Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Ski your way to better sleep.

Have trouble sleeping? Maybe you should ski more.

The National Sleep Foundation reports that exercise in the afternoon can help deepen shut-eye and cut the time it takes for you to fall asleep. However, a 2003 study found that a morning fitness regime was key to a better snooze. Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center concluded that postmenopausal women who exercised 30 minutes every morning had less trouble falling asleep than those who were less active. The women who worked out in the evening hours saw little or no improvement in their sleep patterns.

No studies have proven conclusively the best time to exercise, but there's unanimous agreement that exercise helps you fall asleep better and sleep more restfully.

Hey, it's as good an excuse as any to hit the slopes.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The great, completely unscientific energy bars taste test.

Raise your hands -- how many of you like to take energy bars to the slopes?

I'm sitting here with my hands firmly on the keyboard. Not just because I'm typing, either, but because I've never found an energy bar I really liked. To be fair, maybe I just haven't looked hard enough. After all, the concept of energy bars is tremendously appealing. It'd be great to bring something along for a quick snack on the lift.

So I thought I'd do a limited, unscientific taste test. Limited, in that I'm only going to test four bars. And unscientific, because it only involves one taster -- me.

Here's what I found:

Zone Perfect (strawberry yogurt): 210 calories. 15g protein, 21g carbs, 7g fat, 1g fiber. A sweet yogurt coating surrounding a grainy strawberry-flavored interior. Not too bad.

Kashi Go Lean (oatmeal raisin cookie): 280 calories. 13g protein, 49g carbs, 5g fat, 6g fiber. Chewy with a sweet exterior coating. Again, not bad.

Clif Energy Bar (carrot cake): 240 calories. 10g protein, 46g carbs, 4g fat, 5g fiber, 4g fat. Doesn't taste even remotely like carrot cake. In fact, it has a strong cinnamony flavor. No exterior coating. Didn't like this at all.

PowerBar Performance (apple cinnamon): 230 calories. 9g protein, 45g carbs, 2.5g fat, 3g fiber. Flat, sticky, and hard to remove from the foil packaging. Very gummy texture that turns grainy in your mouth. Has a slight apple flavor and a decidedly non-apple aftertaste. Ugh.

Of course, everyone's taste is different; you might like something that I don't, and vice versa. What's your favorite energy bar? List it here. I'll test more in the future.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sure, I'm sure!

Even though it's come and gone, here's a day worth noting: National Women's Confidence Day.

If you missed it like I did, here's some background: National Women's Confidence Day was established on June 7 by Vanity Fair (the lingerie company), and announced to the world by none other than their spokesperson, Queen Latifah. The idea of the day is "to recognize women who project the power of confidence and encourage other women to gain confidence and self-esteem."

As much as I abhor this as a blatent ploy to sell women's underwear, I guess I must be a sucker at heart. Because I can't help but applaud the notion behind it. After all, there's nothing wrong with encouraging women to be confident.

This is especially important in skiing, a sport where head games can do a real number on you. Lack confidence in your ability, and you can pretty much guarantee yourself a white knuckle, teeth chattering, toe clenching ride down the mountain. In other words, you won't have any fun. But feel fairly confident, and the run's a different story.

Seems to me that lack of confidence is more of an issue with women than it is with men. Chalk this up to social conditioning, intimidation, or who knows what. I'm not saying you should over estimate how well you ski and take unwarranted risks. On the other hand, why not give yourself permission to recognize the ability you do have? Instead of talking yourself down, boost yourself up. You'll ski better, feel better, and have a much better time.

I'm sure of it.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Try it. You'll like it.

Well, here I am -- back from my trip to Grand Cayman. And even if it wasn't skiing, it was still a lot of fun.

We swam, snorkeled, relaxed on the beach, read, ate too much -- in short, we did all the things one does on vacation in the Caribbean.

What could be bad? The weather was incredible -- in the 80's, nice breeze, bright sun, The water was magnificent, too -- a brilliant, clear turquoise unlike anything you'll see anywhere else. Not cold, either, so you could jump right in without that awful shock you get here in the Northeast.

It made me think: Could there actually be other things in life that're fun, besides skiing? The short answer is -- yes. I mean, I may be crazy about skiing, but I'm not completely crazy.

How dull it'd be if we did the same thing, time after time after time. Whether it's a new place, a new sport, a new book, or even a new food, trying new things keeps us alive, expands our minds, and makes us better human beings.

Naturally, this even applies to skiing. Trying a new mountain, a new trail, or even a new technique can re-awaken our senses and remind us again why we love the sport.

So when you think about skiing next winter, think about mixing it up a bit. Chances are you'll like it.

Friday, June 09, 2006

(Not) Going Skiing.

Believe it or not, even I'll admit that there are other things in life besides skiing. So starting tomorrow, I'll be off on a vacation where there won't be a snowflake in sight.

Actually, I'm pretty excited. I'm headed to Grand Cayman for a week of fun 'n sun. And I won't be back til June 17.

I've never been to Grand Cayman before, but I have been to the Carribbean -- Barbados, St. Thomas, Providenciales. And Bermuda (not in the Caribbean, though it's Caribbean-like). Anyway, I hear this island's pretty nice.

What are your vacation plans for the summer? Care to share? Or are you saving all your vacation for that blow-out ski trip this winter? And if so, where do you think you'll go?

I'll post when I get back -- probably on Sunday, the 18th. So don't forget to come back then. In the meantime, if you haven't read my earlier posts, go into my Archives and check 'em out.

I'll talk to you later.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Never argue with a woman who reads.

All credit (or blame) for this goes to poster Dorm57 on EpicSki.com. I know it has nothing to do with skiing, but I thought it was so cute I had to share it with you:

One morning a husband comes back from fishing and decides to take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decides to take the boat out, so she motors out, anchors, and begins to read a book.

Not long after, a game warden pulls up beside her boat. "What are you doing here?" he asks.

"Reading a book," she says (thinking, "Isn't it obvious?")

"Ma'am, you're in a Restricted Fishing Area," he informs her.

"So what's the problem, officer? I'm reading, not fishing."

"Yes, ma'am, but you have all the equipment here, and for all I know you could start fishing at any moment. I'm afraid I'll have to take you in and write you up."

The woman says, "That's fine, and in that case I'm afraid I'm going to have to charge you with sexual assault."

The game warden says, "Ma'am, you can't do that. I haven't touched you, looked at you...I haven't even gotten into your boat."

"That's true," she says, "but you have all the equipment and for all I know you could start assaulting me at any moment!"

The game warden thinks a bit, then motors off in his boat muttering, "Have a nice day, ma'am."

Moral: Be careful when arguing with a woman who reads. It's likely she can also think.