1. How much should you eat? It is tough to know how much to eat on an active vacation, like a ski trip. 5 to 6 hours a day of skiing is a lot. Because I’m an exercise and nutrition geek, I read stuff about it. I recently came across an interesting read about carb backloading and thought I would try it – yes, during my ski vacation. It went well on day 1 but by day 2, I realized holding back on carbs during 6 hours of skiing steeps and bumps was probably unwise. Day 3 thanked me for my return to sanity (and daytime carbs), and rewarded me with being able to ski big long bump runs without stopping, even at the end of the day. I still don’t have an answer to how much you should eat on a ski trip, except to say that it will depend a lot on how you ski and how long. Truthfully your best bet is probably to just not worry about it. If you overdo it, you can back off next week; if you find yourself lacking energy on the snow, eat a bit more.
2. Rest is for the wicked? Until midway through my ski trip, I was seriously thinking I might do 6 or 7 days in a row on snow. Even when I woke up feeling a little off, I still almost went. But clear heads prevailed, and I took a day of rest. I was feeling a bit under the weather (there was a bug going around the house), so that helped with the decision. Strangely I felt like a small part of me died when I stayed in instead of skiing. Especially since there was new snow for me to turn in. But personal trainer me was very proud of the mature decision. And skier me should be thrilled with the reams of energy for the days that followed.
3. The hot tub debate. It used to go without saying that a post-ski hot tub was essential. But these days ice baths are the new it thing to do. They help slow inflammation, unlike heat, which encourages it. Or so the current wisdom goes. Maybe I should be taking an ice bath instead, but really? I spent the whole day on snow, and now I’m going to take an ice bath? Um, no. As it turns out, I am not sold on the anti hot tub science. Experience tells me otherwise: I always hot tub on ski vacations, and I typically have legs that feel great for multiple days in a row. This certainly has something to do with keeping fit, and probably is affected by my pre-ski dynamic warmup, and my post-ski foam roll and stretching ritual.
But I think the hot tub helps. In theory it helps drag the toxic crap out of my muscles (formerly thought to be lactic acid), which is a good thing. Now here’s my other thought: what if a bit of inflammation in my muscles isn’t actually a bad thing? Inflammation is part of the healing process. Too much is probably going to slow me down, but what if a little just helps with recovery? What does science say? It does’t really, although theories abound. I love science, so I will keep watch on what comes up in the research journals, but until there is more, I am heading to the hot tub. Now if I was a germaphobe, the petri dish element of the hot tub would probably keep me out, but thankfully I’m not.
4. This Stupid Sexy Flanders clip makes me laugh.
5. Do you need vacations? I know many people who say they don’t take vacation because they love their job and therefore they don’t need vacation. I call these people delusional. You do need vacation. Everybody does. Loving your job just means you are a very lucky person and that you enjoy the days between vacations instead of just tolerating them. But luck has nothing to do with the human body and mind’s need for recharging. If anything, you need it more, because you probably put more of yourself into your job than everyone else. There’s another reason everyone needs vacation: because there is a big huge wonderful world out there.
6. If all your exercise occurs in a gym, you’re missing out. There is a magical feeling that comes from expressing our physical abilities in the presence of Mother Nature. Take a look at the faces of the people you see at a ski resort, or on a hiking trail, or climbing. There’s a reason everyone looks happy.
7. I swear a lot more on vacation than in regular life. Not sure what that’s about.
8. Seniors who ski make me smile. We chatted with a group of seniors on the gondola one day. I would guess late 60s, maybe early 70s. There are a lot of seniors who ski. A lot. They don’t tend to hit many steeps or bumps at that age, and don’t always stay on the slopes all day. But they still do it; and they still love it. When I taught skiing at Silver Star 10 years ago, I often skied with a guy who was in his early 80s. He even skied the occasional bump run with me. Amazing. The youngest skier I ever taught was two. I love that this is a sport for all ages.
(this is so awesome, it’s worth having to watch the commercial first)
9. 40 is decision time. If you are 40 and you don’t exercise for months on end because you are working 16 hours a day, and then try to do a week long ski trip, you’re going to have a hard time. I’m not sure what is worse for your health: not exercising, working 16 hrs a day and trying to do a week long ski trip; or keeping on with the not exercising and working too much. The ski trip will probably be painful, allowing few runs, and likely significant muscle soreness, if not worse. But the ski trip might also provide the necessary eye opener that a lifestyle devoid of exercise and full of stress is not okay. Because here’s the thing: If you are in your 40s, you are knocking on the door of heart attack country. No; really. Just ask my friend John, whom I met during ski instructor training. He was there after an early 40s heart attack woke him up to the reality that all work and no play is not only dull, but potentially lethal. 40 is also when you decide how much you’re going to enjoy your 60s, 70s, and 80s. Want to be actively playing with your grandkids at 80? Skiing at 100 like Lou? Life is about choices.
10. British Columbia really is beautiful. It’s actually kind of ridiculous.
Elsbeth Vaino is a personal trainer in Ottawa who loves to ski.