Arctic Refuge 2020

Luc and I had lots of ideas about potential summer trips for 2020, but when COVID hit and rural villages across Alaska shut down-- with rightful concerns about limited medical infrastructure and intergenerational trauma from the Spanish Flu-- we knew we needed to adapt our recreation plans to keep us self-supported, out of villages & on the road system.

Luc put his trip-planning skills to work and came up with a ~350 mile loop that started & ended on the Haul Road, got us out to the Sadlerochit Mountains (which we'd wanted to explore since we floated past them in our 2017 Arctic Refuge Traverse) and incorporated a food drop that some friends of ours already had planned. We pulled in Will Koeppen (the pics in this post are Will's, & I'd encourage reading the daily journal entries he posted on his Instagram, starting here) and hit the road.

My biggest take-away from this trip was how well the nervous system and mind/body...

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We know how to hunker down

What a world we find ourselves in! At the moment of writing this (March 29, 2020) people around the globe are social distancing, taking shelter in place, and hunkering down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We're isolated, out of our normal routines, and in a time of huge uncertainty in our world.

[Also a huge shout out to those in critical operations who can not work from home and are on the front lines of the pandemic. Thank you for your work.] 

It's a global experience that those of us in the north know a lot about. We know about isolation, spending lots of time inside, not knowing how long the storm will last, and the impact that leaves us with. We know about cabin fever. We just came off a long, dark winter, and survived pretty much intact.

   

Of course it's also true that while similarities exist, this is also very different from a typical winter isolation. For many of us, winter hunkering down involves potlucks, tea with friends, game...

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Nervous System 101

 

I have a webinar coming up on Wednesday 3/11 about how nervous system health impacts our workouts, adventures, relationships, and our daily lives.

This is a topic I've been diving DEEP into in my own study -- & life -- in the last couple of years, and I'm excited to share what I've been learning with you.

Thankfully our nervous system is good at learning too, which is part of what makes it so interesting to work with. We can train our nervous system to work for us -- and teach it a new way if it's been overreacting. Super cool and impactful stuff. I'll share my favorite tools with you and give you an opportunity to experience a couple of them in the training.

Find more about the Wednesday training here

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Are you at risk for an ACL Injury?

injury prevention knees Feb 10, 2020
 

How are your knees these days?

I've got a couple friends who are struggling with knee injuries at the moment, so the subject of healthy knees has been heavy on my mind. I know how devastating it can be to have a knee injury - or an injury of any kind, for that matter - so I'm hoping today's video will help you assess the health of your knees and more specifically assess if you're at risk for an ACL injury. 

This is a personal passion topic for me, because when I was in High School, I tore BOTH of my ACLs with a couple months of each other. ‍ 

It was a low point for me, for sure (Read: I was heartbroken). But luckily my surgeries went well, I was able to rehab and re-strengthen successfully, and I've been able to be as active as I want (including playing rugby, running, skiing, backpacking, etc.) with no issues ever since.

My experience has made me super passionate about helping other people PREVENT injuries like mine, though, which is what the video I...

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Western Brooks Range Traverse

In June 2019, my husband Luc Mehl, our friend Josh Mumm, and I set off on a three-week traverse across the Western third of Alaska's Brooks Range. Luc and I had traversed the two other thirds of the Brooks Range in previous summer trips, and were curious to see what we'd find on this final and most remote section.

We started on the Ambler River, on a drainage we'd floated past on a previous trip and had wanted to check out at the time. Then it was raining, cold, and the Ambler was a flooded muddy brown color, so even though we were tempted to stop we didn't. This time it was pretty different! 

 

Luc & I had done some walking along the Noatak River a few years back in the worst tussocks we'd ever seen, so we were mentally prepared for slow and tricky travel. Incredibly we found the opposite -- lots of nice hard, flat-ish ground, and much brush. 

But the best part was that the further west we traveled the more caribou trails we ran into. By the...

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Warmup & Mobility for Pregnancy

 

Pregnant ladies, this one's for you~ 

Finding the right kinds of movement for your body as it adjust throughout pregnancy can be a moving target. That's why I recommend that all of my pregnant clients develop a daily mobility routine that feels good in their body and can act as a bit of a barometer to check-in with yourself. How are my hips today? Can I connect to my pelvic floor? Any new aches or pains? What's feeling good?

Notes about pelvic floor work: pregnancy is a beautiful opportunity to learn to contract & relax your pelvic floor muscles, though I'm a firm believer that there are huge benefits for everyone, especially women, in connecting with their pelvic floor. Pelvic floor work can help with anxiety (when we relax it, we send a relaxation signals through the whole nervous system), trauma recovery, insomnia, and digestive health, among other things.

Now that you're building a baby, though, it's extra important that you start solidifying your...

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Sore Hips from Backpacking?

 

Hip soreness during and after a long day backpacking can be a real bummer! It's a very normal occurrence, though, due to the stress we put our hips under when carrying our camping gear & food weight around in our backpacks, all while hiking around the mountains.

With a heavy pack, the weight's got to go somewhere... and in the process of trying to save our shoulders, we might be passing on the problem to our hips. The good thing is that our hips, more than our shoulders, are designed to carry weight. But sometimes after long days of this kind of thing, the hips also get tired, achy, and sore.

I've been personally having problems with sore hips after long backpacking days, and when I mentioned the issue to my friend & Physical Therapist Shasta Hood, he said to try thinking about it as an IT band issue. When we tighten our backpack's hip belt, we're  also pressing at the area that the IT band moves through, in effect shortening the IT band.

...

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Four Common Summer Training Mistakes

 

This video is based on the super-common things I hear from people that send little red flags up in my brain every time. I'd love for you to check it out and let me know if you've been guilty of any of them! 

Summer Strong is one of the ways to nip all of the issues in the above video, in one fell swoop... and since we're starting up tomorrow I'm here to remind you one last time that it's awesome and I'd love to have you in the group. 

Learn about Summer Strong & get yourself signed up here!

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Packrafter's Warmup + Shoulder Mobility Sequence

 

We wouldn't do a workout without a warmup first, right? We know that's a recipe for injury, and is easily preventable by spending a few minutes building up heat in the body and increasing blood-flow to the joints & muscles.

I wonder, why is it so accepted to jump right into our outdoor recreation without a warmup? 

In the end, this one is a rhetorical question.The real answer here is that we'd all be better served if we DID warm up our bodies before starting into our outdoor recreation ventures. 

This is particularly important for packrafters & other whitewater paddlers, since so often a whitewater run begins with the most technical part. We need our bodies to be ready for whatever comes our way, which could necessitate a snappy paddle stroke, a strong brace with the core, or a quick recovery from a line that didn't go as planned. 

Even if you're just paddling flat water, or maybe you're not a paddler at all, this is relevant...

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The SMH Training Story

Curious how SMH Training came to be? Here's the story:

In 2014 a series of events started off that shaped my future and led to the creation of Ski Babes & Summer Strong.

I was on the heels of a bad breakup with a man I thought I was going to spend my life with, and my sense of self had crumbled. I moved out of Skagway, AK (pop 800) to Valdez, AK (pop 4000) to get some space, begin the healing process, and rebuild my identity. The move to Valdez was spurred by the offer of an exciting job running the town's one gym, and I jumped right in. 

Winter in Valdez, Alaska

At the same time, I was working on my master’s degree in Social Work -- thank goodness for distance learning! The final requirement of that degree was a 500-hour practicum, which I began at Providence Valdez Counseling Center.

And here’s where the first magic connection occurred:

I’d be working with Personal Training clients on their fitness, and with just a bit of...

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