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Aloha: Here Comes the Sun

Aloha from Hawaii. (Before you get jealous, it’s not for fun. But I am trying to make the best of it.) Yesterday I decided to exercise. People unfamiliar with Hawaii imagine it’s all pineapples and mangos, surfers and hula dancers. Since my family and friends are local, it’s less fun in the sun and more like one long meal (which is also fun – I’m just clarifying the experience). Food is an important part of being gracious and welcoming, and Hawaii is extremely welcoming. It’s tempura and chicken katsu (Japanese fried food), malasadas (fried Portuguese donuts) and things like cracked seed (one of the saltiest snacks ever).

The Aloha State is also one of the few places anywhere that you can comfortably admit you like SPAM. So since healthy eating isn’t working out I decided to go on a jog around the neighborhood. But why am I running on concrete when surrounded by the ocean, the mountains, the beach? Hiking a mountain, that was the answer. (See hiking trail below).

Before I got very far, my legs were burning. There was a rope going up the first part so you can pull yourself up if necessary. When there’s a rope to pull yourself up on anywhere up a hill, I probably shouldn’t be there. But there were little kids behind me running and shouting and bouncing about. How hard could it be? I felt old with my knees cracking and a fear of twisting an ankle and falling on my face. My friend told me to hike up and then turn back down the mountain. But once I got to the top I thought it was too steep to go back so decided to keep moving forward. Surely it can’t be as bad on the other side, I thought. Not sure why I thought that.

Because when I made my way back down the other side, there was only a trail up another mountain. Of course I thought there must be a way out. No. Now I was plodding up another mountain, thinking that if I slipped and fell no one would find me for a long time. Apparently everyone else knew not to do the second mountain because I did not see another soul the entire time. Going down, I was running from branch to branch, skidding my way down loose pebbles. My 30 minute hike turned into a 2 hours. However, once I figured out where I was, I was soon happily cooling my feet through the white powdery sand of Lanikai beach. But I started to think more about how I could have better prepared (starting with knowing where I was going.) Next would be taking care of myself when the heat of the sun is beating down on me…which leads me to my favorite topic, sun protection! So in case you’re thinking of taking an unknown hike in Hawaii (or anywhere else, for that matter), make sure that you are adequately prepared:

Protective Clothing. I wore a Lululemon long-sleeved top because I was determined to stay protected though I was roasting. Lululemon has fabrics with what they call UVF – Ultraviolet Protection Factor of 50+ that helps block UVA and UVB rays. This store is pricier than what I usually spend on workout clothes (i.e., Target) but the styles are so clever and flattering that sometimes I give in. Also, a new store just opened in my building.

A Hat. Me, who constantly preaches about the importance of sun protection – I forgot my hat. The sun was beating down on me and I felt like it was creating unfortunate future spots and lines on my face. Which it may  have been. So don’t forget.

Sunscreen. For the first time I used Kiss My Face Sunscreen. People have been asking me about natural and green products – this sunscreen uses natural ingredients in a creamy but non-greasy texture. And I got absolutely no tan.

Water. At the last minute I thought to bring water.  And was I ever glad I did. Had I planned better I would have used a Lululemon Amphipod Hydration Belt so I could carry water hands-free. Yes, it looks a little like a fanny pack. But when you’re rationing water and thirsty, who cares?

Your Phone. At some point I was expecting someone to call, concerned about my safety and worried about where I was. When I got home I asked, “What were you guys doing while I was gone?” “Talking story,” they said (this is the Hawaiian way of describing sitting around having a good conversation). Well! At least I had my phone in case I had fallen on my face and rolled down the hill.

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