Hey guys! I am back from two back-to-back river trips and a short camping stint with friends that I can’t wait to tell you about! First up, we had another amazing Owyhee River trip, guiding a great group of Survive & Thrive participants down the river for the 8th year in a row with YD Adventures Idaho.
I wanted to recap the Survive & Thrive trip and share a bit about the Yampa in terms of how I approached my fitness on the trip, so if that’s your jam skip to the second half of the post. But in the meantime…
I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard, so consistently, for quite some time and we had many meaningful, refreshing conversations as a group and had a blast on the river, testing our limits with more technical paddling skills, hikes and practicing vulnerability in community.
We focused, as we’ve come to do with each Survive & Thrive Expedition in the last few years, on the idea of story, and once again I’m struck by how meaningful it can be to sit with un-rushed time and take in each others stories. As Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen says in her book, Kitchen Table Wisdom, “Facts lead us to knowledge, but stories lead to wisdom.” There is so much wisdom to glean for our own lives when we listen to what others have been through.
Soon the group begins to understand the rhythms of the day and we flow like water down the river together, waking up for coffee (!) and quiet time to reflect on a thought for the day, eat breakfast, pack up camp and hit the water. Some we paddle for a short while, other times all day, and sometimes we stop for a hike:
After eating lunch on the water and paddling some more, we end up at a new beach, make camp, and eat dinner, ending the night with a circle discussion about the theme and question we all looked at in the morning.
Sometimes there’s desert storms that bring some bonding and Type II Fun and other times we lay out on our boats in the sunshine, swimming and chatting and laughing all together, but either way we learn, grow, eat, paddle and live as one group in a tight community for 8 days, and I’m so grateful for these moments to stop and savor life, learn from others and have a good adventure.
Over the years as we’ve done these trips, I’ve struggled to balance my own fitness pursuits with the combination of sitting all day (and paddling, of course, but not for too many miles a day and at low water levels) and eating high calorie foods that don’t always support my goals (we warmly refer to the Owyhee Trip as “carbs on carbs” with hash browns in tortillas with cheese, pasta with cheese, and trail mix and fruit snacks galore). A big part of how I’ve learned to honor my body and goals while still being present where I am with the people I’m with came with some maturity; learning that my ultimate goal in life is to love God and love people, not to just keep my body healthy. I’ve practiced letting things go like worrying about how much protein I’m getting or not being able to run or move my legs much while on the river. There was a time I would wake up at the put-in before we got on the river and run 10 miles along the highway while people slept; I can’t believe I ever did that! There’s nothing wrong with running before a trip, but my intentions behind it were based out of fear, scarcity (“I won’t be able to do my usual workout routine!”) and some level of insecurity. So here are a few tips, inspired by SportChek as one of their summer ambassadors, that may be handy for you if you’re traveling or on vacation to help you #SweatBetter half way through the summer:
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Move When You Can:
Take advantage of optional hikes or walks during the day or even after dinner instead of just plunking down in your chair if you’re camping. If you’re on a river trip, it takes some guesswork out of your fitness goals because you are paddling all day (especially on the Yampa River with long river miles and lots of upstream winds to fight against during the day!), but you’re still sitting all day. Don’t underestimate the value of walking even when you can’t workout – often you burn more calories with this kind of movement rather than an intense 30 minute workout, so don’t worry about it, just move as you can.
Stand Rather Than Sit:
There’s a lot of sitting on many camping trips, and especially if you’re in a boat or on a long road trip! Instead of siting all day and then sitting again at camp around a fire or at your destination, choose to stand. Even the act of getting up at the gas station while someone else pumps gas and moving around will help those stiff hip flexors out! Stretch out those hip flexors and get your legs moving!
(awkwardly standing with my brother-in-laws 😉 )
Stay Flexible & Be Ready At Any Time:
On our last day, we paddled 12 miles in the morning and then packed up the gear (which is in itself a lot of movement and work!) and parted ways – well, after we celebrated with Mexican food together. 😉
We drove 7 hours, dropping the boats and gear we rented off part way through in Glenwood Springs with Blue Sky, and then headed to Denver to stay with our friend Julie (who was also on the trip). The next morning we planned to go to Red Rocks to look around before our flight, and from knowing several fitness bloggers in Denver and understanding the active community, I KNEW that if I wasn’t dressed for a workout I would likely miss a chance to workout at an incredible spot and regret it. So Instead of my only set of clean clothes, I got dressed in my river clothes and was so glad I did, for a workout with Julie (and Mikey for part of the time!) awaited me:
Being ready to move whenever you can is great. It doesn’t have to be a full workout like you’d do in a gym, but being flexible and able to move whenever, wherever, and however you can is valuable! Learn to let go of what movement has to look like in your life and you’ll find there are rocks to jump up on, places to do push ups on, areas to run around in that you might otherwise look past. So stay flexible and be ready to move if you can!
I loved having my Garmin VivoFit I received in partnership with SportChek on the river, because it surprised me how many steps I still took while paddling on the river. Those short walks down canyons and moments breaking down and setting up camp add up!
(You can see the Garmin on my wrist above.)
Good gear makes a difference! And it actually made me feel more relaxed about how much movement I was really getting in – sometimes we move more and burn more calories while moving in general ways throughout active days as opposed to going for a run over a specific distance or completing a workout in the gym. Gear can help you see some of the data about these things and makes it fun to observe, too.
I also like to bring equipment when I can, like on our car camping portion of the trip, because it makes for some fun variety in a different context. For example, I brought along my TRX and some weights in the car and Mikey and I got 2 great workouts in together at the lake!
For the above workout, we did:
4 Rounds of a 10/8/6/8/10 rep scheme of:
- Goblet squats
- Hand-release push ups
- Pull ups
- 1 leg deadlifts (per side)
- Reverse Burpees with hop
Take Advantage of Your Time:
There’s a lot you can do in a short amount of time. If you wake up early, take advantage of that and move before your kids are awake. If you’re waiting on a road trip because of an accident or traffic, get out of the car, don’t mind the crazy looks, and do some mountain climbers and jump squats! You’ll feel so refreshed when you get back in the car and carry on.
Just before our road trip to join our friends camping post-river trips, I put 20 minutes on the clock and did a short workout using one set of dumbbells in our backyard. You can do this workout without any weight as well – just turn it into body weight movements!
- 10 reps: Plank Rows, 4 Mountain Climbers, Clean & Press
- 10 reps: Swinging Push Up + Row
- 10 reps: Deficit Sumo Squats
Check out the video below to see the workout in action for more clarification:
At the lake after my first workout with Mikey, I decided to take advantage of a quiet morning the next day and hung my TRX for an all-TRX, total body workout:
I loved this one! 10 rounds seemed easy at first, then like so many, and then it became doable again. Feel free to break this up into 5 rounds (which is about a 15 minute workout – so easy to fit in!) or change up the movements half way for your second set of 5 rounds.
And there you have it! A few trip recaps and some of the amazing scenes captured from the beautiful Owyhee and Yampa Rivers, along with some tips about movement while traveling (more on the Yampa River to come, but those pictures show a ton of the beauty and fun in the meantime). I hope it’s helpful for you, and I’d love to hear any tips you have or habits you’ve established that might be different on the road versus when you’re in your routine.
Catch you later this week. Live well & be well, friends!