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!

The Year in Photos 2012

Like many of you, we look back this time of year to reflect upon the events and experiences that filled our lives.  Here are some of the special photos that represent the wonderful memories among our family and guests at The Livingston Inn in 2012.

Despite a mild winter for 2011-12, our son took this photo at James Madison Park after a cold windy day blew waves onto the park.

Despite a mild winter for 2011-12, our son took this photo at James Madison Park after a cold windy day blew waves onto the park.

February brought a magical evening with the Century Dinner - eight courses with custom cocktails. Amazing!
February brought a magical evening with the Century Dinner – eight courses with custom cocktails. Amazing!

Spring came with a Norwegian get together of family and friends connected to Nils Haugen, the third owner of our house.

Spring came with a Norwegian get together of family and friends connected to Nils Haugen, the third owner of our house.

We welcome spring each year with the annual Wisconsin Film Festival. In 2012, The Entertainers film crew held a very fun and festive party at our B&B.

We welcome spring each year with the annual Wisconsin Film Festival. In 2012, The Entertainers film crew held a very fun and festive party at our B&B.

Our yellowwood tree bloomed this year, an event that happens once every four years.  Beautiful hanging over the wrought iron fence in the front garden.

Our yellowwood tree bloomed this year, an event that happens once every four years. Beautiful hanging over the wrought iron fence in the front garden.

May also graced us with the fragrance and beauty of the lilacs on Livingston Street. This photo was taken by Jacqui Harman, daughter of the Harman family who resided in our house for the latter half of the 20th century.

May also graced us with the fragrance and beauty of the lilacs on Livingston Street. This photo was taken by Jacqui Harman, daughter of the Harman family who resided in our house for the latter half of the 20th century.

Sunsets on our lakefront access didn't disappoint again. Here are a few of our favorites.

Sunsets on our lakefront access didn’t disappoint again. Here are a few of our favorites.

Like many of our other photos, our son takes most of the sunset ones.

Like many of our other photos, our son takes most of the sunset ones.

Many beautiful evenings this summer on the lake.

Many beautiful evenings this summer on the lake.

Fall colors are even more spectacular looking out from the cupola at the top of the house.

Fall colors are even more spectacular looking out from the cupola at the top of the house.

We love Halloween and this year was extra special with a wedding!

We love Halloween and this year was extra special with a wedding!

A special greeting at the front door this Halloween!

A special greeting at the front door this Halloween!

The beauty of Christmas seemed extra special this year.

The beauty of Christmas seemed extra special this year.

The Livingston Inn - December 2012 Snowstorm

The Livingston Inn – December 2012 Snowstorm

Our best wishes to everyone for a Happy New Year!

Our best wishes to everyone for a Happy New Year!

The Light of a Winter Solistice

Candles lit on the Winter Solistice

Candles lit on the Winter Solistice

There are so many things to love about this time of year, whether or not you celebrate any religious holidays.  Today is solstice, the shortest day of the year, and it seems pretty clear to me that no matter what your belief system – and even if you don’t have any at all, really – this time of year is about light.  Candles and Christmas lights offer a pretty sanctuary from what might otherwise be a dark, challenging time.  In Madison, it’s sometimes dark by four o’clock!  Grey, overcast days and short daylight hours can make it hard to face the morning — or the very early night.  Physically and symbolically, light offers hope in the darkness, and represents a reminder that the days get longer again, starting tomorrow.

Sometimes it seems as if nature and humanity have come together to offset the season of darkness with light.  I am reminded of the beauty and “lightness” of winter by the fifteen inches of snow we had yesterday. (Okay, so maybe the tree branches don’t think of all that snow as light.)  Snow reflects the moon and the stars, and gives an ambience to the landscape that offsets the darkness of winter.  It is beautiful, and creates a completely different world for us to watch and play in.  What a wonderful gift!

Tree lights at night in the back garden

Tree lights at night in the back garden

And then there are the holidays.  Christmas is filled with light, both candle and electric.  Hanukkah is, of course, the Festival of Lights; it ended on the 16th this year.  I was fascinated to find exactly how many winter and end-of-year festivals there are and have been through history. You can see the very long Wikipedia list here: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_winter_festivals)

And sometimes, Mother Nature gifts us with a snow day just when we need it, so we can explore and be inspired by both its joyful charm and its elegant allure.  Yesterday afternoon, I went down to nearby James Madison Park to take photos of some creative snowmen that neighbors had built. With the ominous dark clouds and high waves behind them on Lake Mendota, the snowmen made me happy. I couldn’t help but smile at each one, imagining what it was saying to me.

Snomwan 5

Snowman 1 Snowman 2 Snowman 3 Snowman 4

So yesterday at The Livingston Inn, as we dealt with over a foot of snow, we also took time to sit by the fire, enjoy the Christmas lights, and walk down to the lake, to admire the special, ethereal beauty of this time of year, when we take light wherever we can find it.

Enjoy!

The Livingston Inn - December 2012 Snowstorm

The Livingston Inn – December 2012 Snowstorm