Sleep Strategies to Boost Immunity

sleep

Could a lack of sleep be impacting the strength of your immune system?

Folk wisdom has long promoted the belief that “sleep helps the body heal”. Over the past 15 years, a  growing body of research has accumulated supporting the popular wisdom that sleep regulates the immune system and enhances immune defense. 

One mechanism for the impact of sleep on immunity is via the potential of sleep to improve the functioning of T cells, which are an important part of the immune system. Another way sleep impacts immunity is because sleep is when the body produces cytokines, a protein which targets infection and inflammation. Therefore, insufficient sleep equates to the production of fewer protective cytokines. 

Insufficient sleep -anything less than 7 hours per night for adults- is unfortunately common in our modern world. Many people struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep, or to get quality sleep. In addition to immune system suppression, chronically poor sleep can contribute to diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, type II diabetes, and depression. 

Fortunately, there’s a lot that can be done to naturally support healthy sleep cycles. For better sleep and a well functioning  immune system, try the following tips: 

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene Throughout the Day

A healthy sleep practice starts as soon as you wake up. Start by maintaining a consistent wake time each day. To reset your circadian rhythm, which will support healthy sleep cycles at night, get exposure to natural light in the morning, ideally within an hour of waking.  

The habits you practice throughout the day also have a big impact on your sleep duration and quality. Give yourself a caffeine curfew, such as noon, or at the latest 2pm. This applies not only to coffee, but to caffeinated teas and even chocolate. Aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, preferably outside, and no more than four hours prior to bedtime. In the evenings, avoid alcohol and nicotine, and try to finish your last big meal at least 3 hours prior to bedtime.

Create a Sleep Sanctuary

Your sleep environment is an important component of a good night’s sleep. Keep your bedroom temperature on the slightly cooler side. Thermoregulation strongly impacts sleep cycles. Studies have found that the ideal room temperature for sleep is around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything above 75 or below 54 will likely cause some difficulty sleeping.

Reduce ambient noise and light. Did you know that your skin actually has receptors all over the body that can pick up light? If there’s light in your bedroom, your body is picking it up and sending messages to your brain and organs that can interfere with your sleep. Use blackout curtains or tape the blinds to get the room as dark as possible. An eye mask and earplugs can also work wonders! 

Make sure you have a comfortable mattress, pillows, and bedding. Paint and decorate your bedroom in restful colors. Keep the bedroom for sex and sleep only and try to avoid doing work there. 

Create an Evening Routine

While morning routines are well-recognized for their ability to contribute to enhanced wellness, creating a wind down routine is just as powerful. As with wake time, aim to be consistent with your bedtime as well. Additionally, to reduce melatonin-disrupting blue light, avoid looking at screens 1-2 hours before bedtime. 

You can also draw from these tools to help you wind down:

  • An aromatherapy bath with epsom salts and lavender oil
  • Reading light fiction
  • Journaling
  • Meditation
  • Stretching
  • Herbal support, such as adaptogens or nervine

Experiment with these strategies to find what gives you the best night’s sleep, knowing that you’re supporting a healthy immune system in the process!

Ready to take the next step in your journey? Schedule a free strategy call here

Meal Template for Increased Energy

hiking

How would it feel to have more than enough energy to check off everything you want to accomplish today without needing to reach for an afternoon latte or chocolate bar?

If you’re reading this, most likely you’re a high achieving person who wants to excel in pretty much every domain of life. Whether you want the stamina to hike a 20-mile day on your next backpacking trip, the focus for a full day of work, or the vitality to play a round of basketball with your kids, you need energy to do that!

And, I get it. Before I learned how to eat for consistent energy, I struggled to stay focused during afternoon work sessions, knock out high mile hiking days, and I generally felt like I wasn’t meeting my potential because my body couldn’t keep up. 

Can you relate?

Below is a meal template to help YOU get through your busy day with more energy and ease. It works for any style of eating (vegan, paleo, etc.).

The intention is to provide you with the foundations of nutrition; basic principles that you can adapt to your own life to make healthy eating simple and sustainable (no more fad diets, please). This is not about short-term fixes, restriction, guilt, or shame around food or your body because that stuff doesn’t work over the long haul.

>>The key idea for consistent energy is balancing your blood sugar, which can be done through food, fitness, lifestyle changes, and supplements. Today, we’re focused on a simple way to approach each meal. 

In addition to more steady energy, balancing your blood sugar can eliminate cravings, reduce inflammation, improve mood, enhance mental clarity, and reduce the risk of chronic health conditions. #win

>>>Here’s what to eat for balanced blood sugar and lasting energy: 

Center every meal and snack on these 3 components:

Healthy Fat 

+

Healthy Protein

Fiber

Focusing on fat, protein, and fiber slows digestion, prevents massive swings in blood sugar, and keeps you satiated between meals.

Examples of healthy fats include avocado, avocado oil, nuts, seeds, coconut, coconut oil, olives, and olive oil. Examples of healthy proteins include hemp protein, pea protein, grass fed meat, fish, pastured eggs, and tempeh. Good sources of fiber include fruits, veggies, and legumes. If your source of fiber is not a veggie, I’d encourage you to also include something green (spinach, arugula, kale, etc) for a balanced meal! As always, go for whole food sources.

Everyone deserves an adventurous life (whatever that means to you) and it starts with a healthy mind and body!

Ready to take the next step? Download your free balanced blood sugar guide here! And apply to work with me here!

13 Mindset Habits for Success

mindset

Have you noticed how you can intellectually know all the practical actions you need to take to get the result you want, but you still don’t do it?

Of course! As Derek Sivers would say, “If more information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.” But we’re not. Because you need more than information. More than just the formula. 

You need the belief system that will inspire you to take consistent action towards your goals, especially when you hit the inevitable obstacles. Without the right mindset, you’ll sabotage your own progress over and over again. Fortunately, cultivating an empowering belief system is something you can get better at with practice, at least it is according to Carol Dweck’s research on having a growth mindset.

Cultivating the right mindset is a key component to getting what you want, whether that’s losing 15 pounds, running a marathon, or writing your best-selling novel. For the purpose of this post, I’ll define mindset as a collection of thought habits and beliefs that shape how you interpret and interact with the world. 

Mindset Habits for Success

Here are 13 mindset habits which I see in my most successful clients, in the top performers I study, and which I strive to cultivate in myself.

  1. Focus on the Gain (the progress you’ve made) vs the Gap (how far you have to go). Where were you a year ago? What have you accomplished? Pat yourself on the back!
  1. Get back on track quickly. Goal progress is rarely linear. Sometimes you get off course. Recovery quickly. Don’t make it mean something about you. It’s just part of the journey. Just keep moving forward.
  1. Curate your consumption. This applies to every area of life, including the food that fuels your mind and your adventures, the media you consume, the relationships you imbibe. Everything you take in is impacting you on some level. For everything, ask is this helping me become the person I want to be or not?
  1. Focus on process over result. Knowing where you’re headed is important, but once you set your sights, focus your energy on the day to day actions. Like a thru-hike, progress happens one step at a time. Looking at the finish line too often can overwhelm you.
  1. Prioritize and optimize your energy above all else. It’s your most precious resource. Do something daily just because it feels good and restores your energy. This is a true expression of self love and it’s not woo. It literally primes your brain for more consistent positive decisions.
  1. Be weird. If you want an average life, do what everyone else is doing. If you want an extraordinary life, do things your way. Let go of caring what other people think and instead focus on creating the life you want. 
  1. Clarity comes from action. You might not know the best way forward, but moving 100 mph in the wrong direction is better than staying stuck in analysis paralysis. Take action, get feedback, iterate, move forward.
  1. Your past is not your future. Even if you’ve tried and ‘failed’ at a goal multiple times before, use the failure as feedback of the path that doesn’t work. Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb.
  1. Ask for help. None of us achieves everything alone. Getting support in your goal can help you hit goals 100x faster than you could alone, figuring it all out yourself. Before you take advice from the random guy in the internet forum, ask yourself if he has the result you’re seeking.  
  1. Don’t wait for motivation to strike. Mood follows action, not the other way around. Act in the direction of your goals and the motivation will follow. 
  1. Focus on getting the basics right and push back on complexity. You don’t need a more complicated diet or $200 running shoes to get the body you want. Have you mastered the basics? Are you eating mostly real food? Are you committed to 30 minutes of walking each day? Start there. Put your attention on a strong foundation.
  1. Commit to higher vision for yourself. You’re here to live an extraordinary life. You’re totally capable. It’ll take effort. Recommit to your vision daily and take action. 
  1. Define the outcome clearly. It’s hard to get to where you want to go if you don’t know where that is. The brain needs a target to aim for. Be specific.

Which of these do you already embody? Which would you like to adopt? Remember that changing your mindset is a matter or repetition and practice. When you catch yourself in a limiting thought loop, pause, and re-frame the thought to some believable, yet more empowering. Little by little, you’ll upgrade your thoughts and your entire life.  

Ready to take the next step on your journey to your best life? Schedule a free Health Made Simple Strategy call to apply to work with me.

Finding Weight Balance & Preparing for Adventure

Three key changes this client made to return to his high school weight, increase energy, and live a life that’s “off the charts.”  

I always find other peoples’ stories inspiring, so this week I want to offer a case study of one of my clients who’s been crushing his health goals in preparation for a challenging autumn hike in Colorado. 

Joe is a well educated, high achieving executive in his late 40s with a history of success in many areas of life. He was already in a relatively good place in his health, but wanted to break through a weight loss plateau and reach the next level of what his body could achieve. He was tired of looking in the mirror and feeling disappointed. He was tired of restricting, dieting, and overexercising but not seeing the results. He had adventure plans and was ready to collapse the timeline and finally start feeling good.

Here are the changes we worked on together:  

>>Dial in a unique nutrition plan.

There is no one size fits all diet. Finding a sustainable way of eating for you involves finding which foods support health for your body and which don’t. It also involves learning how different macronutrients affect your body.

Joe increased his protein intake to an appropriate level for his age and fitness level. He shifted away from processed foods and into eating more whole foods, which kept him full between meals and balanced his blood sugar and hormones. He got off the restrict and binge cycle and developed a healthier relationship with food and his body (more below on how he did that). He stopped focusing on the weight as much and learned to trust his body.

>>Incorporate lifestyle changes beyond diet.

We evaluated all areas of Joe’s life, including his fitness, sleep, and stress levels. He made changes which reduced how much cortisol he was producing, which was responsible for fatigue, weight gain, and anxiety. Joe began a regular meditation practice and stopped running hard every day. He prioritized sleep and made time to relax, often in nature.  

>>Shift mindset + underlying patterns.

Long term results hinge on shifting not just diet and lifestyle habits, but on looking at how you make decisions for your health and why you choose to treat your body the way you do. Joe had a history of disordered eating behaviors. I’ve been there and I know how frustrating it is to know the decisions you want to make for yourself but to not follow through.

Once he was on a whole food nutrition plan that satiated him and supported his physiology, we could address the mindset and triggers that were keeping him from hitting his goals. Restriction, skipping meals, and stress are common scenarios that lead to binges. He learned other forms of emotional coping. He learned to slow down so that he could hear the feedback from his body. He learned to tune into what his body needed and to trust it. 

All of this was incorporated in a way that fit Joe’s life and supported the creation of new habits. 

In summary, cookie cutter strategies don’t work.

Joe was able to achieve the health he was after by customizing his diet for his unique needs, adjusting his macronutrient ratios, tuning into his body, reducing cortisol through lifestyle changes, and by removing the beliefs and triggers that were keeping him in a cycle of self sabotage. 

Hopefully this inspires you to know that you can have the health, the body, and the adventurous life you desire at any stage and age of life. It takes strategy + mindset shifts, but it’s absolutely possible!

Ready to take the next step towards a healthier you? Schedule a complimentary Health Made Simple Strategy Call to see if we’re a good fit to work together.

We’ll discuss your health aspirations and a potential plan for how to move you closer to those goals. We’ll see if we’re a good client-coach fit and you’ll come away with clarity on next steps, whether or not we decide to work together. Why wait another day to have a healthy body so you can have more energy to go on that dream trip?

Related Posts:

How to Optimize Sports Recovery

 Hit Your Health Goals Faster: 6 Mistake to Avoid

How to Hike More Miles in a Day

How to Optimize Sports Recovery

sports

This post is about how to optimize yours sports recovery habits, so you can get the most out of your training routine. If you like this, make sure to get in touch over on my Facebook community, Holistic Health for the Avid Adventurer, where we cover topics just like this one. If you’re interested in strategic 1-1 support, you can also apply to work with me. I would love to work with you now or in the future! ~Katie

Your sports recovery habits are just as important as your active training time if you want to get the most out of your fitness routine. During your workout, you break down muscle tissue, deplete glycogen, and stress the body. In order to repair, rebuild, and grow new muscle, you need proper recovery, so you can build more strength and endurance.

Proper recovery is essential for every body, and if you find yourself sore for long periods of time, dealing with chronic injuries, and unmotivated to complete your workouts, you’re likely overtraining. It’s time to listen to your body and focus extra attention on rest and repair. Use the following tips to optimize your recovery periods. 

Focus on Whole Food Nutrition

Muscles need protein and carbohydrate to recover. Protein repairs and rebuilds muscle fibers, while carbohydrates restore depleted glycogen stores. It’s also important to ensure you’re consuming enough calories, especially if you want to build muscle. Focus on whole food sources, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, eggs, and lean meat. Eating whole foods helps you get adequate vitamins and minerals, which are essential for reducing inflammation and speeding recovery.  

Prioritize Sleep

To properly recover, your body needs enough sleep, which is 7-9 hours for most adults. Inadequate sleep negatively impacts growth hormone production and insulin sensitivity. Optimize sleep through basic sleep hygiene, like cutting off stimulants after noon, sleeping in a dark, cool environment, limiting blue light exposure 1-2 hours before bed, and maintaining a consistent sleep and wake time.

Hydrate

Proper hydration can support recovery by helping you to digest the nutrients needed for the thousands of biochemical reactions in your body that keep you healthy. Furthermore, dehydration following a workout can slow the protein synthesis needed for muscle repair. Rehydrate after exercise by drinking 16 ounces of fluid for every pound lost during exercise. If you’re significantly dehydrated, consider adding an electrolyte mix, coconut water, or even a pinch of mineral salt to your water.

Engage in Rest Days + Active Recovery

Workout frequency is an important aspect of a proper sports recovery plan. Include at least 1 rest day per week and avoid working out the same muscle group two days in a row. Engaging in active recovery activities like gentle yoga, walking, stretching, and foam rolling can promote blood flow, help move waste products out of the body, and speed recovery. 

Cold Therapy

Consider taking a dip in a cold lake or a plunge in an ice bath after workouts. Research has shown cold immersion to significantly reduce muscle soreness.

To get the most out of your workouts, remember that including optimal recovery techniques is just as important as the time you spend training!

Related Posts:

3 Tips to Get More from Your Home Fitness Routine

6 Mistakes to Avoid to Hit Your Health Goals Faster (without dieting!)

Stress Eating: Why You Do It + How To Stop

Ready to take the next step on your journey?

Schedule a free strategy call here. In 30 minutes, we’ll define your top health + adventure goals, we’ll determine the primary obstacles in your way, and we’ll discuss a clear path to close the gap between where you are now and where you want to go.

How to Hike More Miles in a Day

Do you want to hike more miles in a day without injuring yourself or not being able to get out of bed the next day? 

Increasing daily mileage is a common goal for backpackers and hikers. Whether it’s because you want to expand the trails and trips available to you during your limited time off work, or because you need to finish a thru-hike within a weather window, or for entirely different reasons, here are the strategies I’ve used over the course of 8,000+ miles to consistently hike 30+ mile days. 

To be clear, I’m not telling you this should be your goal. I’m simply sharing strategies I’ve used to increase daily mileage while remaining largely injury-free. As always, take what serves you and leave the rest. 

Fuel for Performance

Hiking all day puts a lot of demands on the body. To reduce inflammation, optimize recovery, and have more stable and abundant energy, what you eat matters. Eating healthy doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. The simplest advice is to focus on eating mostly whole foods. That means things like veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, or anything without an ingredient label. Your body will digest these types of foods better, giving you more energy for hiking. This doesn’t mean there’s no room for treats. Just aim for 80% of your calories to come from real food.

Be sure to consume adequate calories, including enough of each macronutrient (protein, fat, and carbs). Eat and drink water regularly throughout the day. On a long hike, I snack (200-300 calories) at least once every 2 hours. 

Hike Longer, Not Faster

Trying to hike faster, at a pace that’s not natural to you, usually doesn’t work, and it can often lead to injury. A more effective strategy is to put in more hours. Start earlier in the day, take shorter breaks, and hike later into the afternoon. I like to organize my gear the night before, so I’m ready to hit the trail in the morning. I also look at my maps for the next day to avoid (as much as possible) getting off route. In the mornings, I put snacks in convenient spots so I don’t need to dig into my pack every time I’m hungry. 

Carry Less

Being intentional with what does and does not go into your pack serves a variety of purposes. First, carrying a lighter load is easier on the body. It requires less energy to carry a lighter weight, so you can hike further with less exhaustion. Additionally, carrying fewer items simplifies setting up and taking down camp, creating more time for hiking. There’s a lot to share about how to carry less safely, but that’s a topic for a different post.

Build Miles Gradually

Too much, too soon is a surefire recipe for an overuse injury. Many hikers hit the trail with a lot of exuberance and not much training under their belt, only to end up sidelined shortly thereafter with shin splints, plantar fasciitis, or knee pain, or other inflammatory injuries. Much of this can be avoided by building miles the smart way. In general, this looks like increasing mileage by no more than 10% each week, taking practice hikes with a pack on, and including adequate recovery.

Optimize Recovery

To perform well, your body needs proper rest. A big part of recovery occurs during sleep. Optimize sleep through basic sleep hygiene, like cutting off stimulants after noon, sleeping in a dark, cool environment, limiting blue light exposure in the evening, and maintaining a consistent sleep and wake time. Other recovery exercises that can move lactic acid out of the body and help you perform better include foam rolling (a water bottle can suffice o on trail) and stretching.  

Master Your Mindset

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” This famous Henry Ford quote sums it up pretty well. To achieve anything, you must first believe you’re capable. When I was first getting into long distance hiking, the thought of hiking more than 15 miles in a day seemed absurd. The more time I spent in the community watching others do this, the more it seems achievable for me. For anything you want to achieve in life, it helps to see that there are others already doing it, and to see that they’re no different than you. It may take work to build up to your goal, but with time, you can absolutely get there!

For the complete blueprint on preparing your body inside and out for a healthy adventure, take the Adventure Ready course

additional resources: 

Ultralight Healthy Meal Plan eCourse

Eat for Endurance eBook

Related Posts:

Healthy Lightweight Eating for Hikers: A Day in the Life

Supplements on the CDT for Energy, Immunity, and Endurance

The thru-hiker calorie myth: What your diet is missing and how to eat for endurance

How to Choose a Protein Bar That’s Actually Healthy

performance

You’re strolling down the ‘bar aisle’ at the grocery store. The one with all the ‘energy bars’ and the ‘protein bars’ and the ‘meal replacement bars’ and ‘snack bars’, and… 

Perhaps, like me, this aisle overwhelms you a bit. But you need to stock your pantry for those mornings when you have to run out the door without breakfast, or maybe you need to refill your stash for your next backpacking trip. So you start scanning the shelves. 

“Holy cow,” you think, “are there even more options than the last time I was here??”

New bar brands are hitting the shelves every day, and while this is great for adding variety when you inevitably get sick of your current favorite, it’s also overwhelming when you’re looking for one that’s going to power you up the mountains or through a long day of work. 

How do you choose one that’s healthy? How do you find one that’s not just a candy bar in sheep’s clothing? (If you’re going for a candy bar, that’s your call – just don’t pay protein bar prices for what’s essentially a well-marketed candy bar – e.g. those “nutrition” bars with more sugar than a Snickers. #healthwashing.)

Why Protein + How Much?

First, what’s the big deal with protein? In short, it’s essential for every living being. You need it for proper immune function, and for muscle repair and recovery. It helps stabilize your blood sugar (and therefore, your energy levels) and keeps you full longer. It also carries electrolytes into and out of cells, and is a building block for muscles, skin, bones, and blood. 

How much do you need? There are a lot of opinions on this question. Protein needs vary based on gender, activity level, and your goals (weight loss, muscle gain, maintenance). The Recommended Daily Allowance is 0.8 grams per kilogram (1kg = 2.2 lbs, so that’s 0.36 grams per pound) of bodyweight. Personally, I feel best when I eat in the range of 0.7-0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight. It’s generally recommended that more active individuals eat more protein.

How do I choose one?

Here are 3 steps I use for bar selection + tips on when to use different bars based on your goals (recovery, muscle building, weight loss, etc.).

  1. Look at Ingredients

At a very basic level, look for whole, real foods; things you can readily identify, such as almonds, dates, oats, prunes, hemp seeds, cocoa powder, and so on. The ingredients should be simple and as close to the form found in nature as possible. 

  1. Consider Your Goals

What are your needs? Are you looking for a snack bar to tide you over until dinner? Or for a meal replacement? Do you plan to eat it while you’re being active, like on a long run or a hike? It’s helpful to know how and when you intend to use the bar because it can influence what you’re looking at in step 3.

  1. Scan the Nutrition Label

Look at the protein. To me, a protein bar should have, at minimum, 5 grams of protein. If you’re looking for a meal replacement bar or one to use when you’re exercising strenuously or during heavy lifting, look for 20+ grams of protein. If you’re on a specialty diet (e.g. vegan), look at the source of the protein and choose accordingly (e.g. avoid whey if vegan).

Look at the fiber. I generally prefer bars with 6+ grams of fiber. This keeps you full until your next meal, stabilizes blood sugar, and promotes a healthy gut microbiome. Fruit and nut-based bars generally have more fiber than others.

Consider calorie ranges. When searching for a snack bar in my day to day life, I’ll look for bars in the 200-calorie range. If it’s a meal replacement bar, 300-400 calories is a better choice, assuming I want it to keep me full until my next meal. If I’m backpacking, I look for the highest calorie per ounce bar I can get.

Evaluate the Protein to Carbohydrate Ratio

Okay, just a little simple math required on this one. If you’re interested in losing weight, a bar with a 1:1 or 2:1 protein to carbohydrate ratio would be a good choice. If you want to build muscle, or improve workout recovery, or get a burst of quick energy, anywhere between a 1:2 to a 1:4 protein to carbohydrate ratio is what I’d look for. 

What to Avoid

There are a few things to avoid, if possible. One is sugar alcohols, like xylitol, sorbitol and maltitol, as these can cause bloating and cramps. I’d also steer clear of trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial colors.

Final pro tip, find a handful of brands that suit your criteria and stock up on multiple flavors, because you will inevitably get sick of them. Having a rotation at least slows that process. Knowing some go-to brands makes future shopping trips faster and less overwhelming. Having a criteria for selection, as outlined above, makes the process quicker if you’re in a new store and you can’t find your go-to brands. 

I believe in meeting our nutritional needs through food first, but when you need an on-the-go meal or snack option, thoughtfully chosen protein bars can be a healthy choice. You just have to know what to look for 🙂

You can find some of my go-to options in the free Healthy Hiker Grocery Guide on this page!

To join our free Healthy Ultralight Meal Planning eCourse, CLICK HERE.

3 Tips to Improve Your Home Fitness Routine

This post is about 3 tips to get the most out of your home fitness routine. If you like this, stay in touch over in my Facebook community, Holistic Health for the Avid Adventurer, where I do free trainings on topics like this one. If you’re interested in strategic 1-1 support, schedule a free call and we’ll see if we’re a good fit. I would love to help you achieve your health goals now or in the future! ~ Katie

Wondering how to get the most out of your home fitness routine? When you can’t hit the gym or attend your normal exercises classes, it’s helpful to have an effective strategy for maintaining your fitness in a small space, with little-to-no equipment.

Daily movement supports a healthy immune system, boosts mood, mitigates stress, and increases mental focus, just to name a few of the myriad benefits. With a bit of planning, a shift in mindset, and a few pieces of equipment (optional), staying fit from home is possible for anyone. Use this simple 3-step plan to get started.

Schedule It

Without set classes to attend or the accountability of a workout buddy, normal exercise sessions can fall by the wayside. Ensure you fit in daily movement by scheduling it on your calendar, as you would any other meeting. If it’s not scheduled, it usually won’t happen. In addition to having a dedicated fitness session each day, treat yourself to mini-movement sessions throughout the day. This could be 3 minutes of plank, 20 squats, or foam rolling between work blocks.

Additionally, it helps to plan what type of workout you’ll do each day. A well-rounded fitness routine includes different types of exercise, like cardio, strength, interval training, and flexibility/mobility exercises. Recovery time is also key to an effective fitness program.

At a minimum, aim for at least 30 minutes of cardio daily, along with a few strength sessions per week. Fit in mobility and flexibility as often as you can. If you can exercise outside, even near your home, all the better. Time in nature improves mood, reduces stress, and supports immune-boosting vitamin D production.

Focus on Variety + Plan Ahead

The options for what type of movement to choose are vast. If you just need to get started with something, walking and biking from home can provide a great workout. Include intervals to increase calorie burn and cardiovascular benefits.

With access to the internet, indoor workout options are endless. Many platforms and gyms offer online workouts of all styles, including high intensity interval training, bootcamps, kettlebell workouts, and yoga. Alternatively, try searching YouTube for whatever style of workout you’re seeking. This is a great way to try new things and keep your home workouts dynamic. Experiment with specific search terms, like “15-minute workout, no weights” or “10-minute workout with dumbbells”.

Optimize Your Environment

Staying fit at home is much more likely when you set up your environment for success. If possible, have a dedicated workout space, even if it’s just the corner of one room. Keep it clean, and have the right equipment ready and accessible. While an effective home workout can be done with nothing but your own body weight, there are a few basic items that can enhance your workouts. At a minimum, consider investing in a yoga mat, a kettle bell, a few weights, and a resistance band. 

Staying fit from home need not be complicated. Block it off on the calendar, plan the type of training you’ll do, set up your movement space, and you’re all set to maintain your fitness, no matter what.

Click here for more free resources on optimizing your health so you can feel strong and confident.

Resupply 101: Options & Tips for Food Drops on Your Long Distance Hike

ODT resupply

What am I going to eat?!? 

This is a big concern for hikers heading out on a long trail. What, when, and where you’re going to pick up your next food drop on a hike is something that you’ll want to consider, at least briefly, before hitting the trail.

This article will cover how to start planning your food resupply for the trail. We’ll review your options, including the pros and cons of each, and wrap up with some tips for execution.

Resupply Planning Overview

Begin by identifying where you absolutely must send a box. There will almost certainly be at least a couple of towns like this on each trail. These towns have extremely limited or non existent resupply options. You’ll need to look at what resupply options are available in a town and determine if that’s adequate for how you like to fuel your hike.

In that regard, it’s helpful to know ahead of time what type of food makes you feel best when you hike. I encourage you to experiment before you get on the trail! For instance, I (as you might imagine) like to eat pretty healthy, so five days of snickers, pop-tarts, and pastries wouldn’t cut it for me. Others might be ‘fine’ with this. The point is that it’s important to know thyself. 

You don’t have to find resupply information from scratch! Nearly every trail has an associated trail organization that will provide some information on resupply options available in each town. Use that guide to determine where you will need to send a box. Additionally, you can find other hikers’ resupply strategies for a particular trail by reading trail journals. You can also consult survey results from each year’s previous class of hikers

resupply

How to Send a Box When One is Needed

Once you determine where you need to send a resupply box, you have a couple of options on how to do that. You can 1) purchase your food ahead of time, box it up, and solicit a point person to send it out for you, or 2) you can purchase food on trail at a town that’s 100-200 miles ahead of the town where you’ll need the box sent. Plan for mail to take at least five days. 

Food boxes can be sent General Delivery via the United States Post Office (USPS). Alternatively, they can be mailed to a store, motel, or restaurant in that town that accepts hiker food boxes to be sent to them. Either way, call ahead to inquire about the correct address and hours. Additionally, if it’s not a PO, ask whether the place accepts boxes and if there’s a fee associated. Also ask if it’s best to send USPS, FedEx,  or UPS.

To find the Post Office that handles General Delivery in any area, call 1-800-ASK-USPS or check usps.com. Rates are found on the website and currently, they range from $13-19 for medium to large flat rate boxes.

How to address your USPS box for general delivery:
JANE HIKER
c/o GENERAL DELIVERY
TOWN, STATE ZIP

It’s recommended to write “PLEASE HOLD FOR HIKER (name), ETA: (date)” somewhere on the box. Furthermore, it’s recommended that you use priority mailing via USPS because, if for some reason, you cannot pick up your box, you can “bounce” that food box to another post office up/down the trail or request it be returned to sender.  On that note, always include a return address.

Options for Your Resupply Strategy

Now that we’ve covered how to handle your resupply when you absolutely need to send a box to a location, let’s look at your overall strategy.

Essentially, you have three options: 1) Prepare boxes in advance to send to each location you want a box. 2) Buy as you go, sending boxes ahead to each location you want a box. 3) A mix of the above strategies. Read on as to why you might choose one strategy or another. 

Buy Ahead Resupply Box Approach 

This option entails preparing and packaging food at home to send to towns on trail where you determined you need or want a box. You buy groceries in towns where you don’t send a box.

This approach requires that you purchase all of your food in advance, (possibly) repackage it, and box it up before you hit the trail. It also requires that you have a responsible point person to send your box out in a timely fashion. If boxes aren’t picked up at the PO within two weeks of arrival, they’re sent back to the return address. As a footnote, if you think you won’t make it to the PO for your box on time, try calling them, explaining the situation, and asking them to hold it a bit longer. Be kind and they’ll likely say yes. 

For best success with this option, pack your box ahead of time, address it, and have it ready to go, but do not tape it shut. It may be necessary to have your point person add or subtract items that you discover you need or don’t need in the box. Additionally, you might consider numbering your boxes, so when instructing your point person to send a box you can email, phone, or text and say, “please send box #3 out by this date.” This ensures no thinking or second guessing on behalf of the point person. Make it easy for them!

PROS
  • You can guarantee your nutritional needs, wants, and desires. Organic and options for restricted diets can be limited. A good option for those who need prescription medications.
  • You can budget your food.
  • No need to spend time in town purchasing food for the next stretch. Less chores in town frees up more time for relaxing. Alternatively, you may choose to just pick up your box and leave town. In that sense, this option is great if you’re in a hurry.
  • You can send hard to find items like gas for your stove (IF YOU SEND VIA GROUND ONLY). Basically, if there’s a need you discover while on trail, you can ask your point person to send it.
  • You can add your maps for your food box to avoid mailing them separately.
CONS
  • You’re stuck eating what’s in your box. Of course, you could send it back and purchase in town if needed, or you could throw it in the hiker box. But typically, the cost of not eating what you’ve already purchased, packed, and mailed outweighs the cost, time, and energy of sending it back home and buying in town.
  • Requires more planning time before you hit the trail.
  • Post office hours vary and sometimes you may get into town after the PO is closed or on a Saturday whereby you will have to wait until Monday morning to get your food. PO’s can close down seasonally.
  • The box gets sent back because it wasn’t picked up in time.
  • The delivery gets mixed up by your point person or just fails to get to the PO.

Buy As You Go Resupply Approach

If you don’t have dietary restrictions and you want to ease the pre-planning time before you embark on your adventure, the buy as you go option is ideal. 

Most towns have grocery stores, both large and small, where you can purchase food. Others, however, have only a gas station/convenience store, which is basically the “bottom of the barrel” when it comes to nutrition.

PROS
  • You can support local businesses.
  • You can purchase the food you are craving and change up your menu as you hike.
  • If you have food left over when getting into town, you don’t need to buy those items in town.
  • You’re not tethered to the open and close times of the PO.
  • If you have to leave the trail due to illness, injury, homesickness, etc… you don’t have a ton of un-eaten trail food boxed up at home. (If you do, you could donate and send it to hikers in need).
CONS
  • Prices can be slighter higher than average in a remote grocery store.
  • Organic, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc… foods and specialty items are typically not available in small towns.
  • Hikers ahead of you may wipe out staple items like tuna packets, ramen, coffee, etc. before you arrive.

Combined Approach

You could use a combination of both strategies. This entails sending some resupply boxes ahead of time, from home, and mailing some ahead while on trail. For some, this is the best of both worlds. To determine which towns need a box sent and how to do that, consult the first section of this post. 

For the boxes you send from home, send those to places where you want to send prescriptions medications or where you want to send food items you can’t get in most towns. This may include dehydrated foods you’ve made ahead of time or specific brand name or specialty items. For sending boxes from on trail, the idea is to ensure freshness, satisfy new cravings, and adds variety to your trail diet. 

tiny town healthy resupply

General Resupply Tips

  • Create a resupply spreadsheet. Having a spreadsheet with your resupply locations, whether you’ll send or buy from that location, how much food will be needed for the next stretch, and any other pertinent information is helpful for staying organized and reducing stress once on trail. Be sure you can access this spreadsheet from your phone and leave a copy with your point person, if you have one. Here’s a sample from my Oregon Desert Trail hike. Feel free to use this as a template!
  • Collect tiny condiment packages throughout the year. These little packets of ketchup, mustard, honey, hot sauce, relish, salt/pepper, etc. are perfect for tossing into your resupply boxes you send from home. They can really spice up a trail meal 😉
  • Add flair to your resupply box. There will be hundreds of boxes JUST LIKE YOURS sent by hikers JUST LIKE YOU to these post offices. Adding a giant sticker of a walrus, unicorn, yeti, etc. to the side of the box helps identify your box from others. When you arrive to pick up your box, give them your name and say, “it’s the one with the giant pink squid on the side.” 
  • Add extra ziplocks into your resupply box. You may decide to throw some of your food into the hiker box and/or purchase some food that needs to be re-packaged. 
  • Consider tossing in travel size soap, shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent, razor, etc. for resupply boxes to towns where you plan to take a zero day. 

Related Posts

How to Create a Healthy Resupply from a Convenience Store

Sample Lightweight Healthy 5-day Meal Plan 

The Thru-hiker Calorie Myth: What your diet is missing and how to eat for optimal energy and endurance instead

Want to prepare your body for optimal endurance, energy, and recovery on your next hike? Watch our free Adventure Ready Masterclass on creating your unique nutrition plan!

Plan a Retreat for Greater Freedom, Clarity, and Effectiveness

adventure ready

A retreat is simple and effective way to get perspective on your life, release limiting patterns, and return refreshed and more free to show up as a better version of yourself.

“You can’t pour from an empty cup.” For those of us with busy schedules and a pile of projects we’d like to tackle, this oft-cited phrase is an important reminder to pause and refill ourselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

While attending a wellness retreat in an exotic location can be a wonderful reset, this isn’t always an option, logistically or financially, nor is it a necessity in order to have a rejuvenating break from your normal routine. 

The benefits of intentionally setting aside time to ‘unplug’ are myriad. Primarily, this includes the opportunity to break free from patterns and routines that don’t serve you, a reduction in cortisol (the ‘stress hormone’), decreased depression, improved sense of well being, as well as increased focus and clarity. Essentially, you return to your normal life more fully present and ready to be better at everything, from your training to your career to your relationships.

Use the following simple outline to create a retreat that leaves you rested, nourished, and clear-headed.

Define Your Goal

What is the primary outcome you’d like to receive from your retreat? Will it be devoted to health, wellness, and self care? Is there a certain creative project you’d like to make progress on? Would you like this to be a time for deepening your spiritual practice? Take a moment to envision how you’d like to feel at the end of your retreat. Select your top objectives and set your intention.

Choose the Date and Location

An at-home retreat is affordable and keeps planning simple. However, if you’re unable to hold your retreat at home, or if you prefer not to, book a small cabin nearby to keep logistics easy. Set aside an entire weekend, from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, if possible.

Send Invites (optional)

If your retreat vision includes others, invite a few close friends. Depending on your focus, intimate companions and deep discussion can facilitate growth and expansion for everyone. Let the potential attendees know your intention and expectations as well as event details, like dates, location, and what they should bring.

Clear Your Calendar

Call the babysitter (or dogsitter). Tell friends and family your plans and that they shouldn’t expect to reach you during this time. Delegate any tasks that need handled while you’re away. During the retreat, turn off your phone and resist the temptation to check email. Let this be a sacred time for you to truly reconnect with yourself. 

Plan Activities & Meals

Design a general outline for your days. Consider these ideas: include some form of physical activity, like morning yoga and a hike in nature; read a book (spiritual or personal development are good options); set aside time for meditation; indulge in your favorite self care, like baths, massage, journal time, or other creative pursuits. Plan a few simple, healthy meals, and gather your ingredients.

Process & Integrate

Before wrapping up your retreat, reflect on your weekend. Did you have any insights or mindset shifts that you’d like to carry back into your daily routine? Jot these down and make a plan for how you will include them in your life, post-retreat. 

With a bit of planning, you can enjoy the well-deserved benefits of a retreat without the hassle or expense of going to a far off location!

Want a free eBook on How to Eat for Endurance on the Trail? Grab your download here.