Overthinking, World Traveling & No Shortcuts (Nicole Spitzack)

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Nicole Spitzack’s journey to the outdoors hasn’t been all fun and adventure. While her passion for world travel really has led her to some incredible places, it’s been the journey to heal from the sudden death of her father and sister that has taught her to seek solace in the everyday moments.

In this incredibly raw interview, Nicole, a fitness model, nutrition coach, CrossFit trainer, mom and Army spouse talks about finding connection and health in the outdoors. Hear her tips for getting outside and staying on track!

Some of the good stuff:

[1:40] Nicole’s favorite outdoor space
[2:23] How Nicole got into fitness
[4:52] How many countries has Nicole visited?
[6:28] Does fueling well make you more active?
[6:57] Nicole’s favorite place to visit
[8:38] Why the mountains have her heart
[10:43] Tips for nutrition on an adventure
[15:43] Why nutrition matters for everything
[17:30] Are there any secrets to success?
[20:38] Why Nicole has been spending more time outside
[26:23] How CrossFitters feel about running
[32:50] Why Nicole is focused on women
[37:27] How to find Nicole
[38:20] Nicole’s favorite outdoor gear
[39:16] Nicole’s most essential outdoor gear
[39:54] Nicole’s favorite outdoor moment

Connect with this episode:

Things mentioned in the show:

Zion National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Death Valley National Park
Redoubt Volcano, Alaska
CrossFit Sola Fide, Tennessee 
CrossFit Jaakrhu, Texas
Grand Canyon rim-to-rim hike

Nicole’s favorite outdoor gear:
ASOLO Hiking Boot Link: https://www.asolo.com/en
Smartwool socks and base-layers: https://amzn.to/2Phpnhp 

Affiliate links above.

Find Nicole Spitzack on Social Media (and otherwise)

Nicole Spitzack on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nicolespitzack/?hl=en
Nicole Spitzack on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicolespitzacknutrition/ 
[email protected]


AB: When it comes to doing awesome stuff outside or just enjoying nature, it’s so much more fun to do it with a healthy body. A huge part – honestly, the most important part – comes down to something so simple, it’s hard. What you eat, how you fuel yourself matters, not just because it changes how you look, but it changes what you are able to do. Nicole Spitzack is many things: a world traveler, a mom, a CrossFit level one and two trainer, a fitness model, and a coach. But most importantly to me, she’s also my own nutritional counselor and finally helped me get to a place where I was more physically fit than I had ever been. It’s what led me to start this whole crazy Humans Outside journey, spending at least 20 consecutive minutes outside every single day, for – at this point – well over 800 days in a row. And I am so excited that she’s here today. Nicole, welcome to the Humans Outside Podcast.

NS: Hey, thanks so much.

AB: So we start all of our episodes by imagining that we’re chatting with our guests somewhere that they love outside, kind of like we’re just hanging out with you somewhere great. So where are we chatting today?

NS: Oh my goodness. I would have to say probably somewhere out west in the mountains near a lake.

AB: I love it. I love a good mountain lake. I’m with you, one hundred percent. 

So when you and I first crossed paths near Fort Campbell, Kentucky, you owned CrossFit Sola Fide. And I know you’ve had an incredible fitness journey that has recently more and more woven in spending time outside. Can you tell us a little bit though about how you got started in the fitness world? A little background?

NS: Yeah, sure. Absolutely. I guess how it all started was actually with nutrition. Nutrition is kind of my beginning background and that kind of led me down the road of fitness. After working in a hospital for a while, I kind of just started getting really down about feeling like I wasn’t actually helping people, even though I most certainly was. But there was just this kind of burning desire within me to want to help people before they got to kind of the point of no return, if you will. And so that kind of just fueled that fire inside me to want to intertwine the nutrition with the fitness aspect.

AB: What year was that, that you were working in a hospital? How long have you been at this?

NS: Oh, gosh, that was probably back in 2004/2005 timeframe.

AB: And it made you decide to share this with others as a trainer and a counselor.

NS: Right, exactly. Yeah. So I began seeing people kind of one on one. That kind of led me to open my own gym, and really be able to, like I said, just be able to make an impact, to help people with just making that healthy lifestyle switch. 

AB: As you did that, you sort of personally got into fitness and CrossFit and modeling and all that stuff. Talk about how that was a part of a part of that journey at the same time.

NS: Yeah, so obviously being involved in the fitness industry, you kind of just network with people and so I became a sponsored athlete pretty early on, with a small company called ProMera Health and I was with them for right around four years. And then I was recognized at a convention by a larger company – Optimum Nutrition. You may be familiar with them. I was with them for about 10 years. I actually just fell off contract with them this past fall.

AB: So I know you love the outdoors and especially traveling the world to see it. How many countries have you visited? I must know.

NS: Oh, my gosh. So many. I don’t even know, a lot though. My husband and I try to get out of the country at least twice a year. That was a goal of ours for a long time. Now, you know, we have three little ones, and so it makes it a little bit more challenging. We’re still able to do it about once a year, but our goal is to never go to the same place more than once, right? So when we travel, we like to hit it hard, see as much as we can, do as much as we can. And that way there’s hopefully no reason to return. The reasoning behind that is just like, the world is so big, there’s so many places to go. And so we try to always go to a new spot, but I actually don’t know. I’ve never actually tallied up how many countries we’ve been to.

AB: You’ll have to do that. Your passport book must be very impressive.

NS: That’s my homework; I’ll count them up and send you an email with that response.

AB: Every time I wake up, you are in some new exotic location, petting an elephant, summiting some exotic mountain.

NS: Life’s an adventure, I guess!

AB: Do you think that being in nature inspires people to be more fit and fuel their bodies better? Or do you think it’s maybe the other way around? That fueling your body better helps you want to be more active?

NS: I think the two go hand in hand. Certainly the more active people are, the more healthy they desire to be. But I think that it’s difficult to have one without the other. 

AB:  Right. Absolutely. 

And in your world travels, maybe you have a favorite outdoor space that you’ve visited, you know, in creation, right? I was gonna say in this country, but that’s not at all what we’re talking about.

NS:  I have several, actually. I would have to say that within the US, Zion is by far just one of the most breathtaking places. It just captivates you. There’s so much to see and explore there and it’s just incredible. So I would say yeah, within the US probably like Zion, Yellowstone, Death Valley. 

And then even in your area, Alaska; we were there a couple years ago and one of my favorite places is Redoubt Mountain. I’m not sure if you’re familiar, but the land there is very preserved, you know, they only let so many people in each year. And again, just another one of those inspiring places where when you talk about being outdoors and just being at one with like the universe. Definitely a big part of my heart goes back to that place. 

My most recent trip probably was Switzerland. Again, it goes without saying, obviously with all these places I’m listing that the mountains have my heart. But Switzerland’s just incredibly well-kept, super preserved, unpolluted. The people are just incredible. They’re so kind and so yeah, Switzerland is pretty high up there for places for me as well.

AB:  Why did the mountains have your heart? Why do you think that is? I mean, me too.

NS:  The incredible like, size of it, right? It’s like when you’re out there, you just realize how small you really are. Sometimes in the business of our life, this might sound bad, but it’s like the importance of your life and just how busy we are and how much we have to do and how much people need us, etc. Like, we kind of maybe feel a little bigger than we are. But when you’re out there with those mountains, you come face to face with how small you actually are, right? And it’s humbling. It’s truly humbling. And so yeah, just a great time for me to just be in the presence of that. And just to realize the magnitude of this world and the beauty of it all and just take it in and exhale.

AB: I have this sort of favorite moment that I was on top of this, this peak, or ridge, rather – between two peaks – this last summer. So I was on a mountain run with some friends and it was just this moment where you feel like you are everything in the world because you’re one of you know, in my case, five people standing up there, and there’s no one. It’s your site. So you are just everything and all the world is just you. And at the same time, you’ve been put in this context where you are nothing. Right? You know you are everything and nothing at the same time. It’s an incredible feeling.

NS: Absolutely.

AB:  I’m wondering, since you travel so much and since we are talking about nutrition, if you have any tips for people who are looking for a way to get outside but still keep their fueling in check. I struggle, for example, with the devil of trail mix. Which I prefer, by the way, to be less trail and more Swedish Fish, if that’s a thing.

NS: Well, in terms of traveling, I would say keep it simple. You know, we think that we need all these snacks, but we really don’t. If you properly fuel your body prior to starting said adventure, and then you’ve maybe got one snack right like mid-adventure, and then you know you’re going to eat directly after this adventure, you’re going to actually be fine. But yeah, the issue comes whenever we do pack all these snacks. We pack this trail mix and this jerky and you know, bars and all this different stuff. And then it’s like, oh wow, I consumed like a lot of food; most of that is probably going to be fat intake or high carbs. Again, all of which is more than your body actually needs. Just keep it simple, you know, and don’t focus on feeling like you need this nutrition. A lot of times you actually really don’t. 

But yeah, if I’m out for a long run or a long hike or something like that, I usually just try to have one or two simple things with me, like a little packet of honey. If you have to, have a bar or a serving of trail mix, you know, but yeah, it gets a little sketchy when you bring like the whole jar, right?

AB: Yeah. I find that personally, thinking through how long I’m going to be out there is important. I mean, there’s a big difference between going for a few hour hike and traversing 4000, 5000, 6000 feet over the next 12 hours, right?

NS: Absolutely. Yeah, you gotta have meals, right? 

AB: Exactly. And I think that it’s super easy to forget to think about it in context, right? Because now, unless I’ve thought about it in context, I’m not packing a meal – I’m packing, you know, like three or four Rx bars. Well, that’s, I mean, that’s calories, but it’s not going to make me feel good. Right?

NS: Right. Exactly, and it’s not actually going to make you feel full either, right? It’s going to be this quick energy that’s utilized up and then you’re still left hungry. Typically, like if I got a big trek like that or something, I want to make sure that I’m well fed the night before. You know, the nutrition actually starts usually the day before, like a competition or an event or an adventure, or what have you. What you eat that day before matters a whole lot. And then and then making sure that breakfast in the morning is like, all of the food right? Like all the carbs and all the fat and all the protein. But yeah, definitely for a 12 hour trek, you’re gonna need some food kind of mid-adventure there for sure.

AB: I think one of the biggest things I took away from our time when you were my daily nutrition counselor was that concept of eating ahead of time. Runners love to eat after the run, right? Like you think about the meal after the run as your reward for getting through this thing. So like, I run for cupcakes, right? That’s, I mean, that’s a pretty crazy saying. Well, it’s not really a joke. Like, that’s what we do.

NS: Right. So they sell hats that say that right?

AB: It’s sort of like truth in advertising, right? So it never occurred to me that what I eat one to two days before the event, the race, was super important. I mean, quote unquote, carb loading, right? Well, what does that even mean? But you helped me learn that my how I felt during the race and how I performed during this race were directly proportional to how well I ate the three days before or the week before the race. It blew my mind and also sort of took away the reward cupcake which was a bummer. I don’t know if any other runner finds this, but I find that it’s not right after the race that I’m hungry, it’s not the day after the race I’m hungry but it’s two days after the race that now I want to eat everything my eyes behold. But if I eat and fuel well before the race, I can avoid that. I’m pretty sure that my two days after binge does not fuel retrospectively or makeup for something I did. It’s just going on my hips, the end, right?

NS: Yeah. You kind of hit it on the head there when you said performance. If you’re interested in your performance, your nutrition is everything. You can train and train and train, but if your nutrition is garbage, your performance is going to be garbage. I think the other thing you’re talking about here is sometimes what happens with people, is that after they’ve obtained this amazing goal, this huge accomplishment, we do we kind of feel like — oh, I feel pretty good about that. I should definitely treat myself. Then people can have a hard time staying on track, right? Now what happens is you don’t have this goal, right? So you just kind of like revert to your old pattern of living or what have you, where it’s like — okay, I can kind of get away with this or I don’t really have this big goal anymore. So it’s okay to to kind of splurge here or there or whatever. That’s why I always just really encourage people, after you’ve had this huge goal, it’s really good to have like a couple of small goals, to kind of follow that large goal so that you don’t fall off off the deep end. I find that to be really crucial to keep moving forward. 

AB: People really want a quick fix to get healthy and fit. I mean, who doesn’t want a quick fix for something? Right? Yeah, they want shortcuts. So we need you, Nicole, we need you to be straight with us. Are there any shortcuts? Are there any secrets that people don’t know? For getting, fit for losing the weight, you know, whatever their goal is.

NS: There are no secrets. There are no shortcuts. There are no magic diets. I mean, if there was anything like that that existed, we would all be doing it. We would all have a six pack and firm, tight glutes and you know, I mean, it doesn’t exist. The only prescription is hard work. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s different for everybody. What works for one one person might not work for the next person. And that’s why it’s really important to have somebody who specializes in this field to help you obtain those goals, unless you’re willing to do the education on your own, right? If you’re willing to do the research and be your own guinea pig and figure out what works for your body, which a lot of people do, and it works for them, and that’s great, too. But yeah, unfortunately, none of the diet pills or drinks or Voodoo witchcraft, none of that stuff actually works. You know, it’s not rocket science. It’s a simple equation. But sometimes you just need a little bit of help and guidance, you know, through it all.

AB: Yeah, you feel how you fuel. Sad, but true.

NS: I wish there was an easier way.

AB: I wish that I felt better after eating Ben and Jerry’s. That’s really what’s going on here.

NS: Exactly. Yeah, you and me both. I know people think I have all the answers and I’ve got it all figured out. But I’m human just like everybody else. If I could have a six pack and sit around and eat 12 Krispy Kreme doughnuts, like I would totally do it, you know? It just isn’t reality.

AB: Sad but true.

So in the last few years You’ve experienced some really personal tragic losses. Your father died in an accident and your sister lost her battle with cancer. I am so sorry for your loss. But I’m wondering how spending time outside has helped you move through those? Because I’ve noticed, as your Instagram stalker, that you’ve started running more or that you have really increased the amount of time you’re spending outside – or at least the amount of time you’re talking about it. So would you like to tell us about that?

NS: I will talk about this. I might cry at some point.

But yeah, I will talk about this a little bit. My father was killed in a tragic car accident, which was by far the most difficult time in my life. I would say that a part of me died that day, you know, like,  literally life left my body. I still have a very difficult time with this because I did not have the opportunity to say goodbye. I did not have the opportunity to see him one last time. So on top of the grief of losing him, just the tragedy of it all was more than I could really bear at that time. 

At the time I was living in Austin, Texas and I was training at CrossFit Jaakrhu. I will say that when I finally made my way back to the gym, which was quite a while after my father’s death, the people there were just incredible. You know, I can remember walking in that day. My coach at the time was Michael Winchester, and he literally just turned to me and grabbed me up in his arms and just held me for this long embrace. There were no words that were exchanged. He literally just held me and let me cry for like, five solid minutes. And those are definitely some of the most authentic relationships that I’ve probably forged to this to date, which says a lot because I’ve known a lot of people in my life. I think just having people that are just willing to just sit there in the trenches with you, and it was okay to not be strong. You know what I’m saying? I’ve always felt this immense pressure to be strong and just suck it up and keep pushing forward. I was at a point in my life where I could not, I just couldn’t. And so anyway, so yes, it meant a lot to have people there who were just there to be with me and who just loved me and they loved me really well during that time. 

I did eventually start back with running. I started out just going for little two or three milers and then I kind of made a goal to like — okay, I’m going to run 30 miles this week. Austin’s just a beautiful, beautiful area with lots of trails there to run. There’s a lot of active people in that city and so that certainly helped a lot, too. But yeah, lots of hiking, lots of running. It might sound crazy, but I just felt closer to my dad when I was doing that. And I don’t really know how to put that into words. I can remember several runs just like looking up at the clouds and just feeling like he was there with me.

So that was definitely something that helped me through a difficult time. My sister then was diagnosed a little later with cancer. She had about a year long fight with that. And actually, one of the things that I have coming up is, you know, my sister had created this bucket list, and I was determined that we were going to make that bucket list happen. And we were able to complete almost everything on it. And one of the things was she wanted to see the Grand Canyon. And so she was able to do that, actually, just two weeks before she passed away. I’m actually going back to the Grand Canyon this May to hike it from rim to rim – so kind of just hoping to experience a little bit of time there with her.

AB: First of all, thank you for sharing this with us. I know it’s difficult and I’m over here sympathy crying if that helps. But I hear that a lot from people and I’ve experienced that too, right? That running and being outside makes us feel closer to the things that we’ve lost. To the people, you know, and helps us move through that. I’m not a neurologist, but there’s something going on in your brain when you’re doing that, that helps you process hard things, whether it is grief or loss, or even something, you know, trite in this context, but like a problem at work. Right? My brain works differently when I’m running. And it doesn’t work that way when I’m running with other people. It has to be by myself. Right? It doesn’t work that way when I’m listening to music. I have no input other than that I’m running or moving. And I can process that stuff. I’m so glad that you found that and we’re able to connect that way. 

Our listeners may not know, but crossfitters do not love to run at all. So when we talk about people who love to CrossFit, we are not talking about people who love to run. So the fact that you got into that, to me, watching your journey, I was standing here in Alaska, just applauding you. I knew that that was not something that comes naturally and that you were making an effort to get out there. I just was really happy to see that and excited to see the connection that you are going to hopefully feel, and it sounds like you have through that. Because again, that’s something that I’ve had the ability to experience because I run. But I am very much an outlier in my CrossFit community. People think I’m crazy for running. Crazy cakes!

NS: Yeah, well, it’s funny. There’s actually a half marathon coming up here in March at West Point where I’m located now and there’s a group of girls who want to do it and so I reluctantly signed up for said half marathon. And so, you know, I have zero intentions of probably training for this more than probably like four or five miles, but yeah, you know, it’s true what you say. Running is hard for crossfitters.

AB: It is, and crossfitters, I’m kind of chuckling because crossfitters also notoriously like to wing things, right? Oh, I’m fine. I won’t run more than five miles, it’s fine. But then annoyingly, they do fine. So you’ll be great.

NS: Yeah, this is what repeatedly happens! So it’s all good. But I will say that I’ve come to enjoy it; it’s kind of this time of solitude where you’re just focused on your breath and for me, I’m a woman of many thoughts, so I’m always in my head. It’s very difficult to turn my brain off and I’m always trying to think about ways I can be improving or ways I can be helping someone or ways I can personally be getting better. So running is great for that and I particularly love running in the rain. I have no idea why, but like if it’s like this light drizzle misty, foggy, like — yes, let’s go! I just want to get out there in it and especially trail running, you know, really enjoy that. But you know, a sunny day is nice, too. But yeah, something about that kind of just a little bit of a mist, you know, not a downpour rain. But yeah, I definitely enjoyed that. I’ve been keeping up with your pictures of all your frozen facial hair lately. 

AB: Women and facial hair should not go together. But here I am.

NS: So yeah, but it’s like who even knows they have that facial hair until it’s frozen on their face?

AB: That’s true. I’m not going to try to convince you to come back up here to Alaska to do a winter marathon. But I am on a mission to convince my running or runner adjacent friends to come up here and mountain run with me. In fact, anybody who is listening to this who wants to come up to Alaska and do some incredible mountain running, hit me up on Instagram, hit me up on Facebook, because I would love to tell you how to do that and how to get up here. I will 100% go with you. It’s one of life’s greatest pleasures that I only recently discovered and that most people never get the chance to do, and they don’t even know what they’re missing. It’s so great.

NS: Yeah, yeah, the pictures look incredible.

AB: We have a great time, but I will say, I only started doing that because of this little 20 minutes a day thing that I do. I was kind of, you know, feeling lame sauce for going on a walk in the woods every day and so I started looking for other things to branch out to. I still do a lot of walking in the woods because sometimes that’s what you have time for, right? But I started snowshoe running, I learned how to ski, you know, winter stuff – because if you don’t move in the winter, you die. There’s no just sitting on your porch. But in the summertime, you know I’m surrounded by these mountain ranges just seemed like a shame to not go up there. I think that that’s something that anyone anywhere they are can experience. If you’re in a city, there are parks and things you have not seen. Guarantee it. If you’re at West Point, there’s, you know, mountains and trails and all sorts of stuff around there. It’s just that people don’t think to go out and look for that. It’s just a matter of being purposeful, right? It’s the same thing with eating, right? You’ve got to put a little bit of thought into it, and then you’ll get out there. 

I also think, by the way, that most women have many thoughts. And so you’re not alone. I think everyone, probably almost everyone listening to this can sympathize in a way with that. But you know, people think, oh, running is so boring. I could never do that. You’d be surprised how entertaining you are to yourself.

NS: It just goes back to like prioritizing time to get outside, right? Like you. Sometimes you have to make time where there is essentially, you know, quote, unquote, no time, right? It’s like, what are we doing with our time? We all have the same amount of hours in a day. I get it – like some of us have different jobs. Some of us work nights or whatever and we’re trying to sleep during the day. But yeah, it’s just like anything else in life. It’s like, you know, whatever you prioritize, that’s what’s going to stand out in your life, you know?

AB: Absolutely. So one of the most impactful things I ever attended, specifically while we were at Fort Campbell, but I think this is just true in general, too. It just had such a huge impact on me, was an event you put on at CrossFit Fide called Redefine Beautiful. You focused on demonstrating to women that quote unquote, beautiful isn’t this definition of skinny that we’ve all been taught. You said that it comes in all shapes and sizes and abilities, and, you know, sort of more than anything, that it’s strong. So I’m wondering if you could tell us a little bit about what led you to start that effort?

NS: Oh my goodness, yes. So we were talking about my sister earlier. What I didn’t mention was the fact that my sister actually struggled with drug addiction almost her entire life. She had only gotten sober actually one year prior to being diagnosed with cancer. And so anyway, she had just celebrated one year of sobriety and then she got this cancer diagnosis. But anyways, prior to that, leading up to this, I had all of these years where I had this estranged relationship with my sister – who’s my younger sister, by the way. There were many, many years as one can probably imagine, of me trying to help her, me pursuing her, me wanting a relationship with her, and her just not being capable, right? Not because she didn’t want to, but because when you’re caught up in addiction, addiction owns you. It is you. You don’t have any power over it until you actually choose to. So anyways, Redefine Beautiful actually was born out of this longing that I had for this relationship with my sister. Here I am, this woman who loves my sister, and I can’t even help her. But there must be somebody that I can help. There must be someone I can have an impact on. So that is where Redefine Beautiful was born. Fast forward, you know, seven years later. You know, all of those years that we had Redefine Beautiful. And it kind of just turned into something else each year, right? Like just different women, expressing their struggles, their anguish, things that they had overcome, things that they had struggled with and battled with. It really became this beautiful story of overcoming the heartaches and the trials of this life. 

And yeah, that it definitely holds a very special place in my heart and I would be lying if I said that I don’t have any plans on bringing it back, because I do. I’ve actually just kind of been working through some of that stuff. And so we’ll see we’ll see what 2020 brings in terms of that, but there’s such a need. Because I feel like a lot of times we as women, we feel alone in our struggles. Some of us feel ashamed, some of us feel scared, some of us just don’t know how to move forward. And so I think there is a huge need for a community of women who can come to one another and empower one another, uplift one another, encourage one another, and at the end of the day, just like listen to each other and say — yeah, I get it, you know, me too. I know somebody else who had that same struggle, and this is what they did. Or just to listen or whatever, you know. So we’ll see what 2020 brings. I’m excited for the new year for sure.

AB: That’s awesome. I think that that’s an experience that men have, too. We live in sort of this whitewash society, where we have everything be sparkly, and the people who are really impactful are people who are not afraid to be authentic. They stand right here and say, “Yeah, I mean, this isn’t perfect. And this is my struggle. And I know it makes me look weak, but I’m going to take a risk right here and put myself out there and hope that somebody else raises their hand and says, ‘Me too. I’m feeling weak, I have the struggle as well.’” And that the people who have a big impact are the ones who are brave enough to take that risk and hope that it pays off.

NS: Yeah, one hundred percent. Absolutely.

AB: I have always found, as I mentioned earlier, your help really inspiring in the Redefine Beautiful area, in nutrition – just like the firm but kind push I needed to know that I can make changes. If anyone else is interested in hitting you up for that kind of counseling or or other programming, how can they find you?

NS: I’ve got my Instagram page, my Facebook page, my email is pretty simple – just [email protected]. I’ve got a couple programs available on Shopify, and I actually give out my cell phone number to all my clients. So I would not be opposed to running off my cell phone number here as well.

AB: We will include it if you like and all of the links to that stuff in our show notes, so people can look for that. Okay, so now it’s time for the leftover round! Our time has breezed by. It’s sometimes called the lightning round, but I like to call it leftovers round. It’s things I want to know, but I never get around to asking in the rest of the show. So since we talk about the outdoors, tell us what is your favorite outdoor gear?

NS: Okay, so I’m totally obsessed with my ASOLO hiking boots. So much so that like, one time they got a little messed up and they had a big hole in the thing and I actually sent them back. ASOLO does this thing where they repair your boots or whatever. So that was pretty cool. But yeah, I love my ASOLO hiking boots. 

I’m kind of a sock snob. Smartwool is my sock of choice. Because my feet are always cold, right? Like it’s a real problem. It’s a real problem. So yeah, I like socks. And then yeah, probably just like base layers again, just because I get cold. So definitely essential gear for me is just anything that’s going to keep me warm when I’m outside.

AB: So I guess that answers our next question, which is what is your most essential outdoor gear? Which of course is not always the same as your favorite!

NS: Yes, definitely the base layers.

AB: Is there a particular style you like?

NS: I actually just stick with Smartwool. I’ve been using them for probably the last like 15 to 20 years. And yeah, I just never had any issues with them. They last forever, so I kind of stick with the base layers and the Smartwool socks as well.

AB: Awesome. And finally, your favorite outdoor moment, if you could describe it. If you think about your love for being outside and close your eyes, what is the favorite thing you see?

NS: So I’m an avid fly fisher woman, to be politically correct here. And I would say that that moment for me is fly fishing. And I was actually fly fishing for salmon on this particular occasion. I had a mom and two cubs just come right past me on the opposite side of the stream, and we were both fishing at the same time – like she was fishing for the babies. You know, they’re like wading in the water and I’m on the other side of the river fishing. So that’s that’s one of those moments for me. Yeah, it’s pretty ingrained.

AB: Yeah, another one of those you’re everything and nothing sort of things.

NS: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

AB: Nothing quite like coming face to face with a mama bear to really put life in context!

NS: Scary at first, you know? Yeah, she was pretty large. And of course she had her babies with her. So of course, I did have the bear spray just in case. But yeah, I try to be at peace with nature and the planet as much as I can be. But yeah, definitely a little scary. 

But also, you know, part of that, I was just snorkeling and this six foot stingray swam right past me and I actually was able to swim around. So, it’s these kind of moments where you kind of realize like, I could totally die right now and no one would ever know. So yeah, it’s coming face to face with your humanity, but also just being able to just embrace and fully enjoy the moment of just how beautiful creation is.

AB:  Well, Nicole, thank you so much for being on the Humans Outside Podcast. We really appreciate it.

NS:  Yeah, thanks so much for inviting me. It was fun.

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