Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

Resolving – how goes the fitness goals? What motivates you?

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How many of you set New Year’s Resolutions this year?   How many of you are still on track with those goals after 7 weeks?   I am curious!   I don’t tend to be a resolution setter myself, but I am interested in the psychology of goal setting.

Apparently by January 17, many people will have already fallen off their resolution wagon.  How about you?  Still going strong?   If so, I would love to hear from you, with some feedback as to WHY you think you have continued to achieve your goal.   How to avoid being a bad fitness stat can be found about to keep going with your (fitness) goals.

I am particularly interested in how achieving “smaller goals” makes you feel?   A good example of this is using a pedometer or other device to try and achieve the “10,000 steps” per day.  This goal is pretty arbitrary, but it seems to be a general benchmark for many people of average fitness.  If this amount seems too daunting, then setting a lower benchmark is a great place to start.   Obviously, you want goals to be tough, but within reach.  Or do you?   Different people are motivated by different things.   A good example is a friend I have on social media who seems to enjoy the “likes” they get by smashing the 10,000 step goal (say to 15-19,000 steps).   Other friends have told me that if they are regularly exceeding their target, then it is too easy and they increase their target, stating that the goal should be tough, attainable, but not something that they should be achieving ALL the time.   Which camp do you fit in?

For us, we seem to do best when striving towards an “end point”.   For Mark, that is usually a cycling event.  For me, that is usually an expedition to the big mountains.  There is an end point, and we can set intermediate goals to work towards that point.

Would love to hear what works for you!

 

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Written by Mar(k)

February 19, 2019 at 9:59 am

Just MOVE it – in 2019

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With the arrival of the New Year, the resolutions are being made, and perhaps…. quickly disappearing as reality sets in!   The gym is busier than usual, but I take heart in knowing that things will calm down by February, and we will be back to normal.  I don’t tend to use the NY as a time for resolving personally, but it certainly seems that many do.  Of course, health and fitness goals are surely at the top of the list for many people.

I know that “getting fit” is far harder than “staying fit”, although both require effort.  I recently read this article (“Exercise:  What’s the bare minimum I can do?”).   Gotta love that title.  However, the article itself was of some interest, as it talked about the time pressures so many people face, and the difficulties of adding in another “to do” in the day in the form of fitness.  It also briefly touched on HIIT programs, of which I am a big fan.  In fact, so much so that I won’t talk specifically about High Intensity Interval Training here, because I think it deserves its very own post.  So stay tuned.

It just seems to me that, regardless of your current level of fitness, you can (and should), just DO SOMETHING.   Something is better than nothing.  In fact, it doesn’t take much time at all to get at least some benefit by exercising in some form or another.  Obviously the gym isn’t for everyone.   I liked this read, which makes the point that rather than adding “exercise” to our everyday routine, we should rethink our day and add in more activity as part of everyday living.   Good idea.

If I have any goals for 2019, it may well be to post a bit more about fitness and health issues, as they are a strong interest for me, and I hope for our readers!   Happy New Year everyone.  May good health be yours this year.  If you need some further inspiration, I would really recommend this link and watch the You Tube video there – five minutes of feel good inspiration for a healthier year!!!

Written by Mar(k)

January 4, 2019 at 3:33 pm

Earth Day – an alternative to the plastic bag that lines your rubbish bin

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Happy Earth Day everyone!  Over the past number of years (a decade perhaps?) we have been steadily reducing our plastic consumption / use.  Happily, Western Australia will FINALLY be implementing a ban on single use plastic bags from 1 July 2018.

One of the discussions that seems to come up a LOT is “I NEED my plastic bags to line my rubbish bin!”   OMG!!! WHAT WILL I DO WITHOUT PLASTIC BAGS!???   (Seriously people.   Chill!).   It’s all good.  What I have been doing for the past year or so has been lining my bin with newspapers.  I still have those “produce plastic bags” (from the archive), so this pic shows it being used as a liner – which I then put the newspaper liner in.  (NB:  not anymore!  But it was there when the photo was taken).  

It is an easy, origami type thing that takes me about ten minutes a week, which I do with some of the weekend paper (the only day of the week we buy the newspaper).  You can look on You Tube for “bin liner replacement” or similar, and find a whole lot of videos on how to do this.  It is definitely not difficult, but I found I had to watch the video for the first few weeks.   But now it is like any habit;  ingrained in the grey cells!

But what about WET things, I hear your ask?  Ah yes… “wet things”.  Well, newspapers aren’t the greatest for these things of the non-dry world.  I keep a small container that I use for non-compostable items.  Then each week I wrap that small amount in newspaper before popping it in the bin.   It has never been a problem.

As with any change, (and people seems to hate change!) it just takes getting used to.   It is a normal part of my weekly routine, and I love the smaller impact we are having on landfill.   Every little bit helps, right?   Would love to hear about your successes in this!

Long Distance Thru Hiking – my top 3 gear picks

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One of the great long distance hiking trails in Australia is fortuitously located right here in Western Australia.  The wonderful Bibbulmun Track is a 1000 km long track that starts in Perth and finishes in Albany.   I have completed thru-hikes of this wonderful trail twice now.  End to end in around 50 days.  It’s a long way!

For both of these epic trips I carried everything I needed.   Food (generally restocking every 5 to 7 days), shelter (tent) and clothing.  It is a very liberating experience being completely self contained, and having everything you need on your back.

Can’t do without these three faves!

One of the things that these long distance walks teaches you is the kind of gear that works best for you.  I thought I would share my “Top 3” picks from this last 1000 km hike.

  1.  Thermarest – Neo Air:  Getting a good nights sleep on the trail is pretty important.  For me, the investment in a quality sleeping mattress is paramount.   The Neo-Air is lightweight and packs down to the size of a 1 litre water bottle.  This is my go to mattress for all my overnight hiking adventures.  I have had a number of Thermarest mattresses over the years, and I have always been impressed with how well made they are.
  2. Sea to Summit – Inflatable Pillow: Just as a great mattress makes for a good night’s sleep, so too does a pillow for me.  I am a notoriously light sleeper, and if I don’t have a comfy neck supported pillow, I don’t get a wink.  Love this pillow.  Not only does it come with me on all my overnight hikes, it is lightweight, packs down to the size of my fist, and also serves as a back cushion on long haul plane rides.
  3. Icebreaker soft shell:  Staying warm when I am at camp is one of the surest ways of making sure I stay a “happy camper” week after week.  I wear a lot of Icebreaker clothing;  I love the durability, warmth to weight ratio, the fact it doesn’t stink like synthetics, etc…  there is a lot I love about Icebreaker, but my “Merino Loft” soft shell really is the bee’s knees.  Packs down well, has great warmth, will withstand a rain shower, and has a hood which I love.

Obviously there is heaps more gear that I use that is absolutely necessary.  But these Top 3 picks are the ones that really stood out for me on this hike.  I’d love to hear what kind of gear you can’t do without when you are out on the trail!

Written by Mar(k)

April 10, 2018 at 10:38 pm

Five Tips for a Simple Thrift-mas

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How did the silly season arrive with such rapidity this year? Egads, I was in the CBD earlier this week, and ALREADY there were Christmas shoppers out there, running around like headless chooks! With that in mind, I thought I would try and do my bit for a simpler, greener, less stressful holiday season. In no particular order, here are five things that you can employ that will make your holidays more enjoyable, less stressful and easier on the pocketbook! (“Thrift-mas” – you’re welcome).

  1. Learn the Art of “No”.   You simply don’t have to do it all!  Yes, there will be invites to things – but think of the amount of times that you have said “Gosh, I’d really rather not go to XXXX (insert boring social event of your choice)”.   Well, don’t!   I know you can come up with a lot of excuses as to why you CAN’T say no…. but try and challenge yourself!   And by doing that, you can be honouring yourself.  Saying no can be done graciously.  Here are a few ways to say no politely:
    • Thanks so much for the invite!  Unfortunately I/we won’t be able to make it.  But have a drink for us!
    • I would really love to come to X, but I have already made plans for that morning / afternoon / evening (NB:  even if your plans mean curling up with a book and listening to music!)
    • I am feeling pretty overwhelmed at the moment with all the holiday planning, and I really need to take a step back from all these social engagements.  Have a great time and send me a photo!   (and thanks for thinking of me).
  2. Remember the motto “It is better to DO, than to HAVE”.   If you still have present obligations, remember that the gift of TIME is always an appreciated one!   You can prepare little “gift certificates” that provide your friends and family with quality time with you (big night in, complete with movie of choice and popcorn, anyone?), or assistance for people who may need it (“this voucher good for one hour gardening time”).   This can also be extended to providing gifts of experiences, rather than buying more “things”.   Examples are movie vouchers, dinner vouchers, or even sporting experiences that you can share together (trips to the local swimming pool, or an indoor skydive?).
  3. Wrap with the REUSE in mind.   I always save wrapping or tissue paper when I can.  If you ARE wrapping up a gift, try to use wrapping paper that has already had a good life.   So much waste is generated during the holiday period, it is good if we can minimise where we can.  And no-one is going to care if their gift is wrapped in paper that is on its second life.   Trust me.  And if YOU get given a gift that has beautiful wrapping paper surrounding it, keep it and reuse it yourself next time!  Ditto for the ribbons.
  4. Remember those less fortunate.  This is a tough time of year for a lot of people.  Instead of buying “things”, think about making a donation to a charity in a friend’s / family member’s name.   Or get the family involved in making a “reverse Advent calendar” (where you put a new item in every day up until Christmas, then gift that to a worthy charity.  One very worthy charity in Perth can be found here).
  5. Get all old school and give home made gifts.  Spending some time baking yummy treats and then packaging them up in festive (recycled) ways are always a hit.  Made with love, the old-fashioned home baked goodies are definitely appreciated.  This year I am doing gingerbread muffins, festive shortbread, and fruit drops.  (my first Xmas batch of protein rich bliss balls shown below are already out the door!)

Remember to take the time to relax during this festive period.  Happy holidays everyone!

Pictured: Home made bliss balls. Always a hit! Heck, they even kinda look like snowballs (and these are about as close to a snowball as we are going to get in Australia in the middle of summer!)

Written by Mar(k)

December 5, 2017 at 6:01 pm

Hiking tips for South Korea

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Some of the most enjoyable time we spent, during our month in South Korea was in some of the absolutely beautiful National Parks.  Not only were there some fantastic hiking trails, but invariably they were also a place to see some well preserved Korean temples.  Given that many of the mountains in South Korea are sacred, having a temple there dedicated to worshipping the mountain makes good sense.   It was a great way to get some cultural sightseeing done, while also enjoying Mother Nature’s wonderland.

South Korea surely must win the award for the most well maintained hiking trails in the world!   Wow.  We were sooo impressed!   But it kind of makes sense, when you see how wildly popular hiking is with the locals.  There are a LOT of people on the trails.

We weren’t the only ones on top of South Korea’s highest peak!

To help you out, here are a few tips which may assist in making the most of your hiking time in South Korea:

  • It is a bit difficulty to find details hiking info in English.  One place you can try is through the National Park site.
  • Whilst online information in English is a bit of a challenge, once you are at the trailheads, we (almost) always found signage in English.   So don’t worry!   (tip: take a photo with your phone of the map at the trailhead, as there is not often any other maps along the route, although there will be ample markers)
  • The trails are incredibly well maintained, and well signposted.  On steeper sections, the concept of switchbacks seems to be largely overlooked, but there are often steps put in.  Fantastic workout for the glutes and quads, that’s for sure!
  • Water is readily available on the trails (well, at least on all the trails we were on, and there were a few!).  Lots of the temples have water “fountains” which you can fill up at, as well.
  • Bring along some snacks to share.  South Koreans love to share some food at the top.  Sliced up apple, biscuits, chocolate or dried fruit are always a favourite.
  • Don’t be too put off by the level of difficulty of hikes.  We were originally quite intimidated by the hikers we saw coming down from trails, kitted out like they were ready for Everest!   Hiking poles, mountaineering boots, gaiters, quick dry from tip to tow, hats, the lot!   Then when we would actually get onto these incredibly well groomed trails, it was more than do-able.  But South Koreas take their hiking seriously, and need to look the part!
  • Per the above, we absolutely LOVED how colourful everyone is!  Because hiking is taken so seriously, even the casual day hiker has the full on gear.  We paled into insignificance with our drab greys, blacks and muted tones.  Bright yellow, pink, green and purple was definitely de rigueur, often worn all at once!
  • Some other blogs that have some good info on hikes can be found here and here.

Enjoy!

Written by Mar(k)

July 31, 2017 at 6:35 pm

Plastic Free July – some trials during Week 1 (and a win!)

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We decided to sign up for Plastic Free July. We already “do” a lot of the things to minimise our waste, particularly plastic. But it is always good to have something like this to keep it at the forefront of your mind and raise your general level of consciousness about plastic waste.

Interestingly, we had already “failed”, only hours into our July! Saturday morning dawned, and we had only just the previous week signed up for an eight week subscription to have our newspapers delivered on the weekend. Bad choice! Might have saved some money, but every Saturday and Sunday, we get the delivery of our papers wrapped in plastic! eek! Wasn’t really part of the plan. A good learning though, so we certainly won’t be renewing this (temporary) subscription.

On on! Later in the day, as we headed off to get some groceries, it was a no-brainer to bring our grocery bags, which are always in the car, along with our onya fruit and veg mesh bags. Had to remember to pack along our “keep cups” though, so that we could have our takeaway coffee and stay within our “plastic free” July and away from the evil disposable coffee cups!

Another challenge met us the following day, however, as I started to think about packing for an upcoming trip. I tend to use my “daily disposable” contact lenses when I travel, but alas! It is throw away plastic. Argh. Not sure about this one. Haven’t yet decided if I am going to bring along my usual monthly disposables, or just live with the (guilt?) of daily disposables while I am away.  A bit of a summary on the good, the bad and the ugly on disposable contact lenses, versus glasses, etc…  can be found here.

Porridge sachets – a no no that we hadn’t considered!

The other challenge on the Sunday morning was for Mark, as he was fuelling up his body for the 100 km or so cycle ride he was about to embark on. He just popped a porridge sachet into a bowl (something warming on these cold winter mornings!) but alas! More throw away plastic. Damn!  (Update:  I went onto the site for our porridge sachets, and I see that although they sell plain old rolled oats in a cardboard box, none of their (yummy) instant porridge with various delicious add-ins are available in “bulk”.   Bummer!)

voila! ready to use. Will happily keep on with this idea after Plastic Free July is done.

HOWEVER!  Not all was lost this week.   I took advantage of our (plastic covered) weekend newspaper, and made a bunch of paper bin liners.   A bit of origami fun, and it will be an easy transition to keep doing this long after July.  Here is a bit of what it looked like for me:  (NB:  I have kept a plastic bag in the rubbish bin in case of wet spills, but I am not expecting any huge dramas!)

A bit of creative origami that even I could do!

Popped these newspaper liners in with a plastic bag in case of wet spills.

If nothing else, this month is certainly highlighting for us where we can improve. It is also highlighting that maybe we aren’t as good about being “plastic free” as thought!   On on to Week 2.