Category: Hiking

Understanding Hydration

Photo by Ethan Sykes on Unsplash

Spring has now arrived and many of us physical fitness buffs will be taking our activities outside where we can enjoy nature as we go at our favorite outside recreational activities. Some will go for walks, while a good many of us will go at our activity vigorously enough to raise a sweat along with our heart rates. While it is my personal opinion that outside exercise is great for everyone, we have to be quite vigilant about our level of hydration as dehydration can not only hurt us, it can kill us. ALWAYS seek medical attention if you have ANY signs or symptoms of dehydration!

Hydration might seem a boring topic, yet it is an important one as there are people who really do not understand the implications of both dehydration, nor the ill effects of over hydrating. It was through my following of Weight Watchers social media Connect where I really became aware of some of the crazy ideas which proliferate the internet, ideas which range from being mildly ill informed to down right dangerous. The mildly ill informed crowd would be the folks who make it a point to drink one to two gallons of water per day with no solid scientific evidence to back up their reasoning, it was just something they read on the internet they should do in order to lose weight easier. For most people, the worst aspect of this would be never being able to get too far away from a bathroom during the day as they will be urinating on a frequent basis. When this practice becomes harmful is if the individual drinks enough to suffer a condition called hyponatremia, or water intoxication. Water intoxication is a result of drinking an extreme amount of water in a short time which will cause the level of salt, or sodium, in your blood to drop too low. This situation is serious and can be fatal.

 A downright dangerous idea I saw perpetuated on Connect was by a very popular male “Connector” who appears to have little else to do with his day than to flex his muscles for selfie pictures which he constantly posts every day. Many people who are struggling with weight loss and are new to physical fitness hang on every word this gentleman writes on his page. This fellow who is a huge influence to a great many people once wrote about how he likes to workout while dehydrated. This is an old body builder trick for just before competition in order to make their muscles appear more “cut”, or to have a clear separation between each muscle group. While this ignorant practice might be good for him, it is beyond the pale, that he would put this word out to people who for the most part do not know better than to workout while dehydrated. I called him out on this and was blocked not long afterwards. I sure hope this individual never put out dangerous word like that ever again.

Friends, before I get further into dehydration, refer to the chart below and remember this as a rule of thumb in regards to hydration; there is no magic amount of water you need to drink each day for your health. The amount you need is going to be unique to each individual based on not only how much water is consumed, but how much water is taken in through other sources of liquid, including food. Look at the simple chart below and use that as a hydration guide. By the color of your urine, you can know if you are taking in too little or too much water. Note, the upper color is a light straw and does not represent entirely clear, like water, urine. If your urine can pass for drinking water, you have likely depleted a good amount of your body’s electrolytes and you will need to replenish them before partaking in vigorous exercise.

To get more into science of this topic, did you know that the human body is made up of about 60% water?

Adequate hydration for healthy digestion of our foods, proper breathing, and just about every basic function. When you are not taking in enough water, dehydration will happen which can lead into less than favorable side effects. Unfortunately, more than 70% of Americans may suffer from chronic dehydration according to doctors (1). And because it can come in the form of several different symptoms, many people fail to notice that they are dehydrated.

What is dehydration?

Your body requires adequate water intake for every function it performs. Dehydration can be mild, moderate, severe, or chronic depending on how much fluid your body is missing.

  • Dehydration is your body’s negative reaction to having a water deficiency.
  • Chronic dehydration is a condition where dehydration lasts for longer periods of time.

Again, without sufficient hydration, your body cannot perform its basic functions properly. No matter your age, dehydration can occur for several reasons. Babies and elderly people are more prone to fluid deficiencies than adolescents and adults.

Young children are most likely to experience diarrhea and vomiting which purges both electrolytes and water, which increase the chances of dehydration. Babies also do not have fully developed kidneys. This means they will retain less water than they store in their tiny little bodies.

Older adults naturally have less water in their bodies and often times will not realize they are thirsty until dehydration has already set in. Additionally, elderly people are more susceptible to dehydration if they take certain medications like diuretics.

Causes of dehydration

The causes of dehydration can vary per individual depending on certain lifestyles, genetic and environmental factors. Most people are prone to dehydration under specific circumstances such as exercising frequently, illness and exposure to heat.

Your body loses water every day just through breathing, sweating, going to the bathroom and through saliva. If you have a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, you are excreting additional fluids that can worsen dehydration. People who are active, exercise frequently, and sweat a lot also have an increased risk of fluid deficiencies.

In addition, some digestive tract issues can make you more prone to diarrhea which is linked to dehydration. Some of these conditions include:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Gluten sensitivity

Always, make it a habit to increase your water intake when you are releasing more water than you normally would.

Signs you are dehydrated:

  • Not urinating enough, or your urine is dark yellow. A simple way to determine if you are dehydrated is by checking the frequency of your bathroom trips as well as the color of your urine. If you are not urinating frequently, and when you do it is a darker color of yellow, chances are you have moderate dehydration. The darker it is, and the less frequent you do urinate, the more likely it is you are dehydrated, period. Start drinking more water as soon as you see that your pee is a darker yellow.
  • Dry skin. Research shows that your skin contains 30% water which is responsible for elasticity and plumpness. Many people who show signs of dehydrating may sometimes appear sweaty but as you go through the stages of dehydration, from mild to severe, your skin will become drier. Your skin may also appear red and flushed if you are dehydrated. Applying moisturizing lotion can alleviate some skin problems externally, but drinking more water will help your internal bodily functions to maintain healthy, supple skin.
  • Bad breath comes from dehydration when you are prevented from creating enough saliva. And since saliva has antibacterial properties, the lack of production can cause bacteria growth in your mouth that can lead to bad breath. If you have “zoo breath” reaching for a glass of water may be more effective than a piece of gum.
  • Experiencing muscle cramps! Refer back to the idiot telling people he likes to be dehydrated when working out, and the harm this can cause people. Exercising frequently, or working in hot weather can make you dehydrated and cause muscle cramps. As your muscles work harder, they will stop functioning properly, especially in a hot environment. Excessive sweating from exercise or heat worsens dehydration and also causes you to excrete vital minerals like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. If you are experiencing muscle cramps, consider bringing a sugar free electrolyte drink as well as a water bottle and sipping on both throughout your day.
  • Fever like symptoms, having the chills and other flu like symptoms is commonly associated with infection. But dehydration is another culprit to having fever. When your body does not have adequate fluid levels, it becomes difficult for your body to maintain a stable body temperature which can lead to hyperthermia and fever symptoms. If you are experiencing flu like symptoms, immediately stop all physical activity you are doing and drink more fluids as well as electrolytes while you rest.
  • Not consuming enough water may result in fatigue, dizziness, and lightheadedness. Your brain is composed of more than 70% water so it is crucial to stay hydrated for optimal brain and body functioning. Severe dehydration can come in the form of confusion and feeling like you may pass out any second. If this occurs, take a seat, slowly drink water and give your body a rest before attempting any physical activity. Ensure you consume a source of essential vitamins and minerals from water filled fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers, apples and watermelon.
  • Craving sweets and sugary treats. When you are dehydrated, it is difficult for your body to release glycogen (which uses water) as your main source of energy. If you are experiencing sudden hunger cravings for something sweet or salty, there is a good chance that dehydration is making it difficult for your body to release glucose into the bloodstream to use as a fuel source. Instead of giving into this craving, drink a glass of water or two.

How to avoid dehydration and rejuvenate your body.

Here are some tips for bouncing back from dehydration and restoring your body’s proper fluid levels. ALWAYS seek medical attention if you have ANY signs or symptoms of dehydration!

  • Keep a water bottle next to you at al times. If water is constantly in front of you and readily accessible, you will most likely get in the habit of sipping throughout the day without even noticing.
  • Add flavoring to your water if you do not like the blandness of water. Consider getting a zero calorie sweetener to satisfy your thirst and taste buds.
  • Eat more vegetables. Aim for large servings of vegetables in each one of your meals. Some fruits and vegetables are made up of 90% water such as watermelon, cucumber, celery, zucchini and lettuce.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol. Both increase the frequency of your bathroom trips, resulting in a higher chance of dehydration.
  • Drink unsweetened tea. If you like tea, a few cups a day can help you reach proper fluid levels while benefiting from antioxidants. Avoid sweetened tea as the added sugar can worsen dehydration.
  • Workout less during extreme heat. It is hard enough to maintain proper hydration when you are working out in an air conditioned gym. If you are experiencing chronic dehydration, consider less intense exercises while it is hot out.
  • Drink a bottle of water first thing in the morning. When you are asleep, your body is still excreting fluids. More often than not, you are slightly dehydrated after a full nights rest. Drinking at least one glass of water as soon as you wake up is a great way to restore proper fluid levels.
  • Drink water before, during and after exercise. Whether you are a beginner, or advanced in fitness, water intake should be one of your top priorities. We encourage drinking at least a glass of water three hours before exercise, sip on a bottle of water during your workout, and immediately after you finish.

Staying hydrated is key for optimal health and longevity.

Drinking enough water for optimum hydration can be a struggle for many people. Ranging from babies to older adults, dehydration can negatively impact your health at any age.

Putting conscious effort towards maintaining proper fluid levels will help you stay healthy and prevent dehydration from rearing it’s ugly head. If you are experiencing any of the tell tale signs mentioned above, consider adopting a few strategies above into your daily activity. Whether you are an athlete, construction worker, or live a sedentary lifestyle, drinking more water can help you improve your health and well being.

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How Much Water Do I Need?

(1) Claire Riley, AFPA Health, Nutrition & Fitness

Peaceful Inspiration from Nature

My personal favorite physical fitness activity is strength training, while my second favorite, by a fairly narrow margin, is getting out into the great outdoors on a good hike on dirt trails that meander through out our local woodlands here in north eastern Kansas and north western Missouri. Today, on an off day from weight training, I got in a most excellent hike of a little over seven miles on some really great trails at Weston Bend Park in Missouri, about 25 miles north of Kansas City.

This particular trail head begins at a prepared asphalt trail and then meanders through a wooded ravine and then gradually takes you upwards to the top of a high ridge that overlooks the Missouri River Valley and the river itself. This time of year is a beautiful time to hike there as the leaves on the trees are beginning to change to their fall colors before dropping to the ground for the winter months. The falling leaves will lay on the ground and rot before being absorbed into the soil as nutrients for next springs new growth. Much in the same manner as how our own body’s absorb nutrients for growth and cellular repairs when we are at rest.

Getting out on the trail is a relaxing method of vigorous exercise for myself. It is vigorous, as I make it a point to hike at a rate that keeps my heart rate within the aerobic fat burning zone for my body over the entire course of my outing. Yet as my heart rate comes up, I can only feel relaxed in mind, body and soul as my eyes take in the beautiful surrounding sights while my ears pick up on the subtle sounds of nature living all around me. I am but a small microcosm of all the life around me despite the fact I only encountered a couple other hikers out on the trail this morning. Surrounded by life, yet alone where I can bring upon an inner peace to settle my post traumatic stress.

Looking out, over the Mighty Missouri River from atop the ridge.

The hills and ridges in this part of America were cut by glaciers during the last ice age. I look upon these two humongous slabs of stone and wonder if they were one piece many centuries or thousands of years ago. Maybe this huge rock was split by the awe inspiring force of nature when water found it’s way into a small crack, and with each cycle of freezing, the rock split more and more until it was separated enough for a seedling to become a sapling, which eventually grew into a mature tree in the center of these massive stones.

When out hiking in the woods, my mind is freed which allows me to find inspiration to write just about anywhere about anything. You might find it odd, but the inspiration which came from this split rock was the thoughts of how just like water seeping into a small crack, and eventually breaking the rock apart, we do the same thing within our body’s when we eat a diet that is calorie dense and nutritionally poor. Too many simple carbohydrates with cookies, cupcakes and other junk foods cause our pancreas to release floods of insulin as a result of high blood sugar.

The rocks, with their cracks remind me of our cellular structure, which opens up to the entry of blood sugar when signaled by our insulin. Over time, with centuries of thawing and freezing cycles, the rock become fractured until it finally breaks apart. In the same manner, when our blood sugar remains high for too long, and our body’s begin suffering ill effects such as damage to your nerves, blood vessels and internal organs. It can also cause:

  • vaginal and skin infections
  • slow healing cuts and sores
  • loss of vision
  • nerve damage
  • and erectile dysfunction

Whether you realize it or not, our body is just another element of the nature which surrounds us, It is a shame, a sad reality that far too many people never give the health of their own glorious body the same care as they might give to plant or animal life out in the nature.

Some people shake their heads in disbelief when I speak of going out and hiking anywhere from 5 to 10 miles or better, or when I talk about dedicating no less than four days a week to strength train for two hours at a time. Some assume that to follow my way of living, they might have to go to the same physical extremes as myself in order to get the same results.

You do not have to go to my extremes to get fit and healthy, There is no one size fits all exercise regimen. However, you do need to be active at a level that is appropriate for your level of fitness and capabilities. Your activity needs to match your needs and preferences.

You need to know, that while you can lose body fat and be healthy without exercise, you are only selling yourself short in your efforts. Regular activity reduces both insulin levels and insulin resistance. Regular physical fitness activities can and will help with lowering high blood pressure, improve your total blood fat level, elevate your good cholesterol (HDL) while lowering your bad cholesterol (LDL). Exercise on a consistent basis will lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, while decreasing your body fat and your risk of insulin related heart disease such as Coronary Artery and Coronary Heart Diseases.

Exercise does not, nor should it ever be a chore to suffer through. You should select an activity that is fun and easy to fit into your busy schedule. Instead of going all out hardcore like, you need to start slow and easy and increase your intensity over time in order to not burn out before you have derived any benefit from your activity.

Consistency is going to be key to your success with any physical fitness activity/program. Again, you will need to select an activity that is fun for you and easy to fit into your schedule in order to make being consistent easier on yourself. You do not require a daily commitment in order to be consistent. You can pick 3 to 5 days a week to exercise and use your off days as time for rest and recovery. These two elements, along with nutrition are as important as the physical activity itself.

By giving yourself a break a few days per week away from exercise, you will be more inclined to stick with it as it is not an every day chore. By taking a few days off you will always be able to attack a new exercise session with a fully rested body which will give you the best results, more bang for your buck if you will.

Again, find an activity that you will enjoy. Never force yourself to do something you really do not want to do as you will come to resent it. By all means, while you need to push yourself to always excel at your activity, never push yourself past your level of endurance as you are likely to come to hate what you are doing. This is not helpful in helping you to achieve your goals.

My advice is to please try to be loving, understanding, firm and compassionate with yourself. In the end, it makes good heart sense on all levels.

Active minds and active bodies never grow old. – Lee Salk


How to Prevent Regaining Lost Weight

There is a sad truth that 97% of dieters regain lost weight plus additional pounds within three years. Statistics vary based on the length of time that a group of people are studied but when they are followed for three years the regain rate is 97%.

I worked for a major weight loss company before coming to David’s Way and a common topic of discussion among employees was the disturbing trend that we witnessed frequently among members who had lost a significant amount of weight, usually at about 100 pounds, who began to recklessly indulge in the same way that had caused them to be morbidly obese. Before they knew what was happening, they were getting dangerously close to the original weight that had caused them to seek help to lose weight in the first place. These people talked about how they felt like they deserved “a break” for all of their hard work, a reward. The problem was that whenever they started eating like they had in the past, they couldn’t or wouldn’t stop. Large quantities of added sugar were always a part of their debauchery and it caused them to have terrible cravings for more. They seemed helpless in the onslaught. The problem was that they had never committed to a new lifestyle, they were conducting themselves as if they were on a “diet”, something temporary. Weight management is a permanent issue. It cannot be addressed through temporary means. Here at David’s Way, we give you the tools to address this issue for the rest of your life at no cost. This website will always be free.

I have been much heavier than I am now and so has David. I know what it’s like to sit in a dark kitchen at 3AM eating peanut butter straight out of the jar until I almost choke to death. I know what it’s like to do this without being hungry. I know what it’s like to cry because I can’t understand why “I’m doing this to myself…”.

I also know what it’s like to finally decide what I want the most, trash food in massive quantities or health, strength and feeling good about my appearance. The night that I made that decision for the last time was overwhelmingly emotional. I cried like a baby because I had just become accountable to myself for my health and well-being for the rest of my life. I knew that it all depended on the choices that I made. Shortly afterward I was blessed to find David’s Way. It has fixed the problem of craving and yo yo dieting for me. I stay full of wholesome, nutritional foods and never have cravings or angst about what I eat. I am never deprived. My only struggle is making sure that I eat enough. I want you to understand, my weight struggle began at the age of four years and continued my entire life until I found David’s Way at the age of sixty. That is why I write on this website. It’s the only thing that has ever worked for me.

Here is a list of tips that will help you maintain your weight loss or keep pushing whenever you plateau.

1- Commit to a lifestyle. Again, you cannot fix a permanent issue with temporary methods. Read our Home Page. It will educate you on David’s Way.

2- “Make your world small.” Cut out the dead wood that causes you to lose your focus on good health. People that hinder your progress need to be removed from your life. If there are some people who cannot be removed then avoid them as much as possible and never listen to their negative input. Continuing to associate with people who are not supportive of your health initiative will cause you to crash and burn.

3- Drop the habits that got you unhealthy. You may say that this is easier said than done. Oh, believe me, I know all about that. Yes, it is hard but not nearly as hard as dying younger than necessary and being sick until you do. I have watched close family members die at their own hand from bad habits. It was not fun or pretty and it was much harder than eating healthy. I have had some really bad habits in my life and I have thought that I could not live without them. The truth of the matter was, I could not live WITH them. The power of a simple decision to commit to health is immeasurable. It’s within your power and ability to make that decision. It all depends on what you want more, the trash food or life.

4-Get active, with your doctor’s permission. As we lose pounds it takes fewer calories to live. Getting a little exercise will boost your calorie burn and make it easier to shed pounds and maintain a loss. Research indicates that 300 minutes of exercise per week is a good goal to lose weight and maintain that loss. (1) The Mayo Clinic advises both strength training and aerobic activity. I’ve got to tell you, the way that I strength train, it becomes aerobic. I also hike and walk but my strength training works me hard.

5- Don’t get discouraged. David has a saying, “Trust the process.” Honestly, we all want instant results but take a long serious look at yourself, your overall health and physical condition. How long did it take to get there? In most cases, it’s been years of neglect and abuse that has brought about the current state of affairs. You cannot fix this quickly. Commit for the long haul knowing that there will be good days and hard days. Sometimes the scale will go up and sometimes it will come down. The day to day fluctuations are not significant. It’s the long term effect that matters. When I first began this program I was soft and overweight. That is not the case now but it’s about two years and a whole lot of weight lifting and meal planning later and I’m still not”there” yet. I will never “get there”. This is the rest of my life and my health and appearance will benefit indefinitely from good nutrition and good workouts.

6- Reassess your habits. Sometimes we get careless. It can be brought about by over confidence or just being busy but it will always show. When you have attained a measure of success and feel good about your progress, make sure to tighten up! We tend to do the opposite and when we do, the pounds will creep back on quickly. Don’t think for a minute that you can go back to binge eating and get away with it. Not only will you feel bad almost immediately, you will most likely spin out of control. Constantly analyze and reorganize your strategy for being in control of your health. Read our articles and try the recipes. Stay focused. Keep your eyes on the prize!

7- As you lose pounds reassess your caloric needs. You can use the Calorie Counter Pro found on our menu to do this and keep your calories at a level that will allow you to continue to lose weight. If you see the scale going up, quickly reassess and adjust.

8- Find a source of positive input concerning your goals. Just as negative input can hinder you, positive interactions with like minded people can encourage you to be healthy. Notice the people in your environment who are interested in being healthy and gravitate towards them. Read this website. We have over 600 articles and recipes to help you on your journey.

9- Realize that you are the most influential person in your life. Sometimes we give our power away to those who do not have our best interest at heart. Be the Master of your fate. It’s all up to you.

10- Don’t Quit. Regardless of what life throws at you or how discouraged you may get, always remember that “Can’t never could do anything.” If you quit fighting for your health, you will certainly lose it. Get in the battle for the long term benefits of healthy choices and a healthy lifestyle. Create the life that you desire. You have everything that you need, your ability to make a decision. Use it.


The Benefits of Foam Rolling


I have heard about foam rolling for years but had never tried it until recently. The benefits are well known in the fitness industry. It is “self-myofascial release”, or SMR. It is known to relieve muscle stiffness, soreness and inflammation and increase joint range of motion. The fascia is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses and separates muscles and other internal organs.  Trainers advise rolling each muscle group for about 1-5 minutes.

Foam rolling can be utilized to help warm up before a workout. It only  takes  about  5 minutes  to warm up and hydrate your muscles and fascia. Make sure to support your body well with your arms as you roll to avoid falling off of the roller. If you find a tender spot don’t work it too long, just long enough to feel a relaxation  in the muscles.   Breathe deeply and relax into the roller and roll back and forth. Remember,  you are rolling muscles, not bones and joints. Concentrate  on the length of your muscles, not the joints. There is no benefit to rolling a sore joint until it is achy. Your muscles will respond by relaxation, your joints will not.

Foam rolling  let’s you  massage yourself effectively.  There are many different rollers to choose from. You want to consider 1-Density 2-Surface Texture  3-Shape and Size

Density- When  you  first begin you might want to consider a medium density roller. While they don’t  last as long as the denser rollers, their softer feel is easier to accommodate when you’re  learning to roll. White rollers are the softest while the blue and red are medium density and the black rollers are the most dense and the hardest. If your roller is too soft it may be ineffective  but if it’s  too hard, you may bruise. Most people begin with a medium density to achieve effectiveness  without undue trauma while learning.

Texture- While some rollers have knobs and ridges to give a more targeted massage similar to human hands, a smooth roller gives even pressure across the muscle. Smooth rollers are also less expensive. There are some rollers that provide a variety of textures for finding exactly  the amount of pressure that you like. The knobs and ridges on some rollers provide intense pressure which  may not be suitable  for everyone.

Shape and Size- Long rollers, around 36 inches are good to begin with because they provide stability and great coverage with little effort. They are great for massaging  your  back. Smaller rollers, around 24 inches are good for your calves and arms and work well in limited space.

The 5-6 inches in diameter rollers are comfortable for beginners and offer a less intense massage than the 3-4 inch rollers. The 3-4 inch rollers will deliver a more targeted, intense massage. You can even get a roller that looks like it’s  been cut in half lengthwise for the soles of your feet that is supposed to help with plantar fasciitis. There are foam covered roller massagers for the upper back and foam balls for curved areas such as the lower  back. Always get your  doctor’s  permission  before  beginning  any physical fitness activity or program.

Rolling is also a great cool down exercise. The same techniques  that you use to warm up will work  as a cool down, dispensing  the lactic acid from intense exercise for less post workout  soreness and stiffness.

You can buy  these fitness tools online or in store at any sporting goods retailer for anywhere from $10  to $100. Usually the $100 roller will come with a vibration  function built into the roller and the $10 roller being a plain, soft roller that will feel good enough but it won’t  last very long. Choose the one that’s  best suited to your needs but after your doctor approves, get rolling!


Get Outside for Fitness!

Brenda Sue and I are often contacted by folks who are wanting to lose weight and become physically fit. Most of the time, these people will be new to physical fitness activities and do not know where to begin. Because we do not know their actual fitness capabilities we will always advise them to first be cleared by thier doctor for physical fitness activities. This is largely because we have found out after the fact, that some of them have not disclosed to us prior injuries or conditions that might later cause them to suffer from further complications should they follow the advice we have given them. Anytime you seek advice from a fitness expert, you must disclose this information to protect yourself. I cannot in good faith tell you to perform any specific exercises without full disclosure. If I advised you to do push ups or pull ups and you have not let me know of prior rotator cuff issues, you could easily suffer permanent damage to your rotator cuff which could impede your ability to fully use your arm. Please protect your own best interest by letting your trainer, whether online or in person, know of all past injuries and conditions. All trainers with integrity will protect your information from being disclosed to others. At David’s Way, we fully comply with HIPAA regulations to protect your privacy. For the record, we do not offer personal one on one physical fitness training online even though we give fitness advice in our articles. With personal training, you the consumer are best served by receiving your training in person where instruction and corrections to form and such can be made in real time. This is for your benefit, yet we will still answer your questions about different physical fitness activities.

If you think you cannot begin a physical fitness regimen because you cannot afford an expensive gym membership or home equipment, stop with that mindset. While gym memberships and home equipment are nice to have, they are an unnecessary luxury that you do not have to spend money on in the name of fitness. The reality is all that you require is comfortable fitting clothes and a decent pair of shoes. All of which you may already have in your closet anyhow. You also do not need the latest, most trendy of attire as that little Nike Swoosh icon is not going to get you into shape. You will get yourself into good physical condition through a clean and proper diet combined with your efforts at exercise. An analogy those of us who ride motorcycles might refer to is “Chrome does not get you home”. It is pretty to look at, appealing to the eye, but it has no other function. This is true of a lot of sports attire, just worry about being comfortable and having comfortable shoes that provide proper arch support. If you decide to try hiking difficult terrain, then you will want footwear that also provides stability to your ankles to help prevent rolling it.

Hands down, the best exercise you can do for your body is to get out and walk at a pace brisk enough to place your body into your individual target heart rate zone for at least 30 minutes. You do not need any type of fitness tracker to know when you are there, save your money for a good pair of shoes that you will always actually need. You can know your heart rate is in the proper zone when you can still carry on a conversation that is somewhat labored. Your pace is likely to not be the same as that of another, but this does not matter. What matters is your pace is right for you and you only. You want your pace to be one to where your body is actually burning off fat, and to do that, it requires oxygen from an elevated heart rate. If this is difficult at first, then simply build up your pace slowly. If you are new to exercise, it is always best to build slowly into it anyhow as otherwise you stand a good risk of burning out before your body has derived any of the benefit of physical fitness.

Get yourself outside and make your exercise enjoyable. The scenery and fresh air is going to be leaps and bounds superior to the atmosphere inside of a gym. Walk around your neighborhood, or even better yet, visit a park with established walking trails. Most parks will have trails that range from being easy to navigate, handicapped accessible, and medium or difficult challenge levels. Asphalt or concrete paths are excellent for folks new to walking for exercise, mulch covered trails can be even better for a lower impact experience. Pictured above are a couple of trails I like to hike on when I want to really put in between 10 to 15 miles. These trails never get muddy as they have a prepared surface and one of them gives you a choice between walking up and down steep hills, or remaining on a fairly level terrain for your walk or hike. The beauty of many park trails is they are usually free to access. It cost you nothing but time to enjoy one while you are burning fat and increasing your cardiovascular fitness. An added benefit is you will be surprised the friends you can meet on the trails. Almost everyone I have ever met while out hiking has been quite friendly. For those who are intimidated by the types in gyms who might make fun of you for being out of shape, it is not likely you will ever encounter this problem while out on the trails. Most hikers are usually a friendly bunch of folks who are supportive of others getting out and enjoying the great outdoors too. I strike up conversations with people on the trails all the time, no matter their level of fitness. I cost nothing to share a kind word with others who are working at getting fit.

Once you are comfortable with brisk walking or hiking a good pace, you should consider buying a set of trekking poles. Trekking poles can range in price from under $20 a pair to a significant amount more for a set where you can replace the tips as they wear out. With the more inexpensive sets, you can replace the entire set for about the same cost as replacement tips for expensive pole sets. I personally use an inexpensive set that has served me quite well despite being their low cost. The budget pair I hike with now have well over 100 miles of hiking use in all types of terrain and are still in great condition.

The benefits of using trekking poles are many. They will increase your calorie burn by 20% when used correctly. Trekking poles reduce the impact on your knee joints and leg muscles as your arm and shoulder muscles will now help to support them. With your hands positioned above your heart when the poles are adjusted correctly, your blood circulation will be improved and your heart rate reduced. The rhythm created by hiking with poles leads to relaxed, more regular breathing and increased stamina.

Using trekking poles while hiking can reduce the pressure, or strain on the opposite leg by 20%. Furthermore, while hiking on level ground, poles reduce the body weight carried by the legs approximately 11 pounds or 5 kg for every step. Once you begin ascending an incline the reduction increases to 17.6 pounds, or 8 kg. This equates to a great reduction in weight carried over a two hour hike.

You will find that when the weather is hot, your hands will feel better, they will not be prone to any kind of swelling as they can become if you just let them hang while walking. Blood will not pool in your hands when you keep you arms moving.

Finally, you will find poles to be helpful if you have balance issues. Trekking poles make hiking safer as they give you support when crossing creeks, soft wet ground and when traversing any type of rough terrain. Once you get used to hiking with trekking poles, you will find them to be an indespensible tool to help get you through incredible hikes.

Once you get adept to long distance hiking, if you find yourself wanting to be challenged, find trails that are not prepared surfaces. In many parks you can find marked trails that are not prepared which can be a challenge with steep hills to ascend or descend, creeks to cross, and maybe rocks to climb. I love this type of hiking as when you go deep into the woods you will see sights others might miss entirely. Some of the best views, places to take pictures will be found while taking the more adventurous routes. Some of the most scenic sights I have found were on overlooks that were difficult to get to. When you get deep into the woods, you will encounter more wildlife and birds. You will find more tranquility from either a peaceful silence or from any of many species of birds chirping away. I feel like a young boy in heaven when I venture down trails that are not traveled by many people. On one of my last hikes, I got so close to some deer that I almost could have reached out and touched them. It was an incredible experience as they did not hear me, nor did they smell me right away because of the direction of the wind. I have to say that as a lifelong motorcyclist, I find hiking deep in the woods to be as exhilirating as finding a good curvy road on my bike. The experience is heaven on earth that is as good for the soul as it is for the body. If you are prone to suffering depression, going on a good hike might not be a cure for your condition, but it does provide a reset to a more positive mood. Getting your blood flowing while out in nature will make you feel better, its a gift you should reward yourself with as often as you possibly are able to.

There is beauty all around us to enjoy if you only open your eyes and search it out.

Hike, Make It A Wonderful Day!


Your Choice

You have the ability to create the world that you live in by taking control of your time. So often we allow others to dictate how we will live out our days by doing what is “expected” of us whether we want to do that or not. There was a lot of stuff that some people might have expected me to do today. I hiked. Life is good.



I work a lot, full-time, and get two days off together every other week. There is always the pressure to “catch up” on the domestic work that I never finish when I’m going to my job day after day. Guess what? I still don’t catch up on it and my off days don’t do me a whole lot of good when that’s what I try to do. There is an old saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” It doesn’t do much for Jill either.


What Do YOU Think?

We have choices that we don’t even realize. What did you really want to do today? Did you do it? Life is shorter than you know. Do what you want to do. I spent many years of my life doing what I thought that I “should” do. I was the most miserable person on Earth. Why do we put so much stock in the opinions of people who can’t make or break us?


Easy or Hard? Just Do It.

In times past when I heard someone talk like this I thought, “You don’t understand my life. I HAVE to do these things. I HAVE to live like this.” I was so wrong. I am not a “special snowflake”, (Thank you, David.”) My life is not what a lot of people would call an easy life. I work hard and I have difficulties just like you. In the last year I have survived quite a list of difficulties, all of which are known to cause deadly stress levels. My response is to work out harder, and to play. For me, although hiking is sometimes quite strenuous, it’s play. It’s not as strenuous as my lifting and being outside underneath the trees, breathing the fresh air and beholding the beauty of nature is Nirvana. It is a true escape from grown-up reality. The outside exercise will boost my GABA and the aerobic exercise will increase my serotonin. The appreciation of nature will increase my acetylcholine and the exercise in general will boost my dopamine. Exercise will reset my brain to a “pre-problem” state. I will approach my work week with a calm that could not have been achieved by cleaning and doing laundry all weekend or running all over the place trying to do what someone else thought that I should do on any given day.

Tips for Safer Hiking

I have hiked many miles in the Smoky Mountains. I live in the foothills of the Appalachians and a lot of the hiking here is similar. There are a few things that I have learned that might be helpful to you. I would love to encourage you to get out there, with your doctor’s permission.

1-Wear synthetics made for hiking. There is a saying, “Cotton kills.” If you get wet in a downpour, cotton will cling to your skin and possibly cause hypothermia. I came pretty close to dying before I learned this truth. Don’t wear jeans to hike. If you are going to be hiking in a place where it will take some time to get back to your car, your body temperature could be dangerously low before you can get dry and warm. You can get house brand synthetic hiking clothes at a reduced cost that could save your life.

2-Carry a snake bite kit. Those rascals are faster than a speeding bullet and although you don’t think it can happen, believe me, it can. It happened to me.

3-Wear sunscreen. Duh.

4-Wear insect repellent that includes protection from ticks.

5-Wear good hiking boots that come above your ankle. Low cuts set you up for a sprained ankle.

6-Wear a broad brimmed hat with a strap around the neck so that you can have it on in the sun and off in the shade.

7- Wear sunglasses and be ready to take them off when they impair your visibility.

8-Wear functional clothing. This is not the time to be a fashion plate.

9-Have cell phones and external batteries for your phone. In some areas you need a two way radio instead because cell phone coverage can disappear in some places. It’s fairly common to lose coverage on a trail. Get a headset. You don’t have an extra hand to hold your phone.

10-Use trekking poles. They increase your calorie burn, turn your hike into a full body workout and provide incredible stability on hikes. USE TWO! One is NOT adequate. You can buy cheap ones and replace them when the tips wear out or you can buy expensive ones and change the tips. You decide.

11-Carry plenty of water. The camel back water bladder is a convenient way to hydrate. If you don’t do that, carry a back-pack with extra water, more than you think that you’ll need.

12-If you are hiking in bear country, do not carry food onto the trail unless it is bagged several times. They will smell it and follow you. If you are going out for a day hike, fuel well before you go. If you are packing out for the night, you need to learn about how to pack your food so that bears won’t be attracted to it.

13-Be very careful about where you carry your dog. Although I carry mine some locally, I will never carry her into bear country. Dogs look like food to a bear and that can ruin your whole day. Your dog will draw bears to the trail.

14-Enjoy hiking but don’t take it lightly. Read up. Buy trail books about the area you will be hiking.

15-ALWAYS get out of the woods, or set up camp, well before dark. When the sun starts setting, it gets dark quickly in the woods.

16-Make sure to carry rain protection. Even if you are wearing synthetics that shed water well, you don’t want to get soaked.

17-Do not hike on a day that there is even a chance of lightning. Been there. Done that. Just don’t. It was an absolute horror running down a 10 inch trail on the very edge of the mountain dodging lightning bolts.

With proper preparation and respect for nature, hiking is a joy that is immeasurable. Be safe. Have fun and for Heaven’s sake, don’t litter. If you carry it in, carry it out. Get Out There!

Trekking Poles

Walking, A New Sport?!?

Want to give your walks a little extra oomph? I suggest that you give trekking poles a try. They boost calorie burn by at least 20% and change a lower body workout into a full body, muscle toning adventure. I used these poles for years hiking the Smoky Mountains. I hiked about 50 miles, twice a year there for many years. I only went to hike. I didn’t do the candy shop hike downtown Gatlinburg either. I hiked most of the trails in the mountains with few exceptions. My son was with me so I avoided Chimney Tops because of a steep rock scale required close to the end to actually get on top of the Chimneys. There have been falls and deaths occur there but other than that, I don’t remember a single one that I avoided. I can take you to all of the waterfalls and wildflowers and wonderful vistas in the mountains. My trusty poles were right there with me and saved my life at least once. I was too enthralled with getting a picture of Mountain Laurel that was too close to the edge of a cliff and putting a pole behind me at just the right moment most likely saved my life.


These poles are excellent for day to day track walking. With trekking poles we use upper body muscles that we don’t normally use for walking, like biceps, latissimus dorsi, pectorals and triceps. [1] This is a win/win situation. We’re going to be out there, burning our time anyway so why not get the most bang for our buck?

Reduce Falls

Other than increasing calorie burn and working the upper body, these poles also provide stability and balance. I can’t tell you how many times they have kept me from hitting the ground on a slippery surface. If you begin to slide, just dig in with your pole on a soft surface. On a paved surface, the “walking stick” feel is enough to provide great stability and balance. You are like a spider. moving across the ground with two more appendages. It’s awesome. You can push yourself along. You can have three points of contact on the ground at all times. There is less stress on your joints. All of this while burning more calories and working your upper body. You can also use the poles to poke around any suspicious brush on a trail if you are concerned about snakes. I’ve been bitten by a Rattler. I’m concerned about snakes. I won’t be seen in the woods without my poles.

Rethink Walking

If you have considered walking a bit wimpy because it’s not full body, think again. There’s really nothing that is much better for the human spirit or body than walking outside. Get some poles, if this sounds intriguing, and hit it! There’s a learning curve until you feel at ease with them but just keep trekking. In almost no time at all, that awkward, goofy feeling will fade away and you’ll be covering ground in style.

Burn, Baby, Burn those calories…and get ripped doing it. See you in the deep woods. ;-*


Benefits of Walking

So you have made the big descision to finally lose a little weight and do not know how to go about beginning a new exercise program. The good news is that if you are able to, then walking is about the best thing you can begin with if your body is not in all that great of physical condition. It does not cost you anything other than time, unless you invest in a decent pair of shoes. Even then, you do not have to break the bank with shoes as you can get a pair at your local Walmart that will last at least long enough to see if you are going to stick with an exercise regimen. And not only can you get away with a cheap pair of shoes, you also do not require any fancy gym clothes. Just dress comfortable and ensure you carry a bottle of water large enough to keep you hydrated while out.

This basic exercise is actually one of the best and most restorative exercises you can do for your body. It is low impact and easy to build up to a brisk pace over a short period of time. As you also lengthen the distance of your walks, you might decide to stroll through your neighborhood, down a tree lined path in a park, or at some point, cross country on a good hiking trail. Walking combined with a healthy diet will lead you to a life of higher quality than a sedentary life eating sugar laden treats while watching the latest re-run of Seinfeld or what ever is on the boob tube.

The Benefits

  • Maintaining a healthy weight. First and foremost, this is usually the biggest reason most people begin any exercise routine. Going for three to four brisk walks per week will help you to achieve your weight loss of weight management goals.
  • Prevent or manage health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. If you have any of these conditions, be sure your doctor clears you for exercise before beginning. Most doctors will be ecstatic to have a patient working towards getting healthier through exercise over medicines any day.
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles. These are both critical issues to stay on top of as we age. Strengthening our bones and muscles will give us a better quality of life in our senior years as our posture will remain erect rather than stooped over with osteoporosis.
  • Walking will improve your mood. Life’s problems will feel more manageable with a release of feel good endorphins. This will help you to be focused and mentally centerered. Walking is great therapy for depression.
  • Walking will improve your balance and coordination.

Set realistic goals for yourself. Do not plan to walk five to ten miles your first outing. Set several short term goals in order to meet long term objectives. Track your progress by keeping a journal. Remain motivated by keeping your walks fun. Walk with a friend. Enjoy the great outdoors and your new life of healthier living.

Enjoying the Great Outdoors

It was blooming hot as four hundred Hell’s today at 90 degrees and 1000% humidity, but I still laced up my sneakers and went out and enjoyed a great walk down at Weston Bend Park that runs along the bluffs of the Missouri River. What a beautiful day it was. The sun was shining bright, you could hear the birds chirping and there was a peaceful silence only broken by the occasional coal trains that run back and forth between Kansas City and the coal mines of Wyoming.

Getting out and walking at a brisk pace is as refreshing to the soul as it is to the body. Once my heart rate gets a little elevated to the fat burning zone, I settle into my groove both physically and spiritually. This is a time where no matter how stressed I may have been, I will become focused and re-centered on what is truly important to my life. There is just something about raising your heart rate while out enjoying nature that is soothing to my spirit. Absorbing all of Gods gifts to us, the beautiful green trees, the rocky bluffs, that muddy river the Mighty Mo, and clear blue skies.

Walking has many benefits and does not need to be difficult. For example, regular brisk walking can help you:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Improve your mood
  • Improve your balance and coordination

The faster, farther and more frequently you walk, the greater the benefits. If you want to vastly improve your health and wellness, besides eating whole healthy foods get your butt up and moving. Enjoy the great outdoors, simplify life by making your world small and getting your problems into a better perspective.