Studying for NASM Certification!

As I study for my NASM personal trainer’s certification I welcome any advice, suggestions and pointers on how to accomplish this!   I’m excited and nervous about it.  I’m studying hard but need to study for longer time though.  I’m unable to shift gears to student mode, I keep getting distracted.

NASM studying

I gotta keep going!

First couple of chapters were not too bad.  But it seemed like  chapters 3 and 4 were never-ending!  The chapters were loaded with information.  I really need to speed this up so I have time to review later.

I have read several blogs about what to focus on when studying.  I also printed NASM’s study guide.  This will help me in concentrating on specific areas.  There’s a lot … the book is 900 + pages!  I have to take my exam in August, this year.  I have not registered yet.  Thinking of doing it in June.

As I’m reading I’m making notes.  That takes up a lot of time.  I still need to make flash cards of definitions.  One composition notebook is almost finished making notes.  And, I just started chapter 5 😊.  I realize I need to speed this up but having a tough time.

NASM studying

My blank index cards for flash cards…

I will keep posting my failures and triumphs here.  If anyone is hearing and extending support… I truly appreciate it!  Thank you.

…thank you for visiting Coaching My Life To Healthy…until next time 🙂

My Soulful Stroll!

Walking by waterside

My being – my mind, body and soul. I feel a delicate, yet, strong aura of connection between my being and everything else around me – The finely course but soft earth I’m walking on; the gentle breeze that’s touching me; the cool water that I’m feeling; and the warm sun ray that’s reaching me from a distance afar – Everything I need to exist in this captured moment – My soulful stroll.

…thank you for visiting Coaching My Life To Healthy … until next time 🙂

A Body Flow Certified Instructor: I’m That Now!


I can’t tell you how excited I am to get certified to teach Body Flow! You already know I lift weights and ride stationary bike…but doing the Body Flow class touches something deep in the core of my being. So, I want to highlight my journey to getting this certification.  I am not certified in teaching lifting weights and RPM…I just love taking those classes.

After my Initial Training,  I had 60 days to teach and pass in three categories: Choreography, Technique and Coaching.  Also, I had to now learn the entire release, that’s ten tracks. Yikes!  Not a dancer, not a musician,  I constantly felt butterflies dancing in my stomach!

With great nervousness, I started practicing with the Masterclass Video by Les Mills that I had downloaded for Initial Training.  I listened to the music, watched the presenters, and focused on the Choreography Notes.  Overwhelmed, more times than not, I kept practicing.  I kept reminding myself that this certification that I want was not for anyone else but for me.  I wanted to do the program correctly, for me!  That kept my nerves under control.

Body Flow certification

Not a good Form at all…

I had to  videotape myself teaching this release, and send it to Les Mills for assessment.  My deadline was mid October 2016.  After speaking to a few Body Flow instructors at the gym, I started taping myself teach in their classes.  My Body Flow instructors are amazing people!  With their busy lives, they took me under their wings.  They coached me and encouraged me.  They let me shadow with them, and answered my questions.

A must for me was practice, practice and more practice;  everyday, two, three or four times.  I had sore muscles in my body.  I practiced in my basement, bedroom and even bathroom.  I practiced at the gym, when no group classes were scheduled.  The cleaning person there knew I would be coming to practice, so he cleaned the floors before I got there.  He told me that he wanted me to get a nice clean smelling room.  That was very sweet.  I greet him every time I see him.

Result of my first assessment – SEND NEW VIDEO!  That meant I did not get certified.  Other instructors were encouraging and said that happens.  I knew right away why?   I was moving faster or slower than what the music allowed.  I needed to fine tune my work, and be on the beat of the music!  My assessor sent me a detailed feedback.  I read it a hundred times as I practiced.  I actually felt that this feedback that I received was great.  Had I been certified first time around, I really wouldn’t have known how to fine tune myself.

Body Flow certification

Form still not quite there…

I sent my second video a month later.  Assessment result – SEND NEW VIDEO.  What?  Even my Body Flow instructors couldn’t believe this.  I had felt pretty good with my taping.  So, what did I miss?  I read my second detailed feedback from my assessor.  I shared that with other instructors.  I had passed two out of three categories –  I made it through Choreography and Technique.  I failed Coaching.  I was very disappointed.  I started to lose the little confidence I had.  I fought with my own thoughts and felt totally discouraged.  I thought I was pursuing something I was not cut out for.  But something inside me poked me to get up and keep reading the feedback and practicing.  So, I kept going.  The feedback was written in an encouraging way and I never felt that the assessor wanted to fail me.  The assessor’s words had this powerful “push”; enough to get me lifted and going!

Coaching starts with Layer 1 Coaching.   As an instructor,  I would need to cover Layer 1 Coaching – “Alignment: Include the Pose Name, Body Part(s) and Direction of the Movement,this tells people what to move and where to move,”  per Les Mills.  Next in Layer 1 is giving Breathing Cues: “Encourage deep nasal breathing, which helps to oxygenate the brain and counteract the effects of stress.”  Lastly, in Layer 1 is giving Options to reduce intensity or advance the pose.  I was good here.

Next is Layer 2 Coaching.  This is where an instructor must Pause and Look at  the class participants.  “See what is really happening on the floor for your class.”  Then correct a pose if that’s what’s needed or cheer if the class is doing great with a pose.  Encourage and support the participants.  Video taping, focusing on passing, being on the stage, and teaching a real class was enough to make me forget coaching altogether!  And, you say Coaching had layers! 🙂  Of course I knew, but in those moments it was miles and miles away from my mind!

Then came Layer 3 Coaching.  My assessor wrote that I did do some Layer 3 Coaching, just not enough.  Layer 3 Coaching – “These cues coach your class, evolving, extending and enhancing the feel and experience of their poses, thus moving your participants closer to perfect technique and experience.”   Those wonderful, seasoned Body Flow instructors who were my biggest support system were shocked that I did not pass 2nd time around.  After seeing my detailed feedback, they said maybe I need my video reviewed again.  They all agreed that Layer 3 Coaching came with time and experience.  The instructors said that was never part of their passing criteria.

The National Lead Assessor (NLA) for Body Flow reviewed my video.  They said that the assessment standards had become stricter in 2016 and it was now more difficult to pass.  This change was done to align with global standards and meet partner demands.  They also wrote, “You (that’s me) sit quite well in the essence of Body Flow and teach with authenticity and ease that will serve you well throughout your teaching journey.”  I loved this part!  This hit me right in my core.  Remember, my core,  I mentioned it earlier.  I got what I needed to push me.  I loved reading NLA’s feedback over and over.  They sent me a beautifully crafted detailed e-mail.  Told me exactly where to go in my videotape and what to do.  They really wanted me to succeed!  I felt that deeply!

Third video, done!  In early December, I videotaped it in one of my instructors morning classes.  Then I videotaped a 2nd one that evening in another one of my instructors classes.  Nervously, but bravely, I did it!  I reviewed the videos at home.  Picked the second one and uploaded it to Les Mills.  Done!  This is it! I took a deep breath in and exhaled a long breath out!

Body Flow certificate

Got the Form, the Choreography and the Coaching! And, the Certificate!

Three days before Christmas 2016, I fell sick.  As I rested I re-read all my feedback sheets from past assessments.  I checked the Les Mills portal everyday to see if the results came, even though Les Mills sent me a message saying that result would come by December 29th.  Still sick in bed the day after Christmas, I picked up my phone to check stuff and decided to open my email.  “CONGRATULATIONS! YOU PASSED YOUR ASSESSMENT VIDEO AND ARE NOW A CERTIFIED BODY FLOW INSTRUCTOR!” I am ready to move forward in this journey!  So happy!

Body Flow certification

My certificate is official!

P.S. Thanks to my assessor.  You were tough with me, but I needed it!  I clearly understand how I need to script my coaching.  

P.S. Thanks to my wonderful group of Body Flow instructors.  I couldn’t have done this without your strong support, advice and hugs!

If you are wanting to become a Body Flow instructor, I hope my article helped you.  I’ll answer any question(s) you may have.  Feel free to send them my way.

…thanks for visiting Coaching My Life To Healthy…until next time:)

Body Flow: My Journey to being Certified! The Initial Training.

I have a lot to learn, but I have come a long way.  I do weight training and I work enthusiastically on my stationary bike.  And, I work on simple yoga moves with elements of Tai-Chi and Pilates program which relaxes my tense muscles; stretches my body to where I feel amazing; strengthens my core and teaches me to breathe into my stretches.  I am in love with my new BF –  Body Flow – that’ the program I’m talking about!  And, now I’m certified to teach it 🙂 I’m clearly very excited!

In this post, I wanted to share my  journey through my Initial Training which took place at a local gym.  I signed up for this required two-day training.  The gym, obviously, must teach Les Mills Programs.  There’s a great story behind Les Mills success!

Initial Training

Calm and Centered; Long and Strong!

Calm and Centered; Long and Strong: These words are spread boldly across the BF page on Les Mills website.  I don’t just read those words, I’m immersed in them!

But no matter how much I love the program, getting certified is a whole different ball game.  I’m not musically oriented.  That’s one very big problem.   The entire program is based on music.  And I keep missing the beat.  I would either go too fast or too slow. Argh! So mad at myself for not catching the beat!  I know how much I love BF and how much I would love to help others enjoy it.  And, that’s why I don’t mind working hard towards my goal of working on becoming a great instructor.  I had decided back in summer of 2015 that I wanted to be certified in this program.   I have mentioned this in my About page too, when I started this blog.

Often I would check the website for training.  There were few, but nothing locally.  Then in May 2016, I saw a training scheduled for August 2016, at a close-by gym.  I jumped at the opportunity.  I signed up for the class right away.   But, I couldn’t  download any training material until two weeks before my training was going to  start.   Those two weeks when I should have been downloading and practicing,  I was out of the country.  This trip was planned way in advance.   My husband and I were in Peru.  We were there for almost two weeks on a hiking trip.  My return date was August 3rd.  Five days before training.

After I got home, one of the first things I did was to download all the material.  I told myself that I can do this.  I told myself that I had enough time to prepare and pass this Initial Training,   Eagerly, I started looking at the one song I had to learn.  Not understanding the choreography notes, I started to get nervous.  I really needed to learn this language of choreography.  I needed more time.  I did not have that kind of time.  Being the positive person that I am, I knew l could make it through the training.  And, with that thought, I met the bull head-on!

Initial Training

I made sure I had everything…

First day of training:  I reach the gym…I see other ladies waiting…we say hello and wait.  Our trainer, the owner of this gym, showed us to the room where our training was to take place.  We take our spots in this room by unfolding our mats.  The room has a stage.  Yes, a stage.  I started feeling a lot nervous now.

Initial Training

My favorite mat. My lunch cooler.

Once training started, the trainer went over expectations, process, tips and techniques to succeed in the two-day Initial Training.  He also led a BF class where we participated.  I did great here.  I have been participating in BF classes for several years now.  Just never taught one!

Next, he wanted us to come up on the stage and “teach” our one song.  Mine was the first song –  the Tai-Chi warm-up.  I completely screwed it up.  I was super nervous on the stage,  Words did not come out of my mouth.  A total failure!  (I had not had enough time to listen to the music, much less know the choreography. Remember.)  I was so bummed.  But a tiny hope remained inside of me.

Second and third time on the stage, I did not do well either.  I knew I needed to get myself together, I needed to forget about other ladies, who were doing the same training with me.  Most of them were a bit more experienced, and a lot of them were already an instructor in some other program.  No matter who was doing what, I needed to get my act together – No more excuses!  (These girls were very nice actually.  My music was not working initially, one of them helped me with it.  Later, another encouraged me, now fully knowing how new I was at this.  Another, sweetly hugged me and said I should just look at her when teaching my song so I’m not nervous in front of so many.)

Second day: This is it!  Either I will make it or I won’t.  The trainer gave us a good amount of time to work on our songs.  I sat on my mat, put my earphones in, turned the music on, and stuck my head in-between my knees and listened to the music with choreography notes.  Also, I watched the master video and practiced with it.

Last chance to show my trainer that I am a Body Flow instructor material.  I walked on to the stage.  I focused my mind to the music.  Then moved with the music listening closely for cues.  Timing was off a bit.  But at the end of the track, I thought I pulled it off.   Once everyone was done with their tracks, the trainer calculated the numbers and was ready to hand out our results.

He gave the sheet with results, face down.  I was so afraid to turn it over.  Then I saw a tiny smile on the trainer’s face as if suggesting it’ll be okay if I turned the paper over.  So I did,  turned the paper over.

Initial Training

The Result!

I PASSED!!  I did it!  First hurdle behind me.  (The trainer had encouraging words for me before I left his gym.  He said, I did fine for someone who had never done this.  He asked me to practice, practice and practice with the master video, music and choreography notes.  He said to me that I’ll make it if I get the timing right, and that it comes with lots of practicing.)

Done!  Initial Training in my hip pocket…I headed home. Relieved!

Off to practicing, not just my one song, but the entire release, that’s 10 songs, times infinity!  Then on to making a video for assessment.  Once I pass the assessment, I get the certificate.  My next post will be about my journey to making  video(s) for assessment..and passing that!

…thank you for visiting Coaching My Life to Healthy…until next time:)

 

Hiking Machu Picchu – Day 4 – Last Day of Our Hike

Wake up time: 3:30 AM!  I never thought I could do this.  I thought of all the porters who woke up before us to offer us a hot cup of Coca tea, and got our warm water in bowls for us to brush and wash up.  Thinking of that got my butt moving –  Out of my warm sleeping bag and on into my hiking boots!

Hiking Machu Picchu

Map for Day 4. An exciting day, indeed!

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Early wake up was to give us the advantage to be ahead of four other groups that spent the third night camping in the same campsite.  It was kinda nice to see other expedition groups and I even made friends with some folks from other groups.  A bit crowded though.  (But I’m not going to be critical here…my thoughts about that would be in one paragraph at the end of this article – all in one little place:))

The Alpaca Expeditions, our tour company, made sure we were the first group to get to the checkpoint.  This is where Peruvian officials checked our passports before our last stretch of hiking to the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu.  After one hour of hiking uphill, we reached the peak of Sun Gate.  Around 6:30 AM.  Wow!  The sun was just rising and the rays from the sun came straight through the mountains on to the far, but not too far site of Machu Picchu.  A breath-taking site…no doubt!  I could have sat here for a long time.

Another hour of trek downhill, and we were stepping into the massive ruins –  Surrounded by mountain peaks on all sides.  The site looked completely protected from all sides.

Hiking Machu Picchu

Look… That’s Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate peak. Machu Picchu is believed to be built at the height of the Inca Empire which dominated western South America in the 15th and 16th century (fact from History.com)

Hiking Machu Picchu

I’m looking…but not in the right direction…Machu Picchu behind me. Machu Picchu means “old Peak” in the native Quechua language. We met several natives during our four-day trek. They still live in these mountains. I was beyond amazed to see permanent residents of these mountains.

Machu Picchu

On door steps of Machu Picchu…ruins everywhere. What a beautiful place it must be. In the midst of a tropical mountain forest on the eastern slopes of the Peruvian Andes, Machu Picchu’s walls, terraces, stairways and ramps blend seamlessly into its natural setting. Archaeologists have identified several distinct sectors that together comprise the city, including a farming zone, a residential neighborhood, a royal district and a sacred area. (Fact from History.com)

Hiking Machu Picchu

Rocks from neighboring mountains were manually shaped on-site to build Machu Picchu. No mortar was used. Rocks were fitted together.

Hiking Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu’s most distinct structure for me was the Temple of the Sun. Those dark looking holes are windows on all four sides…and this allows the sun rays to penetrate from different angles…it is believed to be a solar clock or calendar for the residents of Machu Picchu.

As I kept climbing, I forgot that I had to trek down again.  By now my legs were asking for relief.  But the excitement to see everything was too overpowering.  Took couple of ibuprofen and kept going.  When I got on top of the ruins, I took a picture of a mountain I saw through a window ruin.  I could clearly see it.  It was the Machu Picchu Mountain.

Hiking Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna (Wayna) Picchu. People hike this as well. I did not. I was ending my trek here and was not about to start another. If I was mentally prepared, I may have. But my goal was to reach the Inca Site of Machu Picchu, and I did that.

So, this was Day 4 in a nutshell.  After the two-hour-guided tour of the ruins, we hung out for another couple of hours exploring.  Our group was now dispersed and we were on our own.  We were handed our bus tickets.  Buses ran every minute.  Once completely tired out, we (my husband, our couple friend and I) took one of the buses down to the town of Aguas Calientes.  We had a few hours to explore the town; had lunch; enjoyed some local coffee.  Then the group gathered back together to board a Peru Rail train.  From here it was a two-hour ride back to Cusco.  A fast approaching end to a once in a lifetime journey!  Or maybe a beginning to many more adventures of this sort! 🙂

Hiking Machu Picchu

The train traveled alongside the Urubamba River. And, I loved this ride…it was comfortable, we were served a small snack. The views were beautiful. An amazing journey reaching a resting point.

Hiking Machu Picchu

An outline of a journey, then to begin; but now finished and filled with memories. Never will I forget our group, our porters and chefs.

That short paragraph I mentioned earlier:  My issues during the hike – Not too many thankfully.  First one has to do with the toilet.  There was only one portable toilet for both men and women.  We need two separate toilets, that’s it!  Using the Inca trail’s natural site seemed safer.  It was disgusting to see pee all around the seat.  And, women do not pee like that!  Sorry guys.  I put this in the survey that the expedition company gave us after we completed the trek.  I hope they make this change.  Next, the mattress we rented to cushion our sleeping bags was no good.  The sleeping bag kept slipping off it.  The tiniest body movement, and you and your sleeping bag were off its set position.  Lastly, the trek guide gave us a slightly long speech, after Day 3 celebration, about the fair tipping amount for porters and chefs.  And, he actually counted the money.  Several group participants felt a bit odd to say the least.  It was unprofessional.

If you saw my posts on my Machu Picchu trip and have questions, please ask me.  If you are planning to do this trek, the more questions answered, the better; the more comfortable you’ll be.

….thank you for visiting Coaching My Life To Healthy…until next time 🙂

 

 

 

Hiking Machu Picchu – Day 3

Honestly,  on this day I felt tired!   Not so much from climbing or coming down,  but from lack of sleep.  The first two nights I couldn’t really sleep well.  My sleeping bag was comfy and warm, but the darn thing kept slipping off the mattress pad it was on…it was quite frustrating.  At times my struggle with keeping my sleeping bag steady on the mattress pad meant I had to be in a freeze pose inside it.  Any turn I made – I had to start again.  I couldn’t get rid of my mattress pad, because it was needed.  The  ground under was so cold.  I’m not complaining but making a point.  If you’ll be doing this hiking trip, find a way to hold the sleeping bag on to the mattress pad.

Moving right along to another point here…mornings were generally rushed.   Our tour company, The Alpaca Expeditions, wanted us on our feet trekking as soon as the Sun came up.  It was because our days were short; and treks were long.  Darkness came by 5:45 – 6 pm.  We were there in July, it’s winter in Peru.

Much later wake up time on Day 3…6:30 A.M.  We had to cover far less hours than Day 2.  After we were given our morning Coca tea,  we changed and headed for our breakfast.  Awesome bread…delicious eggs…colorful fruits.  Our porters and chefs did an awesome job.  With our belly full, we energetically climbed for about two hours.

Hiking Machu Picchu

Day 3 in a glance.

Hiking Machu Picchu

A few more details ….

Hiking Machu Picchu

This was the snow-capped peak I first saw from our airplane during landing in Cusco. Here I am standing so very close to it on Day 3. I was blown away. It’s still very far but it’s so enormous that it looks like it’s close by.

Hiking Machu Picchu

Going down! I was kinda amazed to see so much greenery all around us.

Then came the downhill.  Three hours of descending was tough.  Hiking poles were a big help.  My knees would have never made it without them.  I completely depended on them for support.  Those steps were all carved in the mountain by the Incas, and were all different sizes – from narrow width to wide; from short length to tall.  Hiking poles were absolutely necessary!  (Mine had broken on Day 2…the trek guide was kind enough to lend me his.  And, I gladly accepted.)

Hiking Machu Picchu

From this point we had another hour and a half of descend to get to our third night campsite.

We were surrounded by massive mountains.  It truly was an amazing feeling to be here.  The entire trek was mesmerizing.  In the above photo,  you can see the  Urabamba River flowing in the valley.  The river continues to the sacred site of Machu Picchu.

Hiking Machu Picchu

Winay Wayna was beautiful. In this photo, it looks like it’s all made from Lego pieces.

We were at the Inca Site of Winay Wayna after we got to our campsite. We washed up, changed, had our snack and walked about 30-minutes from our campsite.  Our guide handed us our t-shirts that said we made it to Machu Picchu.  We hung out at this site for an hour or so and headed back for dinner.  We had to hit the bed by 7:30.  Our Day 4 wake up time was really early.

Hiking Machu Picchu

Said hello to this guy 🙂 My favorite llama. There were many hanging out on Winay Wayna. The guide had to stop talking until this guy walked away. The guide had to stop not for the llama but for us…we were all distracted. We kinda forgot about our guide and started to take pictures of the llama.

Hiking to Machu Picchu

Our 3rd night was a celebration night as well. Here we are celebrating a kitchen crew member’s birthday. It was a sweet event. On the left, our trek guide and behind him are other kitchen crew members.

Hiking Machu Picchu

Our last dinner. A celebration. Our chefs went all out. They prepared several mouth-watering Peruvian dishes.

I fell in love with Peruvian food during my trek.  I loved every dish I tried.  During this trek, food was my reward!  So colorful, so simple, and yet so delicious!

Hiking Machu Picchu

I thought of my dad when I saw this heart-shaped stone embedded in the mountain I was climbing. I knew he was with me, guiding me.

Hiking Machu Picchu

Map of 4-Day 3-Night trek to Machu Picchu

Day 4 … next week!

…thank you for visiting Coaching My Life to Healthy…until next time 🙂

Hiking Machu Picchu – Day 2 of 4

Day two was the most challenging of four-day trek.  I consider myself a pretty active person.  My Fitbit tracker tells me so – I workout and walk a lot.  But, let me tell you, this hike was NOT EASY!  Altitude affected my breathing.  I did not take the altitude medicine – (I highly recommend taking altitude medicine).  I, however, did chew on Coca leaves.  And, I did that very well,  like a person experienced in chewing tobacco!  I placed the dip (coca leaves) I pinched from our guide’s stash, and placed it inside my cheek (not between my lower lip and teeth).  I had my cheeks stuffed at all times!  That helped, A LOT!  That’s what the guide and the porters used throughout this journey.

Hiking Machu Picchu

Day Two – Distance we needed to cover! Two big ascends and two big descends! I have highlighted our Day-2 campsite in orange.

Hiking Machu Picchu

Day-2 forecast

Wake-up time on Day-2: 4:30 AM.  Starting altitude at 10,826 ft – crisp cold morning.  I layered myself well.  And, took layers off as I needed.  (I used gloves, caps, two socks, and layered my shirts and wore my fleece jacket).

Before sunrise, we were served hot coca tea right in our tents.  We had a few minutes to get ready; to pack our back-packs.  We also had to pack our sleeping bags.  Got our hiking poles and headlamps (early mornings and evenings are pitch dark and headlamps are a must).  Ate a nice yummy breakfast…and trust me, I ate.  I loved the freshly prepared Peruvian food by our chefs! Grabbed a fruit and a chocolate bar for snacking while hiking.  And, off we went hiking by 5:15 AM.

For the next few hours, all we did was climb, climb and climb….as I climbed I took several tiny breaks to look at the beautiful mountains that surrounded me.  I stopped at several places to rest and to look behind me. I looked intently at these indestructible, fearless, lion-hearted, colossal mountains that I was leaving behind; never to come back to again in this lifetime.  And, I was overcome by feeling of gratefulness.  I felt powered-up, and found myself completely energized.

After climbing for three hours, our guide had us look toward a distant summit, and said smilingly, “we are hiking up to that top, it’s the “Boobie.” (The hill on top of the mountain did look like a breast with nipple from afar.  Everyone got a little laugh. Much needed exhalation!)

At times, I was taken over by my emotions – the beauty of these Andes Mountains and the skies over them were too much to behold.  I found wiping tears off my cheeks.  And, of course, after the release, I felt hungry.  I snacked on my fruit and chocolate bar as I climbed.  I also kept myself hydrated.  Recommendation by the Alpaca Expeditions is 3-liters a day.  And, I felt that my body needed that much water.  (Peeing was not a problem…just used the Inca’s nature :))

Hiking Machu Picchu

Enjoying my cheese sandwich and Coca tea at Dead Woman’s Pass

Finally, by mid-morning we reached the first peak, standing tall and strong at 13,829 ft – Dead Woman’s Pass!  Here we had our nice big snack provided by the expedition company.  Cheese sandwich, an orange and a warm cup of Coca tea was fully satisfying.  (It was cold up here).   We relaxed here; climbed up to the “Boobie;” took pictures; enjoyed the magnificent views…and then it was time to make a move.  Our first big descend was right ahead of us.

 

 

Two hours of downhill felt more like a forever downhill.  Down, down, down we went.  (Trekking poles are a definite must).  At some point in my descend, one of my poles broke!  The trek-guide offered me his.  I gladly accepted.

Our lunch was ready when we finished our first downhill.  (I was the last one to get to all our resting points).  Reasons behind it being: Altitude affected my breathing; I was slow; I needed frequent rests; and I stopped at many places to simply absorb the surroundings.  Our guide or his assistant was always there to help me – offered to carry my back-pack.  That was nice, but I was fine carrying it all the way!

After lunch, our next climb was facing us.  It definitely felt harder, but way better than the descend.  My feet wanted a warm soak, they were tired.  My face felt rugged, sticky and salty from my sweat and dirt.  I felt like I was in some old western movie…the trail had lots of areas with dry patches…dirt visibly suspended in the air.  Missing in this picture was my savior; my gallant horse!  Oh well, who needs that when I was my own undaunted savior.

Second summit, Runkuracay, was right below my feet.  Having this peak under my belt, I felt a new surge!  The excitement quickly vanished with the thought of “where from here?” Downhill again!  It was not easy, but I did it.  Dusk was approaching fast.  And, I knew I was going to be the last one making to our night-2 campsite.  (And, I was definitely the last one).  But, everyone – I mean, my trek group and porters stood by the campsite clapping for me on my arrival.  This amazing welcome touched my heart deeply.  Tears rolled down my eyes.  Then I screamed with joy.  Then I felt this pang of hunger.

We had our “Happy Hour” goodies. (Happy hour was snack time before dinner) – Freshly popped popcorn and a Peruvian snack – fried bananas – Yummy!  Hot chocolate and Cocoa tea.  Awesome, just awesome!  Then I went to my tent to rest; others rested, too, or played cards.  Let me tell you, I felt a special feeling for my husband.  He was always by my side.  He helped me with unloading my back-pack, taking off my hiking-boots, and I got a much-needed hug from him 🙂  After a good rest, we took pictures and chatted with other trekkers.  By now, we felt as if we were one big family!

Our dinner was elaborate like the night before.  Day 2 was very tough.  And, we really enjoyed the food.  The delicious food relaxed us. Every dish was incredibly tasty.  We ended our meal with nice hot cocoa tea.

An exhilarating end to Day-2 of 4.  Destination Machu Picchu, half way covered!  Check out a few more pictures from Day-2:

Hiking Machu Picchu

Day-2 hiking was challenging but the beauty was my biggest motivator.

Hiking Machu Picchu

There’s me and my friend up on the “Boobie.” Dead Woman’s Pass. At almost an altitude of 14,000 ft … felt great!

Hiking Machu Picchu

Day-2 Campsite … it was very cold here. When I took this photo, most of us were resting in our tents, after a near 10-hour hike-day.

Hiking Machu Picchu

This is our dining tent … porters are taking a break while the kitchen crew is getting our dinner ready.

Hiking Machu Picchu

The Sun is setting right ahead of our campsite on Day-2. Within minutes it was pitch dark. And, when I gazed up to the black skies, I was endowed with millions of dazzling stars and breathtaking galaxies. I was completely floored. It seemed as if these brightly lit stars were going to fall right down on me.

 

I’ll be posting Day-3 and 4 in two weeks.  image

 

 

 

…thank you for visiting Coaching My Life to Healthy…until next time 🙂

Hiking Machu Picchu – Day 1 of 4


Packing done! Backpack packed! Boarding passes and flights completed!  Acclimatized for a day and a half (recommended 3-days) in Cusco, Peru.  We enjoyed walking around town; eating, drinking (no alcohol if planning this trip, that’s for after the hike:)) and falling in love with Cusco.  I went with my husband, along with another couple, who are also our good friends.

Hiking Machu Picchu

This is a map I printed from Alpaca Expeditions website. Orange highlighted spots were our night-campsites. Yellow, our destination.

Our 4-Day 3-Night hike had a start day of Thursday, July 28, 2016.   We had a meeting with the expedition company, Alpaca Expeditions, on Wednesday evening.  This is when we met the rest of the folks in our hiking group (we were 15 strong).  We also met our knowledgeable guide, Lizandro.  He briefed us on various important points, including our bus trip to the hiking-start-site, distance to be covered each day, snack-breaks before and after lunches, lunch spots, and paid-potty spots.  In addition, he   made us aware of early morning and evening temperatures. (Usually, it was really cold when we started and really cold when we went to sleep).  (Layering was a must).  He went over packing tips for  our backpacks (I did pretty well in that area).  He also gave each one of us a duffel bag in which he suggested we put anything we would need in the night, like night-clothes, blanket, extra clothes, up to 7 lbs.

Wake up time for Day one was 4:30 AM for us!  Alpaca tour-bus picked us up, drove for almost 51 miles uphill to an altitude of 8923 feet to Piskacucho.  This is where we had breakfast, freshly prepared by our expedition chefs.  We had hot chocolate, cocoa leave tea, eggs, local bread, local jams and fresh fruits, like papaya, cantaloupe, honeydew.  Yummy start!  We received snacks to carry in our backpacks.  I felt ready and excited!

To the checkpoint! (I made sure I had my passport.  No passport, no hiking).  Thankfully, this process was pretty easy and quick.  Once I put my passport away in my waist-pack, I was on the move along with my group.  From this point on, my hiking poles became my best friend.

Hiking Machu Picchu

This is what we completed on our first day of hiking. Pretty good I thought.

 

Hiking Machu Picchu

Day-1, information in italics is from Alpaca Expeditions. My notes in ink is from Weather Channel website

Photos from Day 1:


Machu Picchu Day 1

We crossed this bridge to start our hike. Right before this bridge was our first Inca Trail checkpoint where we had to show our passport to the authorities.

Machu Picchu Day 1

Our guide showed us white-dusted-bead-like-growth on cactus plants, growing wildly in these mountains. He then squished it and red dye flowed out. He stained us with it, explaining that this was makeup for men and women for ceremonial events back in the Inca days. Here he is staining my cheeks. It’s like blood…dries like it, too. 🙂

Machu Picchu Day 1

This was our view for the first hour or so. There’s a train track running right beside the Urubabma River. The river snakes all the way to the sacred valley of Machu Picchu. See that snow-capped mountain peak in the far back – we will get very close to that later in our hike!

Machu Picchu Day 1

Our tents were pitched by the porters. Porters, in this picture, are resting for a few minutes, before dinner time. Each tent housed two people.

Machu Picchu Day 1

This was our dinner tent. Pitched and ready. We had a great meal. After dinner, night came fast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Packing List for Hiking Machu Picchu

I just returned from a 4-day 3-night hiking trip to the amazing Inca site of Machu Picchu, Peru.  If I had not taken the time to pack, my experience may have not been as successful.  I followed the list on Alpaca Expeditions website.  In addition to their list, I also read several blogs by other hikers who had been to Machu Picchu.  Some had a list; I then combined these lists to make my own personal list.  I found that very few list are put out by women.  So, here’s mine and hope it’ll help.

  1. Collection and organization.  First I collected all items that was going to go on my body in a pile.  Then I separated in groups as shown below:
    Packing List

What I used most and what I didn’t and what’s not in these photos but glad I took with me:  I took three yoga pants.  Used first one for two days of hiking.  Then used my 2nd one for third day and my 3rd one for 4th day.  It worked great for me.  It was winter when I was there (end of July)…so I layered myself – tank top as my first and then couple of full-sleeve layers, then my jacket. (I took my layers off as I needed.  Tied my jacket around my waist, and shirts on my back-pack straps.)  My back-pack was 25-L, which is what the trail company asks for each hiker to carry.  Their advice – the less you carry the easier for you to hike!  Makes a lot of sense :).

I used all my winter gear!  Second night was very cold and I wore three layers, plus my jacket, two socks and gloves and warm caps with my head wrap to sleep inside my sleeping bag 🙂  I’m so glad I took all those layers.  It was COLD!  And, I kept my headlamp close by…needed it most definitely to walk in the dark.  And, it is super dark!

What I ended up not using was any rain gear.  It did not rain and we had beautiful weather.  It got hot in the day time and cold in the nights.  The skies were absolutely beautiful!  Dark skies with bright stars and WOW! those galaxies!…it was just AMAZING!

What’s not showing in my pictures but I took with me were items per my list (I added my list at the bottom of this article), like tooth-brush, bathroom tissue, small first-aid kit, fleece blanket, water bottles, if not using the camel-pack; couple of protein bars (don’t need to carry too many because I bought, paid by local currency, some snacks as we were on the trail…there are small local stores & the tour-guide will let you know where you can buy things.)  Very nicely organized!

2.  Gadgets and stuff…  Per the list I arranged these on the floor as well!  My thinking at this point was – “How the heck am I to fit all this in my tiny back-pack?”

Packing List

So this is how I ended up packing:  I put in my back-pack everything I needed for my day one hike.  The night stuff I put in my suitcase.  Also in my suitcase, I packed a pair of jeans and a shirt.  I wore a pair of walking shoes for traveling, which I also wore after my hike at Cusco and back to the US.   I took a shower, at my Air B&B, the night before the hiking trip began…then no shower for duration of the hike…took a shower back in Cusco!  It was all good!

The night before hiking the expedition company had a briefing and gave me a duffel-bag.  I was allowed to put 7-lbs in that bag.  Next morning a porter carried this duffel-bag with additional things in it provided by the expedition company, like a sleeping bag, air mattress pad, pillow, rain poncho and a plastic bag.  They gave me and my group good instructions as to what we needed to pack, and what they were going to pack in those bags.

The waist-pack in the photo is where I put my cell phone, passport, money…anything and everything that was super crucial to keep with me at ALL times.  Chargers etc. went in my back-pack.  You will not be able to charge phones or camera batteries during this hike.  I took extra batteries to compensate.

Below is a picture of the back-pack I carried.  I packed one-day items in it…the rest went into the duffel-bag.  I kept my flip-flop in my back-pack.  (On lunch break the tour-guide allowed my group to wear our flip-flops and relax our climbing feet…that was nice.)  Next day clothing, night clothing, fleece blanket went into the duffel-bag.  Every night my porter gave me my duffel-bag.  I ended up putting my dirty laundry in them too.  I changed my underwear every day.  So mostly it was just my panties 🙂

Packing List

My personal packing list that I compiled: (This trip was challenging but worth it!Packing List

As you can see, my list has many marks!  This shows how I go about packing:)  I highlighted and crossed-off items as I packed them; circled items that I needed to pack; hand wrote items that I needed to add to my list.   I hope you have found this post helpful.  Enjoy your trip to Machu Picchu…it’s a great hiking experience!

Note:  I will post about all four days of hiking!  Each week I’ll cover one day and one night.

….thank you for visiting Coaching My Life to Healthy…until next time.

Off to Machu Picchu!

What’s on my mind?
Hike to Machu Picchu is on my mind. My husband and I, along with another couple are packed and ready.  I’m excited and nervous, but ready.  One thing I’m concerned is the altitude sickness.  The two peaks are high, standing at 13,779 ft and 13,123 ft, respectively, according to Alpaca Expeditions.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu – here I come! Feeling ready, but nervous. Credit: Map by Alpaca Expeditions

The map above gives me a good idea of how the trail is going to be.  I will be writing more about my trip to Machu Picchu when I return.  I wanted to start blogging about it before I left.  As I write this blog, I’m feeling excited and nervous; and I’m hoping my energy level will keep up with me.

Early this year, I think it was in January that we decided on this trip.  By February, my husband had inquired and hooked us up with Alpaca Expeditions, a Peru tour operator.  They applied for our permit to hike to Machu Picchu.  The number of Inca Trail permits is limited to 500 per day (about 200 tourists and 300 trekking staff), according to Tripadvisor.  Once that was under our belts, we started building our stamina and started hiking our local mountains in our state.  I think it has helped build us up for the Inca Trail.  The Inca Trail hike is considered challenging by the Alpaca Expeditions tour company.  The distance we will be covering is 26 miles.

Porters will be carrying and setting up equipment.  They’ll carry our tents, sleeping bags, pillows, food, and other items, including some of our items.  They are the backbones of our hike.  I don’t think I can hike with a load like that!  I have read in other blogs that the food we’ll be eating is freshly cooked.   All preparation is made by a chef, who I’ve read makes mouth-watering healthy and delicious meals.  What else can I ask for? 🙂

With all the support system in sync, I feel ready with a hint of jitters.  This maybe a normal feeling…I just need to process it in my head 🙂

Packing list, the expedition company gives is detailed and a must.  Without it I would be completely lost.  My packing is complete!  My suitcase and camel-back ready!  I will post my process of packing in my next post – once I’m back.  Reason for that – I can tell you what worked for me and what did not.

Machu Picchu

The four of us. Sagamore (my husband), Map Pusher (me), Situation Analyzer (Our friend), Trail Leader (Friend’s husband).

 

….thank you for visiting Coaching My Life To Healthy…until next time:)