|My kids, hiking with me, Mother's Day 2018|
Now, you might be asking yourself what I mean by that. I've always been a hiker, right? Well, not exactly. I think I've always fancied myself to be a hiker, but never really fully embraced what it takes to be one.
For years, I would avoid hard trails and take short hikes of just a few miles. Why? Well, because hiking is hard and I can be a lazy person when faced with hard tasks. I also wasn't in the best shape for many years, even after I had lost significant weight.
The turning point came in April of 2018 when, after a long winter that never seemed to end, I began hiking and walking more earnestly. This led to me making a 100-mile-a-month goal that I continue to this day. I walk back and forth to work (and now on my lunch break as well) and hike on the weekends, no matter what the weather is like outside.
Of course, this all culminated in my hike up Black Elk Peak after hiking up Bear Butte the day before. This, in turn, propelled me to take the hardest trails in one of my favorite spots - the Westridge Trail at Hitchcock Nature Center - not once, but twice. I also have two long, hard hikes coming up this month, and I can say with confidence that I've truly arrived.
To say this has done wonders for my mental and physical health would be an understatement. All the miles I've put in, most of them solo, have given me lots of time to pause and reflect upon my life. The exercise also helps me burn off stress and steam during the tough workdays when I can put on my headphones and take a long lunchtime walk. Physically, the benefits cannot be understated either. I'm in the best physical shape of my life and my legs are strong. This will, of course, benefit me later in the month when I face two of my greatest hiking challenges - not excluding Black Elk Peak or Bear Butte.
It's a feeling like no other, this feeling of being an athlete. For that's what I am, an athlete. My entire life, I don't think I would have ever thought that I would be one, but I am. I'm a true hiker and I spend my days in constant training - just like an athlete would do.
I'm proud of myself for what I've accomplished, and with how far I've come. The last few years of my life have been a challenge, but I've persevered and managed to come out better than where I was when I started. That's how life is, honestly, I'm pretty sure: a cycle of good & bad times leading to change and personal growth.
I'm truly healthy and happy for the first time in so very long - my metamorphosis, significant.
Have a great week, my friend.