Meet: Asheville, NC

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If I had to pick a city to spend a weekend in after a few days of living in the wilderness with nothing but a lighter and some stream water to sustain life, Asheville NC would most definitely be in my top 5 choices.

When you talk about this place at least one person in the room mentions how they plan to move there someday. It is a place that actually lives up to the cool vibes it portrays. You drive into the downtown area where to your right is the herbal acupuncture shop and to your left is the cold pressed juice bar-hippies, townies & wannabes are clearly welcome here.

We definitely fell into the wannabes category, walking stiff and wobbly from the beating our bodies took on the Appalachian trail a few days before; the definition of an Asheville tourist.

What do all great tourists do to make a good impression? Find the nearest bar that’s what! Only in Asheville you have to find all 6 of them.

A walking brewery tour seemed like the best answer to celebrate the weekend and avoid the legs morphing into cement mode from the days of hiking. Your choices as far as walking paths are endless, and conveniently enough all of the destinations are located within 2 miles of each other.

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The 6 must sees:

  • Asheville Brewery co.- Please try the Fire Escape-think spicy jalapeno beer party in your mouth
  • Burial Brewing-(Pictured at the top) every man’s fantasy of owning a garage-esque brew palace humming with indie moody music
  • French Broad Chocolate Factory-literally choke on the taste of the chocolate in the air
  • Greenman Brewing (pictured above)-where non-beer drinking girls start to love drinking beer aka the Triton
  • Hi Wire Brewing-laid back circus style vibe (in the less nightmare-ish way)
  • Twin Leaf Brewery-they provide the community with beer yoga…what more could you want?

After a little less than two days here it was apparent that another trip was necessary. I mean clearly there’s more to see the only pictures I have are of…um…beverages. There is so much to do in every single season from hiking to herbal acupuncture, making it a perfect road trip weekend destination for a couple of stir crazy Ohioans.

Perhaps one of the most therapeutic effects of experiencing a hippie town brewery tour is that talking yourself into more semi insane section hikes becomes 10x easier when everyone you are surrounded by lives and breathes outdoor adventures.

-RV

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Meet: The Appalachian Trail

This post is coming at ya with a little Appalachian Trail action. To clarify, these 600 words only cover about 40 miles of the 2,168.1 total.

If only this post was happening because work magically said it was okay to take 6 months off and go do some thru hike soul-searching. After doing the math I would have to work at my job for about 60 years before coming anywhere close to that kind of PTO.

While what we saw doesn’t come close to the amazing adventure of the entire length, the small section between Erwin TN, and Asheville NC is nothing short of the true wilderness experience that you imagine out on the AT.

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The plan was to hike out and back from the Erwin TN on point. I had high hopes for my “last meal” aka the last consumed substances that weren’t prepackaged and heated in freezing temperatures. My dreams of egg whites and spinach frittatas were quickly crushed when we realized the only gourmet breakfast options in Erwin consisted of a McGriddle and dollar coffee; at least there was a bathroom! I felt like we were putting a little too much trust in good old McDs’ to power through two full days of covering ground, but it would have to do. If I am being honest my exercise addicted self was definitely most excited to spend my 9 to 5 trekking up and down the winding mountain hills.

AT Sign EditedThis arctic looking scene was an on and off occurrence as the sun was constantly hidden and exposed by the thick impenetrable clouds. For a stretch the trail would be a crunchy icicle and then a spring time scene with soggy leaves all padding the ground.

AT Spring Edited

Trail editedThere were a lot of things that made me nervous about this little adventure. Factors such as the fact that it was the dead of winter, sleeping exposed on a wood platform in the middle of no where, water and lack thereof, back woods bathroom situations, etc. While we were busy worrying about those things, we also were busy under estimating the physical challenge of hiking these altitudes.

After looking back at the trail guide we found out one of the peaks mid-way out on our route was only the second tallest on the entire trail. It was one of those hills you knew had to be winning that contest. The kind that makes a relatively in shape person  question any physical fitness they thought they had going into it.

On the steepest climbs towards the end of the days we started doing that dazed and confused thing, where you straighten up limp armed and wonder if this is the end. Okay, maybe not the end but you definitely consider if getting air lifted home is an option.

It really explained the ability of true hikers and the level of endurance it takes to manage that degree of activity on a scale 100 times larger than our dinky day hikes.

AT Bald Head EditedAbove is the Bald Head summit at about 5,600 ft. elevation, our second tallest climb of the trip. At this point you would be feeling pretty cold, like hands turning purple cold, but you would also start considering how amazingly gorgeous this world is. It was hard to believe that we were “only in Tennessee” seeing the kind of mountains you see in Outside Magazine.

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Despite the fact that our legs were a special kind of sore, this taste of the trail was enough to catch the itch to do more. We survived the elements, filtered the water, and scared away night-time scavengers. Something about following that narrow path, where every section is something being seen for the first time, makes you want to do it everywhere you go. You feel like you are seeing sites worth seeing. There isn’t a price of admission, lines, parking meters, or herds of people. It was the perfect chance to get out there and do something new, as well as insanely challenging. While I never would have pictured myself atop a mountain ringing in the new year in the pitch black of the wilderness zipped up mummy style nose frozen in a sleeping bag, it was one of the absolute most romantic best ways to celebrate the beginning of 2015.

…And next time an Asheville debrief…

-RV

Been Gone for a While

staged artifacts

Hi! So clearly long time no post over here at HL. That’s because I have been working on a new project. My very own Etsy shop! It’s a little sparse and probably will be until we get more items together, but still it has been the perfect change of pace with this new non college life. Making things as opposed to writing around them I mean. But the best part is the shop has its very own blog. Read if you want on the thoughts and efforts behind store products and see if the little store grows into something worth reading about.

I’m looking at it as something creative to balance out the sterile cubicle life that is my 22 year old world.

More to come
-RV

Life Beyond the Squat

I am totally at a crossroads here. I love squats. I love them so much that I find myself looking for any excuse to substitute a squat into whatever I’m doing. Jumping jacks? Perfect opportunity for a baby pulse squat in between. Sprints? Definitely tacking on 10 speed squats at every turn around. Brushing my teeth? Prime time for some quick pre bedtime squats. Driving?…ha just kidding!

But you know what I don’t like? The world acting like squats are the end all be all for women in their workouts.

Basically it’s all just getting a little excessive and I am pretty sure I’m not the only one wrapped up in the quest for the perfect backside curve, or perfect squat form. This was evident by the line of 10 girls eagerly squatting into the mirror at the gym yesterday willing the perfect booty to magically show. When did squats go from being a staple total body move to a cultish world of big booty gals breaking laws of physics through hugely toned behinds while thousands of instagramers double tap in awe?

squatting

It all reminds me of those hilarious/utterly disturbing pictures of guys skipping leg days and obviously working every muscle group besides legs 364 days a year. Makes ya do a double take in the worst way. Your workout routine is all about balance yet all I hear as a female on social media and in the gym is that squatting will solve all of my problems. It’s like the kale and avocado craze consuming health buffs around the world. Squatting has always been there yet now people think they should be doing it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Suddenly you are a fitness super star if 95% of your workout is spent squatting.

On the other hand it is an inarguable FACT that squatting is one of the most, if not THE most, functional body weight exercises around. Working over 200 muscles in the body there is no doubt this move is something everyone needs to practice. They burn tons of calories per rep, allow you to survive beach season, and most importantly cultivate a killer foundation of strength for active movements.

Luckily for anyone feeling consumed by squat madness there are numerous alternatives. Been squatting life away for the past year? Change it up try an upper body routine. Make squatting just a portion instead of the entire workout.

Check out my original post here from some awesome alternatives from Share it FItness

It Rained Today

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Today it rained. A lot. And like most Cincinnati days of torrential down pour, weather men and women everywhere were 100% sure it was going to be nothing but sunshine. This pop up weather really put people off. As in it absolutely ruined everyone’s week as I watched them trounce in dripping while at work.Want to know how I know it ruined their week? Because of the near tantrums that I witnessed as they demanded an umbrella. You could see it in their eyes, dripping wet, arms out starfish style whirling around disoriented like they hadn’t had food or water in 30 days.

That “OMG I must be dry this instant or I am going to lose it” look.

They stomp-sloshed (when a wet person angrily moves in your direction) into the office ready to tackle the next person they saw for an umbrella…

Wet person: Tell me you sell umbrellas here?! Don’t you know it’s pouring out there?!
Me: *Rain continues pounding roof as it has the past 2 hours* So sorry no umbrellas
Wet person: What am I supposed to do!!!? I am soaked!!
Me:…

Every single melt down I participated in I kept thinking, 1: these grown adults need to suck it up and 2: oh my gosh I am the soaking wet umbrella-less grouch too. Type A people just can’t resist a moment to control…just my opinion…coming from the girl brought two umbrellas today…just in case. It is such a blessing and a curse, and in the case of the distraught wet person, mostly a curse.

No I don’t think I would ever throw a tantrum at someone else because I got rained on, but I totally freak about similar moments on a daily basis. Those moments when even the most excessive effort to control everything wind up being out of your control. Things that you couldn’t have prevented no matter how hard you tried. Computer crashes. Recession. Money. Traffic. Car crashes. Layoffs. Other people. Sickness. Breakdowns. You name it.

So many of these little moments are 110% out our control and you have two choices. Cry about being soaking wet from a pop up shower, or do your darndest to find an umbrella, change into dry clothes, or whatever it takes to make your situation better. No one wants to pat the person who forgot their umbrella on the back.

These things happen, and you control the outcome not the event.

It rained a lot today and you are going to be okay.

 

 

Meet: Kitty Hawk OBX

The theory on spontaneous traveling is alive and well! As far as I remember this is the first time ever we have just picked a place without any rhyme or reason, or reservation for that matter. While it was testing the limits of my anxiety a thrill to have the entire trip be one huge possibility, it also required excessive use of phone data and an extra hour or two of car time. The original destination was Wilmington NC and the TONS of gorgeous beaches along the coast in the area. I think I compensated the lack of planning with excessive packing. Like 40 extra t-shirts would make the unknown less unknown.

Hours into the trip it occurred that no one had bothered to check the weather…we were clearly very committed to flying blind on this one. Sure enough it was about to be the rainiest week of the summer for the exact 5 days of our projected stay. Somehow the non-existent plan had found a way to fall apart and we were dead center of nowhere Virgina, and like the 21st century electronic lovers we are, the iPhone became our life line.

The next few minutes were spent analyzing weather patters in random cities up the coast until rain chances got below 50%. I would make 5 reservations only to cancel 5 minutes later due to the weather crisis and patchy load times for the weather app. Finally rain clouds turned to suns over Kitty Hawk NC. Wohoo…OBX it is! No plan plan back in action. If only the name Kitty Hawk had the origin you picture (flying kittens dive bombing beach goers with their cuteness). No one actually knows where the name came from, they think “possibly the Native Americans.” So there’s that, the comprehensive history of KH OBX.

And this is where we stayed….

mansion

Just kidding we actually stayed at this palace.

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My criteria for staying @ hotels/motels=no bed bugs. The Buccaneer Motel=(surprisingly enough) no bed bugs. It had the potential to be amazing or utterly traumatic with no wiggle room. The verdict….amazing for the most part. I mean the character of the place just makes my heart melt! To sum up our stay in two words…affordably cozy. And I am not one to argue with private beach access, even if it means a vintage pirate themed motel and toothless neighbors.
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This sums up what the days consisted of…being horizontal, baking in the sun, beer, our high maintenance cooler baby. You “have to handle it with kid gloves” said the overly serious beer vendor at the Brew Thru and “it’ll be a real nice cooler for y’all.” Which means we guarded it with our lives.

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 My hand is on the camera… and I’m 90% sure his is on the cooler.

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One morning we caught a little rain shower which was okay because we both had scalding sun burns on our river valley skin and neither would admit we needed a break from the sun. With the understanding that you don’t stay at the Buccaneer Motel longer than necessary during daylight hours, the decision came down to go try these raved about donuts or workout. We picked Duck Donuts.  Apparently in OBX when the sun disappears everyone else goes to Duck Donuts too, and orders 72 donuts for them and their family to consume. Why any family or group of 20 people needs that many donuts is beyond me, but I can’t be a snob because we definitely waiting half hour for these beauties who were made right before our eyes.

Below…6 donuts that cost close to a month’s worth of groceries.

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me don
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When I initially talked to the Buccaneer Motel about our impromptu stay the woman at the desk made sure to tell me “if you’re looking for a sunset Kitty Hawk is the worst.” Besides the fact that the motel owner just hated on her own beach, the sunset (top) and sunrise (bottom) were both so cool to see in the ways that sunrises and sunsets normally are. She failed to mention that if you absolutely need to see the sun set over water on your beach vacations you merely need to drive 5 minutes across the strip of land to the sound side to view that coveted sight. It was a nice change to watch it set over the beach front houses, making the weathered hurricane proof looking homes solid against the sky, not to mention that photogenic speck of a seagull. It was definitely the best worst sunset I’ve ever seen.
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-RV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hair Health Month

I hear about them all the time, national cookie month, watermelon awareness week, and my recent favorite national tequila day. Normally I don’t plan in advance enough to celebrate and end up both repulsed and impressed by how committed others are to these spontaneous days of celebration. At any given point during any given month people have created a reason to do something ‘of the moment’ and I am sick of missing out!

Since I can’t seem to figure out where all of these awesome awareness months and days are laid out I have had to resort to making up my own special-ness. So this month is hair health month.

Why hair health? Because I got straight up hacked at the salon last week.

Not because I use some awesome hair product to take sweet pictures of.

The theme of the month is usually dictated by last months misfortune. For example…July…mail rent ON TIME month…June…remove excessive use of participles from the resume month.

Anyways…it is the age-old story. Same salon, but the regular stylist is booked. It was crunch time and I was starting to look like Cousin Itt which led me to a new stylist who had dreads. *Dreads are perfectly fine I just needed an identifier without using names* I am not a high maintenance hair gal seriously I promise! I go about once a year when people start telling me my ends look crunchy. Yep crunchy, like a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Until then, it gets to do what it wants with only a brushing when I can find my brush on occasion, so basically it would take a lot to mess this up.

I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty when Dreads asked if she could use a razor to “try something new”, and then brushed it like we were grating tree stumps for a log cabin. By then my scalp was numb so I like to think I didn’t just let it happen. Dreads was the nicest person you could ever hope to meet, so nice that I didn’t even notice the hacking going on right over my shoulder. We got along so well I thought we might be BFFs after learning we live in the same area. As she started to blow dry, Dreads brushed so hard she had me looking like a dog going 75 mph down the highway, this wasn’t something besties did to each other.

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After watching chunks of hair all square and oblong dust the floor, I knew it was only a matter of time before someone got a good look at the new cut.  I ran to the car to get a better look and sure enough..splintered, choppy, shredded, split, numb scalp… Dreads got me good.

First response was panick, second response was to cut it off and start over which brought back traumatic memories of third grade picture day; so instead I decided to make it my own little PSA and hair health month was born.

I don’t do complicated so here are a few of the essentials….

Biotin seems like the obvious first choice with restorative effects, b vitamins, and enzymes that interact with hair and nail production. I started doing a little research and later decided that a comprehensive multivitamin seemed like a better route. After popping the magic hair pills like Skittles I learned that I was definitely overdosing on Biotin, and probably doing more harm than good. If it sounds like a miracle pill DO YOUR RESEARCH, you will probably find that it’s not so miraculous after all.

Coconut Oil (bet ya didn’t see that coming): it is the end all be all miracle substance…for anything ever…but you already knew that.

Turmeric: reduces inflammation, naturally soothes pain, and is an overall super hero supplement. This was helpful to calm my angry scalp and so enjoyable to pronounce.

Hopefully your hair can have a happier month than mine is right now!

-RV

The Skinny Confidential’s Lauryn Evarts on Healthy Basics

If you haven’t heard of the Skinny Confidential until now…you’re welcome. Chances are though you already have because Skinny Conf. founder, health & fitness guru, and author Lauryn Evarts is quite literally taking over. Seriously if I ever need to see something sickeningly adorable she’s my girl. As if her gorgeous self wasn’t inspiration enough, she makes the idea of eating blended vegetables actually sound like fun on the daily. **I’m talkin inspiration down to the lemons in the teal bowl. See below.**

She is known to give a very real opinion on health and how to actually make it a lifestyle, as opposed to just posting glamour shots of fitness crazies covered in sweat. Lauryn’s brand, The Skinny Confidential, is such a fresh take on the drab info we keep hearing on the same old subjects and with the recent publishing of her first book, it’s safe to say this girl knows her stuff. None of that Dr. OZ mumbo-jumbo here. Read more for the essentials to making your health not only a priority, but a lifestyle. Because we all want success in health, love, and life. Thanks for your feedback Lauryn!

Lauryn Evarts

What’s your foundation whether in business, fitness, or general health?

My foundation is balance. Balance is what keeps me sane and motivated. I also utilize The Skinny Confidential as a place to connect with my readers, and hear what they want to know.

The most important quality you value in yourself from when it all started to today?

The most important quality I value in myself today is self-discipline. I feel like with discipline comes opportunity. Lauryn-Evarts-Zella-1

Worst thing someone can do for their health?

Smoke, not wear sun screen and/or eat chemical filled food….eww to all of these.

Your take on being sick/injured and working out?

I think you should tailor your workout to the ailment that you have. If you broke your arm, then do squats. If you injured your knee, use arm weights.

Your quickest easiest get fit advice ever?

Eat clean. Work out. And practice wellness. Wellness is eating your vitamins. Getting enough sleep. Taking care of yourself and fueling your body with the right nutrients. Be nice to yourself.

Your take on juice cleanses? How long should they be? How effective?

Juice cleanses should last in my opinion three days. Juice cleanses are very effective when done correctly, and ineffective if misused. If you’re interested in a juice cleanse email me at Lauryn@TheSkinnyConfidential.com.

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What are some of the most common inhibitors you see when people struggle to formulate a health/beauty/fitness plan?

I always see people bite off more than they can chew. I think it’s really important again to stay balanced. I also see people who don’t sleep enough. Sleep is so important.

Best advice ever received in terms of personal health or in general?

The best advice that I’ve received is to be the best version of yourself. I think it’s really important to try your hardest in every aspect in your life.

Where do you see health and fitness going in the next 10 years?

I think a lot of people will mix it up daily and that gyms will become less popular and being outdoors will be more popular.

How can I start doing one thing today that will give me positive long-term payoff in regards to my health?

Stay away from fat-free and diet free products. They’re filled with chemicals and are bad for your health.

What is your biggest challenge that you face while working in a field of health/wellness/lifestyle?

My biggest challenge is that people are misinformed. The food companies are not providing the real truth of whats in food. I feel like people are eating chemical filled foods and don’t realize it. My advice is to know what the hell you’re eating.

Best advice you can offer to someone struggling to stick with it, or to find meaning in their fitness routine?

Just do it. Wake up. Work out. Eat clean. Sooner or later it will become a habit like brushing your teeth. Check out my blog here. And check out The Skinny Confidential book here.

If your were an animal what would you be?

Definitely a chihuahua. They’re bad ass and I’d want to hang out with my dog Mini Delites with Lauryn Evarts

Meet: Traverse City MI

Summer in Northern MI is was one of those places where you easily convince yourself the brutal winters and endless snow would be a small sacrifice for springs and summers like this.

It is a place where grand ideas of yoga studios located in the hearts of vineyards aren’t so impossible,  because buzzed yoga would be the ultimate outer body experience. It is where cherry flavored anything is better, especially with a body of water framing the sun’s good morning and good night. Basically Tim Allen nails it every time, Traverse City MI really is a little slice of northern heaven.

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lighthouse

This little light house where who knows how many weddings are held each year (because look at that it!!) is extra special because it is on the 45th parallel. What’s so cool about the 45th parallel?  Just when you feel like you are as far North as you can get (aka ice water for miles) in the “True North” state, plot twist,  you are only half way to the north pole from the equator. I’ll stay here on this steamy 70 degree day thx.

 

dune hill

While this giant mound of sand picture has the photographic sophistication of a pre-schooler (No Nikon 3500 sharp shooter for this girl), it is actually really magical because that couple in view had just asked us to take their picture. It is one of my favorite tourist moments, taking pictures for other tourists. The mixed emotions towards this picture continue because it does not explain how steep this bad boy was.

 

dunes

The dunes wound through brush and beach grass filled with hilarious people on the verge of heart attacks, cursing the distance of the path to the lake. By this point my gym shoes were filled with about 2 pounds of scalding sand, the lengths necessary to avoid a blister. I know it really doesn’t get more extreme than sand filled sneakers.

 

swans

After a 2.5 hour hike through sand mountains we thought it was a great plan to bike 5 miles to the top of a damn, where we waited Huckelberry Fin style in the forest for someone, who we would “know when we saw”, to drop of kayaks so we could journey back by water into Traverse Bay.

This marathon kayak adventure took us from the top of the dam through 8 miles of two rivers and one hot dog shaped lake. I managed to get excessive amounts of water shots from this leg of the journey during excessive breaks due to my toothpick arms threatening to fall off while conquering the hot dog.

These swans (they mate for life you know!) were so exciting to see at eye level after the couple at the dunes , love is all over Michigan, except for that poor guy bringing up the rear.

 

lake kayak

 

lake kayak city

 

vineyard

The vineyards, wineries, and cellars were sprawling and everywhere had the “best blend around!”

wine barrels

From the trails to the coastal bay views it was the closest to a perfect day that I could possibly imagine. The temperature forced us to stay in the sun drawing everyone into the light, what a true north summer is all about.