I used to be extremely active. One season of my life I was training for my third half marathon while completing the Insanity DVD’s, and this was completely normal for me. I was never not doing something intense. Then I lost my period, and it would take another few years for me to realize perhaps it’s time to take things down a notch.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the euphoria that comes from an extreme cardio session, but my body has been trying to tell me to take it down a few notches and I’ve chosen not to listen. It amazes me how loud and clear our bodies will communicate to us if we listen, the problem is that we’re usually so focused on other things we don’t hear the warning signs.
The go go go mentality comes into play for me whenever I go for a hike as well, the mountain has to be bigger and badder than the one before or I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much. The mountains aren’t close to me, so I’ve always had a certain rule when choosing trails.
My rule is that when it comes to a hike, I need the time spent on the trail to be longer than the time it took to drive there. On average, it takes me about two hours to get to a good hike meaning the actual hike will ideally take 3 hours or more. This means the trail needs to be at least 7 miles RT or more.
I realize how ridiculous this all sounds. I can’t say all my marbles are straight, but I’m actively working on pushing them closer together in a somewhat uniformed line. I don’t hike as much these days in an attempt to re-balance my body (still no consistent periods, but I feel we’re getting closer) and I really don’t enjoy running so that had to go too, but if I find a friend to tag along on a hike I’ll go.
Before setting off to conquer Lake Angeles, I found myself slipping into old habits. Originally when my friend asked if I wanted to go for a hike, I got onto the Washington Trails website to find a big and bad hike to conquer. I must also mention I’m not at all in the shape I was when I was running half marathons and doing Insanity, meaning big bad hikes are more painful than enjoyable these days.
I originally chose a different trail to explore. Higher elevation, and longer distance. Because, why not. I woke up at 3am the morning of the hike with a lump in my stomach telling me this was not the trail I wanted. I was dreading the adventure, and that’s no fun. I remembered that I’m trying to respect my body and not destroy it, and made the change to Lake Angeles last minute.
At 7.4 miles RT with an elevation gain of 2350′ this was more than enough. It kicked my out of shape butt in all the right ways. This also happened to be the week that Washington was hit with a shitton of smoke that was pushed our way from the BC wildfires, as you can see in all of these photos, so taking it easy was ideal.
The smoke gave me terrible headaches. I can’t imagine what it was like in Canada.
The point of this post is to remind me, and to encourage you to listen to our bodies. When things are out of balance it’s for a reason and the only way to know is to slow down and listen. It’s a challenge for those of us with obsessions or addictions to certain lifestyles, but without challenges we will never grow.
We are constantly bombarded with people telling us that we are lazy if we don’t want to workout, or unhealthy if we want to eat the cake, but at the end of the day only you know what’s best for your body and soul. For too long I told myself I was lazy if I didn’t go for a run, or climb a bigger mountain, but you can only force something for so long before the joy is zapped from it.
Hiking is meant to bring peace and calming (with some blood flow) and satisfy my urge for exploration. It shouldn’t be just a way to sweat. I’m reminding myself to stop and smell the roses, not just view them from the top. Hiking is so much more enjoyable when you savor the journey, and it just so happens this is a metaphor for life too.
Rest if your body tells you to rest, move if your body tells you to move, eat the cake if your soul tells you to eat the cake, or avoid the cake if your body tells you the sugar is not working for you. Listen to your body, it’s smarter than any media article or science guru combined. The key is learning what to listen for.
Life is not about perfection, all we can do is strive to improve who we are today from who we were yesterday. Just be sure to give yourself grace along the way.
Q: What activities are you not enjoying lately that you used to love? For me it’s running. So now I bike!