When I moved to Oregon a few years ago, I moved with the intention of living a healthier lifestyle. I wanted to get outside more, eat better, drink less, and try to find the me that I’d been searching for my whole life, whatever that meant.
I began hiking, doing short hikes every now and then, but before I knew it I was hooked. I started obsessing over hiking (I still do!) searching for places online, reading hiking books, and soon enough I was hiking every week, and every chance I got.
Then this year I decided to add fitness to the equation. Although I already ate somewhat healthy, (plant based for life!) I didn’t work out at all besides hiking. Five months in and two workout programs later, I feel like a different person. Not necessarily just because of fitness, or even hiking, or eating healthy, but because the combination of all these things together have created something inside of me that I had been lacking, confidence. Confidence, to actually set reachable goals for myself, to stand up to myself in order to work hard for what I want, to tell myself “I CAN do it!”, and to allow myself to be okay when I’m not yet where I want to be. This confidence that’s growing inside of me isn’t just about how I look or want to be perceived, it’s absolutely overflowing into every aspect of my life. Work, relationships, personal growth and development, hiking, fitness, staying true to myself, while holding myself accountable in order to push myself further. But it’s not just the confidence either, it’s the idea that we don’t just accomplish something and then stop, we set our minds on something else, whether that be heavier weights or higher elevation gains, we constantly have to be making small steps.
31 years I’ve been alive and I’m just now realizing that I want the steps I take, to always be moving forward. Never did I imagine that I could quiet the negative self talk in my head, but it’s only a whisper now. Finding my confidence, finding a love for myself, I can’t help but see that all these small steps I’m taking are turning into leaps.
For instance, yesterday I hiked one of the hardest trails I’ve done so far going 1600 ft in elevation in just under a mile, climbing in some sections with my hands, and leaning into the side of the mountain as to not slip down the side. My legs were burning, my calves tightening; and my mind kept wandering to the “going back down” part, but I just kept looking a few feet ahead. I took breaks when I needed, took slow controlled steps, and tried not to look back. When we finally made it to the top I couldn’t help but laugh because I was standing atop a rocky ridge, with a 360 degree view of the Columbia River gorge, probably the highest point there I’ve been so far, and with 300-500 foot drops all around me. But I wasn’t scared anymore. I pushed myself and I came out thriving! I worked hard for that hike, for myself, and I can’t help but try to take that same approach to the rest of my life.
I just wanted to say that I could go on and on about hiking and about what it’s taught me about life, about what nature has taught me about life, but I think that I will try to keep it short and sweet because it really does come back to believing in yourself, and accessing the confidence inside of you to be willing to reach for your goals no matter how big or small. For me, these have been hard lessons to learn, but the lessons aren’t over yet, I hope they never are.