Monday, August 3, 2009

Urban Farming

Success!!! Our first baby tomato is turning red!
To speak of urban farming would be preliminary, but our little 3 by 8 foot terrace has definitely awoken our green fingers. I come from a long line of Flemish farmers and my parents tried to continue that tradition by growing produce in our Knokke backyard. Varying from fruits (apples, berries...) to different vegetables and some seasons even a couple chickens to the frustration of some neighbors who didn't see a future trend and perhaps necessity of what we all call urban farming nowadays. As a child it was sometimes hard to understand why my parents would rather spend hours weeding a garden instead of just going to do something "fun", but growing up with the privilege of just walking to the backyard and picking the beautiful, fresh and super organic (bugs and insects are a sign of truly pure veggies my mama would say when I pulled one out of my salad) ingredients for dinner was a feeling that I treasure for ever.
So far living in New York has always stopped me from growing anything. Seeing our apartment with its tiny terrace got us both excited for the possibility of creating a little green oasis in the urban jungle. Our first thoughts were more esthetically oriented. A greener view from our living room window, soft for the eyes and relaxing for the mind. Trying to find a beautiful Japanese Maple tree at Sprout in Brooklyn, we saw a nicely created container with herbs and tomato plants. Was it possible? Can we grow food on a small terrace? So we arrived home with not only a gorgeous little tree, we had also bought the start of our first miniature urban "garden". Harvested so far: practically unlimited pesto ingredients - a pleasure to all senses: basil. Mint for mojitos, teas, salads... And then of course: delicious, flavor-exploding, sun ripened baby tomatoes.
For us this is just the beginning of many urban farming seasons with more experiments in growing our own greens on our own little terrace yet to come.
And, as many people are showing us the way, growing veggies in a city is becoming more natural again and soon enough maybe you will be eating your own true local and organic tomatoes. Good luck!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

We're cyc-ed!

We found it! What could replace skiing as our outdoor activity of choice for the summer season? Biking! In many ways biking is very much like skiing for us. Biking takes you places. It gives you destinations. And journeys. When we hit the weekend we think in terms of where can we bike to. What's our goal? The goals give us a reason to ride through places and see things and breathe lots of air and use our muscles and our sense of balance.
Biking shares another attribute with with skiing that makes it very appealing to us. Training. We love how skiing kept us in shape all winter; gave us a reason and motivation to work out during the week. But here's the difference: we're not training for biking. Biking is training us. Our weekend joyrides are the longest and deepest workouts of our week. And we can see and feel the results (a welcome byproduct) week over week. We ride stronger. Tire after more miles. Go further on the same breakfast - if only automobiles could gain fuel efficiency the more miles you put on them!
So we've found our true summer action sport built for the city life. Biking! And we'll probably be talking about it. Cause we're cyc-ed!

Next Steps:
For Planning - NYC Bike Map
A Great Start - Governor's Island

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Out of the Box


We've been too busy soaking in the air and the warmth (between raindrops) to sit down and get seriously inspired at the keyboard. But here we are, and the inspiration is most definitely there. We have had a fantastic summer so far in the city, and we haven't taken a legitimate day of vacation yet! The word staycation is somewhat annoying, but the act of staying and vacationing at the same time is brilliant. And we have discovered that we don't have to think long and hard to do it. Here's step one: get some bikes. Step two: pick a destination near water or across a borough. Step three: Get on your bike and ride.
We've discovered Brooklyn. Canvassed Astoria. Boated out to Governors Island. Biked on a windswept dune trail... with Manhattan views! We've toured Early 20th century army houses. Sat on an officers front deck feeling very unmilitary and superbly relaxed. Picnicked in red chairs on the waterfront with front row views of the Statue of Liberty. (That was liberating!) We've found 10 outer-borough neighborhoods that we want to move to. This coming from a born and bred Manhattan boy and a girl from across the big pond in Belgium.
Who knew you can live on the beach with Manhattan within reach? We are seriously considering becoming surfers full time. (We'll probably keep our day jobs.)
New York can seem like a cage with no escape for adventure, but now the lions are out. We've discovered that very easily you can sit under a tree on a beautiful lawn or dive into the ocean with less than 1 hour of travel time or even within biking distance.
Here's some out of the box thinking for you: 1 Day vacations. Your hotel is your own home. Just put some fresh sheets on the bed, and go out and clear your head!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Summer Workouts on a Greek Island.

After finishing high school 3 girls from small town Knokke traveled to the Greek Islands for fun, culture and lots of adventure.
I fell in love with Greece and even more with the islands. The beautiful weather, the water, the food, the dancing...
We fantasized about living there like goddesses in Greece. I ate so many olives that my friends started calling me olijfje - little olive.
On those islands it's all about the easy life.
Discovering little beaches, sleeping in the sand, floating naked in the water, the sweet adventure of this is how life should be...
So what will we do this summer for sweet life adventure on our Greek Island in New York?
Bike to discover the water, parks and markets. Run for adventure, swim in the largest pool in the city and look at sunsets over another island called Manhattan...
We will not be sleeping on empty beaches and dream about sweet life to begin.
We are just enjoying this sweet life we live.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Feelin' Groovy (a sequel to Feeling Kinky)

It started last Tuesday night. Mieke and I planned to go for a run after work. We had missed a couple workouts due to some other constructive life-busyness, and Lion-in-a-Cage syndrome was setting in. I don't remember why, but we both ended up getting home later than expected that night. As darkness gained on us we struggled with to-run-or-not-to-run. Finally, fatigue and good sense prevailed and we decided to do a lighter workout in the apartment. (There is a lot you can do at home to make yourself feel good.)
After a few-minute yoga warm up of Sun-Salutations Mieke wanted to try some new exercises she had learned at a PT (physical therapy) course the previous weekend. Mieke was jazzed and excited about the new material, and I was too. There are these seven tests a PT can apply to an athlete or patient to assess muscle strength and balance throughout the body. (Imbalance and muscle weakness lead the cause list for sports-related injuries.)
Mieke had previously shown me a couple of the tests. Each one issued a challenge: Do me or have your weakness exposed! And let me tell you, some of them looked easy, but were frickin' hard. One of the moves is a kind of push-up variant, but instead of placing your hands at the level of your chest, you plant them up by your head. Now, I can do about 50-60 regular pushups in a row, but I could barely get off the ground in this new one, and it hurt like hell. (By the way, if it hurts, you fail.)
Humility gained.
Anyway, one exercise involved the lower abdomen and pelvis, and last Tuesday night we started with that. Mieke had me lie down on a yoga mat on my back and focus my attention on my two pelvic bones - the ones on the front - and my pubic bone. (Sorry to use the word pubic, but that's what its called.) The idea was to tilt my pelvis until the three points were in a horizontal plane, aka neutral spine position, and then contract the band of muscle between the two pelvic bones. I tried it, and it was not easy. There was no strain here, but the action required subtlety. My first attempt brought my back in to an arch with my chest out. In her amazing, gentle way Mieke placed a hand on my chest and instructed me to relax my torso back to the floor and try again. Eventually I felt what she was getting at. With chest at ease, I slowly tilted my pelvis to the horizontal. The forced muscle patterns of stress relinquished their grip, to be replaced by a soothing connectivity. The inward focus calmed my mind and kindled a deeper awareness. I do believe I began to glow. It was really nice. We then took this supported abdomen and we tried a balance exercise that involved being on your hands and knees and raising the hand and leg on the same side at the same time. This is really not easy. I lost my balance repeatedly, but the trying was good. It was an experience of my body that was not pushed or strained or exhausting. The funny failures surprised and tickled me. We finished with a few sets of raising the alternate arm and leg at the same time. Much easier, but by the end of a set you felt like you'd done something good.
So we finish this exercise and Mieke suggests we get on to cooking dinner (quinoa and refried black beans - super delish.) It hadn't seemed like much of a workout, but we both felt amazing. Clear headed, calm, balanced, relaxed and excited. That night we slept well. When I woke up the next day I noticed that I didn't have any particular aches or kinks anywhere. It was a little strange, and new. But it seems a shift has occurred and my body is back in line, back in its rhythm. The music has returned to the day. And I'm singing baby! Do do do do feelin' groovy.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Feeling Kinky

The music of our life is founded in the rhythm. The rhythm of the day changes with the seasons. Our bodies flow through the days, and when we lose the beat things can break down. When things break down you can start something new. It's spring. The cold's gone and right now I'm feeling a bit kinky. There seems to be an ache that roams throughout my body. It's growing pains. It's change. One day my hip flexor feels strained when I stretch my quads after a run. The next day my middle back hurts. What's up with that? That passes and then I've got a twinge in my lower back. Oy, oy, oy. Look, it's not old age. It's a new season! And I need a new reason (To train baby!) We've started running. When it's this gorgeous out, and you've spent 5 months in layers, you just get out there and breathe it all in. The sun, the leaves, the flowers, the soft air. It's glorious! We're thinking about our new fun sports for the summer. Biking. Hiking. Running. Swimming. Blading. It's all still kind of new. And the rhythm isn't there yet. It's coming. But right now, I'm just feeling a bit kinky.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Thoughts On A Ski Season

Mieke and I were blessed with an incredible end of season ski trip with her family to Valmeinier in the French Alps. In fact, it was this trip that set our season in motion six months ago and led to the creation of liefstyle. When the trip was scheduled we decided that the one thing we would do was be ready. Ready for 6 straight days of all-out skiing in the Alps and make the most of this incredible opportunity.
Pre-season we started the workouts and we started researching the gear. First came the ski boots. We went for the top of the line Salomons. Looking back, this was probably the best money we spent all season. Good gear pays off!
After the boots, I'd have to say that baselayers and good socks are the most important gear. It's next to your skin all day and you alternate between sweating and freezing constantly, so you've got to have materials that can keep the water moving away from your skin. (Go for the Capilene baselayers and the Smartwool socks.) Now, you can't underestimate the importance of the outerwear. When Mieke bought me my Kjus ski jacket at Century 21 it was a kind of watershed moment when I started taking myself more seriously as a skier. Gear does not make you a good skier, but it damn sure will make you better. The increased comfort and mobility of the jacket definitely upped my game. And I felt a bit bad ass in it, which didn't hurt.
Back to the training, the great irony of being a non-professional skier is that most of ski season is spent not actually skiing but thinking and fantasizing about skiing. Nothing compares to the joyous hours on the mountain, but the season is most definitely made off of the slopes. One day a week is not enough to make a winter.
The workouts were big. We started reading Ski Magazine and we discovered all of these amazing exercises that we could do to train our bodies for the Valmeinier trip. Generally, being one day a week skiers we spent about as much time in the gym as we did actually carving and shredding on the slopes. (About 5-6 hours.)
There are so many moments - our first day of the season a Windham, New Year's Day at Hunter Mountain 15 below zero, our first double black day, our best morning of the season when we did 15 runs before lunch, two days of paradise at Black Butte and Hoodoo, training Barbara and our epic two days at Okemo and of course Valmeinier. There are hundreds of pictures and stories, but what seems right to share at this moment, the end of ski season, the beginning of spring, is a few things that we've learned over the course of this amazing winter:

- Have a workout partner if possible.
- You ski better at the end of the season.
- Wear capilene to travel and to ski.
- Make a gear checklist and use it to pack for your ski trips.
- Get out on the mountain early.
- No matter how much or how hard you train, no exercise can match the intensity of actual skiing.

- Blow the water back out of the Camelbak tube or it will freeze in sub-freezing weather
.
- Base lodges have the best French Fries! (We call them Mountain Fries.)

- Skiing with a helmet is awesome.

- Take group lessons. They are much cheaper and rarely crowded.

- What scares you on day 1 will be your favorite run on day 10.

Best of:

Best Money Spent
- Good ski boots

Best Value
- Fur-lined crocs tied with on-sale Patagonia baselayers

Best Alpine Tradition
- Hot chocolate with rum

Best Protection
- Ski Helmets tied with Mieke's Scott two-layer mittens

Best Fun
- Skiing with the whole family!

Best Feeling
- Fresh Powder

Best Apres Ski
- Genepi shots at 1800 meters elevation tied with Deschutes local brews in Sisters, Oregon

Best View
- Anything on a sunny day from the top of a mountain

Best Soundtrack - Check out the tunes on the movie Higher Ground by Warren Miller
Best Moment
- This one, all season long, this one

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Valmeinier 1800

Big mountains move and excite my soul. The Alps rise up around Geneva like great fortress walls. Narrow passage by train gives entry to the enclosed and rarefied valley of Savoie. Winding roads course upward into the sky as diesel power carries us. Arrival at Valmeinier 1800 is blinding and glorious, the thin air clean and pure. Smiles and long-awaited hugs suffuse the bright evening with warmth and happiness. Sugar-white snow blankets stone hulking peaks all around, everywhere. Time knows no friction here. There is no drag. 1,2,3,4,5,6. I count the days as they dawn and breath but never fear their loss. I only know them as they are. Alive and full of joy and real love and breathtaking beauty.
We are home now, and though the air is surely thicker and time much stickier with its own conflicts, our life glows with the memory of pure and fine experiences on high.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Skiing with Barbara - Episode 1


The weekend with Barbara proved to be everything we had hoped for. We all had a tremendous amount of fun, and we all came home in one piece. No injuries. Only amazing memories. We will write and post more, including a wonderful video from Okemo. For now, being short on time (we will be in Valmeinier, France all of next week) we will start with pictures. Really, they kind of say it all. Thank you for following this story, and thank you for caring about Barbara so much!! - M&E

Monday, March 9, 2009

Training Barbara - Week 4

Holy Sh-t. That was a serious hike! 8 miles/12.8 kilometers of joy and pain. We did not expect this. We may not have even intended this. But we climbed and stepped and chit chatted and gulped water and at times rose above the trees and hopped over streams and crunched through snow and squished in mud and eventually we made it home. (Sore. Very sore.) Seriously though it was a great hike, and true we did not realize how intense it would be, but Barbara and the two of us and Barbara's friends John and Kristine all did it. And we loved it!

Now, let's get down to business. This is Week 4. That means it's SKI WEEK! On Saturday Barbara will step into her ski boots and clip into her skis and two years of pain and rehabilitation and challenge and anticipation will fall away and only the snow, a moment of truth and the sweet tug of gravity will remain.

The hike was definitely a part of the training, but we are for sure all a little bit sorer than expected. Therefore, we will take it a little easier on the legs this week so that they can recover and be all pumped and juicy for the ski slopes this weekend.

In Barbara's Words -

WOOOO HOOOOOO - the ski trip is this weekend! I have been looking through photos from the trip two years ago and am completely psyched!!! I am excited to experience that rush again...to conquer a challenge...to spend a weekend away with friends. I have already started packing. And THIS time I hope to return with a video of skiing rather than a video of my ambulance ride!

The workouts for week three were quite a bit more challenging than before and really made a difference. This became increasingly more apparent as our reasonable Sunday hike stretched into an eight mile, four hour trek!! It was probably one of the most difficult hikes I have done and, again, my knee held up incredibly! I am so thankful for this training opportunity!!! And so thankful for Mieke and Ezra! I am feeling so many things right now, but most of all I feel very lucky.


The Workout, Week 4 -

Tuesday
32 minutes of cardiovascular exercise on the elliptical - (had our action day hike not been so intense we would have had Barbara do interval training on this day)
8 Minutes Gradual Warm-up
24 Minutes at 70-80% Maximum Heartrate
5 Minutes Cooldown


Floorwork - 2 Sets of 8-10 reps each exercise (or per side)
Core Work
  • Medicine-Ball Crunches
  • Supine Leg Drive
  • Exercise-Ball Side Crunches
Cooldown - Stretches for torso, hamstrings, quads, hips and calves.

Thursday
28 minutes of cardiovascular exercise - (4 minutes less than Tuesday)
8 Minutes Gradual Warm-up
20 Minutes at 70-80% Maximum Heartrate
5 Minutes Cooldown

Floorwork - 2 Sets of 8-10 reps of each exercise (or per side)
Legs and Lower Body
  • Lunge Hops
  • Side-to-Side Slide
Cooldown - Stretches for torso, hamstrings, quads, hips and calves.

Saturday and Sunday - SKIING!!!


**NOTE: If you are thinking about trying any of these exercises or workouts and you have any questions about whether or not they would be right for you, please email us (liefstyle@gmail.com) or check with your doctor or physical therapist before beginning.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Training Barbara - Week 3

Thank you again for all of your comments and emails. This is exciting stuff, and your feedback is a great source of motivation and reinforcement for all of us! We are both super impressed with the transformation we are starting to see in Barbara. Even from last week, her legs show greater strength and flexibility. It's pretty amazing to witness. Some of the exercises and stretches that were quite difficult have, in one week's time, become more natural and less effortful. Next step... take it up a notch!

In Barbara's Words -

Week two is finished with success! The new floor exercises provided a real challenge, and I can feel a big difference in my muscles. Not only do I feel stronger, but also more balanced.
While I am working hard, I can't help but be a little nervous with the realization that we have only two weeks left. Don't get me wrong, I am still EXTREMELY excited - but with this conscious thought came a few butterflies. Will I be ready? Will I be controlling the skis or will they be controlling me? I am determined to find out, but have to admit I am BEYOND happy that Mieke and Ez will be there with me to (figuratively) hold my hand or (again figuratively) give me a shove if needed.
Ok, I am ready. Lets do this - keep it coming and BRING ON WEEK THREE!

In Our Words -
We will (literally) hold your hand and give you a shove if necessary!


The Workout, Week 3 -

Tuesday
32 minutes of cardiovascular exercise on the elliptical - (increase of 2 minutes from Week 2)
8 Minutes Gradual Warm-up
24 Minutes at 70-80% Maximum Heartrate
5 Minutes Cooldown


Floorwork - 2 Sets of 8-10 reps each exercise (or per side)
Legs and Lower Body
  • Reverse Crossover Lunges
  • Lunge Hops
  • One-Leg Forward Bend (5 reps, hold for 5 seconds each side)
  • Side-to-Side Slide
Core Work
  • Supine Leg Drive
  • Plank Knee-Lift
  • Standing Single Leg Rotation (with Medicine Ball)
Cooldown - Stretches for hamstrings, quads, hips and calves.

Thursday
30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise - (2 minutes less than Tuesday)
8 Minutes Gradual Warm-up
22 Minutes Interval Training (Each interval is 2 minutes high intensity at 70-85% max heart-rate followed by 2-3 minutes at lighter intensity. Repeat 4 to 5 times.)

5 Minutes Cooldown

Floorwork - 3 Sets of 8-10 reps of each exercise (or per side)
Legs and Lower Body
  • Reverse Crossover Lunges
  • Lunge Hops
  • One-Leg Forward Bend (5 reps, hold for 5 seconds each side)
  • Side-to-Side Slide
Cooldown - Stretches for hamstrings, quads, hips and calves.

Saturday -
32 minutes of cardiovascular exercise -
8 Minutes Gradual Warm-up
24 Minutes at
70-80% Maximum Heartrate
5 Minutes Cooldown

Floorwork - 3 Sets of 8-10 reps of each exercise (or per side)
Core Work
  • Supine Leg Drive
  • Plank Knee-Lift
  • Standing Single Leg Rotation (with Medicine Ball)
Cooldown - Stretches for abs, low-back, hamstrings, quads, hips and calves.

Sunday - Action Day!
Winter hiking anyone? Count us in. We'll all go to Coldspring with our baselayers and water bottles and get some fresh, cold air in our lungs.


**NOTE:
If you are thinking about trying any of these exercises or workouts and you have any questions about whether or not they would be right for you, please email us (liefstyle@gmail.com) or check with your doctor or physical therapist before beginning.

Watershed Kids

In Belgium we have an expression ‘Jong geleerd, oud gedaan.”
Basically means that what you learn when you are young, you will do when you will be older.
That’s why all our parents tried so hard teaching us good manners, etc ;-)

Watershed - Campaign for 1000 was created by us for many reasons.
When you google the internet, you can easily find a million reasons to quit your plastic bottle dependence and switch to a cool reusable bottle.
We always loved carrying around our cool Sigg bottles and with liefstyle it is all about sharing the love.
We want to bring people together for a simple and good cause.
Liefstyle in many ways started with our parents, showing us nature, the outdoors, healthy living without waste. We can only hope to pass on the good vibe to the next generation.
My sister, Els, signed her family up for Watershed with some amazing pictures.
Those pictures inspired us to take it to the next step.
Encourage all of you – dear Watershed supporters- to spread the love to more friends, people everywhere.
Or simply share your Watershed fun with us and send us some of your pictures.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Training Barbara - Week 2

Thank you for all of your emails and comments! We are having a blast working out with Barbara, and she is definitely hangin' with the program! But we'll let her give you the 411... (Also, we included some sexy shots of ourselves doing the exercises so you can try it at home or the gym if you want to feel the burn.)

In Barbara's Words -
Week one is complete and I am feeling GREAT! Training with Mieke and Ez was huge fun (hard work) and a great time (they showed no mercy!) with lots of laughs (pain)!! It was awesome! Had a brief interruption with being sick, but overcame and pushed hard in the end. I was a bit sore at the end of the week, but found myself smiling and strangely revitalized over every muscle ache. I am also amazed at how the floor work has raised my awareness of my own body - its balance, its unbalance, its strength. My knee/leg is holding up well!
I love this challenge and all of the positive energy surrounding it! Though admittedly, I can't seem to separate the energy from working out from the excitement of the goal! SKIING!

The Workout, Week 2 -

Tuesday
30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise on the elliptical - (increase of 2 minutes from Week 1)
8 Minutes Gradual Warm-up
22 Minutes at 70-80% Maximum Heartrate
5 Minutes Cooldown


Floorwork - 2 Sets of 8-10 reps each exercise (or per side)
Legs and Lower Body
  • Reverse Crossover Lunges
  • Step-Downs - Front
  • Bosu (or balance board) Squats
  • Side-to-Side Slide
Core Work
  • Medicine Ball Crunches
  • Plank Knee-Lift
  • Side Plank (instead of reps we hold for 10 seconds each side)
Cooldown - Stretches for hamstrings, quads, hips and calves.

Thursday
30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise -
8 Minutes Gradual Warm-up
22 Minutes at
70-80% Maximum Heartrate
5 Minutes Cooldown

Floorwork - 3 Sets of 8-10 reps of each exercise (or per side)
Legs and Lower Body
  • Reverse Crossover Lunges
  • Step-Downs - Front
  • Bosu (or balance board) Squats
  • Side-to-Side Slide
Cooldown - Stretches for hamstrings, quads, hips and calves.

Saturday - Action Day!
Barbara goes to Philly with friends! The hotel has a gym so - gym workout including cardio and floorwork. Also, lots of walking around, laughing, pillowfights and general silliness. One arm curls OK too!

Sunday - Back to business, and by now Barbara will be craving it.
30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise -
8 Minutes Gradual Warm-up
22 Minutes at
70-80% Maximum Heartrate
5 Minutes Cooldown

Floorwork - 3 Sets of 8-10 reps of each exercise (or per side)
Core Work
  • Medicine Ball Crunches
  • Plank Knee-Lift
  • Side Plank
Cooldown - Stretches for abs, low-back, hamstrings, quads, hips and calves.


**NOTE:
If you are thinking about trying any of these exercises or workouts and you have any questions about whether or not they would be right for you, please email us (liefstyle@gmail.com) or check with your doctor or physical therapist before beginning.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Backpack Goodbye

I don't exactly remember when this backpack came into my life. I probably was not the one buying it but certainly the one claiming it to be mine.
It served me reliably and well for more than 15 years.
The Lowe Alpine Contour Runner was the best for everything I have done in the past 15 years.
Rollerblading, going to the beach, biking, skiing in the Alps, rock climbing in Southern France and moving to New York.
My backpack has now succumbed to the stresses of a backpack life.
A brand new fancy Deuter has entered my life to join me in the next adventure.
The Lowe Alpine backpack stays in the closet, retired.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Training Barbara - Week 1

The Story - The winter of 2008/9 was all about skiing for us. We saw that this was a moment in our lives when we needed to go for it. Early on, even before the first snowfall, we realized that training our bodies - with our minds focused on the slopes - was going to be the key to having fun all winter long. And it has been. We've enjoyed our weeknights in the gym almost as much as our Saturdays of heaven on the slopes.

Now, let's talk about Barbara.

We're super psyched to go skiing with our friend Barbara, but her last time on the slopes resulted in a serious injury. In one month Barbara will make her first turns with us since the injury, and we hope that by sharing the workouts that have benefited us so much, we can help Barbara find her love for skiing again.
The Goal - To improve, to the point of ski readiness, Barbara's endurance, strength and balance/proprioception. To ski injury free and to ski fun!
The Plan - 4 weeks of ski-focused training. 3 to 4 weekly workouts of gradually increasing intensity comprised of cardiovascular and strength/balance/flexibility exercises. Daily stretching that becomes habitual.

The Workout, Week 1 -
Tuesday
28 minutes of cardiovascular exercise - (we are putting Barbara on the elliptical, but this could also be running, biking, swimming or rowing.) 8 Minutes Gradual Warm-up, 20 Minutes at 70-80% Maximum Heartrate, 5 Minutes Cooldown.

Floorwork - 2 Sets of 8-10 reps each exercise (or per side)
Legs and Lower Body
  • Step-Ups - Front
  • Bosu (or balance board) Squats
  • One-Legged Bridge
Core Work
  • Exercise Ball Crunches
  • Exercise Ball Side Crunches
  • Slow Motion Exercise Ball Back Extensions
Cooldown - Stretches for hamstrings, quads, hips and calves.

Thursday
28 minutes of cardiovascular exercise - 8 Minutes Gradual Warm-up, 20 Minutes at 70% Maximum Heartrate, 5 Minutes Cooldown.

Floorwork - 3 Sets of 8-10 reps of each exercise (or per side)
Legs and Lower Body
  • Step-Ups - Front and Side
  • Bosu (or balance board) Squats
  • One-Legged Bridge
Cooldown - Stretches for hamstrings, quads, hips and calves.

Saturday - Action Day!
Hiking, Biking, Running outside, Swimming, Yoga Class, Long Ass Walk, etc... Just get out and do something! The goal is to have fun and build endurance and dynamic muscle strength with longer periods of activity.

Sunday - If previous day was hard core, then this day can be a lighter day at lower intensity.
28 minutes of cardiovascular exercise - 8 Minutes Gradual Warm-up, 20 Minutes at 70% Maximum Heartrate, 5 Minutes Cooldown.

Floorwork - 3 Sets of 8-10 reps of each exercise (or per side)
Core Work
  • Exercise Ball Crunches
  • Exercise Ball Side Crunches
  • Slow Motion Exercise Ball Back Extensions
Cooldown - Stretches for abs, low-back, hamstrings, quads, hips and calves.

In Barbara's Words - Wow. This is amazing! Day one is here, and I woke up completely excited (as i have been since Mieke and Ezra told me about their idea)! I am starry eyed at the idea of hitting the slopes again - and what better way to achieve that goal than to be preparing with two wonderful friends! It will make the hard work much more fun. I am even looking forward to the pain and soreness of tomorrow as a marker of one step closer to skiing.

**NOTE: If you are thinking about trying any of these exercises or workouts and you have any questions about whether or not they would be right for you, please email us (liefstyle@gmail.com) or check with your doctor or physical therapist before beginning.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Owning Your Own Gear

This is more the story of our first true double black diamond day at Hunter than it is about the skis and poles and boots that come home with us now when we leave the mountain. Mieke and I skied Annapurna, arguably the steepest top-to-bottom run at Hunter, which only opened for the first time last week and whose name had the effect it no doubt was intended to have - it scared the crap out of me. Annapurna and Claire's Way are on Hunter West, a mysterious area across the top of the mountain, from which the only descent is in the black. We arrived at the Mountan early, on the bus as usual, but this time we simply went into the base lodge, pulled on our gear and went right to the chairs. We got out there probably 20-30 minutes earlier than we normally would. Mieke proposed "just skiing" for the first few runs to take advantage of the conditions, which appeared to be good. Off the top we arced down Hellgate and Eisenhower Drive on a surface that neither of us could believe. Hellgate, aptly named, a normally scraped-bare ice sheet that is the main artery feeding into the two great lower mountain black runs, Racer's Edge and Eisenhower, had a plush surface of grippy corduroy on which no wrong turns could be made. My "new" used K2's felt great. Stronger and better skis than the rentals. They were my own skis, and I felt at home on them. Mieke's Atomic c-9's cut into anything, and she was ripping. We were both blown away; our confidence soaring; our sense of adventure piqued. On the lift back up I mentioned Hunter West - this was a chance to conquer the fearsome Yeti and taste alpine glory. Mieke was thinking the same thing. Let's hit Claire's Way, a sweet name for a steep run. Claire sounded like a nice girl, how could she hurt us. We went for it. There was only one other skier on the run. The surface was grippy and fun. We both launched right into our turns. No hesitation, no moment of truth, no belly full of fear. It was awesome. I had Mieke in my sights for the entire run. Seeing her making turns below me, and me making turns in near-fluid succession was exhilarating. We hit the bottom of the run and we were hooting! We just skied our first double black together on the mountain, and we enjoyed the hell out of it! We jumped on the old chair for the ride back up. Annapurna was calling us. At the top there was a big scary sign in the middle of the trail to Annapurna - Expert Skier? ...You Better Be! Extremely Steep and Variable Terrain. Only skiers with properly tuned gear should attempt this run. Watch for falling skiers. We hesitated. Maybe Annapurna was harder than Claire's. Then I noticed that we had skied right by the same sign at the top of Claire's without noticing it. Mieke said: "Let's go for it."
We went for it. Alone, just the two of us, we poled across the beautiful and quiet mountain top on a narrow path, and then the terrain grew steeper. We made our turns. The terrain got steeper. We made our turns. The terrain got steeper. There was a hell wind howling up the across the trail. Mieke led the way in. I dove into the particulate blast, and I became a warrior. It's on baby! We turned and turned and turned and slid a bit and turned and then it was over. On the run out to the lift - pure exhilaration. Wow! We did it! And we did it in style! Check it off the list. Fear conquered!
The rest of the day was fantastic. We skied Racer's Edge for the first time, the only lower mountain double black. They'd been blowing snow on it all morning, and it was deep and powdery and fun as hell. We revisited Upper K-27, a run that nearly gave me the runs the first time we tried it, and it seemed easy and fun. To bring it back to the gear, those extra 20-30 minutes on the mountain were the gateway to an experience (a mountain) we'd never known. A peaceful, uncrowded, pristine white carpeted heaven for which we were finally prepared.

Here's the Favorites:
Food - Thinly Sliced Boiled Ham and Swiss with Balade Butter and Ghent Mustard on Whole Wheat made the perfect apres-ski recharger. Also, sometimes it takes a cold frosty beverage to warm you up - Saranac Pale Ale. Always drink the local beer when you are in the mountains!
Exercise - Double Black Diamonds. As much as you can handle. Make sure you stretch the quads before the drive home.
Gear - Mieke's Scott Snowdog Mittens with attached liner glove kept her hands warm all day even past the point when my hands started to freeze. EZ is still obsessed with his used K2 Apache X skis.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Watershed - Campaign for 1000

Join us in reducing the amount of plastic in our landfills and oceans. Whenever possible, we are now using extended-life, refillable water bottles instead of purchasing bottled water. Think of this: if you use 2 bottles per day x 7 days x 52 weeks that amounts to 728 bottles per year. We were actually using more than that. We calculate that between the two of us we used about 2500 per year. That is a huge amount of bottles!

This post marks the beginning of our Watershed - Campaign for 1000. Our goal is for 1000 people to join us. If we achieve this goal it could mean that anywhere from 700,000-1,000,000 bottles per year do not enter our landfills and oceans. End to end that is a string of bottles 100 miles (160 Km) long.

If you would like to participate, here is what you must do - commit to use a high-quality, reusable beverage bottle instead of purchasing water (and whenever possible other beverages) in disposable plastic bottles. Please email us your first and last name at liefstyle@gmail.com when you have begun and we will add it to the list below.

Some Helpful Suggestions:
- Make sure your bottle is high quality and does not leach chemicals or petroleum byproducts into your water or beverage. One brand that we really love is SIGG. Another great brand is Nalgene. We've heard that Primus makes a great stainless steel bottle, but we have not tried it yet. Whatever you buy, make sure that they are BPA Free.
- Purchase a home water filtration system. This can be as simple as a Brita pitcher. Fill your bottle from it. Before you know it, it will be second nature.
- You may want to have a few different bottles and some different sizes for the members of your family and for different uses - gym, work, purse, hiking, skiing, travel, etc.

Here's the List - Be the Next
1)Mieke Nanes
2)Ezra Nanes
3)Kyu Kim
4)Stan Vermeulen
5)Geert alias Jos Vermeulen
6)Julie Van Der Hooft-Vermeulen
7)Nina Goldrich
8)Ian Goldrich
9)Molly Goldrich
10)Barbara Amstutz
11)Kitty Joe Ste-Marie
12)Luke Gebb
13)Sibyl Anthierens
14)RB
15)Dave Marston
16)Nimmi Kalla
17)Saskia Verlinde
18)Ilia Verlinde
19)Susan Mandel
20)Alice Nanes
21)Marc Nanes
22)Jacqueline Yaokam
23)Anne Lorenzetti
24)Adam Naddelman
25)Dana Naddelman
26)Susan Levinson
27)Annie Bouillon
28)Geert Haeck
29)Michelle Cruz
30)Helene Lees
31)Sarah Levinson
32)Haley Slosberg
33)Noah Slosberg
34)Evi Pipers
35)James Yaker
36)Kricken Yaker
37)Sheldon Kawer
38)Tamara Kluger Jacobson
39)Els Haeck-Dendooven
40)Jurgen Dendooven
41)Loïc Dendooven
42)Thibo Dendooven
43)Allison Klein
44)Paul Hunter
45)Christina Hunter
46)Amy Ahlstrom
47)Allyson Ahlstrom
48)Anika Ahlstrom
49)Nicole Giordano
50)Alison Logrieco

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Ritual


We awake to the sound of harps on my iPhone. Nothing makes me love 5am as much as a pot of fresh brewed coffee. The pre-programmable coffee maker inhabits the pantheon of the world's greatest inventions. A ski day is a vacation. We derive pleasure from the ritual. The bags, the pack list, the planning of food, the clean gear set out the night before in neat stacks. We follow the weather all week like stocks. Our investment is a nominal sum and precious time. Rain haunts us. Warmth chills us. Cold weather is our bellwether. Snow is our blue chip rally. Triumph! We cash in on the slopes. This moment, this day can never be lost. We are rich in joy. Our bodies healthy and used. I've thought of nothing but turns and edges and my ankles and snow and Mieke for 6 hours. Talk to me baby!!

Here's the favorites:
Food - Godiva Hot Chocolate with Gosling's Bermuda Black Rum.
Exercise - Group ski lessons when no one else shows up!
Gear - Mieke's Smith Helmet saved her sweet head. EZ's used K2 skis $150.00. Never having to rent again, priceless. PS: Even in an insulated camelback, water will freeze at -15 ℉.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sigg Love


When I was about 9 or 10 years old, my parents took us on our first alpine summer vacation. Davos and its surrounding high mountains didn't only spark my love for nature but also the love for gear. The Swiss know why you need it and how to make it.
In New York City using high end mountaineering water bottles seemed a little over the top. Then last year the picture came together.
Mountain eco-friendliness meets the city.
After reading about islands of plastic flooding in our oceans - destroying ecosystems around the world - we decided to reduce our use of disposable plastic in our every day life. That's where Sigg came into our city life.
Fill your Sigg with water for work. The gym Sigg makes you look way cooler than the old plastic throw-out bottle. Toss a Sigg in your backpack for a day of shopping.
Between the two of us we figure we can keep about 2500 plastic bottles a year out of the landfill or the ocean.
Then there's our latest Sigg Thermos discovery. Bad ass thermos for our hot chocolate with rum on the slopes, stays warm in the coldest days. We tested it. Hunter Mountain -15 degrees and 8 hours later our hot chocolate was still steaming!

Next steps:
Sigg
Garbage Patch

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Black Butte


Mieke and I stayed with the beautiful James and Kricken and their two blond boys, Liam and Riley, at Black Butte Ranch in the high volcano country of the West Cascades. Marc and Jackie were with us. Max the dog kept the floors clean. We got lots of sun and skied two glorious days at Hoodoo. Fresh snow, no lift lines and plenty of steep runs to get the heart pumping. Nothing like East Coast ice. Great surface and deep, heavy fresh on the ungroomed pistes. Apres ski, the saloon in Sisters had fresh too. Local Deschutes Pale Ale, IPA and Luscious Porter. Later we cooked steak and drank my favorite wine in the world, Amaranthe, Marc and Jackie's immortal creation. The fire crackled, the snow geese honked, we slept good. This is why we travel. This is what we think about in the fast city.

Here's the Favorites:
Food - Mountain Fries, Deschutes Pale Ale
Exercise - Ungroomed Black Diamonds

Gear - Mieke loved her Salomon Instinct CS Boots, EZ loved his Kjus Pikes Jacket and Formula Pants and we both got off on our faux fur-lined black Crocs.