March
17

#GetOutThere Guide: Jamaica

MI OLA brand ambassador Lauren @rock3roll was born in Houston (the birthplace of Beyoncé…) and spent time living in the Midwest before moving to NYC six years ago.  Now, she professionally wanders every four weeks, and is an incessant adventurer.  We caught up with this sandy mermaid and got the details on her latest #GetOutThere adventure to Jamaica.

 

#GetOutThere Guide: Jamaica

How to get there: I flew from JFK to Miami, and onward to Montego Bay. I would highly recommend flying into MBJ, as your trip from the airport to your hotel in the Montego area will be no more than 20 minutes!

Where to stay: I stayed at the SeaGarden Beach Resort. My intent in Jamaica was to explore (as is always!) The SeaGarden had great views (grab an ocean view room) and authentic Jamaican food. It was perfect for what we were looking for! If you’re looking for more of a “stay-put” type of vibe, I would definitely stay at one of the Sandals locations. Partly because of The Office, but also because they seem to have a lot of properties to choose from, and great reviews!

When to go: I traveled to the island in July and had great weather. It’s always good to be aware of the rainy seasons on any island. Jamaica has two main rainy seasons. May is the first, followed by October- November.  Also, keep Hurricane Season in mind from June through the end of a November. Island rain typically is brief and patchy (in my experience), but if this is your one and only escape for the year, better to not take your chances!!!

Negril:

Jamaica has no shortage of beaches. The most famous, and well worth it, is ‘Seven Mile Beach’ in Negril. Endless white sand, turquoise water, and palms for days makes for one epic beach experience.

If you’re not staying in Negril, travel by cab or by catamaran. The Dreamer is a fun snorkel (booze) cruise that takes you from Montego Bay to Negril. If traveling by car, it’s best practice to rent a driver for the day (prices very from $100-$200, not including tip). Your driver will stay with you, affording you the flexibility to go and stop where you please!

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Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Lauren – @rock3roll

While you’re in Negril, make sure you stop by The Cliffs, more specifically, Rick’s Café! There are multiple spots along the cliff where the brave can jump in from various heights. Not interested? No worries grab a drink at the bar and watch the professionals do what they do best: jump. If bar food isn’t up your alley, head to Ivan’s. Located not far up the road from Rick’s Café, Ivan’s is nestled within the cliff side, offering up stunning ocean views. It’s the perfect place to nom on jerk lobster and drink flaming rumrunners while the sun floats down.

 

 

Montego Bay:

Centrally located between tourist haunts Negril and Ocho Rios, Montego Bay is the perfect spot to find an all-inclusive for your stay. Walk down to Margaretville for a Bob Marley (your new favorite drink for all-of-time) and a bounce on their ocean trampolines and slides.

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Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Lauren – @rock3roll

 

 

Ocho Rios:

Up the road roughly 1.5 hours from Montego Bay is a plethora of unique island experiences. Popular among locals and tourists, the Blue Hole is made up of a combination of waterfalls and swimming holes. Interested in cruising around the watery landscape solo? Take the paths, and wander. Looking to jump and swim? Hire a guide. Water shoes are recommended, and sold at the entrance for you to comfortably cruise around the falls. Have a GoPro? Your guide will happily become your professional photographer (just make sure you’ve got a waterproof case!) You’ll be able to jump off of falls as steep as around 20 feet. Expect to pay around $15 to enter, plus a little extra for a guide!

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Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Lauren – @rock3roll

After the Blue Hole, take a car back down towards Montego Bay for an afternoon stop at Bamboo Blue. Located in Mammee Bay, you’ll get a first class beach seat and bright blue water, all for the cost of a Piña Colada. Rent a cabana, and sip on whatever frozen concoction floats your boat.

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Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Lauren – @rock3roll

Finish up your trip back to Montego Bay, by stopping at the Luminous Lagoon in Falmouth, Jamaica. The brackish water in the Lagoon is home to millions of microorganisms called dinoflagellates, that when disturbed emit a light-blue GLOW.

YES. YOU CAN SWIM IN GLOW-IN-THE-DARK WATER!

Get to the Lagoon around 6-6:30 p.m. (in the Summer months; in the Winter, arrive an hour earlier,) to grab your free rum punch (included in the $25 USD per person tour) before the tour starts. It’s not enough just to go on the boat to look at the glow in the boat’s wake; you will want to swim, so wear your MI OLA suit and bring dry clothes to change into (I made that mistake; I swam in a dress…WORTH IT). There are four other places where this phenomenon exists: Indonesia, the Bahamas, and Puerto Rico. It is said that Jamaica is home to the brightest Lagoon out of the four!

 

Roadside Stops

If you do end up taking a cab to various places (or renting a car), make sure to stop for roadside soup and porridges. Some of the best porridge I’ve ever had was on the road (full disclosure, it was also the first time I’ve ever had porridge).  Jerk Chicken stands, and highway restaurants are frequent sights, so absolutely jerk the wheel to pull into any one you see. On your way out of town headed towards Ocho Rios, you’ll pass a few coconut stands. Stop at the LAST one that is nestled in the woods. The coconuts are known among locals as THE BEST.

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Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Lauren – @rock3roll

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Photo by MI OLA Brand Ambassador Lauren – @rock3roll

 

Jamaica is home to beautiful people and culture. Get out there and have a blast!

 

 

 

September
23

#GetOutThereGuide: Sanibel Island

When brand ambassador Amanda (@mermanda_) isn’t teaching yoga, running her very own yoga studio, or getting out there in her town town of Marathon, Florida, she is exploring sandy beaches. Recently she took a trip with her boyfriend to Sanibel Island on the southwest coast of Florida to explore one of Florida’s most pristine beaches. Known for its wide variety of beautiful shells, Sanibel Island is a beachcomber’s paradise. We just had to catch up with Amanda to get all the insider details on how to #GetOutThere in Sanibel Island!

#GetOutThereGuide: Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island is nothing short of magical. According to the Sanibel tourist board, there are 250 different type of shells, 230 types of birds, 15 miles of beaches, and zero traffic lights! I really felt drawn to this sea shell covered island and I guess most MI OLA mermaids would be too. Every store on the island sells tools for building sand castles – I liked that about it! You could still hear the ocean over everything else and there wasn’t anything in the way of connecting with nature and my sweet sweet boyfriend, Andy.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda- @mermanda_

How to get there:

Sanibel Island is located off the coast of southwest Florida, just west of Fort Myers, Florida (between Naples and Tampa). The island is roughly 12 miles long and three miles across at its widest. The only road in and out of Sanibel is the Sanibel Causeway Road, which connects the island to the mainland.

What to do:

Every inch of beaches are covered in sea shells of all shapes and sizes, and species. We bought sifter shovels and buckets and spent hours between the beach and the ocean floor collecting and sorting the most precious pieces. Did you know the best time to shell is an hour before or after low tide?

I have always found my self deeply inspired by sand and the vast amounts of grains and speck that lie in a single square inch, but this was different. The creative inspiration flowed through my finger tips to my soul with ever shell I touched.

Ideas of shell art and shell inspired mandalas that I could hang in my home and my yoga studio to continue to be in awe of this place and this feeling.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda- @mermanda_

Where to stay:

We stayed at a sweet little inn called the Parrots Nest, covered in shell decor and more romantic than a Ritz. The place was a sanctuary tucked away from the road, consumed in the most elegant way by moss, trees, and a deep connection to nature; and with in walking distance to the best breakfast and coffee shop on the island called Easy Over cafe.

We took our coffee to the Sanibel Island Lighthouse for a morning stroll along the trails and coast line of the south end of the Island.

What else to do:
Besides collect shells and build sandcastles, my boyfriend and I didn’t do much else! But, there is a plethora of other outdoor activities, like riding bikes all around the island, playing tennis, kayaking/canoeing, fishing, playing golf, practicing yoga, SUPin, and much more!

Go. Let yourself Relax. Be inspired.

For more information, check out Sanibel Captiva’s tourism website.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda- @mermanda_

September
2

#GetOutThere Guide: Northern California Highway 1

 

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

MI OLA ambassador Becca just spent over 3 weeks traveling up the coast of Northern California along Highway 1. She is in the middle of an 8 month journey around the American and Canadian West discovering the most incredible landscapes along the way. Read on to plan your own NorCal Highway 1 journey!

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Highway 1 twists and turns through massive Old Growth Redwood Forests, traverses across rocky shorelines and takes the traveler through vistas one can only imagine. Exploring Northern California along Highway 1 is not a quick 70mph drive. Although Google Maps says the 324 mile trip from Bodega Bay to Crescent City takes just over 7 hours, you’ll want at least 4 days! My husband and I spent over 3 weeks exploring the coastline by backpacking the Lost Coast Trail, hiking among the Redwoods and finding private beaches along the way. We narrowed down our favorite spots just for you!

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Backpacking along The Lost Coast. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

 

The Best Backpacking Trip

The Lost Coast Trail is located in the King Range National Conservation Area – which encompasses over 68,000 acres of wilderness along 35 miles of untouched shoreline. Enthusiastic backpackers enjoy a one-way, 25 mile trip along the shoreline with awe-inspiring views for the entire way. This backpacking trek does require a shuttle unless you would like to double the mileage. We backpacked a small portion of The Lost Coast Trail departing from Black Sands Beach. Don’t forget to register for a permit and rent a bear canister! If you want to spend more time on the Lost Coast Trail, check out our more in depth Lost Coast Trail #GetOutThere Guide by Ashley B.!

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Mountain biking in Jackson Demo State Forest. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

 

The Best Mountain Biking

A mountain biking paradise lies right outside one of the larger towns along HWY 1, Fort Bragg. The biking is in the Jackson Demo State Forest, just a few miles outside of town. There is enough singletrack that any biker will have fun for days and chances are you won’t see a soul! This area boasts soft trails through a towering Redwood Forest. What’s not to love?! Stop in Fort Bragg at Fort Bragg Cyclery for more info and directions.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

 

The Best Beaches

EVERYWHERE! Literally everywhere. While we were traveling along the coast, we drove an average of about 30 miles/day stopping at every beach we saw along the road that looked promising. Our rule of thumb – If there’s a beach, stop and soak up the sun! Some of our favorites were in Salt Point State Park, Sonoma Coast State Park and MacKerricher State Park.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

 

The Best Day Hikes

The Humboldt Redwoods in Northern California boasts the largest remaining old-growth forest of coast redwoods. It’s impossible not to be humbled and inspired all at the same time as you’re meandering through the forest. These trees live up to 2,000 years and can be over 200 ft tall. Stop at a visitor center to learn more about these impressive trees and find the right trail for you!

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Hiking in Sinkyone Wilderness State Park. Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

The Best Place to Get Off The Grid

If you’re looking for a place to get off the beaten path, Usal Beach at Sinkyone Wilderness State Park is your paradise! To get to this deserted beach and hiking paradise, visitors need to travel along a very steep, narrow and rough dirt road for 6 miles. From the trailhead, hike along the beautiful coast and through a Redwood grove for sweeping, 360-degree views. Don’t forget ample food and water as there aren’t any modern facilities. Usal Beach is camping only.

California is known for being sunny and 75 almost every day of the year. Lucky you, this means you can plan your road trip anytime you feel the need to get away! Be aware that this area can become quite crowded during the summer months because of families on vacations.

 

 

What to Bring and Where to Sleep

Your journey along HWY 1 will consist of a whole lot of gorgeous scenery and not a whole lot of amenities. The sleepy coastal towns that you’ll pass through will provide gas, one or two B&Bs, a local restaurant and the obligatory bar. First, decide if you’d like to camp (many people choose this option as there are a plethora of campgrounds along the route) or stay in a plush bed! You can’t go wrong with either! I’d recommend bringing the following whether camping or not.

• Reusable Water Bottles or a Water Jug – There aren’t too many public drinking sources along the way. Make sure you don’t get dehydrated and fill up along the way!

• Snacks, and lots of them! – As you’re traveling along HWY 1, you won’t see many options for quick eats. Pack a cooler with lunch food and snacks to avoid hanger!

• Athletic clothes to enjoy the outdoors, hiking boots or good walking shoes and plenty of SPF.

• Your favorite MI OLA bikini!

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

 

May
13

#GetOutThere Guide: Whanganui River, New Zealand

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie – @lesnorberg

New MI OLA ambassador to the sisterhood is canoer Leslie – @lesnorberg. Her past adventures include paddling the Canadian Arctic roughly 500 miles, with six other women in 50 days. Now she is spending the summer in New Zealand as a canoe trip leader.

For this week’s post explorer Leslie guides us on how to #GetOutThere on the Whanganui River in New Zealand.  The Whanganui is a major river on the North Island of New Zealand and is the country’s third-longest river.

The river and the land surrounding it have tremendous importance to the region’s Māori people of Aotearoa (New Zealand). They arrived in voyaging canoes from their ancestral homeland of Hawaiki over 1000 years ago.  An important route for communication and trade, the river was the primary way to reach the interior of the North Island.

The flora, fauna and land surrounding it is incredible. Wild and natural, draped by steep hills, you’ll feel the heart of the forest. Hear the songs of the outstanding native birdlife as your adventure flows through a breathtaking national park.

“Ko au te awa, Ko te awa ko.” – “I am the river and the river is me.” – Māori Tribes.

 

#GetOutThere Guide: Whanganui River, New Zealand by Leslie Norberg

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie – @lesnorberg


Getting Started

You will need a canoe, paddles, life jacket, etc. Most people hire gear through an outfitter. There are several to choose from to suit all budgets. Before you choose, make sure you do a bit of research. Tripadvisor is great for this.

Ask your outfitter about transportation options, what equipment is included, if campsite bookings are included, and if you get a personal locator beacon.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing the river on your own, hire a guide.  The best time to visit is between October and April.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie – @lesnorberg

 

The Journey

Most people choose to paddle for three days, starting in Whakahoro and ending in Pipiriki, covering roughly 90 kilometers (56 miles) in total. This is the most popular option.

Map compliments of Teara

Map by Teara

Another paddle is a five-day journey starting in Ohinepane (just north of Whakahoro) and ending in Pipiriki covering roughly 120 kilometers (74 miles).

Want to customize your own trip? Start as far north as Taumarunui and travel the entire length of the river all the way to Whanganui, where the river meets the sea. Check in with your outfitter to see what options they offer.

A must see and a highlight of many people’s trips is the Bridge to Nowhere – it’s literally a bridge in the middle of nowhere.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie – @lesnorberg

 

What To Bring

Your outfitter will supply canoes, paddles, bailer, PFD’s (lifejackets), personal locator beacon, map, and waterproof barrels for your personal gear and food. 

Everything else is up to you!

Campsite bookings sheet  Either your outfitter or yourself will have to book campsites.

The basics  First aid kit, cooking and eating utensils, matches or a lighter, toilet paper.

A good tent  I’ve seen some pretty rainy nights on the Whanganui and was glad I had a solid tent to keep me dry and happy. Even if you book a hut bring a tent just in case.

Sleeping bag  Preferably not down as it does not keep you warm when wet.

Headlamp  Bring spare batteries.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie – @lesnorberg

Paddling clothes  These are what you will wear during the day. You should be ok with getting them wet. I recommend my clients wear polyprops/thermals/merino on cooler days and quick dry material on warmer days. No Cotton!

Definitely, bring your MI OLA BIKINI.  This is a river and there are plenty of awesome places to swim and jump!

 

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie – @lesnorberg

Camp clothes  These clothes should never be worn on the river. You need dry clothes at the end of the day. Again, these should be fleece, polyprop, or merino. Cotton takes forever to dry when wet and will not keep you warm.

Stove  Make sure you’ve tested it before your trip. Bring plenty of fuel for your stove.

Food  Take plenty of snacks to keep you going throughout the day, you will need them. For your meals, you can go as simple as “boil in a bag” or as complex as a 3-course meal with fresh veggies, bacon, etc. Bring an extra day’s worth of food as “emergency food”.

Garbage bag  Be tidy. Dedicate one of your barrels to garbage as animals can chew through the bag.

Water bottle / storage  Everyone should have their own water bottle. Stay hydrated! Every campsite has water tanks. In the beginning of the season, there is rainwater and it is safe to drink -at your own risk. As the season progresses, the water in the tanks becomes questionable.

Either boil all of your water or bring your choice of treatment system. I recommend you bring a larger container to store your treated water in so you can refill your water bottles during the day.

Sunscreen, Sun Hat & Glasses  New Zealand has a hole in the ozone layer. The sun is strong. We’re talking a ten minute burn time – yeow! Sunscreen or covering up is your best option. I wear tights on the river and a sun shirt or your MI OLA RASHGUARD. You’ll need a hat and sunglasses to protect your face.

 

 

Leave No Trace

Pack out what you pack in. Practice Leave No Trace at campsites and on the river.

Don’t chuck garbage into the bush, including organic waste. Keep your garbage in a garbage bag and put it in a barrel for the night. Animals will chew through anything else, including tents, so put food and garbage in your barrels overnight.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie – @lesnorberg

Use the sinks provided by the campsites to do your dishes.  There are toilets at campsites. Use them to keep the river clean so others can enjoy it after you. You cannot get far enough away from the water to “do your business”.

Safety Tips

1.  Outfitters are required to give their clients a safety briefing before they get on the river. It is very important you listen carefully and ask questions.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie – @lesnorberg

2.  Check the weather. metservice.com has a rain radar I use before I take a trip out.

3.  Have basic knowledge of rivers and paddling in current. Check the river level. If it is above 3.5 meters your outfitter will not let you start the trip.

4.  You must stay at a designated campsite. These are the best places to be in case the river rises.

5.  Flooding and heavy rainfall causes The Whanganui to rise and fall very quickly. If you see large logs floating down the river, your best option is to stay put at a campsite until the river drops. If a hut warden recommends you stay put, listen to them.

6.  Wear your PFD at all times. This is a big one. I see a lot of people paddling down the river with no lifejacket on. Wear it in the boat no exceptions! You are doing yourself and your fellow travelers a favor.

7.  There is no cell service on the river. You can find a radio at John Coull Hut and a phone at the Bridge to Nowhere lodge in case of an emergency.

8.  Canoes give way to jet boats. Move over to the side of the river and let them pass.

9.  Tell someone about your plans. Travel in groups even if they’re strangers. It is safer.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie – @lesnorberg

10.  Be smart and swim in an eddy – still water with no current. Do not swim anywhere near logs or rocks.

GETTING HERE

Depending on the outfitter you have chosen, your journey will most likely start out of Ohakune, Raetihi, or Taumarunui. Traveling from Auckland or Wellington is easy, as they both have major international airports. The drive from either of these cities is roughly 4 hours.

Taking the bus is another option, just allow more travel time. Make sure you check in with your outfitter a couple of days out, or the night before your trip. They will be able to answer any last minute questions you have.

 

Interested in joining the MI OLA Ambassador Program?

Know of anyone who should #GetOutThere with us?

Then shoot us an email at info@MI-OLA.com

April
15

MI OLA’s Meditation Guide for Mermaids

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Photo by MI OLA  Ambassador Amanda – @mermanda_

Meditation has been practiced in eastern cultures for thousands of years.  In the last 15 years, meditation has moved from the fringe in western culture, to a practice that yogis, life coaches, scientists, Kate Hudson and even Oprah recommend as a way to a more mindful, creative and focused life with less anxiety and stress.

The concept is that by taking 10-20 minutes a day to sit with a clear and open mind, you are more effective, clear and present in your day.  The benefits of meditation are not only mental.  Meditation has also been shown to lower blood pressure,  make your immune system stronger, improve your sleep and much more – while improving your ability to concentrate.

So… sitting by yourself quietly… doesn’t seem hard, does it?   You would be surprised.   Starting a consistent practice can be a challenge.  So we have 4 great tips from our expert, MI OLA Ambassador Amanda Minton @mermanda_, on the best way to start your meditation practice.

 

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Photo by MI OLA  Ambassador Amanda – @mermanda_ in our Reversible Wrap Top and Thong Tha Thong Bottom, both in Galaxy

Amanda discovered her passion and completed her yoga teacher training in India. Amanda recently opened  Sol Shine Yoga Studio, in the Florida Keys.

 

 

 

Beginner Guide to Meditation by Amanda Minton –  @mermanda_

Meditate: focus the mind, become aware of the present moment, and connect to your truest being.

1)  Find a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed, sit down and close your eyes. Do nothing else. Do not text. Do not rehearse conversations in your mind. Do not even make dinner plans. Just Sit.

Make sure you are comfortable. Wear comfortable clothes, or even your favorite MI OLA BIKINI, and sit somewhere quiet to avoid any distraction with your focus.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda – @mermanda_

2)  Listen intently to the sound of your breath. Watch it as it moves through your lungs, over your ribs, and in and out of every space in your body.

At first, you may listen to only one breath and then be distracted by a thought. This is normal. When you notice you’ve been distracted by thinking, let go of that thought, set it down right where it is, and return to your breath. Do this over and over again. Meditation is a practice just like any other.

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Photo by MI OLA  Ambassador Amanda – @mermanda_

3)  Let the sensation of gratitude, joy, and love come over your entire being as you sit in stillness and silence; breathing and being a perfect part of the universe. Exactly as you are.

 

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Photo by MI OLA  Ambassador Amanda – @mermanda_

4) Be kind and accepting to yourself.  Meditation is a practice that takes work.  You  may only be able to do 5 minutes to start and then work your way up.   Even with a little meditation, you will feel the benefits.

 

Need more help or something to focus on? Try out a Mantra or Guided Meditation.

Mantra literally means “that which protects the mind,”. A mantra meditation is repeating a word or phrase in your mind over and over again. My favorite Sanskrit mantra is “So Hum,”  it means “I am” in Sanskrit. To me, it means that I simply am. Before I am a friend, a woman, or a thinker, I am a being of love and light.

Another mantra meditation I like is repeating the phrase “Let Go.” Think of the word “Let” as you inhale and “Go” as you exhale. The Mantra gives the mind something to focus on while you practice letting go.

Guided Meditation is when one or more participants meditate in response to the guidance provided by a trained practitioner or teacher. There are guided meditations that you can keep in your pocket or on your phone. There is an app HEADSPACE that I recommend.   Download it here:

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Headspace is designed to bring guided meditation and mindfulness to you in an easy way, which you can access anytime and almost anywhere.   And you can try it for 10 days for free, to start your practice right away!   Headspace was started by Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk with over 10 years of teaching experience, and the UK’s foremost mindfulness meditation expert.

If you’re deeply curious about meditation and mindfulness, Mr. Puddicombe has an expert TED Talk that explains the importance and benefits of making meditation a part of your lifestyle.

Now… stop reading and focus inward, and let us know how it goes!

Interested in joining the MI OLA Ambassador Program?

Know of anyone who should #GetOutThere with us?

Then shoot us an email at info@MI-OLA.com

April
1

#GetOutThere Guide: Fiji


Anyone who’s been to Fiji raves about it.   So when MI OLA WORLD ambassador Ellen visited recently, we had to get the inside scoop on how to #GETOUTTHERE.

Originally from the tiny island of Jersey, UK, Ellen now lives in one of the most beautiful parts of Australia, the Northern Rivers, home to the world famous Byron Bay.  Ellen’s passion is being in or under the water. Fins, mask and underwater camera in hand, exploring the reefs and wrecks around Byron Bay is this adventurer’s game.

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Photo by Leigh Toovey

Hi bikini fans, I’m Ellen- a MI OLA Brand ambassador currently living in sunny Australia. I’m a Brit by birth, so growing up in a place that’s often cold, wet and windy ignited a passion for travel. There’s nothing I love more than a tropical adventure!

I was lucky enough to spend a week in Fiji recently. I’m loving I can share my insights to this beautiful place with you all.

 

#GetOutThere Guide: Fiji

Fiji is actually a collection of over 300 islands, ranging in size from a few square metres to 10,000 square kilometres. Pretty much all of these islands boast palm-fringed beaches of white sand, surrounded by turquoise waters teeming with corals and fish.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Ellen – @artemis_eleven

The larger islands boast dramatic mountain ranges and lush valleys, complete with rainforests and waterfalls. Anaconda, Castaway and Blue Lagoon were filmed here.

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Photo by Gavin Mills

My #GetOutThere Guide’s focus is on two groups of islands to the west of the mainland, the Mamanucas and the Yasawas.

Activities
Let’s face it, you don’t go to Fiji unless you like the ocean! Most of the activities available centre around the turquoise waters.

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Photo by Leigh Toovey

Snorkeling
Explore beautiful, healthy coral reefs close to shore. Swim right off the beach and see an array of soft and hard corals. There’s no missing the huge variety of small, colorful fish.

Prepared to venture out a little deeper? At 3-5 m (10 – 15 feet) deep, you’ll be rewarded with huge coral bombies every colour of the rainbow. Come across Fijian groupers up to 1.5 m (5 feet) long. If you’re there at the right time of the year, you might even see some Manta Rays!

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Photo by Leigh Toovey of @artemis_eleven in her Pin Up Top

Diving
SCUBA schools (PADI accredited) can be found on most of the islands. If you choose to dive I’d recommend the Yasawa Islands. The dramatic volcanic landscapes means the underwater rock formations are equally interesting with tunnels and caves to see.

Experienced guides will take you on excursions to see sharks and turtles.

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Photo by Matt Hall

Surfing
The island of Tavarua is at the southern end of the Mamanucas. It’s home to the famous Cloudbreak and Restaurants reef breaks. These breaks get very crowded. A better bet is the ‘Coral Coast’ which covers the southwest coast of Viti Levu, the main island. The hundreds of kilometers of reef breaks here mean you’re bound to find a wave to yourself!

Above-water
Most island resorts have paddle boards and kayaks for hire, as well as organizing typical beach activities such as volleyball.

A great thing to do is to take part in the local craft lessons and learn how to make hats, crowns and baskets from palm fronds.

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Photo by MI OLA

 

Where to Stay
The islands are pretty small. In the case of the Yasawas, if not small, then remote. Often there are only one or two resorts per island. I’d recommend you do your research.

Some islands cater to the party crowd, others to families or couples. Some resorts are luxury and others are budget. A good number of islands cater to everybody. They have three or four different accommodation options to suit every price range. Some offer more secluded accommodation or something nearer the bar.

Our favorite was Bounty Island in the Mamanucas. It was fairly basic, but we liked that! We had a beach hut to ourselves a stone throw away from the ocean. Every day we were able to find our own stretch of sand and often wouldn’t see another person all day! Perfect for that castaway, desert island experience.

 

Where and What to Eat
Here’s the (slight) catch to these beautiful islands: you’re a captive audience when it comes to food. All islands run a compulsory ‘all inclusive’ policy when it comes to food. This cost is often charged on top of your accommodation fee. When booking be sure to ask whether your price includes the ‘Resort Tax’ (a.k.a. your food charge) or not. It’s great value for money at around $30 per day for 3 beautiful meals, but it can be a bit of a shock to the system if you hadn’t budgeted to pay that on arrival.

Bear in mind that for each meal, you’ll probably only be presented with two or three options. If you’re a really fussy eater, an island hopping adventure may not be for you. However, if you love to try new things, and you’re a fan of fish, curries, and fruit (though not all together!) then you’ll be fine.

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Photo by Cloud 9

One place that has to be mentioned is a trip to ‘Cloud 9’ – it’s heaven! Cloud 9 is a floating 2-storey platform bar/restaurant/relaxation-station moored close to the Malolo Barrier Reef. There’s no better way to enjoy a cocktail (or two!) than under a cloudless sky with a 360° view of turquoise waters.

 

The Locals
What makes Fiji such a great place? The People! Fijians are such a warm, welcoming and friendly people. They go out their way to make sure your visit to their country is special and memorable. From the very first cry of ‘Bula’ (welcome) you feel like one of the family. Trust me, you’ll be sad to say ‘Moce’ (goodbye) to these beautiful islands, but you’ll definitely say ‘Vinaka’ (thank you) for one of the best trips of your life!

 

How to #GetOutThere

View from seaplane - Ellen Moon

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Ellen – @artemis_eleven

First stop is to get to Viti Levu, the largest island. The international airport is located in Nadi on the west coast. From here take a 15-minute taxi or bus ride to Port Denarau, where you can pick up a boat out to the islands.

Depending on your budget (and any time constraints like flight arrival times) you have a few options:

The Yasawa Flyer

This bright yellow catamaran offers the best value for money if you intend to island hop your way through the Mamanucas and Yasawas. The downside is the restricted schedule – one outward/northwest-bound and one inward/southeast-bound voyage per day.

Water Taxi
Your hotel should be able to arrange a 10-20 seater boat to cater for passengers arriving on similarly timed flights heading to nearby islands. You may have to wait for an hour or two at the marina, but this gives you a great chance to try the local beer (I recommend ‘Vonu’, which means ‘turtle’ in the local dialect).

Sea-plane
Arrive in style by booking a flight with Turtle Airways (sensing a theme yet?!). This way you dictate the schedule, and you get some amazing views of the coral reefs on your way to your chosen island. Landing on water is quite a thrill, but unsurprisingly, this is the most expensive travel option.

 

Interested in joining the MI OLA Ambassador Program?

Know of anyone who should #GetOutThere with us?

Shoot us an email at info@MI-OLA.com

 

January
22

PREGNANCY: TO SURF OR NOT!

Can I surf when pregnant?  We’ve heard it asked many times.

Any extreme activity when pregnant can be controversial. It’s a personal decision on how active you want to be and how much risk you can handle while you’re pregnant.

Pregnant sunset

Photo by Dan Evans

Over the past couple of years, amazing women such as Bethany Hamilton and Holly Beck have been good examples of women surfing while pregnant. These mermaids are an inspiration to women who want to keep active while pregnant.

Bethany and Holly are professional surfers and know their bodies and limits. They consulted with their doctors and MI OLA highly recommend you do the same before hitting the waves with your bump.

MI OLA Ambassador, Elise is 5 months into her pregnancy and still surfing! We caught up with Elise to get her valuable tips on this questionable subject.

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MI OLA Ambassador Elise, @babeinthewaves

 

Surfing When Pregnant by Elise Fennollan

Bethany Hamilton is such an inspiration for me! I am not a pro like her but I will continue to surf if it doesn’t put my baby in danger and as long as I feel comfortable.

Surfing pregnant is a very special feeling. It’s like sharing the wave and my pleasure with my baby. I think he feels everything inside my belly and that’s awesome! Moreover, it brings me confidence and serenity.

Now that I am five months pregnant, I feel better and better,  but my surf sessions are shorter. I get tired much faster than before I was pregnant.

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MI OLA Ambassador, Elise @babeinthewaves

1. Always Consult with your doctor. My doctor said, I can surf if I feel ok! He said also no big or powerful waves, no shore break, no big wipeout and beware of the reef. For the moment I continue with my shortboard because I can paddle on my belly, but if I start to feel pain I will stop. I think very soon I am going to need a longboard to paddle on the knees because of my growing belly!!

2. Surf waves that are gentle and easy to catch. I am much more selective with waves – I only paddle for waves I know I will not fall off of. If I am not sure I’ll catch the wave just right, I don’t paddle as I don’t want to risk it. Avoid wipeouts and try to limit falls and any contact with the ground or with the board!

surf bikini MI OLA

MI OLA Ambassador, Elise @babeinthewaves

3.  Work on your breath. An important thing for me is to practice breathing. I have less breath because the baby is taking a lot of my oxygen. Practicing yoga is helping me out a lot here.

4.  Only surf if you feel like it. If you are too tired or if you feel any pain, don’t go. Listen to your body! I am very thankful to be able to surf thus far in my pregnancy! It’s really a special feeling to surf with my baby. My core /sense of balance is not the same so I don’t try any tricks. I am just searching the good vibes and to follow the rhythm of the wave.

Surfing while pregnant

MI OLA Ambassador, Elise @babeinthewaves with her babe in the waves.

5. Choose a board that is comfortable to surf with. I can still lay on my belly but not for a long time because it isn’t that comfortable. I try to do my best to keep paddling to a minimum. My 5’5″ shortboard is now too small for me. The waves I am surfing now are not as powerful and it is tiring to paddle. I am surfing on a 6’2″ Epoxy fish shape and it’s perfect for me. It floats me a lot and it is easy to catch waves. My husband and I also bought a longboard so that I can knee paddle in the future months when my belly is bigger.

EPOXY BOARD

6’2″ Epoxy fish shape, Photo by MI OLA

 

MI OLA is not providing medical advice or suggesting that you get out there and rip while pregnant…this is your choice.  However, if we see you out there, we’ll definitely give a shaka to you and your belly!

MI OLA

Photo by MI OLA

January
15

10 TIPS TO STAY FIT DURING YOUR VACATION

We survived the holiday season! With all those festive parties, Christmas cookie tins and savory meals, staying fit and healthy was quite the challenge.

Although our goal is to lead an active, healthy, #GetOutThere lifestyle, sometimes we need a little kickstart. So we turn to our MI OLA Brand Ambassadors for inspiration.

This month we sat down with one of our Ambassadors, Catherine Marquis.

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MI OLA Ambassador @kathmarquis

I have always been active and involved in lots of sports. I was a personal trainer and kinesiologist, for 15 years in Montreal. After a surf trip to Costa Rica, I decided to move here.

I now live in Tamarindo and work as a personal trainer and Surfset instructor. Being active is my life!  Every day I wear my MI OLA bikini and I #GetOutThere to either surf, swim, hike, run, bike, do yoga, pilates or functional training.

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MI OLA Ambassador @kathmarquis

It’s Summer all year long here, so it’s no surprise Costa Rica is a popular vacation destination. So, for my first blog contribution, I thought it would be great to share tips for a keep fit holiday.

 

10 TIPS TO STAY FIT DURING YOUR VACATION

By Catherine Marquis, B.Sc.kinesiology

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Photo by MI OLA

1.  Staying at a resort or all inclusive hotel? Take advantage of all the sports and activities included in your package. Beware of the inviting buffet. Try having 3 small meals and 1-2 healthy snacks during the day. Remember, it takes 3500 extra calories to gain 1 pound.

2.  Most of us will indulge in a ‘Big Night Out’ when on vacation. Prep for this by eating lighter during the day or maybe having a snack before dinner. Try a good ceviche. You will avoid the starving sensation that makes you eat like there is no tomorrow! When mañana comes, cut on calories and try to eat only veggies and protein.

snack

Photo by MI OLA

3.  Drink water! And I mean a lot. You sweat more in a warm weather, so you need to drink more. Dehydration will result in water retention, which can then cause a bloated sensation making you feel heavy and uncomfortable. The last thing you want when wearing your MI OLA bikini!

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MI OLA Ambassador @kathmarquis

4.  Smoothies can be very tempting on hot, sweaty afternoons. I say yes to a smoothie, but pay attention to what it’s made with. They can be very high on calories. Ask for fresh fruits only, mixed with water or coconut water – delicious! Specify no sugar or honey and try adding ginger.

5.  Enjoy happy hour with your friends but stick to low sugar drinks. Sweet drinks can easily contain more than 350 calories. Good options are light beers or Micheladas – lemon juice, ice, spices or fruit mixed with light beer.  It’s delicious and will last you longer. A vodka or tequila with seltzer and a splash of fruit juice is nice too.

Happy Hour

Photo by MI OLA

6.  Get out of your comfort zone and move! Try new sports and enjoy being challenged. Surf, hike, rent a stand-up paddle board, play volleyball, do yoga! It’s a great way to meet new people and to improve your physical skills through other activities you would not normally do at home.

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MI OLA Ambassador @kathmarquis

7.  Get up early. Early mornings are the best times to do a workout on the beach or to go for a run. Exercising outside is also a great way to explore the place you are visiting and to see the sights when it’s not too busy.

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MI OLA Ambassador @kathmarquis

8.  For an even tan, walk on the beach instead of lying down with a drink.  You’ll be more active and you’ll avoid flipping around on a sandy towel.

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MI OLA Ambassador @kathmarquis

9.  Sleep! Enjoy it and don’t feel guilty or lazy about it. You are on vacation, so please your body by getting the rest you need. A good nights of sleep and a little “siesta” (20-30 min.) will decrease your body stress and will help you avoid weight gain. It’s also a great way to cool the body and recharge your batteries to enjoy any other activity you might want to try!

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Photo by MI OLA

10.  Short workouts are the best. Try to fit in a 20 min. metabolic circuit workout every day. You will get a boost of energy out of it and you will burn calories all day long! Do this workout outside and get ready to sweat!

 THE METABOLIC WORKOUT

Perform each exercise for 60 sec. with no rest between.  Follow the circuit with a 10 sec. sprint and take a 60 sec. rest. Repeat 4 times.  Total time: 25 min

1.  AIR SQUATS

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2. BURPS

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3. MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS

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4. ALTERNATED BACK LUNGES

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5. PIKE PUSH-UPS

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6. SPRINT FOR 10 sec. RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!

beach sprint @kirstenrinck

Photo by @kirstenrinck

Now repeat 4 times!

 

 

September
25

Get Fit – Stay Fit Guide: Katie Westbrook

Our MI OLA Brand Ambassadors rock it and #GetOutThere everyday.  In the Florida Keys, Australia, Southern Cali, Norway, Tahiti,  Costa Rica, and the Canary Islands, they surf, hike, SUP, cannonball, kite surf, mountain bike, skate, and get sweaty in the gym.

With their local knowledge, we love catching up with them for our #GetOutThere Guides and Surf Guides.  Given how active our mermaids are, we are debuting a new feature in our MI OLA guide:  the Get Fit – Stay Fit Guides, compliments of our awesome Ambassadors. Launching the series is Katie Westbrook (@westbutt) from South Florida. Get ready to work up a sweat!

**”It is always important to consult your physician before starting an exercise program. If you’re already working out, jump into this. If not, move into it gradually and know your limits.**

 

 

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Get Fit – Stay Fit Guide: Katie Westbrook

What’s up MI OLA chicas? Your favorite fit freak Katie here live from sunny Southwest Florida ready to drop some knowledge bombs! I know I am beyond blessed to live in a state that very rarely drops below 60 degrees, but as a former northerner I have one very important message to give you: Winter weather does NOT mean winter weight!

You’ve heard it before, “Summer bodies are made in the winter”, but I mean, come on…have you TASTED those peppermint mocha lattes and pumpkin spice cookies? And getting some exercise in outside when the thermometer reads anything below 60? Forgetta bout it.

If running on the treadmill sounds about as appealing as jellyfish sting, I have some great news for you.  You can still get your sweat on and stay active when the outside chills have you longing for your covers.  All you need is some open space, a little bit of time and a mindset for success. Whether you can get to a gym, or you’re stuck in your living room, try some of these moves to get a workout in without getting frostbite!

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Indoor Movements: Feel free to mix and match these moves to create your own personalized sweat sesh!

Hamstring Curls:

This is a simple, yet brutal movement that will leave your legs shaking!

  • Start by lying flat on your back with your feet either on a yoga ball (or if not available have two washcloths or socks on so you can slide your feet).
  • Tighten your core, glutes and hamstrings as you slowly bring your heels towards you, pushing your hips upwards simultaneously.
  • Once you have reached the top be sure to pause and squeeze your glutes and hammies.
  • Slowly roll your feet outwards to the start position.

If this is too difficult you can begin with your feel planted firmly on the floor so your knees make a 40 degree angle with your bottom on the floor and slowly raise your hips towards the ceiling, pausing and squeezing at the top.

Repeat 10-15x for 3 sets

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Planks

An oldie, but goodie with some variations to spice it up.

This time tested classic doesn’t have to be like watching paint dry, spice it up!

  • Start in the basic plank position with your hands planted on the ground directly below your shoulders, or if you’re more advanced put your elbows on the ground.
  • Begin by attempting to hold your plank in a perfect position for 30 seconds. If this proves easy, go for a minute.
  • If you’re looking for an added challenge put a weight (or maybe your cat) on your back! Keep that position for 30 seconds to a minute, rest 30 seconds then repeat!
  • If that’s still too easy, take a limb out of the equation! Side planks are a great oblique strengthener and you’ll feel that tingle in your arms.
  • Simply turn your body until your front side is completely facing the wall. One arm should be holding your body (either hand or elbow still grounded under your shoulder) and hold! You can have one foot or both feet on the ground depending on skill level.
  • Or raise one leg for added full abdominal obliteration!

Repeat each variation for 30 seconds-1 minute 5x

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Pushups

The most basic of exercises with the most complex benefits!

 That’s right, it’s back to middle school with everyone’s favorite! Pushups!

  • Test yourself: How many pushups can you do in a minute? Find out!
  • Rest 2 minutes then seen if you can beat your time! GO GO GO!

Now for the fun part: Variations!

  • Elevate your feet; either on a chair, a couch or even a table! Get your feet up and try those pushups again. Little bit harder right?
  • Aim for anywhere from 5-10 perfect pushups! Keep your back flat and core tight, don’t let yourself ‘snake’ upwards.

Repeat 3x

  • Slow it down! Hold your pushup position at the top for 10 seconds.
  • Slowly lower yourself until you are half way to the floor and HOLD for 10 seconds!
  • Sink lower until your nose is almost on the ground and HOLD again for 10 seconds!
  • Return to the top, rest if necessary (no more than 30 seconds) and go again!

Repeat 8x

If you’re looking for cardio my go to moves are:

  • Running in place with HIGH knees
  • Burpees
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Air Squats
  • Running in place- hitting your bottom with your feet (Butt Kickers)
  • Squat Jumps

For a full HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout run though 30 seconds of each movement in succession.

Repeat 4-8x

 

Handstands and hollow backs:

Shoulder and arm zinger that doubles as a back toner! 

**This is a more advanced move -please make sure that your wrists can handle this type of pressure before beginning this one! AND if this is your first time inverting yourself, grab a friend to spot you!**

  • Have your phone or a stopwatch ready! Depending on upper body strength you can hold these position for anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes (or beyond if you’re very comfortable!)
  • Begin with a basic handstand against the wall, if you can lift one hand to tap your shoulder go through a set of 5 shoulder taps each arm. If not, hold for your selected time frame
  • When you have become more comfortable being upside down start your handstand farther from the wall so that you must engage your core to get your legs against the wall. Hold for your selected time.
  • Continue to back farther away from the wall. Make sure that your movements are controlled and slow, you really don’t want to rush this type of position!

Repeat 5x

Want more handstand fun? Try a scorpion progression!

  • Come to a handstand with your hands about 1-2 feet from the wall. Slowly, slide your feet towards your head, redirecting them so your toes point downwards.
  • See how far you can get them! I’m almost to my head now, but not quite!

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You can workout as much as you want, but if you eat too much junk, you won’t get to show off the results!  Fall provides TONS of beautiful, nutritious fruits and veggies that are more than enough to fuel you through one of these circuits.  Peaches, which are my favorite fruit, are just going out of season, but apples, broccoli, pumpkins, pears and sweet potatoes are just some of the DELICIOUS food options you have to eat sustainably and healthfully throughout the autumn months.

KW Get Fit Guide

My personal favorite snack/meal?

Baked sweet potatoes (350 degrees Farenheit in the oven for about an hour) with a drizzle of honey and sprinkle of cinnamon, 4oz of lean ground turkey (seasoned with low sodium chipotle and herbs) and a cup of steamed or raw broccoli!

Keep Hydrated

Also, yes it’s getting colder, but you still NEED to stay hydrated! Aim for at least half a gallon a day. More if you start to sweat! Of course you can have that cookie, heck have two, but remember to eat for what your body NEEDS, not what you WANT.

August
21

Surf Like A Girl

Surfing was originally a female sport.  According to legend, Pele, the Goddess of Volcanoes, was the first surfer.  There are also very old hawaiian wood cuttings that feature naked native women surfing.

Now, however, surfing is male dominated.  Only 1 in every 10 surfers is female.   In the past fifteen years, there has been a boom in women surfers and that number will keep growing – thanks to rad female pro surfers, movies like Blue Crush, social media, and more women #gettingoutthere and charging!

Paddling out into a lineup that is 95-100% male is common.  At times it can be quite macho out there,  and this vibe affects us, good or bad, while we are out surfing.   So – at the risk of being sexist – we asked our Brand Ambassadors about their experiences surfing with the boys and what take aways they have for us surfer-mermaids.

 

Male line-ups are the norm.

Our mermaids are indifferent to a mostly male lineup.  They’re used to it.   Kate (@chucktownoceangal) commented, “I like to surf with anyone, male or female, as long as they have a good vibe and attitude and show respect for all the surfers in the lineup, beginner or advanced. It’s all about sharing waves and having a good time!” We say AMEN to that!

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@chucktownoceangal

 

What do you do when someone intentionally drops in on you or snakes your wave?

The best thing to do is to just show them you can surf by catching up to them and passing them by.   They probably won’t do it again.

Katherine (@katiezmc) said, “If they drop in, pass them! That’s always embarrassing for a guy.” If there is not room to pass, stick up for yourself or use the utilitarian stink eye.  Ambassador Nena (@nena_belen) has used, “Are you serious dude!?” in front of a crowded lineup. Sometimes the surfer may not know that they are doing something wrong…or that you know that they are doing something wrong!

(Helena our Chief Bikini Officer interjects “Costa Rica can be supremely macho… One time I had a guy drop right in on me.  I passed him.  He never said anything to me about it.  But later he apologized to my husband for disrespecting me… Pura Vida.”)

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@katizmc in Rockaway, NY

 

Surfing with better surfers pushes us to be better.

Does surfing with guys push us to be better surfers and more aggressive?  Our French Polynesia Ambassador Elise (@babeinthewaves) commented, “Surfing with men helps me to go in bigger waves and to be brave in the lineup, even if I am scared by the huge waves.”

We prefer to think that surfing with better surfers pushes us and our ambassadors agree that gender does not matter, surfing with a male or female who surfs better than you always helps to improve your skills.  Katherine wisely said, I think we all push each other, and I hope that I inspire them as much as they inspire me. Surfing with females who surf better than me makes me surf better as well.”

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@babeinthewaves

 

What do you do when it’s really aggressive in the line-up and you’re losing your stoke? 

First and foremost, don’t let other people control your stoke.

Try not to get vibed out and get out of the water.  If the atmosphere is just way too macho, paddle down a bit (on a beach break) or find another spot to surf nearby.

If there’s a ton of hooting and hollering… and a lot of “go go go,” try to ignore it or – crazy thought –  let it invigorate you.  Kate stated, “I actually love being called into waves and you know what, the worst that can happen is you wipe out, and honestly I never feel more alive than after a wipe out, it reminds you that the sea is in charge.”

 

Creepy come-ons in the line-up ?

It’s great to say “hi” to everyone you’re surfing with… or shoot them a big smile.  Not so great to hit on someone, follow them around, or grab them.  And as a female surfer, you may have to deal with that type of behavior.  The great thing about surfing is you’re very mobile.  Use the waves, currents and your arms and legs, and move away from the offending surfer.  If they are really obnoxious or persistent, you might need to say something to get them to back down.

Nena says “Unfortunately, this does happen. Things such as “nice swimsuit” as you are paddling by or creepy looks. I have had dudes grab my legs before too. NOT ok.”

@nena_belen

@nena_belen

 

OK, so let’s do a quick recap of how to surf like a girl: 

  1. You will be surfing with mostly males. Don’t let this psyche you out!  (Enjoy the view!)
  2. If a wave is rightfully yours, go for it.
  3. Stick up for yourself!  If a guy says something inappropriate, let them know. Someone dropping in on you or snaking you over and over? Let them know that it is wrong.
  4. If you feel uncomfortable with the vibe in a lineup, find an emptier spot further down the beach.
  5. Surf with better surfers, regardless of gender. Watch. Learn. Repeat.
  6. However, know your limits.  It is dangerous to be out in waves that are way above your skill level;  for you and your fellow surfers.
  7. Be safe and HAVE FUN!
  8. AND make sure you wear your MI OLA bikini so you don’t give everyone a free show!
July
17

Surf Guide: Long Beach, NY

Surf in New York? Heck yes!

Last year, we covered MI OLA’s founder’s home break of Rockaway, New York City’s surf break.  But a couple miles East of Rockaway is Long Beach, located only 35 miles outside of downtown Manhattan.  Long Beach is a great place to surf, especially with the right hurricane swell. We asked our new MI OLA Brand Ambassador Katherine (@katizmc) to give us the local scoop on this break.

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Surf Guide: Long Beach, New York

My name is Katherine McNamee, I’m from the small beach town Breezy Point, NY, I’m 22 years old, and I have been surfing since I was very small. I am a full time surf instructor during the summer months here in New York City, and teach a lot of different people how to surf.  I’m on the beach all day everyday teaching and surfing.  I surf in NYC all year long, and when I get a chance I like to escape to somewhere warmer. Warm or cold, I love being in the water!  When I’m not surfing, I’m running, swimming, biking, and training for surf both indoors and outdoors.

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Where to Surf:

From the heart of New York City, the Long Island Railroad can have a surfer arrive in Long Beach in less than an hour. Consisting of beach break with rock jetties poking out into the Atlantic, these rocks hold the sand and set us up with shifty sandbars that prove to be a nice landing strip for noreasters and hurricane swells. There are many jetties spanning the entire length of Long beach, and they all produce quality waves.  Lincoln Boulevard (on Surfline) and Lindell/Grand Street are my go to spots when I know the swell is going to be sizable.  On a good south swell, there are usually quality lefts breaking off the jetties and sand bars, with the occasional, but shorter right.  While Lincoln and Grand get very crowded in the summer, there are plenty of other beaches to surf.  The sandbars are constantly shifting, so taking a look around before the lifeguards start work could score you an empty lineup.

Best Tide: Low Incoming

Best Wind: North, Northeast

Access: Easy

Best Swell: South, Southeast

Ability: Beginner to advanced

Best Season: Fall

Best board: any

Best size: waist high to double overhead

Water Temp: 37 degrees F in winter, above 70 degrees F in summer.

Wetsuit: 6 mm in winter, MI OLA bikini in summer.

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Crowd Factor:

Watch out for beginner surfers on small days.  Due to its proximity to NYC, Long Beach tends to get ridiculously crowded when Surfline calls for Good + conditions.  The Quicksilver Pro in 2011 also helped put this beach town on the map.

How to get there:

I always travel from Rockaway Beach in search of bigger waves, it takes me about 20 minutes by car.  While the subway does not go to Long Beach, the Long Island Railroad (LIRR does), making it a super easy and comfortable 52
minute commute from NYC!

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Other Surf Breaks:

The farther West (towards NY harbor) is Rockaway Beach. It accessible by subway, so some choose to surf there over Long Beach.  Lido Beach, Robert Moses, Fire Island, South Hampton and Montauk are all further East on Long Island, offering plenty of great beach break and the occasional small point break on a quality swell.

Surf Shops:

Long Beach Surf Shop, UnsOund Surf, Maritime Surf, Moku Surf Shop, Atlantic Beach Surf Shop

Places to Eat:

After an epic hurricane session in Long Beach, it is a tradition to go to the Laurel Diner or the Lindell Deli, and get a killer breakfast!

July
10

#GetOutThere Guide: Spray Lakes, Canada

Over the past year, our Brand Ambassador program has grown with amazing women from all over the world. We have e-ventured around the globe to places likes Bali, British Columbia, Florida Keys, Hawaii, and Lake Tahoe with our Brand Ambassador #GetOutThere Guides. This week we are heading to the Canadian Rockies with one of our original Ambassadors, Marianne (@mariannerika).

Marianne is a Yoga and SURFSET Instructor born and raised in Canada. During the Alberta winters, Marianne travels to different locations around the world in search of great hiking, surf, yoga, long boarding, SUP and camping.

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#GetOutThereGuide: Spray Lakes, Alberta, Canada

I am fortunate enough to live a short drive to the Canadian Rockies where I get to play outdoors in the wilderness. Hello Grizzlys! I work part time and play full time. I enjoy spinning, painting, playing with pups and napping anywhere with my cat. I am a sunshine junkie and am happy to sit out in the sun all day by a lake with a drink, go water skiing on the lake where I live, and practice Yoga outdoors by a tree anywhere!

One of the most beautiful places that I have been and where I love to SUP is Spray Lakes, just 50 minutes from Calgary, Alberta. I have traveled around the world, seen many places and I always come back to Canada and am just in awe of the beauty of our Rocky Mountains. The beautiful thing about Spray Lakes is its accessibility, as it is located just outside Canmore, Alberta.

How to Get There:
Take Trans Canada Highway, Highway 1, WEST from Calgary. As you approach Canmore, take exit 93 (Three Sisters Parkway). Stay left on 742 up the mountains to Spray Lakes!

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Activities and When to Go:
Spray Lakes used to be inside Banff National Parks boundaries, but was released to provide hydro-electric power to the town of Canmore. This lake is 55 miles/88km long used for recreation. The lake provides stunning views, is quiet and absolutely serene. Activities include SUPing, hiking, golfing or even biking to Banff on backcountry trails!

The AMAZING thing about Canada is that almost anytime is a good time to go. Head to Canmore in the winter and enjoy winter skiing, snow shoeing, warm fiery lodges and outdoor skating. More of a summer person? Golf, hiking, SUPing and rock climbing are all available and can be done in and around Spray Lakes. One season I would avoid is spring, as the weather is unpredictable and there can still be many park closures.

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Where to Stay:
Accommodations are anywhere from camping, cheap motels on the highway, to villas or mountain resorts in Canmore. Personally, I think camping is your best option at 16 km from Canmore. Opening dates are subject to snow levels, but if you prefer the warmth of a hotel and comfort of a bed, then stay at any of Canmore’s fabulous lodges and drive up for the day!

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Where and What to Eat:
Bring a picnic up in the mountains for the day or grab a meal at Harvest Cafe for breakfast or lunch (closes at 3pm). Communitea Cafe offers healthy fresh food, the best selection of coffee and tea, and great live music. Head to Grizzly Paw Brewing Company in the evenings for authentic Canadian cuisine (like poutine, beaver tails, bison burger, maple syrup, back bacon, and Nanaimo bars), a pint of their handcrafted beer, complimented with a stunning view of the Three Sisters Mountain Range.

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Enjoy exploring the Canadian Rockies, I know I do, time and time again the view will NEVER get old!