Last year I formed our PTC team and some of the women had NEVER participated in any kind of formal exercise or events. Guess what? they loved it and came back this year stronger and fitter than ever.

The morning after PTC with 3 of my amazing teammates: feeling strong, healthy and proud

The morning after PTC with 3 of my amazing teammates: feeling strong, healthy and proud

~Try something new or revisit something you loved as a child. Take a dance class, try stand up paddling, yoga, pilates, barre work, sea kayaking: there are no limits to the opportunities out there.

Trust me: exercise is the one thing that if you do it with any sort of regularity and dedication, it will give back to you in many ways: You will feel stronger, calmer, more flexible, confident, fit, leaner, and happy. And your memory will improve, as well as your cardiovascular health and hormonal balance.

So what’s stopping you? As always, we would love to hear what you are doing as part of your personal balance plan.

Happy trails…..

Cruising to the end of my second leg of 7.78 miles: what a gorgeous route and fun time we had

Cruising to the end of my second leg of 7.78 miles: what a gorgeous route and fun time we had

Oh and P.S.: last year was our first year as a walking team and we came in at around the top 40% , which we felt pretty good about. THIS year we finished in the top 28% overall…not bad for a bunch of women walking and having a fantastic time while doing it!

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Filed under Essentials, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

Women and their friendships: another key component of life and hormone balance

Summer is winding down but my Portland to Coast team is gearing up for our second year in “The Mother of Relays”.  For those  of you who have been faithful followers, you may remember some of my posts about our team’s adventures as a walking team.

Hood to Coast has been around for over 35 years: it is a relay race starting at Mt Hood and ends at Seaside, OR. Over 1000 teams of 12 runners make their way over almost 200 miles. In addition, there are over 400 teams of 12 walkers who wind their way from downtown Portland to the Oregon coastal town of Seaside. This is one crazy but fun event! It is hard to imagine how it works but basically a village of runners and walkers travel between 130 and 200 miles in a relay race, complete with vans, headlamps(yes, we travel into the night!) , hundreds of volunteers, vehicle exchange posts, sleeping fields: quite the endeavor. At the end, there is a huge finish line along the Pacific Ocean’s edge, complete with vendors, food booths and a live band: the party goes on for hours, tired participants dancing until they literally drop in the sand and crawl into bed for a well-deserved sleep.

Our WTF* team at the finish line in 2012

Our WTF* team at the finish line in 2012

Two weekends ago , most of our team members as well as some of our friends from afar, joined together for a mini-retreat up on Mt Hood .  This originally started out as a team-building event, spearheaded by Karen(one of our teammates)  who discovered an awesome opportunity for such a gathering at Silcox Hut, built on Mt Hood in 1939. This dwelling rests at about 8000 feet and has hosted many large groups over the years.  It took quite a bit of planning to organize this group and this weekend, but honestly, it was well worth it.

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After we all made our introductions in the great room of Timberline Lodge(famously filmed in the movie, The Shining), 18 of us split into various hiking groups and headed off in various directions.  I ended up in a small group of women, five of us in all, who hiked together for over 10 miles up and down through Zig Zag Canyon(aptly named) and on up to Paradise Park. We finally settled down for lunch by an idyllic mountain stream surrounded by carpets of wildflowers and capped by the peak of Mt Hood in the background. It truly felt as though we had landed in Paradise: this particular hike may be the most beautiful one I have ever done.

Halfway point

Halfway point

Lunch with friends at Paradise Park: heavenly

Lunch with friends at Paradise Park: heavenly

By late afternoon, after we enjoyed a quick dip in the hot tub at the lodge, we all wound our way back up to ‘the hut’, either by hiking , taking the skilift or enjoying a very bumpy ride in the host’s Suburban up the rutted road. The host welcomed us with wine, cheese platters, a roaring fire in the stone fireplace(yes , even in summer a fire feels great atop a mountain) and candle votives on the stone steps. This was truly a feast for the eyes and sore, tired legs. We spent the evening talking with old friends, making new ones , while we enjoyed a lovely meal prepared by our host.  After dinner, we sat  at the large banquet table, sipping wine, eating chocolate, playing games….reveling in the experience of 18 women gathered together in a magical place.

When I think of the things that have helped me to maintain balance throughout the years, one that always comes to mind is the importance of my friendships and connections with other women. As women, we often get caught up in the ‘caregiver’ role of many: our families, our work, our communities , etc.  Although these all have their rewards, it is equally important to nurture relationships with other women. My life is so much richer because of the friendships that I have with the many women in my life whom I consider to be friends. Make sure that you carve out time with the women that you love. Your life will be fuller and more balanced if you do.

Wish us luck as we head off for another year of craziness this Friday, as we jump into our vans and walk together as a team. It’s a bit nutty, this whole thing, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Happy trails!

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Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance