Saving my Sanity in Wanaka

I wrote this post on 04 March but obviously did not publish it until now. The time frames mentioned are all messed up. So be it. 

For the past three weeks I’ve been very active, hiking, biking and walking. It’s been lovely spending so much time outdoors, enjoying the snow capped mountains, rushing rivers, clear lakes and the beautiful scenery that arises when all three come together. Though two days ago in Fox, I hit my nature limit. The mountains, rivers and lakes stopped being beautiful. My last day in Fox I came to hate hiking, I turned cynical and mean towards nature. Clearly I needed to leave.

There are probably a few reasons for my insanity. One, at FJ and Fox, the only thing to do is hike. There are no other options for activities or entertainment (okay, not entirely true, you can skydive at both as well). Two, the towns are small and lack everyday luxuries, like reasonably priced fresh produce, or reasonably priced food at all. I survived on peanut butter, jam, pasta, oatmeal and a little bit of broccoli. Three, though the hostels were nice, they weren’t terribly comfortable. The living rooms did not have comfy couches to relax on and the kitchen tables were bench seating rather than chairs. As a self proclaimed couch lover, this was tough. The only place to sit comfortably was my bed.

After 5 days in FJ and Fox, plus the previous 2.5 weeks of outdoorsy activities in Te Anau and Wanaka, I wanted some comfort, specifically a comfy couch, warm shower, cheap produce, a good meal and vegetables, lots and lots of vegetables. So I booked it back to Wanaka, to (one of) my favorite hostels in all of New Zealand. When I checked in the woman at reception recognized me and said Welcome Home. I could have hugged her (I didn’t, for the record).

First stop, New World Supermarket. From my previous time in Wanaka I knew where New World stashed its discount produce. I was not disappointed. For dinner I had a huge bowl of silverbeet (swiss chard, not sure why they call it silverbeet) with garlic and onions, roasted sweet potatoes and a chickpea salad. It was perfect. I went to bed feeling slightly more normal. I even ate the same thing for breakfast but instead of the chickpea salad I had eggs, sunny side up. Leafy greens make life so much better.

The next day I wanted to workout. Not a hike, not a bike ride or a nature walk. Nothing outdoors. It had been 3 weeks without a proper (lifting/ circuit) workout so I wanted a full on weight room, with free weights, dumbbells and if I was lucky kettlebells. I wanted to lift, sweat, breathe hard and beat myself up, in the best way possible, of course. Wanaka delivered again! A 17 minute walk (and $20, gulp) later I entered, I think, the only gym in Wanaka. Their free weight area was decent- they even had bumper plates, which the previous two gyms I went to lacked.

[Note- Bumper plates have a rubber exterior and are filled with sand. 5kg to 20kg bumper plates are standard diameter, which I believe is 17(?) inches. There are 2 advantages to bumper plates. 1) Because they are rubber, they won’t damage the floor, themselves, the bar etc. if you drop them or let them fall to the ground, they bounce. This is preferred for lifts that start/ end from the ground, like the deadlift or cleans, where total control isn’t necessary or warranted when placing the bar back on the ground after the lift is complete. 2) All bumper plates are standard diameter, even 5kg, whereas all steel plates, except the 20kg plates, are smaller than standard diameter. Again, only relevent for lifts that start from the ground. If you are limited to steel plates, any lift less than 60kg (the bar (20kg), plus a 20kg plate on each side, ~132lbs) will not put the bar at the standard height off the floor to start- it will be lower because the diameter of the lower weight steels plates is smaller. Bumper plates resolve this issue. I can’t power clean 60kg (well maybe I can, never tried) so bumper plates are useful]

I programmed a lifting workout which lasted about 40 minutes, then ended with a 15 minute reverse pyramid finisher. Since there were heavy-ish kettlebells I incroporated kettlebell swings into the finisher. And then, because I could, I did some simple gymnastics, which I haven’t done since the masters games- handstands, cartwheels, tuck jumps, full turns. It. Was. Perfect. I felt invincible after that workout. Plus, I love lifting and I love gymnastics. The $20 was entirely worth it.

So there we go. After a lackluster experience in FJ and Fox, a few meals of swiss chard plus a great workout and I was back to (my) normal.


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