Walking is my favorite form of exercise — I love moving my body while spending time outdoors. There’s something special about exploring by foot — whether it’s walking around a city or hiking a mountain; it feels meditative to me.
I’m a super curious person, so exploring new places is really exciting. There’s a study about the Love Bug effect, which explains that humans with diverse microbiomes are attracted to nature-rich ecosystems. We have a “pull” towards the outdoors. I like the scientific explanation as to why I have such a desire to constantly explore and be outside. My Love Bug effect is in full force.
I particularly love exploring the coast of California. One of my favorite cities is Santa Barbara. It’s only an hour and a half from my place, but it feels very different from LA. It’s a real reset.
I like to drive up the PCH, so I can see as much of the ocean as possible. I turn on some music, open the windows, and feel immense gratitude for my life in California. I’ve lived here for over 10 years, and I still get giddy.
My favorite hike in SB is the Buena Vista Trail. The entrance always has lots of parking spaces, which makes it no fuss. In the spring time, there are these beautiful Echium cancans orgullo flowers lining the first part of the path. Once you’e at the top of the trail, there’s an option to do the Romero trail on the right (this one includes a lot of switchbacks and has a large elevation gain, if you’re looking for intensity), or there’s the San Ysidro trail to the left, which is more moderate. In the spring months, the trail has a lot of streams running through it and even has a large natural pool at the base. It reminds me of Europe, but in California.
After hiking, I like to go into town and grab some food. If I’m craving something heartier, I opt for tamales from Super Rica Taqueria (it was Julia Childs’ favorite!) If I’m in the mood for something lighter, I love a salad from Helena Avenue Bakery — their little terrace is super cute.
I usually like to hike with as few things on me as possible — unless I’m going on an 8+ mile hike, at which point I bring my Cotopaxi backpack. For shorter hikes, I have a forest green belt bag from Seed, which reads, “Science.” I got it from one of their community events, and I adore it. My favorite hiking shoes are the On Cloud Hi. They’re the lightest, cutest, and most comfortable shoes I’ve been able to find. Lots of hiking shoes take time to break in, but these are comfortable from day one. And of course, I’m always wearing a Lato sports bra, where I conveniently stash my card or keys.
I try to go on a couple hikes per week. Most of the time, it’s on my own. I put in my AirPods, throw on a podcast or audio book, and get moving. Whether it’s a neighborhood walk or a hike up Runyon at sunset, walking always gives me an appreciation for the places that are right in front of me. It helps me slow down.
I recently read that over half of Americans spend less than 5 hours per week in nature. I’m a big believer that because we’re an extension of nature, we should be spending more time in it. There’s something incredibly grounding about being outdoors. It’s good for our bodies, our mental health, and our spirit. My latest mantra is, “Just add fresh air.” It makes everything better.