When people in Casper learn that I moved from Jackson, they often ask how I like it. How much I lie depends on who I’m talking to, but most of the time I give a vague yet honest, “It’s different. I miss all my recreation options but I’m finding things here that I like.” At this point, they usually (with good intentions) start telling me about Casper mountain. Here’s the thing about Casper mountain – there are trails (but not near the acreage that I’m accustomed to) but there are NO SIGNS. No mileage markers, no named loops, just parking areas and aggressive “NO TRESSPASSING” signs ringing the parameter. For a directionally challenged person such as myself, this presents a problem.
While we traditionally think of access to nature being limited by park fees or geographical location, but it can be as simple as poor roads leading to the area or a lack of signage directing folks around the various trails. When I point out to frequent Casper Mountain users that trails signs would increase the number of people who can enjoy the mountain, I typically hear something like “we don’t want them” or “go back to Teton county”. And to be fair, I don’t want to hike masses, either. But there is a line between an elitist attitude and depriving your fellow population of something as incredibly beneficial as nature.
Over and over we see studies that show humans are designed to move. Walking in the woods, whether it be with sneakers or snow shoes, lowers stress and helps maintain healthy body weight. And healthy people are generally happier, meaning the women serving you coffee may be a little friendlier and a few less folks may need public assistance (that would be your tax money) to help with the various disorders caused by obesity.
Obviously, the next step is to find a public meeting and figure out how to get these signs up. Is it too much to hope that there will be intelligent people present who won’t shout me back to Teton county?
Feed-your-body-recipe-to-try: Portobello Mushroom Strognnoff from Clean Eating
So I’m paraphrasing a little. What the August 17, 2009 issue of Time actually said is “The Myth about Exercise – Of course it’s good for you, but it won’t make you lose weight. Why it’s what you eat that really counts.” What the article goes on to say- and I’m not even pretending to be unbiased with my summary of this- is that if you exercise, you’ll get hungry. Hungrier than if you didn’t exercise at all. And the author (John Cloud) touts a fair amount of research arguing that you’re more likely to choose pizza than a salad after exercising. This is because you’ve weakened the self-control muscle by forcing yourself to exercise. If he’s right and “…self-control is like muscle…”, Jackson Hole has some big ones. (read entire article here)
Jackson is an extremely active community where “exercise” happens outside the great majority of the time. Surrounded by like-minded people, we think nothing of an 8 hour hike with significant elevation gain and loss. That’s called Saturday. And when we get home, we eat. But the difference is we’ve discover the great dieting secret that has managed to elude the majority of the American public for decades: If you eat more calories than you burn, you’ll get fat. If you eat less calories that you burn, you’ll lose weight. Want to stay the same? A novel idea… just eat as many calories as you burn.
You don’t have to memorize caloric charts for your favorite foods to do this; just use your noggin. Blueberry muffins the size of your head with cinnamon and nuts on top have a lot more calories than an apple (250 more, to be exact). Both are a reasonable mid-morning snack. If all else fails, choose whole foods. Even if they’re calorie-rich like avocados, you’re body is getting plenty of healthy yummy nutrients and will thank you for it later.
If you’re in Jackson, take a look around the town square. Those big beer guts? Those are tourists from Michigan. The guy with the 6-pack behind the counter at the t-shirt shop? Yeah, he lives here.
Quote of the day: “In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless.” -Eric Ravussin, chair in diabetes and metabolism at Louisiana State University and prominent exercise researcher.