T H E PA R K S I S S U E JUNE 2022
OF TEXAS Star Light, Star Bright
Crushin’ the Climb
Big Bend, Big Benefits
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1 Vehicle’s projected resale value is specific to the 2020-2021 model years. For more information, visit Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com. Kelley Blue Book is a registered trademark of Kelley Blue Book Co., Inc. 2 MSRP $32,137. This close-ended lease available to well-qualified lessees. Total monthly payments = $12,564. 12k miles per year, additional overage fee of 15¢/mile may apply. Lessee is responsible for all maintenance unless otherwise specified. Additional fees for early termination, payment delinquency, and/or excessive wear and tear may apply. Lessee must provide appropriate auto insurance throughout lease term of 36 months. See Austin Subaru for details. 3 MSRP $38,445. This close-ended lease available to well-qualified lessees. Total monthly payments = $14,364. 12k miles per year, additional overage fee of 15¢/mile may apply. Lessee is responsible for all maintenance unless otherwise specified. Additional fees for early termination, payment delinquency, and/or excessive wear and tear may apply. Lessee must provide appropriate auto insurance throughout lease term of 36 months. See Austin Subaru for details. 7 Purchase/lease any new (previously untitled) Subaru & receive a complimentary, factory scheduled maintenance plan for 2 years/24,000 miles (whichever comes first). See Subaru Added Security Maintenance Plan for intervals, coverages, & limitations. Customer must take delivery before 12/31/2022 and reside within the promotional area. See Austin Subaru for program details & eligibility.
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From the Director wildlife doesn’t judge your appearance or personality, and the fresh air never has preconceived notions about who you are or what you’ve done. I’ve always loved spending time outside. I grew up in a small town outside of Dallas but that didn’t stop me from venturing into the green spaces in our neighborhood or, once I was able to drive, to the nearby state and city parks. When I was in high school, my dad and I hiked along the Appalachian Trail, easily one of my favorite hiking trips. During college, a group of friends and I road-tripped to Utah to hike in Zion National Park. Not to mention, with Austin being so full of green spaces beckoning for you to enjoy, I’ve had my fair share of treks to the Greenbelt, Bull Creek, St. Edward’s Park and many more. The best-kept secret of Austin and Texas isn’t the hidden gems of local restaurants or even secret hiking spots but rather the fact that these parks truly connect the unlikeliest of people. In a space where technology is often discarded to “be grounded with nature,” you inevitably connect with the space and those sharing that space, oftentimes with people you wouldn’t have met otherwise. Remember how much more we valued the outdoors when the pandemic rolled around, forcing us to be inside? We couldn’t help but go out! Parks offer a space where we can unplug and get out; the act of disconnecting actually leads to more connecting. There’s something about being in nature that makes people feel fully themselves; we become aware of how small we are yet how interconnected we are with one another. In this Parks Issue, you’ll grow in appreciation for these outdoor spaces, whether it be a city, state or national park. You’ll hear stories of park rangers across Texas, the camaraderie of women climbers, the passion for landscape photography and so much more. This issue is a celebration of the outdoors, an homage to nature! So let’s celebrate, disconnect, reconnect and be all the better for it!
IF NATURE WAS A STUDIO, WE WOULD ALL HAVE THE YEAR-ROUND PACKAGE.
f I’m being honest, I hate going to the gym. The height of my public exercise journey includes bouldering at ABP about once a week, but for the most part, going to the gym sounds like a death wish to my confidence. Just the thought of trying to maneuver a machine in front of others makes me squirm. Now, I’m not saying all gyms are evil. Gyms and studios are great places to gather and pursue fitness as a community. However, I would also argue that the outdoors offers a special kind of facility — one that can’t be governed by technology like rowing machines nor is exclusive to those with memberships. Something I’ve learned is that the outdoors truly is for everyone. The outdoors itself doesn’t discriminate, the
Keep Austin Fit,
DIRECTOR OF CONTENT
C R E AT I V I T Y
PHOTOGRAPHER WENDY RODRIGUEZ IG: @wendy.photographyy
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THE GOOD STUFF
CRUSHIN’ THE CLIMB
20 PICTURE THIS WITH LOCAL
30 PARK RANGERS OF TEXAS
LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHER JUNE 2022
Letter from the Director 4 | Digital Content 8 | Pet of the Month 65 | Ambassador’s Corner 72 | Events 74 | Rides and Races 76
STAR LIGHT, STAR BRIGHT
BIG BEND, BIG BENEFITS
Recipe of the Month: Power Breakfast Sandwich 10 Return of the Picnic 12 A Summer Well-Done 14
Who Let The Dogs Out? 24 Leave No Trace 26
Humans and Lumens 48 Keeping It Natural 50 Wild and Safe 52 Prep Mo for Summer 54
Parks, Fully Loaded 58 Keep Camping Fit 62 Family, Fun, Fitness 70
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DIRECTOR OF CONTENT | LANDRY ALLRED ART DIRECTOR | BEN CHOMIAK PHOTOGRAPHER | BRIAN FITZSIMMONS MARKETING DIRECTOR | AMANDA BOURESSA CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Katerina Cotroneo, Mia Barnes, Isabel Meijering, Monica Brant, Sarah Leahy, Stephanie Thomas, Kara Reynolds, Jason Bourgeois INTERNS Aja Webber, Chad Dyer, Dafne Villanueva, Sam Hacker, Therese Vonesh, Braysin Cupp
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Coach Kati Epps at MyBody GX
RECIPE OF THE MONTH POWER BREAKFAST SANDWICH INGREDIENTS: 1 Ezekiel multi-grain English muffin 2 oz lox 1 egg (optional) ¼ cup sprouted super greens or broccoli sprouts 1.5 oz avocado ½ tbsp capers Dash of Everything But the Bagel Seasoning (optional) PREPARATION: 1. Toast English muffin in toaster. 2. Spread avocado on both sides of the warm English muffin. 3. Sprinkle avocado with Everything But the Bagel Seasoning if using the seasoning. 4. Layer lox, egg (if using), sprouted greens and capers. 5. Serve or take with you for a healthy post-workout meal! Serves 1 302 calories, 30.3 carbohydrates, 9.8 fat, 22.2 protein (without egg)
374 calories, 30.7 carbohydrates, 14.5 fat, 28.5 protein (with egg)
RETURN OF THE PICNIC n The season for picnics is back!
Here are some ways to have the perfect park picnic this summer.
HONEY SOCIAL PICNIC CO.
T JUNE 2022
here is nothing more romantic, intimate or familiar than an old-fashioned picnic in the park. Whether it be your neighborhood park or a state park, there are plenty of places in Austin to set out your basket and enjoy. The trend of charcuterie and cheese boards alike has spiked in popularity and with that, so has the reminder that it’s the little things in life we need to enjoy — there is no better place to do so than in the great outdoors. So grab your wicker basket and checkered blanket, and let’s hit the grass! When picnicking, there are several avenues you can choose from. From hiring a company to set up a picnic soiree to getting down in the dirt with your kiddos at Zilker Park, the limits are endless to the “perfect picnic.” Consider hosting a picnic function for your family and friends for an unforgettable moment or celebration — somewhere such as Mueller Lake Park, where companies can provide everything and you simply show up and enjoy! It’s an effortless way to kick off the
HONEY SOCIAL PICNIC CO.
summer season and scratch that itch for a solid picnic. Plus, you get to curate the exact pallet you’d like to showcase. This is a great option for a birthday surprise or sweet gift for a friend and is something everyone would enjoy, because who doesn’t love a picnic? Or, if you want to DIY it, you can reserve a picnic table online at local spots such as Emma Long Metropolitan Park or Pease Park Conservancy, or even at a state park! For state parks, all you have to do is make a reservation, pay the fee or donation if necessary, and bring all you desire to have the picnic of your dreams. You can pack homemade or store-bought sandwiches and all the best healthy snacks such as veggie chips, fresh fruit and granola! Picnics are great because you’re getting a chance to be active while enjoying company, conversation and your choice of sustenance. Whether it be brie cheese and caviar or tuna salad and grapes, the world is yours and you can pack as you please. Just be sure you follow the rules of whichever park you attend to ensure you are being respectful of the park.
If you are feeling less driven but don’t want to miss out on the picnic fun, you can always grab an old tablecloth, make a quick stop at Whole Foods and make your way to a local park, whether it be in your neighborhood or good ol’ reliable Zilker Park to have a “lazy man’s” picnic. Remember, it doesn’t have to be all champagne and roses to be considered a picnic; it just has to meet the minimum requirements of eating outside and enjoying the fresh air. A sushi roll, kombucha and yourself on the grass is technically a picnic, so take advantage of that 30-minute lunch break and enjoy the vitamin D and your friendly neighbors. Some of the best memories I have growing up are on picnic blankets, giggling with friends till our stomachs ached. Summertime means eating frozen grapes to keep cool and playing card games and truth or dare because when at a picnic, technology ceased to exist, as did the outside world. Picture this — it’s just you, your friends, the blades of grass in the wind and the sound of laughter echoing throughout the park from the surrounding picnic-goers. Where else would anyone want to spend their summer afternoon? afm Katerina Cotroneo is a professional photographer turned lifestyle writer. Using her marketing background and her talent behind the camera, Katerina tells unique stories through her lens and captures diverse perspectives.
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A SUMMER WELL-DONE n Barbecues are a rite of passage for
summertime, but did you know they can still be healthy without forsaking flavor.
ummer is the perfect season for eating healthier. Nature opens up her pantry, providing fresh fruits and vegetables in abundance. Holidays like the Fourth of July revolve around fireworks, not food. However, your weekend backyard bash might not be the best for your heart or waistline. Luckily, you can clean it up with ease. Here are seven tips to make your summer barbecue healthier.
2. Slim Your Salads
Many summer barbecue salads come laden with mayonnaise, including coleslaw and macaroni. This stuff is high in calories and fat — and leaving it to sit in the sun can cause it to go rancid, making you sick. Instead, try lowering the fat and calorie content by using reduced-fat mayonnaise and dijon mustard for creamy flavor. Better yet, stick with recipes that call for olive oil as the primary binder. This heart-healthy oil contains oleic acid, which may reduce inflammation and lower your cardiovascular disease risks.
1. Fire up the Grill
Grilling is one of the healthiest food preparation methods. However, you should avoid burning your meat and reduce health risks by adjusting your time and temperature for juicy perfection. Your reward is a low-fat cut since much of the grease will drain away between the slats. Another way to keep your meat moist, not crispy, is marinating it for 20 minutes before grilling. This method allows the rich, salty umami tastes of soy sauce and fiery sriracha to penetrate the cut, imbuing it with flavor while keeping it moist during cooking. If you’re heading to the park or going camping, it’s OK to let your cuts soak in a plastic storage container while you travel — a little extra time only enhances the savoriness.
3. Pick the Perfect Accompaniments
What else do you pair with your seared salmon and three-bean salad? Don’t think a greasy, salty bag of chips is your only alternative. Instead, why not serve up some shelled nuts and seeds? These contain oodles of vital minerals like magnesium, selenium and zinc. These nutrients
support positive mental health — in a study, one group of deficient patients recovered better from magnesium alone than from a tricyclic antidepressant. Sprouted grains increase nutrient bioavailability. You ditch the pesky blood sugar spikes associated with the all-purpose stuff. Why not look for healthy buns and rolls made from ancient grains like amaranth?
Keep your summer barbecue fun and healthy for the littles, too. You can create a cheap pool noodle obstacle course by visiting your nearest dollar store before your event.
7. Remember Safety Rules
All that fun in the sun can lead to heat-related illness if you aren’t careful. Learn the signs of heat exhaustion and stroke and immediately intervene if you notice someone struggling. Move them to a cool area and contact emergency services if necessary. Ozone depletion means summer’s UV rays hit your skin harder than ever. Slather on the sunscreen and do the same for your kiddos. Also, be tick-safe. Wear long socks and shoes in the grass and inspect your littles when they come in from playing outside.
4. Stay Fresh for Dessert
Summer is the season for fresh fruit. There’s no need to laden yourself down with more fattening fare for a sweet end to your meal. Instead, serve a fruit salad with a side of whipped cream — you can find non-dairy versions if you practice a vegan lifestyle.
5. Provide a Mix of Low-Cal Drinks
Many summer cocktails keep it light. For example, you can slash the calorie content of your vino and increase hydration levels by topping flavored seltzer with a splash of Moscato, creating a spritzer. Are you making homemade lemonade or sun tea? Keep it sweet without the sugar swings. Monk fruit syrup is a natural calorie-free sweetener made from an Asian fruit that won’t impact your blood glucose.
Summer is the perfect season for eating healthy. You’ll find fresh foods in season to delight any taste, and grilling reduces calories and fat. Make your next summer barbecue healthier by following the above tips. Enjoy fun in the sun while benefiting your overall wellbeing. afm Mia is a health and wellness writer and the Editor In Chief at Body + Mind. She specifically enjoys writing about women’s fitness, as well as mental health-related topics. When she’s not writing, Mia can usually be found reading poetry, taking a dance or cardio class, or hiking.
6. Keep Things Moving
Outdoor barbecues invite fun in the sun. Give your guests something to do besides sip brewskies by setting up a volleyball net. It won’t take much prompting for someone to pick up the ball and serve.
AU S T I N F I T M AG A Z I N E
STAR LIGHT, STAR BRIGHT n Need a break from the light pollution? Here is our list of the best places to go stargazing in Austin and Texas.
ustin is well-known for various reasons, including its picturesque outdoor spaces such as Lady Bird Lake, Barton Creek Greenbelt and Zilker Park. However, finding a perfect spot to stargaze can be challenging because of the city and light pollution. Light pollution is becoming more common in our understanding of the ecosystem and environmental awareness. This kind of pollution doesn’t only affect humans in their night routine but also plants and animals. Plants and animals
rely on Earth’s daily cycle of light and darkness to regulate behavior patterns such as reproduction, nutrition, sleep and predator protection. Fortunately, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department aims to protect our dark skies and even records the night sky brightness in Texas state parks in a database. They use the Bortle scale rating to measure the luminance, ranging from one to nine — one being for very dark skies to nine for bright city skies. Luckily, we’ve compiled a roundup of the best places to go stargazing in Austin and Texas.
Keep It Local
Because of the city lights, there aren’t many places to go stargazing in Austin, but there is a program within the 40 acres. The University of Texas at Austin has some fantastic programs for stargazing. For example, if you want to avoid traveling far to stargaze, the university has a program called Star Parties, which are public viewings of the stars and constellations hosted by the Department of Astronomy. On Wednesday nights, the 16-inch reflector telescope at the Physics, Math and Astronomy building is open. On Friday and Saturday nights, the 9-inch refractor at Painter Hall is open.
While Austin may not have the best stargazing opportunities, there are many other places to visit in Texas. Beyond the city lights and light pollution that surrounds the city, there are a number of places where one can enjoy the best of what the dark skies have to offer.
CANYON OF THE EAGLES NATURE PARK & RESORT
Canyon Of The Eagles Resort has a travel time of about 90 minutes
from Austin, and its Bortle scale ranges around three and a half. The 940-acre park is fun for any outdoor experience but hosts three activities centered around the night sky. One is an observatory where visitors have access to two sets of telescopes to observe bright planets, star clusters and distant galaxies. The other two include a movie night under the stars and a special astronomy presentation.
ENCHANTED ROCK STATE NATURAL AREA
Enchanted Rock is not only great for hiking and climbing but also for stargazing. Located about one hour and 45 minutes away from Austin, the 1,600 acres of nature lead to the perfect escape from the city’s light pollution for ideal stargazing. It’s rated a three on the Bortle scale, and there are multiple events or star parties arranged by park rangers to hike and stargaze.
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n LIFESTYLE LOST MAPLES STATE NATURAL AREA
Lost Maples State Natural Area is also rated a three on the Bortle scale and is about three hours from Austin. The park allows for star parties or solo stargazing. With scenic views of the Hill Country and along the Sabinal River’s border, it makes for a perfect evening.
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK
Lastly, Big Bend National Park is one the best places to go for stargazing not just in the state of Texas but in the whole country. Though it is about a 6- to 7-hour drive from Austin, it may be worth it as it’s rated a one on the Bortle scale. The International Dark-Sky Association also awarded Big Bend the International Dark Sky Park title.
Throughout the year, the Big Bend staff and volunteers provide a variety of night sky educational programs. From star parties to moonlight walks, their programs promote discussions about the importance of night skies. To avoid a big group, Big Bend also encourages solo stargazing and asks visitors to bring a pair of binoculars. Staff recommends setting up your stargazing venture
far from a developed area of the park for a night of meteor showers, constellation observing, Milky Way viewing or night sky photography. While options for stargazing are limited in Austin, the beauty of living in a large state permits Texans to visit many places for a great night of stargazing. afm
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PICTURE THIS WITH LOCAL LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHER n Check out Christopher Zebo, a local
landscape photographer, and his insight on capturing the beauty of the outdoors.
hristopher Zebo ran out of gas in Texas. In 2009, Zebo packed up all of his belongings and explored the lower 48 states for four months with a backseat full of photography gear. The day before Thanksgiving, Zebo’s fuel gauge dipped past empty, leaving him stranded in College Station. He’s been a Texan ever since. After leaving his home state of Pennsylvania behind, Zebo had the world ahead of him. Zebo says he’s always been able to see the world through the eyes of a landscape photographer. His photography career took off in 2016 when he exhibited his first one-man show called “For the Love of Texas,” consisting of 32 framed prints. Zebo is now a full-time portrait and headshot photographer with
his new business, The Austin Photo Truck — a 1973 RV that was converted and engineered into a professional photography studio. Here’s a glimpse into the world of landscape photography with Zebo.
PHOTOS BY CHRISTOPHER ZEBO
AFM: What prompted you to travel across the U.S.? Zebo: It’s funny — students, after they graduate, their dream is to tour Europe and bounce around the world. But they don’t even know what their own country looks like. I wanted to see places I’d only heard about but had never seen. Going to places like the Badlands in the Dakotas blew my mind; it’s a desert in the north! And cool towns like Omaha, Nebraska or Kansas City, they’re awesome. And the Far West too. I could’ve lived in those mountains of Utah if I’d run out of gas there. It was a curiosity in our own country; it’s gigantic. We have all these roads, so why not explore them?
AFM: Why did you stay in Texas? Zebo: It was the people, first. When I first arrived in College Station in 2009, it was a really ugly town. It was so bland. But within a couple of months of meeting Texans, I couldn’t believe how friendly and down-to-earth they were. It was easy for me to stay; I don’t ever want to leave. Then, (it was) the landscapes. You have an entire country of landscapes all within the boundaries of the Texas borders. You have the prairies, mountains, desert, a coastline, a bayou and the Hill Country. Everything is all in one place. I can vacation somewhere six hours away and feel like I hopped on a plane to another destination, all within Texas.
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PHOTOS BY CHRISTOPHER ZEBO
AFM: What exactly is landscape photography? Zebo: It’s a different way of seeing. There are several genres of photography. Two genres intertwine — travel and landscape photography. In travel photography, you take photos of landscapes, but you also take photos of people having drinks at a restaurant or hotel. Landscape photography also gets confused with nature photography; they’re not really the same either. Landscapes are compositions of land in the sense that an impressionist painter would capture on a canvas. If we look at paintings from the 1800s by Monet, there’s something compositionally beautiful about them. You see an organization of all the elements captured on the canvas; colors provide some of that organization. It’s a different way of seeing, being
a landscape photographer. And I’ve always seen it for some reason. It was natural for me, and that’s how my career grew so quickly. AFM: What do you look for when shooting landscapes? Zebo: The difference between someone who’s not a photographer and takes a picture of the Grand Canyon and a photographer who takes the photo is that the photographer sees a balance and organization in the scene that a person who doesn’t think about that wouldn’t see. What I would call the “landscape narrative” in the frame of the shot they are taking, there’s a balance to it. The way you move your camera around and have certain elements in it, and they’re in certain regions of the frame. Organizationally, you can see those things together; the recipe for them makes a great visual meal.
AFM: Which is your favorite national park in Texas? Zebo: Big Bend is my favorite. The name “Big Bend” comes from a big bend in the Rio Grande as it wraps around the side of the Texas border. There’s a mountain range there called the Chisos Mountains, which is the most photogenic in that area. What’s most amazing about Big Bend is that, to get out there, you have to make an effort. When you arrive, out of this desert landscape, you see this mountain range rise out of the ground and then disappear quickly. It’s a very small range. It’s called a sky island. It’s surreal. It feels like you have the entire national park to yourself. For a photographer, it was a dream to be out there for a week shooting every morning and evening when the sun rose and went down. afm
WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? n Check out the city of Austin’s Bark Rangers program that joins dogs and their owners to help better the community.
n a city as beautiful as Austin, the parks and outdoor spaces entice many dog owners and their dogs. While Austin is known for being dog-friendly, the beauty of our parks and water spaces, unfortunately, suffer when owners fail to properly leash their dogs or dispose of their dog’s waste; this is where the Bark Rangers come in. The Bark Rangers are affiliated with the City of Austin and focus on the city’s parks and outdoor spaces, with a mission similar to the National Park affiliation but with greater emphasis on local procedures. Bark Rangers in Austin aim to reduce the amount of pet waste or bagged pet waste left on trails and in parks, reduce the number of off-leash dogs in on-leash parks, reduce pet and pet owner injuries and deaths due to inadequate safety measures,
and encourage pet owners to be park caretakers for Austin’s park system.
A Helping Hand
Melissa Hand, an Austin Park Ranger II and Bark Ranger program coordinator, explains the importance of caring for our pets and parks in a city as populated as Austin. “Austin is a growing city that is home to over 250,000 dogs,” Hand says. “Venturing into our parks might seem like a simple trip, but dogs, like humans, require supplies when visiting a park, such as water to drink, a leash and poop bags.” Educating others is also a part of the Bark Rangers program. Hand makes sure to emphasize to the park visitors the importance of ensuring parks are dog-friendly as well as protecting the dogs and Austinites.
“Our dog populations generate roughly 150,000 pounds of waste every day!” Hand says. “When not disposed of properly, this waste can wash into our local waterways causing giardia, roundworms, salmonella and other unpleasant diseases.” Hand explains that caring for dogs in our parks benefits everyone’s health. Hand says excessive pet waste may result in higher nutrient levels. When this waste is combined with warm, slow-moving water, it can cause a spike in toxin-producing, bluegreen algae, making humans and dogs extremely ill. In some cases, the results are even fatal. Volunteering is also an essential aspect of the organization. “When looking for new volunteers, we want people who are passionate about their dogs and their parks,” Hand says.
PHOTO COURTESY OF CITY OF AUSTIN PARKS AND RECREATION
A Paw for the Austin Community
The Bark Ranger program wouldn’t exist without its volunteers. Carla Criner, Wendy Hernandez, Will Smith, Gina Rivera and Dale Blasingame are a few of the many volunteers who keep our parks beautiful. Criner says Bark Rangers combines many of her interests. The program merges her commitment to stewardship, dedication to giving back to the local community and drive to share outdoor adventures with our dogs sustainably. She notes that
it’s essential to take care of parks, especially with Austin’s growing population. Criner and her dog Loki often do volunteer work together. “Loki is always happy to be out and about, especially on Bark Ranger duty!” Criner says. “He gets so excited when I put his bandana and service vest on.” On the other hand, East Austinbased couple Hernandez and Smith joined the Bark Rangers to bond with their dogs and community. Along with cleaning up parks as Bark Rangers, the couple also hosts neighborhood cleanup days on their own. “It feels great to give back to our community while spending time with (our dogs) Ace and Mason,” Hernandez says. “We also love that we are helping make Austin more beautiful and enjoyable for all.” Another volunteer Rivera mentions how the pandemic provided an opportunity to participate in outdoor activities, allowing her dog Riggins to enjoy the outdoors. This time of growth during the pandemic influenced her
to join the Bark Ranger Program. “Riggins and I spend a lot of time in parks, so it is a great way to give back to spaces that are important to us,” Rivera says. “It’s a great enrichment activity for him.” Lastly, Blasingame has a close relationship with Texas Parks & Wildlife because his rescue dog Lucy is the only dog to have visited all 95 Texas state parks. Blasingame hopes to connect with nature while also helping his community by volunteering at the Bark Ranger program, which he discovered while on their usual trail walks. “I feel a strong connection to the parks and trails that have given us so much joy over the years,” Blasingame says. “It feels amazing to be able to give back in any way possible.” afm
“We also need self-starters who are excited about creating a community around responsible dog ownership.” The Bark Rangers are currently recruiting and have an online workshop where applicants can learn how to become team members. The program is open to all dogs and their owners who are fully vaccinated, socialized, friendly and can respond to basic commands.
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LEAVE NO TRACE n When visiting a state park, there are
certain practices of courtesy to keep in mind to help the state park thrive.
ith summer’s peak approaching, your vacation time probably includes at least one visit to a nearby state park. However, there are some key things to keep in mind to be courteous to the park and the people around you. While everyone has probably heard of the phrase “leave no trace,” there is more to it than most know. Katie Raney, a Texas Parks & Wildlife Regional Interpretive Specialist, shares the seven principles of truly leaving no trace.
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Raney says courtesy for the park doesn’t begin once you arrive. “(Courtesy) starts before you get to the park,” Raney says. “Do research, check the website and see if you need to buy a permit… There are a limited number of parking spots, and septic systems can only take so much.” Additionally, all state parks require a valid permit from visitors, no matter their reason for visiting. Raney says this includes a day-use permit for people visiting just to picnic or hike or a camping permit for overnight stays in a cabin or at a campsite. While all parks require permits to visit, quieter parks are more flexible about when permits need to be purchased. If you’re attempting to visit a more popular state park or planning on camping or hiking on a popular weekend (such as Memorial weekend or the Fourth of July), Raney says getting a permit beforehand is paramount to fully enjoy the park.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
While visiting a state park, it’s important to stick to the paths and areas made specifically for humans. “Sticking to the trail is better for the environment and it’s better for you because it’s safer,” Raney says. “You still have to watch your step, but you’re not having to bushwhack.”
Dispose of Waste Properly
Disposing of waste is more than just throwing away the plastic wrapping for food; it also includes picking up after your pets. There are poop bags available, but bringing your own is recommended due to the high influx of people. Keeping your pets on a leash is another way to be courteous, as other people could be allergic, scared or just not a fan of dogs. Try to keep an eye on your pets as they look for a bathroom so they aren’t in the middle of the road, in front of the public bathrooms or hiding behind a tree.
Leave What You Find
As tempting as it is to pluck a flower, artifact or even animal from the park as a keepsake, it’s actually a crime in Texas. “(Taking from the park) messes with the local ecosystem as well, making it harder for the wildlife to grow (as) it should,” Raney says. “For me, it’s less about the legality of it and more wanting to preserve the park system for the next generation (and) visitors.” While that flower may look like it won’t be missed, each organism is vital to the ecosystem. The critters and insects need those smaller plants, even though they may seem insignificant to us.
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Minimizing Campfire Impact
Raney suggests checking if the area has a burn ban. While a burn ban is placed by the county, you’ll want to check with the specific park as rules may be different depending on its location. Additionally, it’s against Texas state park rules to forage for firewood in the park; you either must bring your own or purchase some from nearby towns. Sometimes parks sell firewood, but it wouldn’t hurt to check with the park beforehand. Even kindling should be purchased beforehand as Raney says wood plays an important role in the forest.
“Big (and) small logs are fodder for insects and other small creatures to live in or feed on,” Raney says. “Eventually, they become soil or fertilizer for that next generation of plant and animal life. It’s part of that specific forest cycle.”
While most know to leave the deer crossing the roads alone, Raney says animals you see on your campground should also be left alone. Wild animals are not pets, and while some may look cute and cuddly, they can be quite vicious.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Ultimately, Raney says to be cognizant of others around you and how you are impacting them, whether you are hiking or camping. For example, all state parks have quiet hours from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., so make sure you’re respecting those times. Visiting state parks can hold some of the best memories of life, from fishing to camping to hiking, but being considerate of those around you — both people and wildlife — will make the visit all the better. afm
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Meet the park rangers who make the great outdoors of Texas truly feel like home. AUTHOR LANDRY ALLRED
he law of the land. The educators of the outdoors. The leaders of campers and hikers. The gatekeepers of knowledge. These are the faces of our Texas state parks. On paper, park rangers are the keepers of our most beloved public outdoor spaces — parks, ranging from city to state to even national. Rangers don’t always look the same; they wear many different hats, ranging from group leaders and program directors to coordinators, planners, advocates, researchers and more. They protect not only the environment and its native inhabitants but also visitors who frequent these areas.
APRIL JUNE 2022
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La ure n S w e a t | M c K i n n ey Fal l s St at e P ark
fter graduating from The University of Texas at Austin in 2019 as a sustainability studies major, Lauren Sweat took a seasonal position at Inks Lake State Park. In October 2020, she moved to McKinney Falls State Park to work as a clerk. About nine months later, she stepped into her current position as a park interpreter and volunteer coordinator. Sweat remembers discussions over the global water crisis in her first sustainability course, which motivated her to pursue a career in the outdoors. “A lot of times, those global sustainability issues keep me up at night,” Sweat says. “But at least working here, I get to make some of those efforts on the ground.” At McKinney Falls, Sweat has had the opportunity to not only initiate sustainability projects such as raising awareness about recycling but also connect visitors with the park and its resources to provide opportunities for stewardship to grow. During the week, she guides school groups and on the weekends, she leads events such as Skins & Skulls, archery, birding and watercolor painting. She also coordinates service projects including trash pickups and waterfall cleanups. On her days off, Sweat immerses herself in the outdoors, visiting other state parks. One misconception about park rangers Sweat mentions is that many people assume they trek the trails all day. Sweat admits they can explore during slow seasons like wintertime but McKinney Falls stays fairly busy, especially on the weekends.
Sweat says their busy times can be challenging, mainly because they’re unable to intentionally attend to every person in line at the entrance. “In a perfect world, I’d love for anybody to come with questions (and) for all to be answered, to have those conversations with us and learn about the park in that way,” Sweat says. The park’s busyness stems from the unique fact that McKinney Falls is within city limits. The park is about a 10-minute drive from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, permitting many people to visit in between flights. Sweat loves that she’s able to make connections and share her passions with people from all over the world. “If I happen to be walking on the trail and interact with (people), hopefully, I can plant that seed with them in some way,” Sweat says. “And as they visit other parks or outdoor spaces, we could only hope that would continue to grow.” Sweat intends to stay at McKinney Falls for some time as she says she still has much to learn but hopes her next steps stay within the realm of sustainability. Ultimately, this park and position have enabled her to grow her passion for the outdoors and share it with others. “To have this space as my own little playground is what makes it so personal to me,” Sweat says. “That sense of responsibility — to look out for (the park) and make sure other people can care about it just as much as we do.”
IN A PERFECT WORLD, I’D LOVE FOR ANYBODY TO COME WITH QUESTIONS (AND) FOR ALL TO BE ANSWERED, TO HAVE THOSE CONVERSATIONS WITH US AND LEARN ABOUT THE PARK IN THAT WAY.”
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Jessica DeBoer | Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
rowing up in Iowa, Jessica DeBoer and her family took summer trips to national and state parks, which gave birth to her love for the outdoors. In college, she pursued a biology degree and later looked for park ranger positions. “Those interactions with (rangers) where they’re telling you cool stuff or encouraging you to learn more — I wanted to be that person,” DeBoer says. Eventually, DeBoer took a job as a customer service representative at Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site in January 2017. Almost a year later, she
moved to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area to be a park interpreter. During the week, DeBoer is doing administrative work — emailing, organizing school group tours, helping out with the office. But on the weekends, she is on the field interacting with visitors and leading programs including stargazing, astronomy, geocaching, birding and nature walks. On her days off, DeBoer is typically hiking or birding at other state parks. Sharing her love for the outdoors is one of her favorite parts of the job. DeBoer recalls moments when she focuses a telescope on Saturn or Jupiter or points
COURTESY OF JESSICA DEBOER
IT’S THOSE WOW MOMENTS, AND IT’S NOT JUST KIDS BUT 80-YEAROLD FOLKS OR COLLEGE-AGED PEOPLE — SO MANY PEOPLE DON’T GET TO EXPERIENCE THAT SENSE OF WONDER.”
out the small fairy shrimp that live on the park’s rocks, visitors will see them for the first time and let out a “Wow!” “It’s those wow moments,” DeBoer says. “And it’s not just kids but 80-year-old folks or college-aged people — so many people don’t get to experience that sense of wonder.” Park rangers have the privilege to serve as gatekeepers to these experiences but it comes with the cost of protecting both the visitors and the environment. DeBoer says a common misconception about rangers is that they’re only rule enforcers.
“That misconception hurts the most,” DeBoer says. “We’re here to help you explore and keep you, the park and other visitors safe — sometimes that means saying no.” Looking forward, DeBoer says her future recently became a bit more complicated, especially as she is currently engaged to a ranger at a different park. However, she says they don’t plan on leaving Texas Parks & Wildlife soon. “At some point, you have to move into a different position to grow,” DeBoer says. “I’m probably not going to stay at Enchanted Rock forever, but I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon.”
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N i col e t t e L e dbu r y | C ad d o Lak e S tate P ark
COURTESY OF NICOLETTE LEDBURY
icolette Ledbury was first introduced to conservation at 19 years old when she participated in the legacy program of the Civilian Conservation Core after attending college for a year. During this program, she fell in love with outdoor work and later returned to school to study environmental and African studies and nonprofit management. Following college, Ledbury worked in academia for a bit, later moved to Austin and eventually took a job at Parks & Wildlife. In 2019, Ledbury left the agency and moved overseas to pursue forestry and agroforestry work in Senegal. When COVID-19 hit, she was forced to return to the U.S and stepped into her current position as assistant superintendent at Caddo Lake State Park. For the past year and a half, she’s had the opportunity to reflect on her love for the outdoors. “What’s more important than the future of our earth and how we conserve the special places we love so much?” Ledbury says. “(My experiences) cemented how important this work is.” As an assistant superintendent, Ledbury manages the maintenance staff as well as assists in on-theground work. She also participates in multiple land acquisition meetings, manages partnerships and grants, and interacts with the community. Her days off look a bit different from others as she lives on-site and is on call, but she still takes time to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking and walking her dog. Legacy is the centerpiece of our park services, which serves as a major motivation for Ledbury. She recognizes that the small part she and her staff play
contributes to the entire legacy. “We are one piece of the conservation puzzle in Texas,” Ledbury says. “(...) My hope is that in a hundred years, people look back and say, ‘Here’s this pocket of time that these people did incredible work and laid the groundwork for us.’” Park rangers lead these conservation efforts, but Ledbury assures it’s by the hands of the entire staff. Ledbury says many people think rangers are only those leading groups but a ranger position encompasses a variety of responsibilities including maintenance, management and administration work. “There are embedded expectations that we are the face of our park. We are the face of conservation,” Ledbury says. “(…) We’re all park rangers, but we’re all doing our own piece of the puzzle.” Ultimately, Ledbury hopes her next steps fall in line with conservation and getting more diverse perspectives in the outdoors. “My passion is diversity and inclusion, parks or conservation, and how you bring the two together,” Ledbury says. “As long as I’m doing things within the wheelhouse of my passions, I don’t think I can go wrong.” Without our park rangers, our experiences of public outdoor spaces wouldn’t be the same. They lead, teach, clean, research — but at the end of the day, they each possess a deep well of knowledge and experiences to not only share with the public but also motivate why they wake up every day to get the job done for current and future generations. afm
THERE ARE EMBEDDED EXPECTATIONS THAT WE ARE THE FACE OF OUR PARK. WE ARE THE FACE OF CONSERVATION. WE’RE ALL PARK RANGERS, BUT WE’RE ALL DOING OUR OWN PIECE OF THE PUZZLE.”
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Crushin’ the Climb
Whether you’re a novice or veteran climber, Texas Lady Crushers provides a climbing family like never before. AUTHOR AJA WEBBER COURTESY OF EMILIE HERNANDEZ
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flame that made her want to start Texas Lady Crushers (TxLC). In 2018, the rock climbing group was born and now dedicates itself to supporting and educating women, nonbinary and trans-identifying community members in their journey to becoming confident climbers. Though her passion drove her, she didn’t have much experience in organizing a group like this, as Hernandez was a chef for seven years prior to starting TxLC. “For the first two years, it was all free; I never charged a penny or encouraged donations,” Hernandez says. “At the time, I wasn’t a guide and I didn’t really know about guiding companies so I just called them ‘meetups.’ If it was at a gym, they would pay the gym fee; if it was at a park, they would pay the park fee; we would just come out and climb.” Hernandez’s meetups were thriving but once COVID-19 hit, things began to change. As her group started gaining traction with increasingly more climbers attending events, she had to start charging for guided climbing events to keep tabs on who was coming and remain COVID-conscious. With their numbers per
Emilie Hernandez has always loved rock climbing, but her past climbing experiences were far from perfect when it came to inclusivity. When she started climbing at 23 years old, Hernandez often went climbing with men. Although she enjoyed the outings, Hernandez always felt out of place with the men she climbed with. She says that toxic masculinity caused her to become insecure in her climbing abilities, leaving her fearful to ask questions. In December of 2017, Hernandez hosted a women’s climbing event in Dripping Springs and spoke to women climbers who had similar experiences. Hernandez realized she wasn’t the only one who felt this way about the climbing community in Texas. “I kept hearing about these women being put on very challenging rock climbing routes and just like me, they thought that was the only kind of rock climbing that exists,” Hernandez says. “It makes you think it’s too scary and that you can’t do it, but you can’t show that you’re scared so you just pretend that you’re not and don’t ask questions.” Hearing these anecdotes from women climbers triggered Hernandez’s own trauma and ignited the
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climb reaching about 25 people, Hernandez used the Facebook group to find people who were willing to help facilitate the climbs. Since then, TxLC has continued to grow, and Hernandez started working with other guiding companies to help her manage her clientele. Hernandez didn’t want to lose sight of her mission as TxLC grew, so she implemented measures to ensure everyone felt safe and was having fun. “I start every meetup introducing myself and giving information (on) what we are about to do. I like to emphasize our principles of respect and remind them it’s OK to ask questions or come to me with concerns,” Hernandez says. “I can read people really well, and I understand how loudly nonverbals speak, so I always have a follow-up questionnaire to make sure I didn’t miss anything.” Hernandez’s dedication and willingness to cater to individual needs haven’t gone unnoticed. Mandy Mendez attended her first TxLC meetup in December of 2019 and hasn’t looked back since. She loves TxLC so much that she now serves as their Chief Marketing Officer. Unlike Hernandez, Mendez didn’t start climbing until later in life; but once she did, she found a passion that never left. When Mendez started climbing, she had never climbed outdoors, unless it was with her husband. For the first six months of her outdoor climbing journey, she only climbed with men. After her husband sent her a flier for TxLC, she attended the event in an attempt to make new friends. That day changed the way she viewed climbing forever. “I went out there on my own and was a little nervous, but when I came back and talked to my husband about it, he could tell I had a blast,” Mendez adds. “It’s a different world to climb with women. When you’re with the Lady Crushers, there’s a genuine positivity and you want to see everyone succeed — you can let your guard down a little bit.” On the other hand, Erin Wackerla is a bit newer to the TxLC but has still found a great sense of purpose and community within the group. Wackerla has struggled with alcohol misuse in the past, and climbing has served as an escape for her. In addition to working for a national sober active community called The Phoenix, Wackerla has been an active TxLC member since she first went on a group climb. “When I was younger and partying, I was still searching for my sense of self. Even though I loved climbing, I didn’t take the initiative to learn how to do it properly,” Wackerla says. “With Emilie and
TxLC, I feel safe to ask questions (knowing) I won’t be discriminated against and will be respected instead of doubted. It’s empowering to feel like you’re going to be heard and listened to.” In addition to providing an inclusive space for all gender identities, TxLC also understands that not everyone can afford their own climbing equipment. Even if you’ve never used climbing gear before, TxLC will provide gear for the climb and show you how to use it. TxLC offers climbing meetups as well as guided climbing clinics. While the meetups are more relaxed in nature, the guided clinics are intensive sessions catering to a specific type of climber and can include lead and crack climbing. Some of the Lady Crushers’ climbing sites include
CLIMBING REMINDS ME I CAN DO HARD THINGS. WHEN I HAVE SELFDOUBT AND SOCIAL ANXIETY, I HAVE THE SAME BUTTERFLIES IN MY STOMACH AS WHEN I’M ABOUT TO GO ON A SCARY CLIMB. I REMIND MYSELF THAT I’VE FELT THIS BEFORE, AND I CAN DO HARD THINGS.”
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PHOTOS COURTESY OF EMILIE HERNANDEZ
Monster Rock, Enchanted Rock and Barton Creek Greenbelt. Although TxLC has visited many sites in Austin and Central Texas, Hernandez still hopes to uncover new spots. “We are always looking for new places to climb,” Hernandez says. “But since 95% of Texas is privately owned, that can be difficult.” Hernandez shares that if any landowners are willing to open their space for rock climbing, TxLC aims to dedicate its time to keeping the space clean. For rock climbers or people interested in bouldering who feel a little lost, TxLC aims to help you on your journey to becoming an avid climber. Throughout her experience climbing, Wackerla has learned that anyone can do anything they want if they put their mind to it. “Climbing reminds me I can do hard things,” Wackerla says. “When I have self-doubt and social
anxiety, I have the same butterflies in my stomach as when I’m about to go on a scary climb. I remind myself that I’ve felt this before, and I can do hard things.” afm
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Dr. Isabel Meijering, DACM, L.Ac
BIG BEND, BIG BENEFITS n Here are four lessons I learned from backpacking in Big Bend National Park this past year.
t the beginning of April, I went backpacking in Big Bend National Park. This trip was a gift and fell on my one-year anniversary of opening my business. If you have your own businesses, you know year one is full of emotions. I’ve learned my beliefs, blocks, strengths and weakness are the business’s as well. It’s a gift to look at both my shadow and light and choose how I want both me and my business to show up in the world. I reflected on this over my 4-day trip where the mountains taught me four invaluable lessons.
In any challenge, you have two choices — give up or find your rhythm and keep going. On day one of backpacking, I carried a 60-pound pack 4.5 miles up the mountain. It was warm, barely shaded and incredibly steep. The switchbacks became my meditation. When it was hard, a voice in my head said, “You can quit or lean into this experience, see what it has to offer and keep going.” I chose the latter. I use that realization of having a choice in both my business and life. When things get hard, you can quit. However, when you keep going, you’ll notice how far you’ve come. Even if the trail was rough, it led you to the top. Drop your selfjudgment, keep going and you’ll get there. Who cares how long it takes?
If we were supposed to know exactly how we’d get to every place, we wouldn’t be living. The best tactic is to have a rough plan and evolve as you go. Opportunities will come when you trust the process and follow your intuition. On the trail, I tried to not look too far ahead. If I stared at the mountain, wondering how we’d get to the top, it riddled me with anxiety. That is me living in the future, somewhere I’m not supposed to be yet. I must trust I’ve prepared for this experience. I have the map; the details will reveal themselves. Once you let go of micromanaging your journey, the universe rewards you with opportunities.
On our third day, we summited Emory Peak, the tallest point in Big Bend. Beforehand, I didn’t know this involved free climbing. I’ve been climbing a few times, but I’m by no means a good climber. After our first round of climbing, our friends stopped as the rest of the way was jagged and terrifying. My partner wanted to summit, and I knew I could physically do it, but I kept hearing this voice saying, “It’s hard.” And I thought, compared to what? Sitting at a desk? Yes. Running 13.1 miles in 95-degree weather? No. For me, it won’t be harder than that. So, we climbed. The top was breathtaking but small and jagged. I started to freak out, so I asked this feeling its
You Can Unplug Anywhere
Being a new business owner, I’ve learned a lot about boundaries. When I worked for someone else, I could easily ignore messages after hours and unplug until my next shift. After opening my business, that went out the window. I thought I needed to answer my phone and emails at all hours to keep things running. But how you do one thing is how you do everything, and this mindset of being always available applied to many areas of my life. It led to flimsy friendships and me being overworked. Some friendships were good as long as I was available. But when I asked for help and set a boundary, it wasn’t met well. And I allowed that; I thought I had to constantly give to be worthy of love. This realization led to incredible healing. When I noticed I ran my business the same way, I caught it, investigated, healed and moved forward. People will respect you for your boundaries. When you choose yourself, it profoundly transforms you.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ISABEL MEIJERING
purpose and realized this was yet another choice. The voice in my head said, “Sure, freak out, but where will that get you?” Freaking out was a choice; I’m choosing to lean into this uncomfortable feeling of doing something new and difficult because I’ll feel good afterward having worked this hard. We all have our own Emory Peaks but your reaction to them is a choice.
I thought about this on my trip; I was craving to unplug here while I had forgotten one simple truth: you can unplug anywhere. Turn off your phone for the night. Use Do Not Disturb mode while with loved ones. If you’re looking for permission to unplug, this is it. This summer, remember these lessons. It’s time to do things that bring you peace and joy. I know you’re worthy of that; do you? afm Dr. Isabel Meijering is an acupuncturist and life coach in Austin and is the owner of Admiring You Wellness. She has her doctorate in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine and specializes in cupping therapy, pain management, psychoemotional support, menstruation support and allergies. She also has a B.S. in biomedical sciences with a minor in psychology and has a deep love for both eastern and western medicine.
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HUMANS AND LUMENS n With stargazing season here, we
become more aware of light pollution but many are unaware of how it may impact your mental health.
n 1994, the Northridge earthquake struck the city of Los Angeles at 4:30 a.m., causing a citywide power outage. Shortly after, the surrounding observatories received numerous calls from spooked residents claiming to see an ominous gray cloud in the sky. That gray cloud was the Milky Way. For many people, this was their first encounter with a dark sky clear enough to see the cosmos. Typically, a city like Los Angeles, and even cities much smaller, emit an overabundance of light that creeps into the night sky causing light pollution. Light pollution has numerous effects on the surrounding life: birds can crash in flight or forget to migrate altogether, plants may not grow as efficiently and the beautiful night sky is drowned in a haze of light.
hormone which helps you sleep. This allows your circadian rhythm to act as your body’s natural clock. It dictates when you feel awake and energized or when it’s time to turn in for the night and sleep. “(Our circadian rhythm), it’s (all about) the timing,” Hummel says. “It’s equally important to avoid light at night as it is to be exposed to it in the morning when you’re waking up.” This association with light plays a huge part in cueing our circadian rhythms. This is the same reason casinos are bright and don’t have windows. With no windows, regulated lighting and bright-colored ceilings, your body has trouble discerning the time and whether or not you need to sleep. Light pollution certainly affects our sleep schedule, but beyond sleep, does light pollution affect other aspects of our mental health? “You won’t find any scientist who says if you’re exposed to light, it’s going to make you depressed,” Hummel says. “It’s more appropriate to say light pollution could increase the risk of depression or other things.” Hummel explains that science has found that the tie between light pollution and mental health issues is largely correlation rather than causation. Health effects like heart disease, depression and even forms of cancer have been correlated to staying up late.
How Light Pollution Affects Our Mental Health
In short, we aren’t entirely sure how light pollution affects our mental health; the science behind it is still in its stages of infancy. “Your body is aware of what time it is by the intensity of light,” says Stephen Hummel, the Dark Skies Sr. Outreach Program Coordinator at McDonald Observatory. “We associate daytime as bright, blue light — like the sky. And blue light is hardly found, naturally, at night.” According to Hummel, our exposure to light affects our sleep patterns, also known as our circadian rhythms. Your circadian rhythm does many things, but its most notable job is regulating melatonin, the
PHOTO COURTESY OF STEPHEN HUMMEL
light, Hummel advises using something with amber or soft-white colors or bulbs below 3,000 Kelvin in color temperature. Creating natural settings inside will help a great deal in cueing your circadian rhythm. “I use smart bulbs,” Hummel says. “During the day, they’re kind of a white-blue color and as the sun sets, they transition to an amber color. Eventually, in the middle of the night, they turn red.” Red light is the least disruptive color for the human eye and scatters the least amount of light into the sky. Many astronomers use red light to see in the dark as it keeps your pupils dilated longer than other colors. This same tactic allows you to navigate the dark without shocking your eyes with bright light. Keeping your setting as dark as possible at night can help signal to your circadian rhythm that it’s time for bed. For instance, blackout curtains can effectively stop any light outside from creeping in. Speaking of outside, if you need outdoor lights, try aiming the bulbs directly at their targets and down, if possible. According to the National Park Service, light aimed at the sky is a leading cause of light pollution.
How To Avoid Light Pollution
Although light pollution won’t kill you, it’s still beneficial to avoid it when possible. When trying to sleep, Hummel suggests avoiding any bright lights about 30 minutes before bed to receive the least amount of disruption in your circadian rhythm (yes, this includes your phone). If you need
Although there is no correlation between light pollution and its direct effect on our mental health, it’s safe to say it does affect our sleep. So avoiding light pollution is not only a benefit to your sleep schedule but also a benefit to your surroundings. “It’s a win-win situation,” Hummel says. “You save energy from less light usage and you help your environment.” afm
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KEEPING IT NATURAL n Naturopathy seems mysterious, especially in Texas where naturopathic physicians aren’t licensed. Here’s what to know about the practice.
he topic of naturopathic medicine is a complicated one. Although naturopathic medicine requires the same education level as a medical doctor plus additional courses on nutrition and herbal/physical medicines, naturopathic physicians aren’t formally licensed in all U.S. states, including Texas. Amy Tyler is a South Central Austin-based naturopathic physician. She received her B.A. in chemical engineering at The University of Texas at Austin and shortly thereafter, found herself more invested in her own health and the health of others. Tyler then stumbled upon the benefits of naturopathic medicine. “I told my mother, who was struggling with asthma, allergies and eczema, that she lived in a state that licenses naturopathic physicians and should consider (naturopathy) as an option,” Tyler says. “And she did. She had success in reversing all of those conditions!” Her mother’s recovery inspired Tyler to pursue naturopathic medicine further. Tyler then obtained her naturopathic doctorate degree at the Bastyr University of Seattle. Since Texas is not among the U.S. states that recognize naturopathic medicine as an official practice, physicians like Tyler must follow their state
restrictions and regulations. Thus, naturopathic physicians in Texas cannot work as primary care doctors but rather as health and wellness consultants. According to Tyler, qualification for a state to provide licensing comes down to the numbers. Naturopathy is a small profession, and there must be a substantive and organized community of naturopathic physicians in a given place to advocate for a bill and secure licensure in that state. But what exactly is naturopathic medicine, and how does it differ from things like natural medicine or homeopathic medicine? In the most basic sense, naturopathic medicine is the introduction of natural remedies to support the body as it heals itself. Essentially, in licensed states, a naturopathic physician can act as your primary care provider while homeopaths cannot; they are not trained to do so. Naturopathic physicians often use natural and homeopathic medicine as tools but aren’t nearly the same as homeopaths. At a traditional doctor, patients may receive news that nothing is wrong but still feel unwell; this is where naturopathy can step in. “Sometimes people need some more fine-tuning and adjusting, more subtle help,” Tyler says. There are six principles that form the foundation for the practice of naturopathic medicine by licensed
naturopathic physicians. The first of these is to “identify and treat the cause.” Tyler says this means addressing causes directly instead of simply putting bandages on symptoms. “For example, Lyme disease comes with lots of symptoms,” Tyler says. “It would be easy for a doctor to look at those symptoms and throw things at you to fix them, but unless someone discovers the cause — that it’s an infection — it would be hard to help people with Lyme.” The second of these governing principles is the idea that naturopathic physicians are both doctors and teachers. During an initial visit with a client or patient, physicians usually spend an hour or two just having a conversation. The goal of the initial visit is to understand the root issues and the specifics of how that person’s body works. Throughout the whole process, the physician invites clients into that process and provides reasons behind their recommendations. “We’re trying to help them become their own advocate,” Tyler explains. “They’ll know the right questions to ask in a given situation and be better informed and comfortable navigating through the system.” This idea of understanding someone is amplified in the third principle, which is to “treat the whole person.” Naturopathic physicians concern themselves with the physical body as well as mental and emotional
health; they see and understand the big picture. Tyler says the pandemic demonstrated this connection between the body and mind through increased stress and mental health issues, and physicians must acknowledge this link. The fourth principle is prevention, as Tyler states that with high numbers of obesity and diabetes in Texas, there is a huge need for preventative care. Naturopathic physicians are adamant about preventative medicines and work hard to understand a client’s medical history, family history and potential risks. The fifth principle is one all members of the medical field must adhere to — the “do no harm” rule. Lastly, the final principle is all-encompassing; the “healing power of nature” is the principle by which physicians recognize there is a self-healing process. The job of a naturopathic physician is to support this process and remove any obstacles standing in the way of the healing. Tyler says all six principles set naturopathic physicians apart from other medical doctors. Currently, Tyler serves as vice president of the Texas Association of Naturopathic Doctors, which is the backbone for support and promotion of accredited naturopathic physicians in Texas. They aim to gain licensure to fully practice and utilize the skills they have. afm
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WILD AND SAFE n While camping or hiking, what
type of injuries are most common and how can we avoid them as we enjoy the outdoors?
hen preparing for a camping or hiking trip, packing a first-aid kit is crucial. The second thing to remember is if you get injured while in the wilderness, you must stay calm, regardless of the injury’s severity. Fear and frustration only make things worse as moving around can aggravate injuries and start a downward spiral into panic. Mike Stephenson, a retired firefighter who spent the last 15 years teaching emergency first aid, shares some key things to remember if you’re injured in the wilderness.
dealer like REI,” Stephenson says. “Having the correct shoes goes a long way to prevent injuries.” Stephenson also recommends having a walking stick or trekking pole. “(They) provide extra leverage (and) help to probe for anything unstable on the path ahead of you,” Stephenson says. “Most extremity injuries happen when you are going downhill; you step on loose rock and tend to fall, unable to catch yourself as you slide.”
Stephenson says the most common injuries for adults are extremity injuries, which include things like sprains or twisted ankles. While training won’t necessarily prevent all injuries, Stephenson says training helps decrease the likelihood of injuries. Having the right equipment and conditioning is key to avoiding these injuries, along with having the right type of shoes. “I will absolutely spend the money to get good shoes, especially from a reputable
a simple blood test, you still need to ask the doctor to check for Lyme disease specifically.
Unfortunately, Stephenson says a common result of being injured is getting lost. “If there’s another person with you, can you send the other person for help? Can they help you make it back to the trailhead?” Stephenson says. Stephenson says if you are lost, it is best to avoid bushwhacking because you can easily become disoriented if you are inexperienced. He also warns that using a compass is a lot less straightforward than you think, so be careful if you plan to use a compass as your backup for directions. Additionally, while most phone plans have cell reception anywhere, there are some areas, such as Barton Creek Greenbelt, where reception is iffy at best. Stephenson remembers when he would go to the Greenbelt for rescues and his $7,000 radios wouldn’t even work to pick up a signal. “It’s the type of terrain (the Greenbelt) is, and it’s down lower than everything else. Our radios couldn’t reach the repeater towers,” Stephenson says. “But we knew that, so we would send enough people where someone could walk out and relay the message for us.” But even knowing how to drop a pin on Google Maps can be enough help if you are lost because you can then call emergency services, give your latitude and longitude, and help will be on the way.
Another common injury that can be easily avoided is blisters. “You can pre-treat to prevent blisters just by having good footwear and fresh socks,” Stephenson says. “You want good tires on your car, so you (also) want good footwear for your feet.” For pre-treating blisters, you need to use something thin and stretchy, such as kinesiology tape (KT), which is available online or at any pharmacy. However, Stephenson says if you feel a spot where you might be developing a blister, you should stop and treat it, even if there is no actual blister present. Also, make sure to clean the spot with an alcohol wipe before putting on KT or moleskin, which is another good option for treating blisters.
Getting injured is scary, whether it happens in your backyard or in a nearby state park. But with these key steps, you can be more prepared for anything that comes your way. afm
With the hot Texas weather, Stephenson says ticks are in season now and love cedar trees. “They particularly like areas where your clothing is tight and there’s lots of elastic, (like) underwear, socks, places like that,” Stephenson says. If you have a tick bite or suspect you have a bite, you need to get tested for Lyme disease, which is easily treatable. Though all it takes is
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Skin Envy Austin
n In place of Kick
Mo’s Butt, check out Monica’s experience at Skin Envy Austin for this special Prep Mo for Summer feature.
ith summer kicking off, we, at AFM, decided to dive into equally important ways to care for ourselves other than solely exercising. As showcased through Kick Mo’s Butt, the great city of Austin offers terrific workout opportunities. After all, health and vitality come from both the inside and outside care of our bodies. And just as much as exercise works from both the inside and outside, caring for the largest organ of the body, our skin, is vitally important too. When I was 12 years old, my mom told me that washing my face morning and night would lead to a healthy glow. Over the years as I’ve matured, I have discovered having that radiant glow is EVERYTHING!
So how do we go about achieving that glow? Thankfully, there are effective tools we have access to through medispas such as Skin Envy Austin, which I have been coming to for years. Skin Envy operates off of West William Cannon Drive in a bright and airy business strip, easily locatable with plenty of free parking. The experienced skincare therapists specialize in noninvasive cosmetic treatments of the skin with many laser treatments, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, microneedling and so much more — almost any skin condition need or therapy that interests you, you can find at Skin Envy! On top of that, skilled nurse practitioners are available to perform injections such as Botox or any filler you may think is necessary to look your best!
I personally have been using Botox since turning 30 and now, at 51, I enjoy a much smoother skin surface across my brow and under my eyes. For my work in front of the camera, these advantages have proven to be helpful. For this special Prep Mo for Summer feature, we decided to go all-in with treatments. We started with me receiving the BroadBand laser (BBL) treatment, which can treat sun spots, small veins and blemishes. This noninvasive solution can be tailored to meet your skin needs, and it’s called BBL technology. The BBL treatment uses highintensity pulses of light to treat damaged skin. The treatment is quick, with no downtime required. All you need is about 15 minutes, and you can have younger-looking skin, even in tone and texture, and improved skin elasticity.
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Following the BBL, we did some minor laser hair removal. As one of my favorite tools, I have enjoyed the benefits of laser hair removal for about 15 years. We did a touchup underneath my arms, taking a minimum of five to 10 minutes to do this. Moving from the lasers, we wanted to give my brows an extra lift and make sure the fine wrinkles under my eyes were smoothed out. So, within five minutes and after a few units of Botox (and no bruising!), I was ready to go. Lastly, just for fun, since I am a health buff, the staff wanted to give me a chance to experience the CoolTone machine. CoolTone is a non-invasive body contouring
treatment that uses magnetic muscle stimulation technology to strengthen, tone and firm the muscles of the abdomen, buttocks and thighs. We placed it on my abdomen for the full 30-minute treatment and again on my buttocks for another 30-minute treatment. I was able to “handle” the highest frequency for both treatments. In all honesty, I did not feel “sore” after these treatments; however, I could see where, if utilized in a routine, CoolTone could be beneficial for users. Like anything, though, it comes down to the application and routine use that makes the biggest difference. I see no reason someone could not implement CoolTone into their routines and either take a nap or catch up on a good book while waiting for the session to complete. In regard to Skin Envy, specifically, I believe I am one of the customers who has been with them the longest. Upon moving back to Austin from California in 2006, I was reconnected to my long-time friend, Dr. Daniel McGrath, who I knew from my time in California through Austin Fit Magazine. Funny how small the world really is! It has been 15 years since I started utilizing services through Skin Envy, which was originally also a part of McGrath Medical until they outgrew the office and needed the space for strictly the medispa. Obviously, I trust the great staff here and continue to enjoy radiant skin because of their care.
With summer quickly approaching, be sure to check out their detailed website at skinenvyaustin.com and book your appointment soon! You can read all about the many services they offer and make your game plan for
achieving radiant skin. Be sure to tell them Mo sent ya! Thank you, Skin Envy, for all the years of exceptional service and treatments! afm
Monica Brant | IFBB Fitness Olympia & International Fitness Cover Model To contact Monica Brant, find her on the following social media platforms: FB: @MonicaBrantFanPage | IG: @OfficialMonicaBrant Official site: www.monicabrant.com (currently under construction)/www.themonicabrantshow.com
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Sarah Leahy, CPT
PARKS, FULLY LOADED n Looking for a good outdoor workout? Here are some Austin parks with equipment fit to give you sore muscles the next day.
ustin is consistently ranked one of the fittest cities in America, and for good reason. We’ve got a plethora of great gyms, fitness studios and personal trainers in every corner of the city, in addition to amazing parks and hiking trails around town. As we move into the sunny summer months, it’s a great time to capitalize on the free fitness parks around the city that allow for some fun and challenging workouts solo or with your friends. In all four corners of Austin and everywhere in between, you’ll find trails, parks, swimming areas and outdoor fitness equipment that’s fun and free. Here are a few to choose from.
Town Lake Fitness Course
The Town Lake Fitness Course is a great setup alongside the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail on Lady Bird Lake. There are actually two outdoor fitness parks located along the trail, south of the river at Butler Shores and Auditorium Shores. Both are scenic spots to sweat it out on some fun equipment and are near shower facilities and water stations so you can stay hydrated. The trail itself is a 10-mile loop around Lady Bird Lake, so you can head to the fitness stations for a bodyweight strength workout and then get some cardio in on the trail. This is definitely a popular spot, so expect to see a lot of other Austinites on the trail!
Mueller Lake Park
If you like to get creative with your outdoor workouts and might want to grab a cup of coffee or a breakfast taco from Veracruz All Natural post-sweatsesh, Mueller Lake Park is a great place for a quick workout. There’s a 5-mile hike-and-bike loop that runs throughout the neighborhood, and Mueller Lake Park is 30 acres full of beautiful landscaping, water features and sculptures along the way. The large stone stairs surrounding the lake are a landscaping feature that
doubles as a challenging spot for workouts — you can get a full-body strength and HIIT workout by using the steps as your playground. Speaking of playgrounds, they’ve got a great one for the family so everyone can have a day of fun in the park.
at Saltillo on East 5th Street. A great little park with pullup bars, an ab station and more, this spot is right off the Red Line Trail, an in-process linear park the city has been updating to provide more hike, bike and workout stations, with plans to extend it from Downtown Austin to Leander. It’s a small space but conveniently located near the slew of new residential buildings on the Eastside.
Attayac Exercise Station
If you’re an Eastside dweller looking for a way to get your workout in without going far from home, there’s a new calisthenics park located behind the Residences
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Clark Field at UT
Great Hills Park
St. Edward’s Park and Greenbelt
These are just a few of the many outdoor workout spots that are free around the city, so lace up those shoes and get outside this summer! You might just find your new favorite outdoor adventure in Austin. afm
One of the most well-equipped outdoor workout areas in Austin that’s free to the public, the Caven Lacrosse and Sports Center at Clark Field is loaded with different options to get your sweat on outside. There’s a well-equipped calisthenics park featuring a variety of equipment for bodyweight strength workouts, as well as a track and basketball courts. Additionally, a perk of being a campus facility means lockers and water bottle stations are available for use while you get your sweat on. You’re also able to make group reservations for the courts to make sure you and your friends can get in a pickup basketball game that fits with your schedule.
Great Hills Park is another hiking spot in North Austin that offers not only a trail but also a playground and outdoor fitness equipment. The park has a small but well-kept area for bodyweight strength workouts in the park, a playground with climbing equipment and easy access to 1.7-miles of trails. It’s another scenic park with beautiful views on the nature trails for a fun, quick hike. Great Hills Park has picnic pavilions for use, but be warned — there are no restrooms, so plan accordingly!
If you’re looking for a scenic spot in North Austin, St. Edward’s Park has multiple trails for running, hiking and biking (with or without your pup!). Bull Creek runs through the park, and there’s a beautiful swimming spot so you can take a quick dip to cool off. Full of small ponds, waterfalls, and natural Texas greenery and flowers, it’s a great place to enjoy nature as you get those steps in. There’s a free parking lot right off the trail, so you can pack a picnic and have easy access to the loop and water.
Sarah Leahy is a Minneapolis transplant in East Austin, certified personal trainer, award-winning interior designer and former gym owner. She offers in-person and online training with an emphasis on strength training and building confidence in and out of the gym. Leahy’s passion for strength extends to your business, with a full offering of gym design and business consulting services.
BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT SPONSORED BY
ST. ELMO RUNNERS n We collaborate with our local community
to activate and elevate fitness, health and wellness resources for everyone.
owdy, we’re St. Elmo Runners. Here in Austin, we collaborate throughout the community to activate and elevate fitness, health and wellness resources for everyone. We love to promote and celebrate a wide range of experiences that help support an active community. From running shoes, apparel, training gear, biometric screenings, wellness options to even a yummy taco place, we are energized by being a part of everything that supports an active lifestyle. The club founder, PJ Thompson, is a RRCA and UESCA certified run coach as well as a Runner’s World Coach and can always be found wearing both a headlamp and the most fashionable branded gear, all while shouting out route
directions. Jamie Pratt, co-lead and Sr. Running Campaign Manager is a Certified Wellness Program Manager with a strong interest in behavior change and is known for sharing moments from her “morning miles” (remember — it only counts if it’s on Strava AND Instagram). Together, they maintain a weekly midweek run where they prioritize safety and lots of good laughs and conversation. Drop in on the first and third Wednesday of the month at their regular El Chilito Manchaca location at 6:30 a.m. Alternatively, they meet at lululemon Music Lane Store along South Congress on the second and fourth Wednesday at 6 p.m. As a team they stay up to date on local events and innovative brands, regularly hosting race preview runs, shakeouts and pop-ups around town. In 2022 alone, they’ve already
partnered with lululemon, Atreyu Running, Patagonia, Brooks, Fleet Feet, Garmin and Asics. With a summer series of run events planned and a busy fall schedule, there is undoubtedly something for everyone, whether you are a multimarathoner or couch-to-all distances runner. If you are in search of local opportunities, DM them directly at St. Elmo Runners on Instagram, find them at a community event or email at stelmorunners@gmail. com, and they will happily share any and all options for you to get active — and likely throw in some taco suggestions as well. Let’s all take to the roads and trails with the following mentality, courtesy of Jamie and PJ from St. Elmo Runners: Be a Run Boss. afm IG: @stelmorunners
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KEEP CAMPING FIT n Planning on a camping trip soon? Here are some workouts to do to help stay in shape while you’re out in nature.
h, camping. The simplicity of a tent, nature’s beauty and gentle sounds of birds and waterfalls. No alarm clocks blaring, no rush-hour traffic and all the delicious camp food. While camping is a great time to “get away” from your everyday life, you may discover that staying in shape feels more difficult without gym access. The good news is that camping is one of the best opportunities to get active. As you plan your camping trip, you should take the time to create a fitness routine that best meets your needs, interests and goals. The following exercise ideas include options for cardiovascular training, strength training, balance, flexibility and mobility.
Swimming: If you have access to a water source like a lake, river
or pool at the campground, this is an excellent way to get your heart rate up. Run/Jog: Running is an excellent way to stay fit while camping. You can either run at a steady pace or do interval training where you run hard for 30 to 60 seconds, then recover and repeat. Bike Ride: This is another fun way to get your heart rate up and explore nature. See if your campground rents out bikes, or plan to bring your own. Walk/Hike: Try hiking on different terrains like hills and mountains. This can be a great way to enjoy the scenery while
completing an excellent cardio workout. A power walk on a flat surface is also a wonderful cardio workout the whole family can enjoy, pups included. Games and Sports: If your campsite has an open area, you can play sports like kickball or soccer on the field.
Hiking: Hiking in different terrain is amazing for cardiovascular exercise, but it also strengthens your muscles. You use your entire body when hiking, especially your legs, glutes and core. Look for nearby hills and
mountains, and if you’re feeling up to it, fill your backpack to increase resistance. Bodyweight exercises: If you’re looking for a workout that doesn’t require any equipment, bodyweight workouts will do the trick. Try doing pushups with your legs elevated on a conveniently placed boulder. For inspiration, you can also check out these nine bodyweight exercises that could be useful on any outdoor excursion: • Pushups • Pullups • Situps • Squats • Tricep dips
• • • •
Lunges Handstands Burpees Planks
If you are hiking on a trail, look for a log to walk across to test your balance. Make sure to hold onto a friend’s hand for extra support. A relaxing way to practice balance is to find a large rock and stand tall while doing some deep breathing. Or, take a break from walking and do a few single-leg squats. Doing yoga on a camping trip could help you relax even more. Roll out your yoga mat at your
campsite or find an open space in nature (my preferred place is on the beach or near a lake). Listen to your body and flow through exercises that feel good. Be sure to add extra balance poses, like the tree, warrior III or eagle pose. If you can do a headstand or handstand, find a nearby tree trunk for support.
Flexibility and Mobility
After a long day of hiking and sightseeing, it’s important to take at least 5 to 10 minutes to stretch and work on your mobility so you are ready to take on the next day. Before bed, either in your
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tent or RV, take time to soothe your muscles. Go through simple stretches like the forward fold, butterfly stretch, chest opener and downward dog. These static exercises will help increase your flexibility. Add mobility movements like cat-cow to keep your spine healthy, and add arm circles and side stretches to release tension from your upper body. If you have time the next morning, complete a short yoga routine including sun salutations to feel limber and energized. If yoga isn’t your thing, start the day by enjoying coffee by the campfire and taking five minutes to do simple static and dynamic stretches.
Add a few simple items to take your workout to the next level. Depending on your intended workouts for your camping trip, you’ll want to plan ahead and pack some items to make your workouts even more enjoyable. Consider
bringing the following for a few more exercise options: • Resistance bands. This is an excellent option if you want to take your strength exercises up a notch. Resistance bands are light and easy to take on the go, so they’d be ideal to add to a camping workout. • Yoga mat. If you decide to do yoga for balance, flexibility and mobility training, a yoga mat will make your session much more comfortable. • Trail running shoes. Want to run for your cardiovascular training? If you plan to run on trails, bring the appropriate shoes to keep yourself safe. • Jump rope. This is the perfect cardio workout if you don’t have a lot of space. You can do it right at your campsite! Camping is an excellent way to retreat from your busy life and appreciate nature. If you exercise while camping, you’ll almost
always reap the benefits of added health and increased energy. On top of that, you get the opportunity to try a bunch of new workouts while camping. afm Stephanie Thomas, CPT is a certified personal trainer, health coach and yoga teacher living in Annapolis, Maryland. As the founder of Stephanie Thomas Fitness and creator of The Bridal Body Workout Guide, she helps brides develop healthy habits and a well-rounded workout routine they’re obsessed with. When she’s not creating workouts for her clients, you can find Stephanie reading the latest health book, spending time in nature or taking a walk with her two cavalier pups. You can grab her free Bridal Arms Mini Guide and sign up for her free wellness newsletter (featuring fun freebies!) on her website.
PET OF THE MONTH
FEATURED APA’S PARVO PUPPY ICU
Since 2008, Austin Pets Alive! has been treating parvovirus, saving nearly 8,000 lives. This is all thanks to APA’s efforts with Parvo Puppy ICU, which was created because over 90% of puppies that contract parvovirus without proper treatment will die as a result of the disease. Many puppies come from APA’s rescue partners and need immediate treatment. Through Parvo Puppy ICU, thousands of puppies have been saved because of APA’s clinic staff, adopters in and around Austin, and the people and companies who donate to the ICU’s work. Just recently, six puppies were adopted on the last day of APA’s push to get parvovirus survivors adopted and another six, including Nola who is pictured, went home with fosters. Within eight days, over 50 puppies were adopted as well as dozens of dogs, kittens and cats.
Austin Pets Alive! hopes to provide every adopted pet with the best preventative health care, and they’ve partnered with Thrive Pet Healthcare to do so. Through this partnership, adopted pets can be enrolled in an annual Thrive Plus membership, having the first six months free. Pets will have the option to get unlimited free exams and other benefits. More information can be found on their website.
If you would like to contribute to APA’s efforts to save the animals of Austin, consider adopting, fostering, volunteering or donating. One way to support the Parvo Puppy ICU is to sign up for their 11th annual Paddle for Puppies event, which is sponsored by Austin Subaru and hosted by Rowing Dock. This event will be held on May 15th, and you can register online.
Let’s keep those tails wagging and hearts happy!
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UPRIGHT CREATURES: A DAY WITH TARZEN, THE GRAND SLACKLINER n Check out AFM intern Chad Dyer’s experience meeting Tarzen, the local celebrity slackliner.
arrived at the Lady Bird Lake boardwalk around 11:30 a.m. For the last two weeks, I imagined this day as bright and sunny, but now, with rolling gray clouds, it looked like a misting system spraying over the city of Austin. I prayed this wasn’t an omen. After scanning the boardwalk, I saw Tarzen waving me down, so I approached. “How you doin’ man!” I called out. “Wonderful, today is a great day,” Tarzen replied, despite the ominous weather. His blue eyes beamed as he held out a fist. Something about a fist bump felt fitting for Tarzen; it was inviting.
He wore a purple shirt, a hat and dark jean shorts. The most notable thing about him, though, was his rippling white beard. It was so long that his mouth disappeared; words seemed to simply slip through his mustache. “You ready?” I asked.
“Follow me, I gotta grab some stuff,” he said. We came to a stone wall. My jaw dropped as Tarzen, a 60-year-old man, swung himself over the wall and started jogging. “I parked right here,” he said. He opened his trunk and started pulling out buckets of
rope. I watched him grab a brown mass and set it on the ground. “Mocha, go say hi.” A brown chihuahua looked up at him as if it understood English, turned and waddled toward me. “I call her Mocha Latte because she’s a latte dog to love,” he said. She was trembling uncontrollably. After a few pets, she curled up on the stone wall and waited as Tarzen stacked his belongings onto a skateboard. Lastly, he scooped up Mocha and set her on it. And we were off. We didn’t make it but 20 steps before Tarzen shared his life. He seemed eager to tell me about his hardships and wanted me to know about rehab center fights, the orphanage he was dropped off at and the solitary confinement he experienced at age 14. These were details you might go a lifetime without knowing about someone, yet he was willing to share moments after meeting me. Looking back, I think it’s because Tarzen is a natural teacher; he wants you to learn from his mistakes. I figured teaching is his love language. Soon, the Austin Fit team arrived for pictures and Tarzen explained
his knot-tying techniques in great detail. After anchoring two points near some benches, he set down a mat. “I thought we were going over the water?” I said. I should’ve seen it coming — Tarzen looked at me and, in all its clichéd glory, said, “You have to learn to walk before you run, buddy.” And he was right. I expected to hop onto the rope and start inching to the other side, but as soon as I put pressure on my foot resting on the line, it began swinging uncontrollably. “How do I stop that?” I said. “You can’t hesitate; you have to stand but slowly,” he said. “Here.” Tarzen stood on the rope in perfect balance. He held his arms above his head like a mantis and slowly twirled each wrist. No swinging, no trembling; just blissful stillness. “It only takes little movements to change your body’s balance,” he said. “You move big, you fall big. Okay, try again.” I practiced as Tarzen tied two
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n FITNESS lines stretching over the lake. One line was for me when I was ready. The other spanned three times as long and flapped in the wind like a flag. That one was Tarzen’s playground for the next four hours; he gathered crowds of passers-by to watch as he performed yoga poses, bounces and nonchalant gestures like twisting his mustache, all while maintaining his balance on a rope no wider than two of his toes, suspended over water. He soaked up the attention and always thanked everyone for watching. If he could help it, he would strike up a conversation with them. No one was safe from his friendship. After an hour of practicing, I decided to try the line over the lake. Tarzen helped me onto the line, holding out his hand for support. Then, he let go. I balanced only for a moment; the next thing I knew, I was crashing into the cool lake. As I treaded water, Tarzen climbed under the boardwalk and instructed me to follow. He hooked his feet onto L-beams, reached for protruding bars and pulled himself up and over the railing. I’ve never seen someone gracefully navigate hanging upside down as if he had an agreement with gravity. For several hours, I watched Tarzen lap across the lines, showboating for joggers and never falling. Yet, the most impressive thing about him was his outlook on life. “I think it’s important for people to learn to live life,” he said. “Too many people have forgotten that life is about doing what brings you joy. I live my life in a way that I can spend more time pursuing what I love and working just enough to give back to others with my skills.” Saying bye to Tarzen didn’t go the way I imagined — but neither did saying hello. No tears, no embraces or grand gestures; just a simple fist bump. Here stood a man I’ve learned more about than some of my lifelong friends, yet he treated me just as he did our first meeting: with genuine friendliness. It felt like I’d see him tomorrow. I guess that’s a symptom of meeting Tarzen — you instantly become friends. afm
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FAMILY, FUN, FITNESS n Looking to work out
with your kids this summer? Here are ways to stay fit as a family in the outdoors.
t can be hard to find time to stay active between the daily activities of a parent. Luckily, many tasks increase the time you spend moving around, but you may still be looking for ways to be intentional with exercise. Playing with your kids can be a great way to hit your movement goals and facilitate vital family bonding time. Getting your children involved will also help them develop critical skills and keep them active.
Why Head to the Park?
Parks and playgrounds have much to offer, with resources like playground equipment, sports courts and a pool. Some places even offer more amenities like a water park, dinosaur digs and train rides to keep your family moving all day. Also, since parks are public areas, adults can connect with others and children have an expanded group to play with.
Activities by Age
Consider your kids’ age and capabilities when choosing activities. Presenting children with challenges within their abilities helps them feel accomplished and builds self-confidence. AGES 2-3 Kids this age can walk and run. They’re learning balance and are developing hand-eye coordination. A good mix of structured and unstructured play works best for this age. Independent toddlers will want to create their own games, while others may want their caregiver’s guidance. Either way, joining their games and activities will encourage active behavior and give you a good workout. For this age, try:
• Pretend play: Act like your favorite animals — climb like a monkey, crawl like a caterpillar or hop like a bunny. You can also use the playground equipment and pretend to be pirates, knights, explorers or astronauts. • Follow the leader: Take turns leading one another around the park. The followers must do whatever the leader does. Get in some physical activity by jumping, squatting, balancing on one leg and running. • Free play: Lean into your child’s short attention span and just let them play. Following them from activity to activity will get your heart rate up. Push them on the swings, go on the slide with them and play chase.
AGES 3-5 Kids in this stage can move around more. They can work on skills like throwing, catching and taking turns. Games with limited structure will help them learn to follow instructions while having creative wiggle room. Preschoolers are also eager to show off and get competitive. For this age, try: • Playground workout: Use the available equipment to try new exercises. Have a plan for your goals, but be flexible. Get your kids involved by challenging them to try what you’re doing. • Floor Is Lava: See if your family can make it from one end of the playground to the other without touching the ground. You’ll laugh at the inventive ways your children get across the park. • Catch: Bring a ball and practice tossing it back and forth. Bring a glove and mitt to practice catching if your child is starting T-ball. AGES 6-12 Elementary-age children will need more of a challenge to keep them motivated. They’re also better at following instructions, so sports are a great way to stay active. Getting involved with local teams can help, but if you want to meet your kids’ activity needs, help them improve their skills off the field, too. A few different sports balls and a jump rope are great investments. For this age, try: • Obstacle course: Create an obstacle course out of playground equipment. This is similar to the Floor Is Lava game, but you’re allowed to touch the ground. Once you establish a route, race to see who can complete all the obstacles first.
• Jump rope: Find an open space and play games with a jump rope. Kids at this age can jump and have decent coordination, so combining these skills with a jump rope game will be a good challenge. Jumping and swinging are good for adult joints, too. • Sports: Help your kids practice sports they’re interested in or introduce them to one you love. Parks often have tennis, basketball and volleyball courts, as well as large areas to play soccer and baseball. AGES 13-18 Teenagers have more interests than young children. If your teens aren’t involved in sports or other movement-centered activities, they may not be getting enough exercise. Encourage them to get moving by being a good role model. Take time away from school, work and friends to bond over physical activity. For this age, try: • Hitting the trails: Go for a walk, hike or bike ride together. Let your teens direct the flow of conversation while you actively listen. • Yoga: Wake up early and head to the park for a sunrise yoga
session. Teens and adults carry a lot of tension and anxiety. Yoga can be the perfect stress reliever, and it will improve your mobility and joint health. • Sports: Release pent-up aggression with some friendly competition. Teen-parent relationships sometimes suffer but sweating it out together could help smooth things over and provide a healthy release for emotions.
Keep Things Fun
No matter what you choose to do, keep it light and fun. Try activities your whole family can enjoy if you have kids of different ages. Go for a swim or play simple games like tag. A trip to the park should be fun, so make your workout a bonus, not a requirement. afm Kara Reynolds is the founder and editorin-chief of Momish Magazine, an inclusive parenting magazine filled with parenting hacks, advice and more to keep your beautiful family thriving.
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AMBASSADOR’S CORNER AUTHOR
AMBASSADOR’S Corner AUSTIN ARCHERY CLUB n Check out this month’s Ambassador’s Corner with AFM Ambassador Jason Bourgeois at Austin Archery Club.
ello AFM! We have another local gem to share in our quest to showcase Austin’s mecca of fitness. This month’s tour brought us to Austin Archery Club (AAC), where beginners to accomplished archer enthusiasts can get their fix. This haven encourages safety first, community and outdoor engagement! Ambassador’s Corner is continuing efforts to support the Central Texas Food Bank. We sincerely thank you for your continued participation in the work to keep Austin fed as every donation counts as we work to increase food access to families in need. Austin Archery Club is a nonprofit organization, originally formed in 1982. Although a more informal club began shooting at other local locations, the Austin Archery Club moved to Emma Long Metropolitan Park around that same time to use parkland with a national wildlife refuge that is now a part of the Balcones Canyonland Preserve. The Club is funded through membership fees, shoots and tournaments, and in-kind donations from visitors
and local businesses. Donations from local archery shops come in the form of instructional equipment and tournament prizes, as well as their volunteered time and effort. Without their support and communication to their customers about the Club, it could not have grown and maintained itself over its last 40 years of existence! Over the past few decades, the Club maintains static ranges and courses for its members year-long, including bag targets, field archery targets and 3D targets. The static ranges have bag targets placed at known distances from 10 to 60 yards. This is a great area to fine-tune your skills while working on the precision and accuracy of your shot. If you’re shooting a traditional recurve bow, the Field Archery Course has 14 targets set up in a style established by the National Field Archery Association (NFAA). If you choose to shoot a compound bow, the Bowhunter Course has 30 lifelike 3D animal targets set up to match guidelines utilized by the Archery Shooters Association (ASA). The Austin Archery Club holds memberships in
having to replace lost arrows — all I’m saying is the cost of replacing arrows adds up quick! Also, I incorporated wearing a pack as I navigated the terrain. The addition of the pack functions to aid in training aerobic capacity, providing you the ability to cover more ground. However, another purpose of incorporating a pack is to simulate conditions in which you need to execute a precise shot while winded because as fatigue settles in, it becomes increasingly challenging to maintain the laser focus and consistency needed to keep your shot on target. WHAT I FOUND MOST CHALLENGING: Oftentimes, the limiting factor for me at Austin Archery Club becomes physical. My shoulder talks back after about a dozen shots, and sometimes you need that many shots to calibrate your equipment. Hiking in between targets helps in keeping limber and loose, but in my last three shots, I’m usually laboring and am due for some treatment and recovery — still well worth it, no doubt. Archery is a fun sport for all ages and JASON’S CHOSEN abilities, with the Club membership including archers from teens to NONPROFIT: seniors. The facility and events are family-friendly, as both practice and competitive groups often include kids, parents and grandparents. Click here to donate! In addition to modern compound and both national archery organizations. traditional longbow/recurve archery, Throughout each year, the club hosts the Club is also utilized by a local group several tournaments that are open to the called Austin Kyudo that practices a form of public, as well as introductory group youth Japanese archery. With this diversity of ages, styles lessons. The Club is entirely an outdoor facility and and abilities comes the need to prioritize safety, which sits on property that is covered in trees and includes the Club takes seriously. Time-established safety both small hills and ravines. While the terrain offers practices are written into a formal safety policy, which good exercise for those seeking to break a sweat, is published and made available to all members and there are also several accessible level areas if you’re guests, and the ranges and courses are reviewed to less interested in hiking. The facility is certified as ensure the facility is safe for all who use it. The connectedness to nature, respect for the land compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and an amazingly welcoming community are just (ADA) and welcomes archers with special needs, a few of the shared values experienced among any specifically partnering with Lone Star Paralysis. Austin Archery Club member. The love for archery and They also support a national sober active community promoting the sport is the cherry on top. called The Phoenix. Additionally, free memberships Check it out online at austinarcheryclub.com where are offered to all current and former members of the you can access a virtual tour video, information on military! available ranges or courses and scheduled events, WHAT I LIKED: I appreciated starting at the static necessary rules and prohibitions, a convenient online range to calibrate my equipment and get dialed in for method for becoming a member, and links to other the 3D course. The importance of taking time to check local archery resources. in with your equipment serves as a safety measure, We hope to see you out there! afm and it can save you a good deal of money if you are not
Central Texas Food Bank
AU S T I N F I T M AG A Z I N E
CALENDAR JUNE 2022
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Events COURTESY OF SOUL FOOD TRUCK FEST
SOUL FOOD TRUCK FEST Austin, TX JU NE 1 8
JUN E 18
J U N E 18
ATX TV Festival
The Oddities & Curiosities Expo
JUNE 9 -12
JUN E 18
Republic of Texas Motorcycle Rally
Soul Food Truck Fest
One of the first festivals that is devoted to the history and future of television, ATX Television Festival is like a traditional film festival. The festival will include screenings, Q&As and panel discussions where visitors can hear more from leaders in the television industry and meet with other like-minded people in their communities. Festival events will be held in multiple locations throughout downtown Austin. You can purchase tickets online.
This year’s Republic of Texas Motorcycle Rally will be held at Mere’s Reserve in Bastrop, TX instead of its usual location at the Travis County Expo Center. Mere’s Reserve will serve as their new permanent location. The rally gathers bike riders and enthusiasts from all over the country as well as across the globe to dive into the rich culture of motorcycles. Passes can be purchased on their website.
Welcome back to the Oddities & Curiosities Expo where vendors, dealers, artists and small businesses from across the country showcase anything and everything weird. The Austin event will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Palmer Events Center and welcomes anyone to connect with others who have similar interests. All items at this show are both legal to own as well as sustainably sourced. Tickets can be purchased online.
Presented by the Austin Revitalization Authority, the Soul Food Truck Fest will take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Huston-Tillotson University. In honor of Juneteenth, SFTF will feature black-owned food trucks in Texas to celebrate African-American culture. Tickets start at $10 and more information can be found on their website.
About a year after Juneteenth was made a federal national holiday, Austin will be hosting a Juneteenth celebration in downtown East Austin. The celebration will begin at 10 a.m. with a parade that starts at Chestnut House and travels through East Austin. From noon to 10 p.m., there will be a park festival at Rosewood & Boggy Creek Park with live entertainment and vendors. The fireworks show will start at 9:30 p.m. More information can be found online. JUNE 25
Pride in Local Music Festival
This year marks the 3rd annual Pride in Local Music Festival, which will be held at the Long Center to celebrate National Pride Month. Brought to you by the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the festival will include live music by local LGBT artists. A portion of all ticket sales will go to support the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce Education Fund. More information can be found on their website.
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CALENDAR J U N E 2022
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Rides & Races
Austin, TX JU NE 5
Kier’s Hope 5Kk Run & Fun Walk Dallas, TX
Back to Basics 5K
WW Military Miles Half, 10K & 5K
Maudie’s Moonlight Margarita Run Austin, TX JUNE 4
Texas Trail Running Festival Spicewood, TX
Bobby Birdsong Memorial Run
Coppell 5K For The Coppell Special Olympic Teams
Lubbock, TX JUNE 11
Melon Dash Dallas, TX JUNE 11
Running of the Blueberries Nacogdoches, TX JUNE 11-12
XTERRA Cameron Park Races Waco, TX JUNE 12
Cedar Hill Triathlon Cedar Hill, TX JUNE 18
Run to Attack Poverty Rosenberg, TX JUNE 18
Coppell, TX JUNE 25
Miles for Mutts Dallas, TX JUNE 25
The Pride Run Houston, TX JUNE 25
Boots and Booms 5K Anna, TX
Capt’n Karl’s Pedernales Falls Johnson City, TX JUNE 25
Empower 7 5K and 1M Fun Runn Rockwall, TX
1,000 Strong Overcoming Obstacles 5K Run
Holland Corn Festival 5K
Ironman 70.3 Lubbock
No Label Brewing 1st Street 5K Beer Run
Lake Pflugerville Triathlonn
FIND YOUR ESCAPE
San Antonio, TX
Paragon Splash & Dash
ROW I N G K AYA K S PA D D L E B OA R D S G U I D E D TO U R S austinrowing.org email@example.com 74 Trinity Street, Austin, TX 78701
San Antonio, TX JUNE 25
Independence Day 8K Houston, TX
*Dates and times are subject to changes or cancellation. Check event websites for more information.
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