Should you work out in the heat?

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 6.11.18 AMThe weather news out of the southwest over the past few days has been positively historic.

On Sunday, Phoenix topped out at 118 F, the fifth highest temperature ever recorded in the city. Blythe, California, set an all-time record high of 124 F on Monday. And these are only a couple of the record-shattering highs that have been popping up all over the region. In Southern California, The National Weather Service reported 17 daily heat records on Sunday alone.

So what do you do when you’re a dedicated runner/cyclist/hiker/outdoor enthusiast, and it’s hot enough to bend railroad tracks? Or melt the tarmac enough to cause a plane to sink? And I’m not exaggerating: Both of these actually happened during previous heat waves.

Heat is nothing to mess around with. According to federal data, it actually causes more deaths annually in the United States — about 130 — than flooding, lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes or cold. In fact, Phoenix fire officials blamed the severe heat for the deaths of four hikers over the weekend,

I don’t mind summer, but these temperatures are crazy. Once it reaches the 80’s, I’ve pretty much had it. And with yesterday the first official day of the season, there’s no doubt we’ll be seeing a lot more really high temps in the next few months.

So what should you do when it’s really, really hot? Should you go outside and work out?  Or should you skip it entirely and feel like a complete slug?

You could sit around and dream about ski season. That’s one alternative, though it won’t do you much good. Or you could work out indoors, where it’s air conditioned, which is probably a lot better. But if you simply have to get outside, make sure to take the  proper precautions:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. And I mean plenty. Dehydration can contribute to fatigue and poor performance. Even worse, it can cause heat stroke. So be sure to drink 2 cups of water 2 hours before you start your exercise routine, and keep it coming — about 8 ounces every 15 minutes.
  • Wear appropriate clothing, preferably light in color and moisture wicking. Cotton stays wet, making clothes cold and uncomfortable, so it’s not the best choice. There are a lot of high tech fabrics that are much better and will keep you feeling better.
  • Exercise during a cooler part of the day. It’s best to go out first thing in the morning, or late in the day, when the sun isn’t directly overhead.
  • If you stop sweating, stop exercising. Or if you feel nauseous or dizzy or especially hot. This is extremely important. You could be suffering from heat stroke, which can require emergency treatment.
  • Swim. This is a great way to exercise and stay cool at the same time. Kind of a no-brainer, don’t you think?

Also, it’d be a good idea to learn to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Here’s a handy-dandy graphic put out by the National Weather Service that can help:

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Keep cool, everyone.  Remember, the earth is turning and winter is coming. Then we’ll complain about the cold. 😉



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Giving Dad His Due.

A few weeks ago I posted a Mother’s Day tribute to all the ski moms out there. Which is only fitting, since TheSkiDiva is geared toward women skiers.

But since Father’s Day is today, I thought it was only appropriate to give the Dads their due.

My Dad, in particular.

See, my Dad is the one who introduced me to skiing way back when I was 13. This was pretty amazing, since no one in my family had ever skied or even expressed any interest in skiing (it was an Olympic year, which might explain the sudden attraction). Maybe it’s because I grew up on the Jersey Shore, which is flat, flat, flat, and where the closest thing to skiing is surfing. Which isn’t really close at all.

But for my 13th birthday, my Dad took us all to a small resort in the Catskills, where there was a small hill served by a rope tow.

It was dreadful.

Rope tows are evil torture devices invented primarily, I think, to encourage people to get off the beginner slope as quickly as possible. If you don’t keep your feet in the exact track of the skier ahead of you, you’re going to go down, baby. Even worse, if you’re like me and fall without letting go of the rope, you end up getting dragged a good distance before it occurs to you to drop the rope, idiot, and roll away so no one skis into you and there’s a nasty pile-up with you on the bottom, crying.

Suffice it to say I fell in both directions: up and down. I hated it. The only thing that kept me going was sibling rivalry. My sister was better than me, and damn it, I couldn’t allow that to continue. I learned the basics, and by the end of the weekend had (sort of) perfected a wobbly snowplow that got me down an incline not much steeper than a parking lot.

And yet I stuck it out.

Even after that weekend, I continued to ski with my Dad. We’d head to north Jersey (Great Gorge, Vernon Valley, Snow Bowl), New York State (Bellayre), even into Vermont (Mount Snow, Killington, Haystack, Hogback). And ever so gradually, my skiing improved until I was better than my sister — who, by the way, eventually gave up skiing and moved to Florida, where she complains it’s freezing if the thermometer dips below 60. Wimp.

My clearest memory of skiing with my Dad is the way he used to sing when we went up on the lift — corny songs at TOP VOLUME so that everyone, I thought, alllllllllllllll over the mountain could hear, laugh, and point. When you’re a teenager, this is devastatingly embarrassing.

My Dad doesn’t ski anymore. Like my sister, he lives in Florida, and while he’s in excellent health (knock on wood), he’s 93 and his knees aren’t what they used to be. This doesn’t stop him from swimming half a mile three or four times a week, and then playing 18 holes of golf. The man is an absolute machine.

Still, what I wouldn’t give to ride up the lift with him and have him sing to me — even at TOP VOLUME — one more time.

So thanks Dad, for everything. You’re the best.

My Dad at Mount Snow, 1971



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Jen Hudak on the Sexualizing of Women Athletes, Sarah Burke, and More.

I don’t ordinarily repost anyone else’s interviews on my blog. But this one, from Snowsbest.com, aka Miss Snow It All, is so terrific that I got permission to post it here.

Why do I love it? Well, first, Jen Hudak is an amazing skier. At 29, she’s won nearly every skiing competition out there — X-Games, US Open, World Ski Invitational, Dew Tour, US Nationals. So she’s definitely a well-respected, world-class athlete.

But that’s not all. Because besides being a champion skier, Jen also exhibits a tremendous amount of wisdom. For starters, she doesn’t buy into the whole sexualizing-women-to-make-them-marketable crap that much of the ski industry and media helps perpetuate. Yes, this is something I’ve talked about many times before: how women athletes should be acknowledged for their achievements, not for how they look in a bikini. Sure, it’s legal, they’re adults, and they can do whatever they like to pick up a few extra bucks before their moment in the sun expires. But I think it’s sad and a poor commentary on our society. These are women who’ve worked hard to become amazing world-class athletes. Posing half-naked only diminishes their accomplishments and turns them into sexual objects. Truly, they deserve better than this.

This is something that’s been on my mind for a long time; I first did a post about it in 2006, a second in 2007, and a third in 2014. This makes #4 because clearly, things haven’t changed. But right now, let’s listen to what Jen Hudak has to say, because she’s well worth listening to.

 

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When Lightning Strikes.

Photo from Wikipedia

Photo from Wikipedia

Did you know that over the past 30 years, lightning strikes have killed an average of 48 people annually in the US? Okay, in the grand scheme of things, not a huge number (in comparison, there were 38,300 traffic fatalities last year), but if you’ve ever been outdoors during a thunder storm, you know how frightening it can be. Who can forget the incident on Grand Teton in 1985, immortalized in the book Shattered Air: Two hikers were killed and three suffered life altering injuries after being struck by lightning during a climb. More recently, 62 people were killed in powerful storms that ripped across Bangladesh. So yes, even though 90% of lightning strikes are not fatal, they’re not to be taken lightly (no pun intended).

Here are some interesting things you might not know about lightning:
• There are an average of 25,000 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes per year in the US.
• Lightning can reach a temperature of 50,000°F.
• An average of 1,800 thunderstorms are taking place on earth at any given moment.
• Earth is struck by an average of more than a hundred lightning bolts every second.
• The average flash of lightning could power a 100-watt light bulb for more than 3 months.
• When lightning strikes sand or rock, the extreme heat can fuse minerals beneath the surface into a tube called a fulgurite. Though relatively rare, these “lightning fossils” have been found worldwide.
lightninggod• In Indo-European cultures, the thunder god is frequently known as the chief or king of the gods, e.g. Indra in Hinduism, Zeus in Greek mythology, and Perun in ancient Slavic religion; or a close relation thereof, e.g. Thor, son of Odin, in Norse mythology.

Lightning can strike anywhere. And though it’s a lot more common in warmer months, lightning can occur in the colder months, too. When thunder and lightning take place during a snowstorm, it’s called thundersnow, and if you’re on a chairlift during one of these storms, you better get off as quickly as possible.

In testament to its rarity, take a look at Jim Cantorre’s excited reaction during a thundersnow storm in Chicago in  2011:

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There’s a lot of mythology and misinformation about what to do during a lightning storm. And as women who love the outdoors, it’s important for us to separate fact from fiction. So here’s some advice to take with you this summer:

Check the forecast
This seems like a no-brainer. But before you go hiking or boating or whatever, find out if any storms are expected. An understanding of general weather patterns is useful, too. In most cases, thunderstorms arrive in the afternoon, so plan your schedule accordingly.

Gimme shelter
If you’re caught in a storm, the best course is to seek shelter. But that isn’t always possible. Lightning goes for the tallest target, so the best course is to get as low as you can and not be close to anything especially tall. All trees attract lightning because they are tall and contain a lot of moisture, which provides good electrical conduction for the lightning. If you’re in a forest, find some small trees surrounded by taller trees or find a dry, low area like a depression or ravine. Stay away from lone trees and other tall objects as well as rocky outcrops and ledges. If you’re in an open area, find the lowest spot possible and assume the lighting position: Crouch down with your heels touching, head between the knees, and ears covered. Minimize your contact with the ground and do not lie down flat. In all cases, avoid bodies of water.

Ditch the metal
This may not even need to be said, but be sure you’re not in contact with anything metal. If you have a metal-frame backpack, make sure it’s at least 100 feet away from you.

It ain’t over til it’s over
Wait at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder to leave your shelter or to resume hiking or backpacking. Be aware of other thunderstorms that may arise after the initial storm.

What are the deadliest wilderness sports, as far as lightning goes?
According to Backpacker.com, it goes as follows:
Fishing – 25%
Camping – 24%
Swimming -18%
Hiking – 7%

king-kong-plane-swatter-martin-daveyThe chances of your being struck by lightning are a minuscule 1 in 12,000. But beware: Scientists say climate change may increase the chances to about 1 in 8,000 by year 2100. And as for lightning never striking twice? Well, that’s a myth, too. Places like the Empire State Building get struck a hundred times a year. So take precautions, stay safe, and unlike King Kong here, don’t climb the Empire State Building during a thunder storm.

 



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Memorial Day, Ski Style.

10th Mountain Division, WWII, Camp Hale, CO

10th Mountain Division,
WWII, Camp Hale, CO

Most people celebrate Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer. Swimming, boating, picnics, you get the picture. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But let’s not lose sight of the holiday’s original intent: to commemorate those who lost their lives fighting for our country. Those like the men of the Tenth Mountain Division, who served in combat for only four months during World War II, yet who suffered the highest casualty rate of any US division in the Mediterranean.

Started as an experiment to train soldiers to fight in the most difficult, mountainous terrain in Europe, the Tenth trained at Camp Hale, Colorado, 17 miles north of Leadville. The camp, which lay at 9,300 feet, had four trails and the longest T-Bar in the country. Troops were taught to ski, snowshoe, and climb with packs and rifles as well as survive in the most brutal winter conditions. They lived in the mountains for weeks at a time, working in altitudes up to 13,500 feet, in five to six feet of snow and in temperatures that dropped to 20 degrees below zero at night.

All this well before the advent of today’s technical fabrics.

After training for two years, the Tenth participated in a series of actions that played a vital role in the liberation of northern Italy. The Division breached the supposedly impregnable Gothic Line in the Apennines and secured the Po River Valley. By the time the Germans surrendered in May 1945, 992 ski troopers had lost their lives and 4,000 were wounded.

After the war, veterans of the Tenth became the backbone of the postwar American ski boom. Monty Atwater, for example, went to Alta, Utah, where he established the first explosive avalanche control system. Friedl Pfeifer designed Aspen Mountain, started Aspen’s ski school, and ran the first racing circuit. And Pete Seibert became a member of the 1948 Olympic team and founded Vail.

The sacrifices and contributions of the men of the Tenth can not be denied. So this Memorial Day week, while you’re swimming and picnicing and welcoming in the summer season, take a minute to salute the Tenth, along with the many other veterans of our Armed Forces. Remember, they fought for you.

* This post originaly appeared in May, 2010. But some things are worth re-running. :)



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On Snow Reports: Keeping it Honest at Mad River Glen

How many times have you heard a glowing snow report, only to hustle over to the mountain and find yourself the victim of, well, some generous exaggeration?

What? Ski areas lie? It’s not a shock to anyone that they want to put the best face on things so you’ll buy a lift ticket. But for those of us who have real lives — jobs to take off from, child care to arrange, travel to endure — it can be a costly annoyance.

So imagine how refreshing it was in December — the beginning of one of the east’s worst ski seasons on record — to see this video snow report from Mad River Glen:

Single chair at Mad River Glen. Photo By Jeb Wallace-Brodeur

Single chair at Mad River Glen. Photo By Jeb Wallace-Brodeur

If you don’t know Mad River Glen, you may know its very famous tag line: Ski It If You Can. Mad River is known as an old school Vermont resort without the glitz and glamour you’ll find at other eastern resorts like Killington, Stratton, or Stowe. There are no condos or on-mountain amenities. Just skiing. In fact, Mad River is unique in two ways: It has one of the two operating single chairlifts left in the US (the other is at Mt. Eyak, Alaska), and it’s one of three ski resorts in North America that don’t allow snowboarding (the others are Alta and Deer Valley). What’s more, it’s a fully owned co-op, which means instead of being owned by a large, faceless corporation, it’s owned entirely by shareholders — people like you and me who invest capital toward the ski area’s expenses. Mad River Glen isn’t huge — only 115 acres — but the skiing’s great and it’s got a vibe that’s definitely chill.

So about this snow report: Sure, the news was bad. I mean, look at it! But the telling was so honest, so humorous, so unique in its delivery, that it ended up all over the internet. Which is how I came upon it myself.

I wanted to know more about the backstory here, so I spoke to Eric Friedman, Mad River Glen’s marketing director, for some insight.

SD: So just how was it at Mad River this year?
EF: To put it mildly, it wasn’t our best year. We had a total of about 120 inches of snow, which is about half our average. We budget for being open about 110 days a year, based on 50 years’ worth of data. This year we were open a total of 45 days. And of those, the main mountain was open for just 35; for 10 it was just the practice slope. As you can imagine, our financial numbers were down in corresponding amounts.

SD: Isn’t there any snowmaking?
EF: Mad River has a grand total of four guns, and really, we can’t use more than three at a time. We make snow on less than ten percent of our terrain – all of the low elevation, high traffic areas; basically, just the run-outs. Everything else comes from the heavens. People don’t come here for our snowmaking, but it’s important to us, even though it’s limited.

SD: Your snow reports made quite a splash, particularly the one in December. Can you tell me about it?
EF: Sure. The whole idea behind all of our snow reports is immediacy — I want to show people what it’s like here right now. So about this particular report: It was a Saturday, and I wasn’t planning to come to work at all. I was bringing my girlfriend’s daughter to the mountain for junior instructor training. I pulled into the parking lot, and decided to walk over to my office to get something. And that’s when I saw it: this little patch of snow with 40 people doing laps. It was our ski school in training. It was so funny that I decided to do a snow report right then. The majority of people who saw the video thought it was staged, but really, it wasn’t. I did the whole thing in one take, completely off the top of my head. I honestly didn’t think that much of it, but when I posted it, it went nuts.

SD: It was funny and sad and entertaining, but mostly, it was refreshing in its honesty. I think that’s why it connected with so many people.
EF: Well, one of the things about Mad River is that it’s a different kind of a place. It all starts with the fact that we’re owned by the skiers. So we have a little different take on things.

SD: Did you get any blowback from your boss?
EF: Actually, no. We have a good relationship and he trusts me to do my job. I’m also one of the few marketing directors that do the snow report themselves. Most ski areas have a staff of snow reporters, but at Mad River, I’m it. And I never lie; if it’s raining, I say it’s raining.  I’ve been here twenty years, and very early on I took the attitude that I was going to have the most honest snow report in the business. I took a longer view of the relationship with our skiers than many other places do. I’m not going to give a snow report to try to sell you a lift ticket today. I’m trying to develop a relationship of trust with our customers and shareholders. I never exaggerate our snowfall totals, so very often it looks like we have less snow than any other area in the state. I’m not under pressure to inflate it like some areas are. Actually, the biggest criticism I get from our shareholders is that I undersell too much and that it’s better than I said in the report. But really, you’re not doing anyone any favors by lying.

SD: Have you been surprised by all the attention you’ve been getting?
EF: Absolutely. I couldn’t believe it. As a marketing professional, it reinforced how interconnected social media is and how they feed off one another. The amount of PR we got from that video was incredible.

SD: By doing that report, you set a pretty high bar for yourself. You did some others, too. I know you did one after the mountain closed for the season that was pretty funny, too. Was that off the cuff, as well?
EF: Yes. It was totally unscripted. Folks just want to know what’s going on up on their mountain,  so whenever anything interesting — or not so interesting — happens here I try to show it. I do mountain reports all summer long.

SD: Let’s take a look at that one, too.

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There’s a little bit of black humor there, but truly, I can appreciate the honesty behind it. I wish more ski areas would follow Mad River’s lead.

Mad River glenMad River ended its ski season on March 14, more than a month earlier than 2015, with a poignant letter to its shareholders. In it, Mad River Glen’s president, Jamey Wimble, told members that its seasonal staff had been laid off earlier this season and full-time workers would be taking unpaid furloughs in the offseason. “The mountain finds itself in the most challenging financial situation it has seen since the founding of the Co-op in 1995,” the memo stated. “Other regional ski areas are experiencing similar or even worse financial challenges.” The marquee outside the resort reflected its surrender to the dismal weather.

There’s a lot to be said for the honesty exhibited by Mad River Glen. Given the great response they’ve received, other resorts would do well to take a page out of their book.

Here’s hoping for a better season next year for Mad River Glen and all the eastern ski resorts.

 

 



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10+ Tips for Taking Care of Your Skiwear.

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We Ski Divas love our ski clothes. In fact, TheSkiDiva forum has an entire thread on jackets we’ve loved and bought (over 100 pages long!), and one on ski pants, too. But ski clothing is meant to be played in, and that means it can get pretty dirty. Stains, dirt, sweat — they all find their way into the fabric and definitely need to be removed.

I know: a blog post about laundry? But really, this is important. No one wants to smell your body odor. Not even you.

Luckily, one of our forum members is Penny Schwyn, a technical clothing expert. The owner of Specialty Outdoors  in Spokane, Washington, Penny has been working with outdoor apparel since the 1980’s, and is factory authorized to repair items from The North Face™, Helly Hansen™  and TREW Gear™.  She gave us some tips for taking care of your ski clothes:

• I run into people all the time who think washing will damage their outerwear. Honestly, you get more damage with a build-up of grime, body oil, sweat, dirt, and all the other stuff that accumulates through use. Ever seen a 15 year old parka that’s never been washed? Ewwwww. No matter what, the DWR (Durable Water Repellency) is going to wear off over time; it depends more on environmental factors than laundering. In fact, not washing regularly will cause something called “masking”, which causes it not to perform properly.

• Wetting out (surface fabric soaking through in rain) is a sure sign that your DWR needs to be reapplied. Putting jackets in the dryer at a moderate temp will help reactivate the DWR, though it does need to be reapplied every so often, no matter what the brand or how much you paid. You can also reactive the DWR by touching up the garment with an iron.

• Washing your shell is a multi-step process. You have to clean it first and then retreat the surface with a DWR application. Start by checking the manufacturer’s tag for any special instructions. To get your garment really clean, pretreat any grimy areas, wash it with a regular liquid detergent, and then rinse it THREE times before using G-wash or Tech-Wash. G-Wash and Tech Wash are vehicles for getting the DWR to adhere to your item, more than an actual cleaning product. This is why it’s suggested to wash it in regular detergent first, rinse extremely well, then use the G-Wash, followed up with DWR application according to the directions.

• Do not use fabric softener on wicking or technical fabrics. It coats the fibers and reduces their action.

• A too-hot dryer can cause all sorts of problems from delamination of the face membrane or seam tape, to actually melting zippers.

Woolite is too harsh for sweaters and similar items; it has added chemicals to make them feel “conditioned.” Baby shampoo does the same thing and is a lot cheaper.

• According to Gore-Tex, you can use Shout and other products on grease and grime. I’ve also used a mild Simple Green solution, but your results may vary. If you’ve got a white coat with grease on it, don’t expect perfection. The best way to prevent nasty grime at the collar and cuffs is with regular launderings. We do our coats twice a season, and I re-treat them in the spring before I put them away.

• For garments insulated with down, declumping as you dry is critical. People send me things to repair that have damp clumps in them. I know it’s tedious, but it’s very important. Dry your down items on an extremely low or air setting, adding tennis balls to break up clumps. You may also need to do some manual declumping.

• Dry cleaning is not recommended for outdoor gear, but if you must dry clean, ask for a clear rinse.

• People complain their Gore-Tex items leak in the rain. This probably isn’t the case. More likely, condensation is building up on the inside. Gore-Tex and similar fabrics are designed to work in cold, drier conditions; not wet humid ones. Those billions of microscopic pores can only move so much vapor. If it’s really wet out, or if you’re perspiring heavily, you are overtaxing the ability of the fabric to function and you will be wet. Gore-Tex and similar garments do have a finite lifetime. The lifetime warranty you get from a manufacturer is product lifetime, not your lifetime. With good care, you should get many years of use out of your investment.

Thanks for the great advice, Penny!

And now, for the million dollar question: how do you remove chair grease from your jacket or pants? I got the following procedure from the kind folks at Okemo Mountain Resort (thanks, Okemo!), and have used it with considerable success.

1. Spray each stain with WD-40 and let set for half an hour or more.
2. Put a small amount of Joy dish soap on each stain and scrub it in with a toothbrush.
3. As the stain begins to release, blot off with paper towels.
4. Continue until the stains are no longer visible.
5. If the stains are still visible, do steps 1 – 4 again.
6. Wash off the affected areas with cold water in the sink.
7. Wash the item according to its instructions.
8. If the stain is still visible, do not put it in the dryer. Instead, begin the process again.
9. When the stain is out, apply a DWR treatment and head for the slopes.

 



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It’s your week to get healthy, Divas!

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Let me be the first to wish you a very happy National Women’s Health Week!

What? You’ve never heard of it?

I’m shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

Well, maybe not. Don’t let my feigned indignation fool you. I mean, it’s not like it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas, or even President’s Day. I’m not surprised I caught you unaware.

But maybe that’s a mistake. After all, we should all know — and celebrate — a week that’s devoted especially to women’s health. As women, we have a tendency to put everyone else first. We take care of our kids, our spouses, our pets, our parents, our homes, often neglecting our own needs in the process. And that’s the problem. If we’re not healthy and happy, we can’t do anything particularly well (and this includes skiing).  It’s all a matter of balance. By putting ourselves first, we actually give ourselves the ability and strength to take care of others better and do the things we want to do. It’s not being selfish. It’s being smart.

Which brings us to National Women’s Health Week.  The week was developed by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health to promote women’s health and its importance, and to  empower women to make their own health a priority. It also encourages women to take the following steps to improve their physical and mental health and lower their risks of certain diseases:

  • Visit a health care professional to receive regular checkups and preventive screenings. There’s a terrific interactive screening menu on the National Women’s Health Week website. You can use it to figure out which screenings you need and when you them.  For someone like me, who can find all this very confusing, it’s defintely worth checking out.
  • Get active. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 20 percent of adults in the U.S. are meeting both the aerobic and muscle strengthening components of the federal government’s physical activity recommendations. So how much exercise is enough? I did a blog post about this once. You can check it out here.
  • Eat healthy. This is a key component not just in keeping  your weight under control, but in preventing disease, keeping your energy up, and making you feel all around better. You know the drill: reduce your fat, sugar, and processed foods, eat more veggies, fruit, and whole grains.
  • Pay attention to mental health,  including getting enough sleep and managing stress.
  • Avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, not wearing a seatbelt or bicycle or ski helmet, and texting while driving. This includes skiing safely, too. Watch out for skiers around you. Look uphill before you start. Ski in control. And if you ski in the backcountry, take the necessary precautions and get avalanche training.

So do yourself a favor. Take some time this week to think about what you can do to improve your health and well being. And instead of setting it aside for later, take action now.

And have a good week.



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Here’s to the Ski Moms!

I don’t need to remind you that Mother’s Day is Sunday, do I? Of course I don’t; you’ve already ordered flowers and made your dinner reservation, right?

mothers-dayRemembering our moms is important. They give us life, bring us up, and then bravely, inevitably, let us go. But this Mother’s Day, let’s give a special shout-out to the Ski Moms. After all, it’s the Ski Moms who make sure everyone has the hats, goggles, ski pants, boots, etc. they need on the slopes. Who dress and undress the kids. Assemble the lunches. Haul the equipment. Harbor a secret stash of tissues/sun block/chap stick/energy bars for that unavoidable emergency. Accomodate multiple bathroom breaks and all the dressing and undressing that goes with them. Provide encouraging words after a fall. Drive to and from the mountain. Attend ski races. Wipe noses. Wipe tears. Administer first aid. Put on and remove boots/jackets/gloves/helmets. Make sure nothing gets left behind. Arrange ski lessons. Make sure the kids wear helmets.

For all you do, ski moms, for all your unwavering love, devotion, and support — we salute you!

And to my own mom, who doesn’t ski and never did, here’s to you, too. Thanks for supporting my skiing when I was a kid, and for continuing to support it — without ever asking ‘why’ — now that I’m an adult.

Here I am with my mom, and hey! I'm not in ski clothes!

Here I am with my mom, and hey! I’m not in ski clothes!

Happy Mother’s Day! (And if you hurry, there’s still time to get her a gift.)



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Putting ’em to Bed, or Getting Your Skis Ready for the Off Season.

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Good night, my pets.

I hate the end of ski season. You know how some people get depressed when winter rolls around? I think it’s called “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” I have that in reverse. Sure, I love the sun. And I actually enjoy warm weather. But I mourn the loss of ski days, and the end of winter leaves me feeling a bit blue.

This year, it’s a little different. I’m actually not that sorry to see it go (gasp!). Sure, I’ve had some great times. I spent two weeks out west, which was pretty fantastic; even now, some areas are still going strong. But here in the east, we’ve had one of the worst seasons in years. Yeah, there were some fine days. But I’m hoping ’16/’17 is better.

Nonetheless, ski equipment ain’t cheap, so it’s important to take care of it so it’s in good shape when the season rolls around again. Which (cheer up, everyone) it inevitably will.

So here’s what you need to do to before you put your skis to bed:

1) Clean off the bases and top sheets. This is particularly important if you’ve been skiing in dirty spring conditions. You can do this by spraying them with a garden hose outdoors. Once they’re thoroughly doused, rub them dry with a clean cloth and let them air dry.

2) Coat the bases with wax to protect them from air and moisture. Moisture can lead to rust, and exposure to air can dry out the bases. If you’re going to do this yourself, use at least twice as much wax as you do when you normally wax your skis. Don’t scrape at all. The idea is to leave it there all summer.

3) Put a protectant on the edges to keep them from rusting. A dab of oil, vaseline, or even WD-40 on a rag (don’t spray it on) can do the trick.

4) Some people say you should turn down the DIN on your bindings to ease the tension on the springs. Others say it doesn’t matter. I’ve never turned mine down and haven’t had a problem yet. So it’s up to you. If you do adjust them, however, don’t forget to set them back before heading out next season.

5) Secure your skis with a strap base to base and store them in a cool, dry environment, away from sunlight. This means keeping them off a concrete floor, which can hold moisture and cause the edges to rust.

6) Don’t forget your boots. Clean the outsides, then remove the liners and make sure they’re completely dry. Remember, plastic has a memory, so buckle your boots loosely so they retain their shape.

7) Go through the pockets of your ski jackets. Not just to make sure you remove that half eaten PB&J, but you might find some forgotten treasure. Last year I hit the jackpot: $104., split between five jackets. Woo hoo! I’m rich!

Of course, if you want to give your skis a hug or a kiss, or even tell them a bed time story, well, that’s up to you. I understand the impulse, though.

Whatever you decide, just remember: Take care of your equipment and it’ll take care of you.



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