South Mountain Park | Hiking in Central Phoenix, Arizona

Hiking is one of my favorite free activities in Phoenix.  Our desert valley is surrounded by mountains providing stunning views and wildlife.  South Mountain Park/Preserve in the heart of Phoenix is over 16,000 acres, approximately 20 times the size of New York’s Central Park, it is the largest municipal park in the country!  Now is the perfect time to Go Take a Hike!

South Mountain Park
South Mountain Park

South Mountain Park is easy access from anywhere in metro-Phoenix and offers trails for every level of athletic ability.  Horses, dogs, and mountain bikes are all welcome on the trails.

Desert Classic Trail
Desert Classic Trail

With nearly 60 miles of trails, I like to map out the hike before heading to a trail head.  Most trails are easily followed with metal signposts along the trail as a guide, and many of these were recently updated with trail name, QR code, elevation, and specific trail post information.  I always bring a hard copy trail map of the area I plan to be in.  A recent hike with friends was so beautiful we decided to add another couple miles to our hike, which was easily accomplished with a brief look at our trail map.south-mountain-park-map



There are at least 4 main parking lots, and many more parking areas near perimeter trail heads.2015_SM1There are excellent maps and detailed descriptions of trails provided by National Geographic at All Trails website.  Here is more information about the beautiful desert trails including petroglyphs and ruins.

Pima Canyon entrance from Guadalupe
Pima Canyon entrance from Guadalupe

Pima Canyon entrance is accessed from I-10 and Baseline road, just off of 48th street and Guadalupe.  This popular parking lot is usually packed with cars, and offers restrooms, water fountains, shaded benches, and areas for cooking/grilling.

Pima Canyon Gazebo
Pima Canyon Gazebo


Desert Foothills Parkway is a smaller parking lot located at the Southern tip of the park and offers shaded area, water fountains, and portable toilets.

Desert Foothills Parking and Gazebo
Desert Foothills Parking and Gazebo



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Weight Loss Maintenance Tips – Part 2

Previously, I wrote about a minor weight loss in the early 2000’s and over a decade of maintaining that weight loss and overall active lifestyle.  Link to Part 1, in case you missed it.

Here is the nutrition portion of my initial and long-term eating habits.

I quit drinking soda pop in 1990, and completely changed my eating starting in 2002 to drop those pesky 15 pounds or so.  Not a massive weight loss, but a comfortable size for me to maintain over the years.  I am not super athletic or any kind of fitness model, and I am not any kind of nutrition expert, this is how I stay active & fit.

Initially, I was on a strict 1200-1600 calorie daily diet.  My daily calories were based on my height and target weight.  I ate low sugar greek style yogurt, eggs, or fruit for breakfast.  Salad and/or hearty broth based soup for lunch – I was very lucky to work for a large corporation with an excellent restaurant-style cafeteria serving breakfast & lunch where everything was made fresh with great ingredients.  My afternoon snack was a protein bar.  After work, I went to the gym for a class, worked out with my friend, rollerblading (Hey, this was 2000 after all!) with my Sister, or went home for a BeachBody DVD workout in my living room.  Dinner was usually a protein shake, if I was alone, or a light dinner with lots of veggies.

I am nowhere near that strict now.  I occasionally log and track my calories on my FitBit app, but I mostly just wing it.  Breakfast is usually a protein bar, but I make up for that by eating healthy egg based breakfasts on the weekend.  Lunch is still good soup (Pho and Thai soups are so tasty), salad, or sandwich/salad combo.  I still exercise late afternoon/early evening depending on my work schedule.  Dinner is rarely a protein shake.  The majority of the time my dinner is a main protein with veggies and a bit of starch, like rice, potato, or quinoa.  I do not snack before bed.

Drive-thru food is just not a part of my life.  Sure, I have my annual In-N-Out burger with fries.  And there is a gourmet sandwich shop with great soups and salads that I will drive through after a late gym class.

One ingredient sour cream - Daisy brand
One ingredient sour cream – Daisy brand

I read and make good choices based on ingredients on the few canned or packaged foods that I buy.  No high fructose corn syrup, no corn syrup at all for that matter, no MSG, no chemical sugar substitutes, and zero extra unpronounceable ingredients.  We never have chips or cookies in the house.  I rarely bake, but when I do everything is made from scratch (using real ingredients like milk, flour, sugar, eggs).  I avoid any 3-ingredient “recipes” that consider Oreos or cake mix an ingredient!

Once I surround myself with good healthy food it is difficult to make bad choices.  Everything becomes autopilot and portion control is the most important consideration.  One guideline is to eat protein portion the size of the palm of your hand, and eat a larger portion of veggies.

Bottom line is to find a nutrition and exercise program that can be your long-term solution.  There is no magic pill, or pink shake, that can replace good food and an active lifestyle!

Proven Strategies for Weight Loss and Keeping it Off Maintenance Tips

Approaching (or passing) 40 years seems to be the magic number for many women to undergo a massive weight loss, that milestone certainly triggers the attempt if not total success.  One of my best friends was able to accomplish this a couple years ago by getting the right medication for a medical condition and proper eating habits.  Replacing her entire wardrobe with smaller clothes was both good and expensive, but oh so fun!


In the last year (or so) several more friends have adopted healthy eating and reduced or eliminated processed junk food.  One friend received the nick-name nuggets because she actually thought eating Chicken McNuggets was the healthy option before meeting with a nutrition expert.  Another good friend needed the structure of exercise appointments and structured workouts for her big loss.  She is now half her size from 2 years ago!  These friends have joined various gyms and many different fitness programs, but most important, they have decided they want to change.  It is exciting to see the before and after photos!  I love the commitment and determination.

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