This April, in honor of Earth Day, I celebrated 30 days of ZooFit and discussed all the many ways we can Eat Clean, Live Green, and Train Positive. This month I want to explore one of my pillars of ZooFit a little closer and focus on connecting to the earth in healthy ways with Experience Nature.
June is a perfect month to celebrate and explore, too. Farmers Markets are starting up, beach and hiking weather looms around us, flowers in bloom (yay allergies!), days getting longer, summer solstice. I just got a job as a park aide for the state parks, so I will be enjoying the outdoors more and more myself.
I have big plans this summer for being outdoors and my health:
Biking more (perhaps a few rides to work)
Swimming at Goss Lake or even the Puget Sound
Gardening and growing tons of veggies
Experimenting with our farm share produce and my garden veggies to eat greener, healthier, and closer to home
Outdoor ZooFit workouts
Getting my CrossFit classes outside
Finding my own peace and my own place with the outdoors
Today was almost a rocky start to the 30 Days experiment. I thought it would be perfect, since my family went on a weekend getaway to Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park. What a great way to start 30 Days of Experiencing Nature.
Only, we didn’t get outside much today. This morning I did a super quick rowing workout at home. I took my car in for an oil change, came home, washed the car off, finished packing, and hopped in the car to catch the 12:30 ferry to Port Townsend. Arriving in Port Townsend, we found a place to eat lunch and then hit the road toward Lake Crescent.
Once we arrived, I was feeling cranky, irritable, and overall discontent. I don’t know what exactly what was wrong. I had plenty of sleep. I even caught a quick nap on the way to the lodge. I had a good lunch and drank plenty of water. What was going on?
After checking in, I thought we would go for a little walk around the resort. It’s in the old Olympic forest, and on a beautiful lake, who wouldn’t want to go for a stroll? But everyone wanted to sit inside and talk. No big deal, I like talking too, but I was feeling the discontent taking a strong hold on my overall psyche. It was visible to my family as well.
I shook off a couple “What’s wrong?” questions and socialized for a bit. Then I stood up and just announced, “I’m going for a run.”
It wasn’t an invitation. I just knew I needed to get outside for a little bit. I found a short trail called the Moments in Time Trail, which claimed to be a .6 mile loop. I jogged to the trail, and was instantly a lot calmer, a lot less stressed out, and a bit more energized and focused.
You know, Henry David Thoreau once said “I went to the woods because… I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow of life.” He never told us going to the woods would calm our shit!
I jogged around the trail twice. It didn’t feel like more than a mile. It was short, sweet, and just the dose I needed. I don’t know if it was the alone time, the exercise, or being outdoors, but I felt a lot better afterwards. It could have been a combination of all three. I am an introvert and being around people is incredibly draining for me. I re-energize by spending time alone. I have also been on a huge exercise streak, where I have sustained a cardio workout for an average of thirty minutes every day, so the exercise was probably something my body was literally craving. And I think psychologically, my mind needed to go outside. I mean, why else did we come to the Olympics if not to experience nature?
I came back to my family, changed clothes and went to dinner. I was in a much better mood and able to joke about my crankiness earlier.
I really like our hotel, except a couple annoyances like no WiFi in the rooms. They have a plaque explaining their sustainability practices. Compostable cups, signs encouraging us to unplug and turn off lights, and a recycling bin in our room. They also don’t have any televisions. I didn’t even notice that until my parents mentioned it. There are games in the lodge lobby, and yard games like badminton and croquet for anyone to use. There are kayaks to rent, tours to sign up to take, and tons of trails. We don’t need a stinking TV. Nature is our entertainment this weekend, and I intend to live deep indeed.
This past weekend was very much a Conservation Fitness weekend. Bowling for Rhinos on Saturday. Sloth Army on Sunday morning. Then to round it out, Chris and I tried out kayaking in the afternoon.
We’ve tried kayaking before. We’ve done kayaking on Whidbey Island before. It was years ago, and we were considering getting kayaks to go on adventures around Washington. So we decided to rent a couple and try it out. Only, we tested out kayaking on one of the worst days to do so- 4th of July weekend, in the afternoon, on an incredibly windy day.
That time did not go well for us.
But that was before. Nowadays, I know the owner of Whidbey Kayaking Company. She’s part of my Sloth Army. I must have told her a dozen times I would come by and do some kayaking. For whatever reason, I figured this time, I’d follow through.
My husband and I showed up at the marina ready for a cool day on the water. It was not a cool day, though. It was a gloriously warm day. Typically I am not the biggest fan of the sun, but paddling out in the Puget Sound, which is a refreshing 50 degrees right now, I was willing to tolerate it for the occasion.
May is whale watching season. The grey whales are out and about, and I was hoping to catch sight of one. Unfortunately, they had been spotted earlier in the morning, and lightning was not likely to strike twice. It didn’t. But we did observe a curious seal pup checking us out. And we even saw a group of seals hanging out together. It was an odd sight, since seals are more or less solitary.
Throughout the two hours we were on the water, our guide (my friend, the owner), pointed out tons of interesting aspects I didn’t know about Whidbey and some animals. I’m not much of a bird-nerd, although I’m not opposed to learning more. So when Krista shared how murrelets (a smallish water bird in the Pacific Northwest) were indicator species, along with pigeon guillemots, I was intrigued.
If you want to know how an ecosystem is holding up, you can take a look at key species in the environment. Thriving birds indicates a somewhat healthy food web.
Wow, the day was tacking up to be fun, fitness oriented, AND educational!
While kayaking is considered something of a leisure activity, I definitely got a workout in. Krista showed us proper technique for paddling, which if you do right, should work your core more than your arms. After two hours, my obliques and abs were shouting loud and clear “WE HAVE BEEN WORKED OUT!”
It was a beautiful day, and we were glad to have taken Krista up on her offer to join her. It made up for our first kayaking experience, but more than just having a good day, it was connected to my philosophy of Experiencing Nature.
With Conservation Fitness, I strongly urge each of us to explore the outdoors, to experience nature. It can be a hike, a walk in a park, or visiting a zoo. But I think the best way to experience nature is in your element, being active, and gaining a better appreciation for the natural world.
My element is water. I am so at home with water. The ocean calls me every time I go near her. But I don’t spend as much time as I’d like in the water. Swimming and other water activities are not as common in Washington year round as other regions. But kayaking. Wow, that was an experience. Still isn’t something I can do day in and day out, but it definitely is something I consider part of my Sacred Space. It’s something I will try to do again, as well. Maybe as a reward for completing certain tasks.
After kayaking, I was thoroughly exhausted. It was a wonderfully productive weekend, and I look forward to more adventures with conservation fitness.
If anyone were to ask me what is the best website for learning and growing our mind, body, and yes, even our soul, I would recommend Brian Johnson’s Optimize. He discusses everything to live the best version of yourself, from health and fitness to meditation to being your most creative self. I have learned a lot from his Philosopher’s Notes and his Master Classes. Most of what he teaches is in complete flow with ZooFit. Continue reading 30 Days of ZooFit: Day 30- Creativity 101
I am always looking for ways to reduce the amount of waste I throw away. I sometimes feel like a pack rat, saving items destined for the trash, because, you never know what we can use it for later. In fact, I have a whole series called “Reuse, Recycle, Reduce Your Waist” where I turn old household items into workout equipment. Continue reading 30 Days of ZooFit: Day 4- Trash to Treasure
I hadn’t been this proud since my days as an animal care specialist working with young dolphins and whales. It was a proud mama moment, even though I’ve never had children. The moment your pupils, animals or humans, finally get it. The moment the light bulb goes off and they do what you’ve been trying to teach them for so long. Without prompting, guiding, or leading them. Continue reading Burpee Bonus
This month for North Sound Writers book club, we are reading Don’t Shoot the Dog, by Karen Pryor. Karen is the mother goddess-dragon of all animal trainers, and she is attributed to developing positive reinforcement training which zoos and aquariums adhere to in working with their animals. The book she wrote is considered the animal trainer’s bible.
But Karen didn’t write the book just for animal trainers. She wrote it specifically for people outside the training world. She wrote it for people looking to change their pet’s behavior. To change your kids’ behavior. Your spouse’s habits. Even your own. Karen shows how a shift from negative focus, punishment methods to a positive reinforcement mindset will bring life long changes in habits. Continue reading Dealing With the Negative Nancy