Hiking is kinda a love or hate thing. You either love the early wake-up calls, toe blisters, the totally adorable hiking boots, and dirt in every crevice, or you despise it. There really isn’t an in between.
I, for one, love hiking.
I used to hike maybe once a year with my family to work off all the Thanksgiving turkey and pie, but a few months ago I got way more into it, and a lot of that was out of necessity.
Since I was in 6th grade, I’ve struggled with my body image. I can still remember the exact moment when I saw a picture of myself and for the first time i thought “I look fat.” Before that, I was just a kid who never gave a second thought to how she looked and just lived her life. After that though began a long struggle with self-esteem and disordered eating.
I have always been smaller, and well-meaning people would comment on how I was lucky to be so skinny, but eventually I began to see my body as who I was rather than just a part of me. I saw “skinny” as my entire identity.
I would go through phases of being overly aware of my weight and what i ate, and then i would go through phases where i didn’t really care. During both of those different times though one thing was consistent: i wasn’t caring for myself. In my family we call it “skinny fat” meaning you’re thin on the outside, but you eat like shit and have arms with all the strength of a cooked noodle and probably the arteries of someone on my 600 pound life.
I would only eat when I was hungry, didn’t prioritize eating, and snacked throughout the day, not really eating anything substantial, especially my freshman year of college when i hated the dining hall food with every inch of my being.
Finally a few months ago, my life just started falling apart. I’ve struggled with mental illness for most of my life, and it got to the worst it’s ever been. I was so unhealthy mentally, emotionally, and physically and I decided that it was time for me to pull myself up my bootstraps, dust myself off, and take responsibility for my life.
I took a long hard look at how i was living and i saw a glaringly obvious issue and that was my body. But this time it wasn’t me seeing my body as not pretty enough, not skinny enough, it was seeing it as not nourished enough, not strong and healthy enough. I started researching exercise and eating habits that result in GAINING weight. I started lifting at the gym and actually ended up LIKING working out for the first time ever. Before i was so focused on burning calories that I did workouts i hated, and i would get burnt out before i really got going. I had developed a really bad relationship with working out because instead of doing things that i enjoyed doing, i was calorie burning crazy person.
I’ve gained 15 pounds since i started my “journey” (really hate that saying but it’s the best way to describe it). If back in high school someone had told me that, I probably would have had a stroke. The pictures from back then are almost hard to look at because i remember how sad and insecure I was. If only I had known that gaining 15 pounds would make me the happiest, healthiest, and strongest I’ve ever been. Obviously it hasn’t cured my mental illness but i have so much more clarity and much less darkness. Obviously i still have insecurities but i’m learning to sit with them and live with them, instead of letting them control and consume me. Accept imperfection. Accept being messy and sometimes not being okay. Accept hitting rock bottom and accept the chance to rebuild and change your life.
The me i was a year ago would have never been able to do the things i’m doing now. She would’ve been exhausted, anxious, irritable, and just not fun to be around. Now I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone, allowing myself to be happy, much more secure and confident, and overall just thriving. I don’t get bent out of shape over little things, I can take criticism, and I’m a much better person to the people around me. Insecurity is a really viscous thing. It made me take everything personally, project my thoughts about myself onto other people and what they were thinking, and made me pretty self- involved. The best compliment i get is when people tell me, “You’re different now” because i know that’s a really great thing.
Hiking has given me such a healthy outlet. I’m passionate about it. I love being outdoors, especially in the mountains. It keeps me fit and it helps me set goals and push myself to do and be the best I possibly can.
I’m starting High As A Hike to document my experiences in the place where i feel most myself: nature. I’ll be sharing my photos from my hiking and camping travels as well as tips and tricks, and maybe even some videos here and there. If you wanna follow along on my little passion project, feel free to subscribe!