REAL LIFE Lessons learned and experiences.

Hello All,
I’m back with my two cents on “The Way I Live It!”
Today, we’re going to tackle “How to dress for #outdooradventures and #outdoorworkouts.”


As an outdoor fitness company, we take clients and guests on several outdoor “FITTRIPS” during winter (or chilly) months.
Through years of experience of what to do and what to wear; as well as the absolute “NO-NOTs”, I’m going to share what we learned.


I hope you will learn something new, have a chuckle and #optoutside.

Lesson #1: Learn what to wear and why
Layering your clothes is an important aspect of being warm and keeping warm. When I first learned this lesson, we were doing a winter hike in Indiana. It was about 35* and I thought I was going to freeze at that temperature. What I didn’t take into consideration was that I would be HIKING. Hello? Moving, climbing walking will raise your heart rate and generate heat. I was so over-dressed, I started sweating under my four (yes I said four) layers. I hadn’t made it a half mile before I was peeling off clothes. Although I would rather peel off clothes than not have enough clothes on, you can handicap yourself by over-dressing.

What I learned: Overheating leads to sweating which can lead to chills or even hypothermia. And in my case, I had to wear an ice cold bra for the rest of the hike.


Solution: Look for clothing that has mixed blended materials. Cotton is not recommended because it holds moisture. Mixed synthetic material (or as it’s marketed as “sweat-wicking”) is your best bet.
Always start with a synthetic base layer. These materials pull perspiration away from your skin. Ladies, that means NO cotton sports bras!!

Lesson #2: Don’t forget about the feet, fingers, ears and nose.
Usually, you can sustain a little wind or chill on your face while active outdoors but PROTECT your skin and digits.
There is nothing worse than having it all together and your feet (toes), hands (fingers and wrist) and face (neck, ears and nose) are exposed and subject to frostbite.

What I learned: My ears are paper thin and I NEED a warm, wool hat to cover not only my head, but my ears too. I don’t mess around with thin gloves or socks. The old cliché’ is true, “cold feet ruins morale.”


Solution: Spend the money UPFRONT and invest in insulated, waterproof foot ware. That includes socks.

Lesson #3: Start out SLOW and work your way up to a sustainable pace. If you blast out- of- the- box at 100 miles per hour, you’re going to generate immediate heat and perspiration.

What I learned: My hike felt like I was wearing an ice vest and frozen underpants.

Solution: Remember what a wise source* once was quoted saying, “Once you know you’ve got your layers right and are warm but not sweating, then you can put the hammer down!”

Lesson #4: Pack a snack and wet your whistle when thirsty.
We expected our hike to last about two and half hours. We knew we would be hungry afterwards so we packed a lot of snacks! I am one to bring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich anywhere. I also like to pack nuts, (vegan) cheese, dried fruit and sometimes a nutrition bar. Nuts and dairy take longer to digest so you generate heat. Hell, who am I kidding? I’ll pack a dark chocolate candy bar too! You never know…

What I learned: There’s nothing like a buzz-kill than being HUNGRY after a workout and you only have dried-out gum or sticky mints in the glove box.
Something else I learned about HYDRATING: don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water. I drink at least 24 oz. that morning and then hit the bathroom before leaving.

I also learned: I need to pack my snacks the night before so I don’t forget anything I want or need. If it’s cold outside, taking warm drinks in a thermos can be soothing as well as a source of generating heat on chilly hands, ears, nose, etc. Eating a snack along the way or during your activity also generates heat while you eat.

BONUS: I don’t like stale gum or mints!! But seriously, it is dangerous to be dehydrated AND out on a hike away from medical help. If you do run low on fluids or get thirsty, you can always find CLEAN snow and go for it. Our *REI buddies also told us that “putting butter in your hot drinks (chocolate) can dramatically increase its warmth”. OK, honestly, I haven’t tried that one. But, I have put a little MTC oil in my coffee.
P.S.S.S.S.S.T. DON’T do that if you don’t have access to a bathroom. It may not hit you right away, but it’s a guarantee you’ll start to feel grumbling half way through your hike.

Lesson #5: Pack extra clothes, gear and first aid stuff and put it in your car and/or carry in your backpack. We NEVER go hiking without these basics (depending on where we are going, the list may expand): charged up cell phone, portable charger, first aid kit, walkie/talkie, whistle, mace, red ribbons (I’ll explain in a bit), water, snacks, toilet paper, extra socks, extra base layer shirt (rolled tight in the backpack) and ID (people forget this one to my surprise)! Now about the red ribbons….

What I Learned: We took a trip to Gander Mountain, Antioch, IL . It was AMAZING! It is literally a mountain with several elevations, single track paths, hills, valleys, etc. Although it is primarily two circles that split at a fork on the trail before intersecting again back at the beginning of the trail; we took several people with us. One group was more athletic than the other group but we needed to stay in communication to ensure safety. The first group TIED RED RIBBONS on the direction of the trail they took so we could follow. Once we reached a ribbon (which we could see), we gently REMOVED them and followed.

Observation: We stayed ON the trail. Most hiking trails will require you to stay ON the trail so you don’t disturb flora and forage or spread dangerous plant species throughout the trail.

Solution: PACK AHEAD based on WHERE you are going! Do a little research. Are there bathrooms? What is the terrain? Any weather or trail warnings? Will I have special needs (inhaler, epi-pen, insulin, etc.)

Well, I hope you tune in next time to find out how our next #outdooradventures went and what lessons we learned as well as the FUN we had.

Our next trips are: more hiking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, tubbing and sledding and fat tire biking. Whoooohooo! Feel free to join us if you’re close to or in the Chicagoland area.

CHECK US OUT: www.panthertraining.co

Until next time, this is “The Way I Live It!”

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Panther training

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