tales from the trail

The other day I told you all about FitCamp, which is fabulous exercise, but only my class only meets twice a week. I knew when I started that if I really wanted to get fit, I’d need to do more than that, so I started hiking with some friends.IMG_2263
This might not seem like a big deal, but I’ve avoided hiking like the plague in my adult life. The last hike I really remember was on a college orientation weekend and I spent the entire hike huffing and puffing the whole way up the mountain, while significantly trailing the rest of the group – and eventually slipping and falling in some mud and banging my knee. I was miserable. Thankfully, I survived the hike – and college – but that was the last of hiking for me for a very long time.

About a year ago, I made a new friend out here through Meetup and we ended up being good yoga buddies. She also introduced me to a group of women she had started hiking with, and before I knew it, I was joining them on my first hike. I remember driving up to the park the that morning and seeing the mountains looming in the fog in the distance. I was scared out of my mind, but I did it anyway. The hike was rather steep, but short, and I survived. I can’t really say I enjoyed it, but it felt great when I was done.

Over the next six months or so I would hike with the group sporadically, but it wasn’t until this Fall that I really started to get into a good hiking groove and actually enjoying it. How could this be? Do I really like hiking?

Here’s the thing – I’m not really sure how it happened, but my mind made an unconscious change. I went from viewing hiking as something that was supposed to be fun, like a party, to looking at it as exercise, like the gym. However, in terms of exercise, hiking is WAY more fun than the gym. Being able to chat with friends (when I’m not out of breath) is probably the best part for me, but there’s also something wonderful about spending time in nature and often the reward of an awesome view.

The more I hike, the more I like it. I’ve even got some bigger hikes planned for this year. I don’t know if it will ever be “fun like a party” for me, but I’ve definitely developed a greater appreciation for hitting the trails.

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i don’t usually DIY

Our wedding is just about two and a half months away, so my fiancé and I are really getting down to the nitty-gritty with the planning details. I’ve spent a great amount of time on Pinterest and wedding blogs throughout our engagement and it seems like one of today’s biggest trends, aside from mason jars and burlap (two other things I don’t do), is lots of DIY.

I think it’s easy to get sucked into certain trends and it’s important to really stay true to yourself while wedding planning. While I can’t say I’ve felt a lot of pressure to DIY certain wedding elements, sometimes I do feel a little guilty that I’m not. I haven’t exactly got anything against DIY – it often saves money and creates truly personal touches, but what I’m not a fan of are DIY weddings that look DIY, which is exactly what mine would be since I’m not a skilled crafter. Even more important than staying true to yourself is knowing your limits.

With all of that being said, I did select one semi-DIY project, which I think will be within my reach.

Towards the beginning of wedding planning I came across this escort card table that had a bed of wheatgrass with the escort cards resting on top. I wasn’t exactly sure how it would fit with my wedding style, but I knew I wanted it.

image courtesy of Simply Perfect Weddings

Fast forward a few months to a meeting with the coordinator at my venue and the cute little card display is suddenly being nixed. Apparently they usually keep the seating chart outside and the cards have a tendency to blow away and often aren’t even picked up by guests. After chatting with my wedding planner (Kristy Meinhardt) and florist (Huckleberry Karen Designs), I’ve decided to come up with a hybrid seating chart that will still involve the bed of wheat grass, but the actual chart will be printed out and split among several different frames to be placed in the grass.

So it’ll basically be a hybrid of something like the wheat grass photo above and this photo on the right:

image courtesy of Snippet and Ink

I suppose it’s hardly a DIY project, since I’ll still have the help of professionals, and all I really need to do is buy the frames, possibly spray paint them, and print the lists – but hey – everyone has their limits. I can’t wait to show you all how it turns out!

tales from the mat – fitcamp time!

It’s been months since I’ve taken a yoga class, and while I haven’t given up on it just yet, I’ve found a few other things that have been easier for me to stick to, and that’s what’s most important, right?

I’ve always been told that you just have to find a way to exercise that you enjoy, and it will be much easier, but quite frankly I never believed that. Not that it wasn’t good advice, but I was pretty sure I’d never enjoy any exercise – especially not my new exercise of choice – boot camp classes!

It all started when I was talking to a friend about getting in shape for my wedding (now three months away!) and she asked if I’d ever consider a boot camp class. I said “heck no!!!” (or something along those lines).

Well, I don’t know what came over me after that, but all of a sudden I was emailing the trainer from TotalFit Solutions, which I learned was located in my neighborhood, and offers what they call FitCamp classes within walking distance from my home. Somehow I convinced myself to bite the bullet and give it a try and I was shocked when I realized it wasn’t half bad. Here’s why:

1. Location, location, location. While you hear that when buying a house or renting an apartment, it’s really important for a lot of things. I have absolutely no excuse not to make it to FitCamp because I can pretty much roll there.

2. The people. The group of people in the class and the trainer were so welcoming to me, it’s hard not to like it. After the first few sessions I also convinced my fiance to join me, which has made it even better. Now I can look at class as not only a great workout, but good quality time with him too.

3. The actual exercise. The trainer is awesome at mixing up the workouts every week and really knowing how to adapt them for all skill levels. I feel challenged during every class, but rarely feel like there’s anything I flat out can’t do. With all of the variety I almost always feel sore after class, so I know it’s working..

4. The sense of accomplishment. Since FitCamp is something I never thought I’d try, let alone actually enjoy, completing each week feels great. I think it’s really important to try new things, because you really never know what you might just like, even if it’s something you were convinced you wouldn’t.

Boot camp style classes might not be right for everyone, but I think these elements can easily apply for other things. As a matter of fact, since FitCamp is only twice a week, I’m filling in with different exercise on some of the off days, which I’ll tell you more about later!

Beautiful Blooms

It’s been a pretty busy springtime for me, and while I may not be keeping up with posts the way I’d like to be, I have had time to stop and smell the roses. And that’s what’s most important anyway, right?

A few weeks ago, Chris and I both had our parents in town, which gave us the opportunity take part in a few mildly touristy activities. One sunny Saturday afternoon we spent at Filoli, which is a gorgeous historic estate, surrounded by fabulously lush gardens.

Thanks to a green-thumbed mother, I learned to appreciate gardens at an early age, and was thoroughly impressed with Filoli. The gardens were filled with many bold and gorgeous blooms, which gave me a wonderful opportunity to practice with my new camera. Here are some of my favorites:

Tales from the Mat: Dharma Studio (Classes 11-13 or so) and #plankaday

I’m finally getting into the yoga groove I’ve been hoping for and it feels awesome. I actually finished out my 30-day trial at Dharma Studio and purchased another 30-day unlimited pass last night. They only charge $69 per month since their schedule is kind of limited, but at that price it’s a steal. Most other studios I’ve been to charge at least $100.

Anyway, at the risk of sounding kind of lame, last night’s class was somewhat magical. I think it was partly because I finally made the transition from Living Social trial membership to actually buying a pass and committing to continuing my practice, but it was more than that.

Lately class sizes have averaged around six to ten people, but last night there were only three of us, just like my first class. Instead of feeling extra anxious or self-conscious about it, I was actually kind of excited for the personal attention. The instructor challenged us with new poses, and I think I did pretty darn okay on them.

The best part of class was really the atmosphere. For some reason the studio was extra warm last night, so we opened all of the windows, which span almost an entire wall of the studio. By the end of class a cool breeze was streaming in and the absence of screens allowed the  sheer curtain panels to swirl in wind. The sky turned gray as the sun set last night, giving the room an eerie, yet refreshing feel.

It was the perfect night to start my next 30 days.

On another semi-related note, I stumbled upon this “plank a day” challenge on Fit Chick in the City, which originates from FU Diet. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Participants do a plank pose, which is an awesome, yet challenging, core strengthener each day and then tweet about it with the hash tag #plankaday. I’ve got just about a month till Chris and I head to Mexico for vacation, so I think I’m going to give it a shot. I’m sure I won’t have six-pack abs by then, but every little bit helps (especially if I keep going to events like this for Truckista). Hopefully it goes better than my “photo a day” challenge.

If you want to join me in “plank a day,” or keep track, follow me on twitter @nicolemamato and let me know in the comments. I always love moral support!

Kitty Pics: Rain, Rain, Go Away!

So it’s actually not raining today, because … you know, we only get like ten days of rain per year here in sunny California, but I found this in the camera from a few weeks ago, and just had to post it. Zoey was so fascinated with the raindrops she sat there staring at them for a good 30 minutes, which is days in kitty time. I think she thought they were some kind of wild beast that she had to catch.