The Livingston Inn | Madison, Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast

New Year’s Resolutions Solved

Every year we hear about how many people make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and get fit. Just as I’m writing these opening sentences, two separate commercials have appeared on TV about weight loss programs. Yet, every year we hear about how many people don’t keep their resolutions. Despite the odds against us, human nature prevails and we keep up the tradition of resolutions, many with good intentions such as losing weight and exercising more. And even if a small fraction of people stick with a resolution, it’s certainly not a bad thing that a few more people have found their way to a healthier lifestyle.

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun and a source of encouragement to provide some ways residents and visitors in Madison can stay committed to a New Year’s resolution to get healthy and exercise more. My suggestions focus mostly on these darker and colder days of winter when the resolve to stay fit can sometimes be a challenge.

south_cherokee_ski_5Cross country skiing. Madison has a number of groomed trails at golf courses like Odana Hills and Yahara Hills. One of my personal favorites is Glenway Golf Course. This nine-hole course is tucked away in a near-westside neighborhood between a cemetery and the Southwest Bike Path. As you ski toward the back of the course, it’s very secluded with many beautiful old trees. Since it’s not groomed, be sure to be respectful of the golf course and only ski when conditions permit. Beyond the golf courses, I’d also recommend Pheasant Branch Conservancy in Middleton, another beautiful and secluded area in the midst of our city. If you need skis, rentals are available at Odana Hills or at our local sporting goods store, Fontana Sports.

Snowshoeing on the lakes. While this winter has been abnormal where ice hasn’t formed, Madison lakes are often a great option for snowshoeing. Similar to going out on a lake in the summer, the views of the city are stunning, and a day or evening snowshoeing in the winter is a very peaceful experience as well. Guests at The Livingston Inn can enjoy a fun snowshoeing excursion from our lake access across to the UW campus and the union. If you need snowshoes during a visit, Fontana Sports is again a great option.

yogaJoin a health club. Similar to those weight loss commercials, health clubs heavily solicit new members this time of year. So why not take advantage of some of the special offers and make it the year join a health club? Madison has so many options from the nationwide chains to large and small local clubs. Close to The Livingston Inn are two great local options: Capital Fitness and Pinnacle Health and Fitness. If you’re a guest here and have joined a health club at home, remember The Livingston Inn offers free health club access to Pinnacle Health so you can maintain your workout schedule during your visit.

Schedule yourself on a walking tour or two. When the weather doesn’t cooperate with winter sports, like skiing and snowshoeing, running and walking are good alternatives. Walking is a great exercise, and if you’d like it to be more interesting, add in something like an architectural walking tour. While the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation has guided tours in warmer weather, the City of Madison has a very nice list of tours you can do on your own like the Old Market Place, Tenney-Lapham, and Mansion Hill tours in our neighborhood.

Exercise your brain. A New Year’s resolution to get healthy should include body AND mind. No matter what your age, the benefits of exercising your brain, or intellect, go far for a long and healthy life. With that in mind, I would recommend regular trips to the Madison Public Library. Our downtown library was re-modeled just a few years ago, and it is such a fun place to visit. Just from its exterior, the building draws you in and makes it very inviting to spend an afternoon reading books and periodicals, perhaps bringing something home until your next library visit. If you’re staying at our B&B and want to incorporate a little physical exercise, the downtown library is an enjoyable 20-minute walk from our inn.Madison Public Library Central Branch

Eat and drink well, locally. Madison features several companies dedicated to nutritious food as part of a commitment to health and well-being. One of my favorites is nut butter offered by the local company, Yumbutter. Yumbutter’s nut butters are an organic superfood made from nuts and seeds offering an ideal source for proteins and antioxidants. Available in peanut, almond, and sunflower, they all taste great, too. If you’re looking for something healthy to drink, many Madison residents have discovered the benefits of kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink made with living cultures of bacteria and yeast. While that may not sound appealing at first, kombucha has a very nice flavor similar to iced teas. The drink’s history stretches back to East Asian cultures where it’s believed to cure many diseases and afflictions. Today, fans of kombucha drink it to improve digestion and provide antioxidants to the body. While science has yet to support these claims, I’ll take a bottle of kombucha over a soda or sugar-intense energy drink any day. Here in Madison, NessAlla has been a local producer of kombucha for years and knows what it’s doing to make an excellent, quality product. You can find it in most stores and several restaurants throughout Madison.nessalla

If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution of some type related to your health, I want to be the first to say you can do it. Don’t let any naysayers tell you resolutions are meant to be broken. But if you need a little support, hopefully the list above will inspire you to discover fun, creative, and sustaining ways to make 2016 a great year for your health!

Fall Fitness

We’re thrilled to welcome again the Ironman athletes for this weekend’s race in Madison. Every year we meet such an inspiring and impressive group of people. It reminds us of all that a person can accomplish through dedication and hard work.EnduraPix_7694_120909GLG1841245D-635x421

With Ironman and other fall race events upon us, we thought it would be fun to offer some local running courses and routes around The Livingston Inn. Our daughter has become an avid runner since we opened our B&B, and she suggest the following for guests or anyone in the neighborhood seeking some training or exercise.

City Neighborhood Course (easy): Tenney Neighborhood Loop

Head north on Gorham Street and turn left at Brearly after passing Christ Presbyterian Church on the lake. Proceed down Sherman Avenue and enjoy homes along Lake Mendota. Continue to Tenney Park and turn right into the parking lot along the Yahara River. Run along the river, onto the path going under Johnson Street and then turn right on Dayton Street. Continue on Dayton Street and enjoy the feel of our Tenney-Lapham neighborhood, passing homes and the school. You’ll finish your run by turning right on Blount, challenging yourself at the end taking the hill up to Gorham, and then a nice gradual downhill run back to Livingston and Gorham. Approximate distance: 2.5 milesClassic-Tenney-Park-bridge-2

City View Course (moderate): Capital City Bike Path/Monona Terrace/Olin Park

Head south on Livingston, crossing East Washington, and then turn right on the Capital City Bike Trail. Follow the bike trail toward downtown and the path will soon parallel Lake Monona. You’ll run under the striking Monona Terrace and continue along Lake Monona toward Olin Park. At Lakeside Street, do a U-turn so you can run back along the lake and view one on the most beautiful vistas of the Madison skyline and Lake Monona. When you come to the first light, cross Proudfit Street and proceed along Monona Bay and you’ll soon connect with the Southwest Bike Path. Turn right onto the bike path and when you reach West Washington, turn right again. Run up “West Wash” with another beautiful view of the Capitol along with the challenge of an uphill run. Run clockwise (left) around the Capitol Square and then proceed down Hamilton diagonally to Gorham. Turn right on Gorham and finish by returning to The Livingston Inn. Approximate distance: 5.25 milesCapital_City_State_Trail-001

People Watching (moderate): James Madison Park/State Street/Capitol Square

Head south on Gorham and turn into James Madison Park one house past The Livingston Inn. Run in the park along Lake Mendota, taking in the beach and park visitors. Follow the path up to Gilman (Gilman is one block north of Gorham). Take Gilman (a hill challenge) to Wisconsin Avenue, turn right, proceed one block and turn left on Langdon. Enjoy student life and the fraternity and sorority houses on Langdon and then the iconic Red Gym and Memorial Union. Turn left on Park and then your next left on to State Street. A pedestrian mall (albeit with bus traffic), run the length of State Street to the Capitol, again enjoying students and Madisonians of all types. Upon reaching the Capitol Square, run counter clockwise (right) and then proceed down Hamilton diagonally to Gorham. Turn right on Gorham and finish by returning to Livingston. Approximate distance: 3.3 milesfall-colors-of-madison-1

Nature Scenic (moderate to advanced): Lakeshore Path

Head south on Gorham running past James Madison Park. At the end of the park, turn right on Butler Street and then left on Gilman (a hill challenge). Take Gilman to Wisconsin Avenue, turn right, proceed one block and turn left on Langdon. Run on Langdon all the way to the UW Memorial Union. Pass the Union and turn right on Park Street and you’ll hook up with the Lakeshore Path. The Lakeshore Path is a beautiful route – both dirt and paved paths with fewer bikes – along Lake Mendota with views of some of the older UW campus buildings. Stay on the Lakeshore Path, passing the soccer fields and UW marching band field, until you reach the parking lot for Picnic Point. Take a U-turn here and return back to The Livingston Inn on the same route. Approximate distance: 7 miles

Late afternoon sunlight backlights people running along the Howard Temin Lakeshore Path at the University of Wisconsin-Madison during autumn on Oct. 13, 2010. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

Late afternoon sunlight backlights people running along the Howard Temin Lakeshore Path at the University of Wisconsin-Madison during autumn on Oct. 13, 2010. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

Nature Scenic (advanced): Lakeshore Path

Follow the same directions above except shortly after entering the Lakeshore Path turn left up the path going through Muir Woods and you’ll end up on Observatory Drive. Observatory Drive has amazing views of the lake and old UW buildings, including the observatory. Plus it has a number of hills for an extra challenge. When you reach Elm Street, turn right and you’ll connect with the Lakeshore Path. Turn left on the Lakeshore Path and when you arrive at the Picnic Point parking lot turn right. Run to the end of Picnic Point and then take a U-turn, coming back to the Lakeshore Path and then continue back on the same route to The Livingston Inn. Approximate distance: 9 miles

With the Ironman event kicking off the many fall festivities in Madison, we hope you find these suggested running routes helpful and motivating for your training and fitness goals. If you are staying with us, please let us know if we can explain anything further or help with a map.

Turn On Johnson: Artisans Abound

Believe it or not, the Johnson Street re-construction in our neighborhood is nearly complete. The anticipated end date is mid-November. For those of us living in the area, it will be very welcome and somewhat hard to believe. We are excited about how the project will restore and improve one of our most important neighborhood streets.

I’ve written previously about the Turn on Johnson campaign – a community effort dedicated to the businesses affected by this major construction project. As we near the end of this undertaking, I’d like to write one more post about our neighborhood businesses.

A theme occurred to me a few weeks ago about some of our local businesses. They particularly excel at a certain skill. Call them craftspeople, masters of their trade, artisans. Our family has been fortunate to benefit from these individuals opening a shop in our neighborhood, and I’d like to feature some of them.

Wilke Chiropractic and Wellness, at 824 East Johnson, opened its door around the time construction on the street began. My wife and I met owner Steve Wilke soon after at a Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood Association function. When you meet Steve, he has the type of personality you’d like to see in a chiropractor – a calm and pleasant demeanor yet knowledgeable in his practice. About a month after I met Steve, I developed pain in my shoulder and neck that made it difficult to do many things. I called Steve and set up an appointment. Steve’s chiropractic method has no “popping” or “cracking” and instead focuses on neural pathways. It’s a very light touch method, and I was greatly impressed how it cured me of my issues. I highly recommend Steve to anyone, whether local or visiting, seeking chiropractic services.

Studio924Some other artisans in our neighborhood also serve mention based on our personal experience. Our local hair salon, Studio 924, has a friendly and talented team of stylists practicing their craft at 925 East Johnson. Our daughter recently made the big decision to cut her long hair to a shoulder-length style. As a 16-year old, she agonized over the decision, of course, but we made an appointment at Studio 924, re-assuring her they would do a great job. When she came back home, she walked in the door so excited and happy. The haircut was beautifully done, and we have one happy teenager as a result.

JohnsonPublicHouseIf there can be a beautifully done cup of coffee, the “artisans” at Johnson Public House do so on a daily basis. Certainly, baristas should be thought of as individuals skilled in a craft or trade, but the workers at Johnson Public House take it to another level. Each cup of coffee or espresso drink at JPH is brewed to order. The aromas and flavor are amazing, and we highly recommend stopping in whenever you are seeking a local coffee shop in our area (Cargo Coffee is an equally top notch place. See my 2/9/14 post.)

OldTownCyclesI’ll end with two more amazing local shops. Old Town Cycles at 920 East Johnson, provides outstanding bike service and repair. With the many people who commute and run errands by bicycle in Madison, bike shops are a very welcome service, and Old Town Cycles does so with a low-key and honest style. And if you want to see craftsmanship at its finest, you must stop in Spruce Tree Music at 851 East Johnson. The shop might not look like much from the outside, but from the second you step inside, you enter a hum of knowledgeable workers interacting with customers from all over Madison regarding the sales and service of all types of stringed instruments. It’s worth a stop just to peruse the beautifully crafted harps, mandolins, guitars, dulcimers, and much more.SpruceTreeMusic

It has been a pleasure for me to learn and write about our local businesses during the Turn on Johnson campaign. It has given me an even better appreciation of the unique character of the neighborhood around The Livingston Inn. Both now and when the Johnson Street construction ends, please visit these impressive artisans as well as the shops, restaurants, and other services in our area. I guarantee you will you find something special about the experience and re-discover what a small local business community is all about.