In 1999 I spent 6 months thru-hiking the entire Appalachian Trail with my then newlywed husband – 2150 grueling miles from Springer Mountain in northern Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in central Maine carrying a 25 lb. backpack. I met lifetime friends, had an unusual honeymoon and got to do something some people only dream of. Even though it was 18 years ago, it was an experience that has stayed with me all this time, for better or for worse. I always joke that hiking the AT ruined me forever and here’s why:
- I work out for hours without thinking much about it – between cardio (mind), weights (body) and yoga (spirit) I usually get at least 2 hours of exercise a day sometimes up to 3. If I only do say 1 yoga class I feel as if I haven’t done much that day and can be pretty hard on myself for “taking it easy”. You may wish you had this problem, but it’s truly a curse! Now you may wonder why I don’t have an amazing body (I used to), but I was also obsessed with my food intake and now I pretty much eat what I want. My trainer recently said “Look, if you can weigh 125 and eat what you want, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.” Yeah, what he said! Sure, I could stand to lose 5 lbs, but for now I’ll take it.
- I can go all day without water – because I know I have personally walked 14 miles with only a few ounces of water in my possession, I know what the body can take. When doing long distance backpacking trips, one is usually carrying a water filter, finding their own water sources and basically drinking off the land. There were times, during the hot summer that fresh streams had dried up and it would be all day before you could get your next drink. You just had to keep hiking until you found that water! There were simply no other options. Yes of course hydration is key to fitness and is extremely important, but I also think people use drinking water as an excuse to take a break. I find it gets me out of my practice or “zone” and distracts me from the present moment at hand, which is usually some sort of hard work you don’t want to face. Because I can be sort of an extremist in my thinking, I remember Aron Ralston from the book Between a Rock and a Hard Place, where he goes 5 days rationing his water taking only tiny sips periodically. In case you don’t know the story he eventually drinks his own urine (not recommended) and cuts off his own arm (also not recommended) to free himself from the boulder that had pinned him. It’s a fascinating story. I figure if Aron can go 5 days and live to tell the tale, I can go 1 hour!
- I tend to think most people are wusses – Of course I am joking (sort of), but I believe, most people are stronger than they think. I know I have always had a certain element of grit, but I believe most people do, they just don’t know how to tap into it. They may not know how to push themselves or develop that mind over matter mentality. I realize not everyone is looking to transform their lives through the power of their breath and mindset. I’m sure most people just want to get their workout over and done with, but just imagine if you actually liked to exercise, looked forward to it and planned your life around it? In the grand scheme of things, this is a privilege and an honor that we get to move our bodies the way we do. Again in my extremist thinking, I like to imagine what if this ability was somehow taken away from me? I then would be longing to move, run, jump and play! Seize the moment, grab life by the horns and any other cliche you can think of. Be happy you can do it now, because well, you just never know!
- I might not be the best in sales at REI – Considering I hiked most of the trail in a cotton tank top and a pair of wind shorts that I bought at the Dollar General, I’d probably just convince you that don’t need all that fancy moisture wicking silver thread clothing that promises not to stink, (but somehow smells the worst). You don’t need the $15 freeze dried meals either. We seriously ate Pop Tarts, bars, nuts, hot dog buns and literally anything that could be purchased at a roadside convenient store. I’m not saying it was the healthiest time of my life, but then again I was burning about 6000 calories a day so really anything you could get your hands on was game, including pounding a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew…ah those were the days!
- Do you really need a shower? Don’t even get me started talking about showers or beds for that matter! I once traded my shower in for a beer (that same night slept on a shelf in a storage room)…besides, I will choose another workout over a shower any day…yikes!