Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What's Up Wednesday: Here's me, what's up with you?


Ok... I've decided I need to run a weekly feature.. and I'll call it What's Up Wednesdays..   Why?  Well, recently it seems to me that I've gotten so wrapped up in gear reviews that I've kind of lost sight of why I originally started this blog.  Originally I started it as a personal journal to capture what I was going through as I worked to change my lifestyle with respect to eating and exercise. 

Don't get me wrong... I LOVE reviewing gear and products and sharing my thoughts here.  And I enjoy it even more when I get an opportunity to give gear away as well.  So, that won't be changing (I am backlogged on reviews of great gear!), but I will ensure I do this update once a week.  Really, it's for me to reflect on where I am, and where I need to be, but if my sharing helps you get motivated, or to think more about lifestyle changes, then its a win-win!


Currently, in addition to avoiding processed foods and eating organic, I have also eliminated all grains over the last two weeks, and will continue for a few more. This is in an effort to see if it can help with the chronic inflammation I've been experiencing in my Achilles.  So, I've been eating much more of a Paleo type of diet.  However, I have noticed that I have increased more dairy intake, which I was trying to limit before... need to be better about that.   Also, I managed to gain 7 lbs over 2 weeks of decadent vacation and limited running... ugh.

The good news is, the inflammation is getting better... enough to where I can run on a fairly regular basis, so that is great.  Any of you have any experience in limiting inflammation via diet? Would love to hear your story.

One of my few runs while on vacation

As I noted, I'm finally getting back to a regular running schedule, and that feels great.  I think that should help with the extra baggage I picked up over vacation.  I have also put a few races on my calendar, and that always helps with the motivation!  I'll be running the 24th annual Mayor's Cup here in our little town of Woodland Park.  I decided to run the 5K..  it is just a fun race around town.  Then on Labor Day, I've signed up for the American Discovery Trail 1/2 Marathon.  I've never run this one, but have some friends that have.  Should be fun, and I'm shooting for a PR in this 2nd half marathon for me.   Any big races out there for you?

I haven't got nearly as many barefoot miles as I had leading up to the Bolder Boulder 10K in May, but I still try to squeeze a few in here and there.  At this point, I don't know that I'll ever make that transition to a mostly barefoot runner, but it sure feels good when I can log a mile or two... otherwise, its huarache's or minimalist trail shoes for me!

Oh... and awesome news.. I found out earlier this month that I was selected as an Ambassador for INKnBURN!  This is the second time I applied, and I was so surprised I got selected.  I am really looking forward to spreading the word about their awesome gear with amazing designs!


Life is good :-)  A vacation road trip to So Cal to see family was well timed and very enjoyable for all of us.  Summer is still at a bit of a hectic pace with general craziness all around, but I can't complain.  I really have been enjoying running and blogging and all of the amazing people I have met worldwide via the world of social media.  Hope life is good for you as well!

Anyway.. that's what's up with me!  What's up with you?

Hope your summer is going well!

Happy Trails!


Monday, July 29, 2013

Who needs a tent? Minimalist camping with a Grand Trunk hammock!

So, if you didn't hear, last Monday the 22nd was "National Hammock Day".  I was asked by Grand Trunk to help them promote the day, and also to give their double hammock a try.  We have one of those wide canvas hammocks that we use in the back yard to relax in during the summer with the kids, but I'd never tried a true camping style hammock.

First off, their double hammock comes in a bag that is 9" X 5.25" and weighs only 20 oz.  So.. based on that, how big or strong could the hammock be? How about 10.5 ft long, 6.5 ft wide, with a capacity of 400 lbs!!

The double hammock is strong parachute nylon, and includes strong nylon rope, and nautical grade carabiners.   When you open the bag, there are only 3 parts to it... the complete hammock with carabiner clips on each end, and two nylon rope that are looped and pre-knotted.

The really cool thing is that the carry sack is attached to the hammock so you don't lose it.  AND, it works as a great little storage bag for your odds and ends while sleeping in it.  I thought this was really great.

Here is what it looked like the first time I strung it up between trees in our yard.  Inside the hammock in this pic are two little boys who had a great time trying it out..

As I had noted, the cords that wrap around the tree had a few knots in them, but I found that I could easily move them, or put additional knots in to adjust the tension.  Even with years of Boy Scout activities with my oldest son, I am still knot tying challenged, so it was a relief to see such a simple knot that could hold all that weight!

So, how does it sleep?  Well, the first night I tried it was on Monday, National Hammock Day, and under a beautiful full moon.  I wasn't sure what I would need to stay warm, so I just had two fleece sleeping bag liners that I thought would be adequate.  As opposed to sleeping in a sleeping back on top of a Therma-Rest, I found that my backside got pretty cold!  I think it was in the low 50's out that night, so I thought it would be fine, but eventually around 2 am I decided to go in (didn't feel like rooting around for a sleeping bag).  This was a bonus of testing this in the yard!

Ok.. so maybe it wasn't as cold as this, but anyway.  So Friday, the boys and I camped out all night, and this time I grabbed a good sleeping bag and stayed plenty warm..  What I love about the double hammock is that you can overlap the sides and basically close out the cooler air etc.  It becomes like a mini-tent inside, and the storage bag helps keep it closed down when you flip it over the side.

And, once I got the tension of the hammock right, and got situated, it was really comfortable!  Granted, it took some getting used to, being wrapped up, however I found that in the double hammock I could still sleep on my side if I chose to etc...   And, it was really easy to poke my head out and see what wildlife may have been lurking around in the wee hours of the morning.  The best part? The gentle rocking of the hammock after moving around was very soothing... loved it!

The bottom line is, I would much rather take this with me on a camp out or backpacking trip, versus a tent, and a sleeping pad.  Less to carry, super fast to set up, and really comfortable. The only thing extra I would bring would be a small tarp or rain shield to string over the top if the weather called for any precipitation.

Anyways, Grand Trunk makes a terrific hammock, and I would guess that all of their other products are equally great.  Check out their website for all their great products at

Happy Trails!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Grand Trunk Hammock for free from Grand Trunk as coordinated by Deep Creek PR an Outdoor Industry Public Relations Company in consideration for review publication.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Are you stuck?? Surprisingly Unstuck Book Review and Giveaway!

There are a lot of books out there about what to eat, how to eat, what exercises to do etc... Sometimes it is a bit overwhelming..   but Surprisingly Unstuck is a refreshing book that is really focused on how our brains work, and why it can be so tough to make lifestyle changes.

Maria is the founder of, an ACE certified personal trainer. And if that wasn't enough, she is also a Stanford Engineering graduate, and an MBA.  But what I like is her website description of a "healthy habits engineer"!

I just finished Maria's book, and reviews are always difficult for me as I have a tendency to ramble, and I don't want to relay everything from the book!   I can summarize it however. For me, what I took away from this book was some new information on how my brain works, and why in the past it was so difficult to make healthy changes that would last more than a few weeks.  And most importantly, the book relays how we often have a common attitude of  "I must be lazy or not working hard enough"..  or "I have no willpower and should be able to make myself change"..   All of those things that focus around the fact that changing your lifestyle, fitness, and diet has to be hard work.  Maria relays great tips, strategies, and information around switching things around so that making these changes is easy, appealing, and will last.  Some of these ideas were new to me (and I hope to incorporate them in my journey), and others I learned on my own over the years it took to get where I am today.

Now, just like anything else, this book (just like miracle pills), is not going to just make it happen.. you have to be ready and willing to make a change.  But, I think most of us always are, we just struggle with how to do it effectively. The changing point for me was finally understanding that it takes a lot of small changes, and that it has to be viewed as a permanent lifestyle change (for the better), and not a short term fix to get to a goal.  Maria's book does a great job of supporting that mind set and providing tools to get there.

But don't just take my word for it, check out the video below from Maria and that explains more about her philosophy:

So... are you interested in learning more?  The book is currently available for Kindle on Amazon by clicking here.   Also, Maria expects to have a bound version available in the next few months.  However, if you just want to get more of an idea of what the book and Fitness Reloaded is all about, you can get the first 5 chapters of the book as part of the "Healthy Habits Course", which is free by subscribing to the newsletter (which is great).  Just go to and enter your email!

Also available is Exercise Bliss,  a 10-week comprehensive course that helps people make exercise a daily ritual. It directly applies the teachings of Surprisingly...Unstuck. You can sign-up for that program here:

And of course, you know me well enough that I also have one electronic copy available to giveaway!  Don't have a Kindle? No worries! You can download a free App to your PC to read it.... you can get that by clicking here. 

To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below.  The contest will run through 10PM MST, Thursday July 25th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks, good luck... have a great weekend and happy trails!


Monday, July 15, 2013

National Hammock Day is coming! Are you ready?!

Yes.... that's right... National Hammock Day!  Who doesn't love a hammock?  We have a nice wide back-yard version that is great to chillax in on a beautiful Colorado afternoon...

To celebrate, Grand Trunk is hosting a great contest to win some of their great hammock products, and I am really excited to get to try out their portable Parachute Nylon Double Hammock which should arrive this week!!

Also, I just wanted to apologize for not having any new posts in a while.  We took a two week road trip to California, and I actually remained unplugged for a good portion... I had intended to work on a lot of reviews and posts etc, but opted to relax instead and it was great!  

Hope you all are enjoying your summer.. and make sure to enjoy National Hammock Day on July 22nd!  And stay tuned for some great gear, fuel, and book reviews (with give aways of course!)

Happy Trails,