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Vacation For Your Health

Posted Sep 14 2011 7:37pm

Okay… I know what you’re thinking… you think I disappeared again.  But alas, I did NOT disappear… I was actually on a much needed vacation in The-Middle-Of-Nowhere, Maine.  I had no internet and limited cell service, so unfortunately I couldn’t update while I was away.  But as soon as I came back to the real world, I started working on this post for you.  So don’t hate me!

I’m sure you’re all thinking: “A vacation in Maine?  That sounds boring and like it has nothing to do with fitness.”  But you’d be wrong on both counts, my friends!  First of all, I know that Maine doesn’t sound as exotic as the Bahamas or Hawaii, but I SWEAR it’s better than any other place in the entire world.  It’s pretty indescribable, but I’ll do my best with pictures and words to give you an idea of what it’s like.

Some background:  It was my great grandparents who procured this land in the 1930′s, at the peak of the Great Depression.  The land is located in the middle of the woods, right on a fresh water lake… in a town you can’t find on the map.  My great grandfather built a log cabin that still stands there, looking over the beautiful, sparkling lake.  Over the years, we obtained two more cabins so that all members of my growing family could spend time up there each summer.  For many of us, it’s our one great luxury… our little piece of heaven.

Cozy cabin (photo by Sarah Miller)

The lake! (photo by Sarah Miller)

Our private little beach (aka our oasis)

Dreamy view of our dock (photo by Sarah Miller)

Because it’s in No Man’s Land and there’s no internet or cell service, you’re pretty much forced to cut off ties with the real world.  This is the key to complete relaxation, for you have no distractions and ample opportunity to forget about all of your troubles and stresses.  It’s the most invigorating experience I think I’ve ever had… and I get to do it every year!!

So what exactly do you do in a place where there’s nothing to do?  Well, I spent my time hanging out with my favorite people, vegging on a private beach, playing board games, reading by a fireplace, kayaking, indulging in some naughty foods (like s’mores!), marveling at nature, eating as many lobsters as possible, laughing A LOT, and overall just having way too much fun.

Relaxing on the beach

Kayaking!

Reading by the fire (photo by Sarah Miller)

Ben & Bill's ice cream in Bar Harbor - homemade and the best I've ever tasted!!

My favorite people! (on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park)

Still sound boring to you?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.

But what does any of this have to do with health and fitness?  Actually, quite a lot!  First of all, I mentioned lobster (FYI: if you want to fit in with the locals, it’s pronounced “lobstah”).  Besides the always elusive moose and deliciously fresh maple syrup, Maine’s biggest attraction is its fresh (and cheap!) lobster.  It’s the finest you’ll find in the whole country… and it’s good for you too!

Health benefits of lobsters:

  • High in protein
  • Low in fat
  • 10-20% of the USDA’s daily recommended value of potassium, selenium, zinc, phosphorus, copper, and vitamin B12
  • Loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids, which are great for your heart and brain

Lobstah dinnah! (photo by Sarah Miller)

Quickly devoured!

I also visited Acadia National Park.  Amongst its many wonders is Jordan Pond, wherein lies the infamous restaurant Jordan Pond House (well known for its tea and phenomenal popovers). While I was there, I purchased a box of blueberry tea.  Which brings me to health and fitness related item number 2: blueberries!  Maine is known for its blueberries almost as much as its lobster.  And they put them in EVERYTHING: pies, ice cream, pancakes… even beer (yum!!).  Well, blueberries are also extremely good for you.  In fact, they’re one of the best fruits you can eat!

Health benefits of blueberries:

  • Helps prevent cancer growth and development; may also shrink cancerous tumors
  • Improves brain functions (e.g. reverses memory loss)
  • Improves physical coordination and balance
  • Reduces cholesterol levels
  • Prevents urinary tract infections
  • Low in calories
  • High in fiber and vitamin C
  • Loaded with antioxidants (the highest capacity of any fruit)

View from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park

Jordan Pond and the north and south Bubble Mountains in Acadia National Park

Blueberry beer with real blueberries!

I think I may have also discovered a great new way to get in shape: lumberjacking.  Maine is the home of the Great Maine Lumberjack Show … something that I made fun of for the first 25 years of my life (come on, log rolling sounds ridiculous!).  But last year, one of my best friends vacationed with me for the first time and really wanted to check it out.  So we went… and it was certainly interesting.  Besides being super family friendly with lots of silly skits and contests for the kids, it really showcased just how physically fit you need to be to lumberjack.  I was impressed!  To be able to hack through thick tree trunks with heavy axes and saws using incredible speed and agility is no easy feat.  They also do precision axe throwing, relay races… and even the log rolling was pretty darn amazing.  But I have to say that my favorite part was the speed climbing up massive tree trunks.  With little more than heel spikes and a loop of rope, those lumberjacks sped up and down those trunks in a matter of seconds!  You’ve got to be in pretty tip top shape to achieve something like that!!  So if you’re looking for an interesting new workout to spice up your routine… try lumberjacking!!

Maine lumberjacks!

Lumberjacking ain't easy...

Okay, okay… all joking aside, the real reason I’m writing this post is to remind everyone how important vacations are for your health.  Where you go and what you do doesn’t really matter… what’s important is that you take time off from your busy and stressful life, get away from it all, have fun, and relax.  I realize that this is not easy for everyone… I know plenty of people who have a hard time getting away from their jobs or don’t get paid time off.  But I urge you to take the pay loss and whatever other guff you’ll get for taking time for yourself, because in the long run it will benefit you greatly.  Besides, if you think you’re losing money for taking time off without pay, imagine how much more money you’ll lose later on when you have to pay doctor bills for getting sick from being too stressed out.  Just a thought…

Anyway, it’s not as though this concept of vacationing for your health is completely unfounded.  Actually, there have been plenty of studies regarding the effects of vacationing on various illnesses.  This article from NPR is just one source I found on the matter.  A good vacation reduces stress and makes you happier, therefore it is easy to see how vacationing frequently can reduce depression, heart disease, blood pressure, stress hormones (and tension), and even help you lose weight.  People who take vacations just plain ol’ feel better!

This doesn’t just go for vacations either.  Taking time out of your day to relax for a little bit, having hobbies, and participating in activities outside of work can all have similar effects to taking a vacation.  Basically, it’s all about living a happier and more relaxed life.  And who doesn’t want that?

If this doesn't make you want to vacation, I don't know what will!

**Dedicated to the entire Crosen Family and anyone else who has been lucky enough to come up to the Crosen Camp!**

Special thanks to Sarah Miller for the use of some of her beautiful photos.


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