biking, hiking, life, Personal development

Mt. Jackson – 2/3/19, bike rides, and embracing current reality

What’s up buttercups? Happy Wednesday 🙂

Hoping all of you wonderful humans reading this had a great weekend and are having a good week thus far!

I headed North to hike on Sunday with Laura (the Explorer). We frolicked our way up Mt. Jackson and I had some good deja-vu moments of my recent hike up Jackson in November. The difference? Laura and I didn’t have to break through 1-3 feet of snow the entire hike and let me tell you my hips were uber happy about that.

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Laura and her pup enjoying an already broken out trail

This is my first hike since a jaunt up Mt. Tecumseh December 16th, so a month and a half!  Reality check: 1.5 months isn’t THAT long, and there isn’t anything wrong with a break.

It felt really goon on many levels to be back hiking in the mountains. Jackson in particular feels like home a little bit inside as it was my first 4000 footer, and a regularly repeated summit. The more I hike, the more I become in love with the HIKING more than the SUMMITING. Summits are stellar and gorgeous and feels like a pat on the back. But, hiking, the whole process of base to summit, that’s where the magics located.

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Stellar summit views

It feels as if I didn’t even take time off, I think because I love it so much. I was able to just do other things with my time and know that I would get back hiking when the bod was ready and that the world would be ok. Going to use my experience of six stress fractures from mainly my teen years to say how I was able to calmly not fully lose my shit when I could barely walk for two weeks because of the hip in mid-December. I said fully lose, there were most definitely some minor meltdowns sprinkled in.

In a way, this all feels like I’ve been taking an off season per se. This is a topic I’ve been placing some solid mental energy on lately – rest and cycles of rest. As a previous competitive jump-roper that had an off season, a weightlifter that cycled programming and rest weeks, and a biker that heads out for less miles in the winter months than summer –  hiking is the thing that wasn’t being cycled. While summer might have more aggressive miles from time to time, winter places different stressors on the body (e.g thermoregulation, the trail warrants different muscles to be utilized, heavier pack, ect.).

If we pull it back a notch:

The moon has phases

There are seasons

Us ladies have cycles

ect. ect.

While I feel like a total badass hiking a ton in the winter, I’m choosing to keep it dialed back a level for the next few months. Historically I’ve found where some hikers love and prefer winter hiking, I dig it but my body hates it. I forced it last year and felt sore/pain (in not normal ways) more often than not. And, you know what, doing something that my body doesn’t feel good doing just isn’t worth it for me anymore. Longevity > instant gratification at this point. Total trial and error learning process. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE hiking, thoroughly enjoy pushing my limit and have since I was about 4 years old, and heading to the mountains for the sake of wandering in the forest feels so deeply right… It has changed my life trajectory, provided me so much space for healing, and allowed me to develop a new relationship with my being and grow new friendships. I wouldn’t trade it for the damn world.

And, that’s the thing. Pushing through body signals because I want/need to hike isn’t worth it for me right now. I would rather hike less in the winter and allow my body time to just be a human and sleep a little more, do a little less physically, and then be out in the mountains multiple times a week Spring through Fall, than push push push year-round but always feel sub-par, or get injured and have to take indefinite time off. Been there, done that, over it.

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One pre summit view

As someone who used to workout 2-3 times a day 6-7 days a week, being able to take a moment and evaluate where I’m at, what my body is telling me, and re-navigate to be able to heal whatever niggle my hip was getting is really awesome. The fact that I used to just push through pain until I ended up with a stress fracture, other injury, or taking time off and subsequently using super unuseful coping mechanisms, and I just took 6 weeks “off” where I spent most of my time working on personal development, other areas of my life, and enjoying some walks and solo yoga sessions (hi, #misophoniaproblems)… Well, it feels really good inside.

Progress is a process but it’s so worth the potholes and speed bumps.

In other news, I rode the bike Monday and yesterday as both days were in the 50’s here in New Hampshire and let me tell you it was magical. Biking was one of the things that seemed to be highly pissing off the hip, and after the last two days I’m happy to report that things are feeling light-years better than mid-December, but there’s still a niggle and that’s my cue to dig a little deeper into what’s really going on.

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Bike ride ft. lots of snow melt and a soaked tush

What’s “cooler” than being able to hike and bike is that I’m not finding myself in a position where I feel like I need to do them all the time right now. I enjoy both… they bring me joy, smiles, friendships, understanding, and fulfillment. No longer do I need to work out obsessively, do all the things all the time, or be a badass as a means to make myself feel better.

I’m finding more and more that my intentions for my life are shifting. The shift in a way parallels what I’ve been actively doing or taking action on the past couple of years but I’m now feeling it, gravitating towards it, pursuing it.

My primary intention is to live in a way which supports my being physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Yeah, that means I forfeit or give up or sacrifice some winter hikes, winter bikes, hours which could be spent being “productive” for sleep, eating a little more when I’m hungry because I realize it’s my tendency to under eat when stressed, do all the self-care when my mindset is there and accept that it’s totally kosher when I need a nap to escape the world or need two therapy sessions in a week to not explode internally.

The whole personal growth game ain’t always sunshine and rainbows.

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Jackson summit. Frozen, happy, and okay with the world

Moving from a fear-based, emotionally driven, auto-pilot way of living to a place where intention, mental space, overall health, and healing are the main focus – IT IS INCREDIBLY TERRIFYING.

Realizing this – the fear behind changing my ways in order to support myself vs. support my fears, to adapt and accept, to just go with what feels good and ditch what needs to be ditched for now as now doesn’t equal forever.

It feels a lot like past experiences.

IT IS TERRIFYING to adapt and accept, to ebb and flow.

But, with this experience right now I’m reminding myself that I’m in remission from an eating disorder, I got my period back naturally after losing it for three years, I competed in jump rope with hip dysplasia, I almost have a college degree with misophonia where my main trigger is typing.

I’m going to keep keeping on and keep keeping it real.

Life can suck.

It can also be incredible amazing.

Sometimes, these are just facts, and other times… it’s how we view the hand we’ve been dealt during a certain time.

My currently reality doesn’t equal my worth, it doesn’t mean I can’t hike this summer which historically goes much much much better than winter, and it certainty doesn’t mean I can’t look at the positives of not being able to do what I love as much as I’d prefer to.

It just is.

I respect myself enough at this point in my life to understand and accept that it just is what it is and to work with this.

Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.”  — Robert Holden

XO,S

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Uncategorized

These are a few of my favorite things

Hey folks!

It’s been a while since I’ve shared my “recent faves” or things I’ve been uber digging lately. Today is the magical day where I spill the beans. Also, to be real, I wanted to share a more lighthearted post between you save yourself part 1 and part 2 (up later this week/weekend).

For the most part, everything in this post is new to me within the past six or so months. I’m excited to share with y’all the random things I’ve been loving as of late. Let’s get going.

Acupressure mat

My friend Lindsey “lawn” suggested this when I was dealing with a major hip flare up about two months ago. She allowed me to borrow hers for a couple days and I fell in love enough to purchase my own. Acupressure mats have a bunch of small circular dots with spikes on them. They provide nervous system stimulation without any skin perforation. I’ve been laying on this a few nights a week for 20-30 minutes whilst listening to music or podcasts.

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Roll on essential oil

From Etsy. This one: “liquid xanax”, while definitely not Xanax, it has a mellow scent/helps me to relax.

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Unicorn notebook

I needed a notebook for making notes and jotting down each golden nugget my brain has related to some upcoming new adventures. It surely doesn’t hurt that it’s my dang spirit animal. For the record, unicorns were my spirit animal before they were cool. Also, I prefer the term “mountain unicorn”, because, well, I climb mountains on the reg.

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Walking

Previously I’ve underestimated the power of going for a walk. Walking is simple, easily accessible where I’m living, and provides outdoor experience and fresh air. I prefer trail over road walking but have recently been partaking in both. Below is a picture I took on a recent trail walk of a (mostly) frozen pond.

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Essential oils via diffuser

Health shield = wonderful scent. It’s a mix of cassia, clove, eucalyptus, lemon, and rosemary. Creative juice is another fun one I like to diffuse in the morning. Lavender is my go-to when my brain needs a chill pill and I’ll often have this going when laying on the acupressure mat.

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CBD (aka cannabidiol)

Another round of before it was cool… similar to the unicorns. I began testing out CBD a few years ago, both topically and orally and have found it beneficial for my own body. Recently I came across Pure Kana and dig the flavors as my taste-buds and olfactory receptors don’t prefer the more earthy taste/smell. I also dig that the company uses CO2 extraction and is 3rd party tested/they are transparent with test results (KEY for supplements).

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Hiking/outdoor-related books

Now that I’m done school with the exception of my current six week course, I’ve been enjoying more “for fun” reading.

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“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.” ― Agatha Christie

XO,S

Eating disorder recovery, Personal development

You save yourself (part 1)

Hey all! Happy Sunday (eve)!

I hope your weekend went well! Overall it’s been rather uneventful here… we were in the line of storm Harper but received only about 5″ of snow and then it sleeted for hours but the power stayed on and everything is cleaned up – grateful for this.

*I’m going to throw a disclaimer on this post because it does contain potentially triggering content for those in recovery/dealing with/recovered from an eating disorder/other mental illness. This post is a positive focused view of my personal experience, but could be difficult for some, so please read with your own well-being in mind ♥ *

I came across a quote the other day that got me to thinking, and I couldn’t help but write a post on all of these feels.

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” ― Carl Gustav Jung

THIS.

THIS.

THIS.

I have been having a lot of internal dialogue lately, about my remission and recovery process, my current life, and the goals I have for myself both in the present and moving forward.

For anybody that is new to my blog, welcome! Thank you for stopping by. I very much appreciate your “click” to my neck of the woods internet.

I’m going to be blunt and factually oriented for a hot second:

I began to develop anorexia nervosa at age 11. I stopped competing nationally in jump-rope at age 12. These two were most definitely intertwined. Middle school and high school were a series of ups and downs – I was “stable”, “unstable”, and a mix of the two in an almost cyclical pattern. I graduated high school, took a year off to explore the realm of adventure racing – something that made me feel alive and stoked about life rather than stoked about my destruction. I started community college in May 2012, relapsed in October 2012 following three simultaneous stress fractures, entered another form of treatment which I finished in May 2013, transferred from community college to the university I’m at now in January 2015, began hiking in July 2016, experienced the first injury I didn’t subsequently relapse after in April 2017, changed my major, finished some major hiking “list” in September 2018 (huge deal as I have an uber fear of commitment), and am currently about to wrap up my degree and am pursing a career in which I help people 1. overcome the fear/shame/guilt, 2. realize their own potential to be their best self, and 3. support them on this journey.

So, HEY, I’m Sarah (insert waving emoji here)

I experienced shame, guilt, fear, uncertainty, and discomfort in who I was as a person starting around age 9/10. These are common feelings for the pre-teen/teen years. For me, these feelings led to a habitual path of self destruction. I felt like I had power when I destroyed myself. After all, I controlled this. The degree to which I annihilated my own being was entirely up to myself. This lasted through, well, today. And it will continue to last because we are all in control of how much we a. destroy ourselves, or b. take care of ourselves.

I used to feel a sense of power by taking myself out.

I thought I was winning. Doing it right. All the balls were in my court.

Today – that neurological connection is still there, but it’s deep down (or far back) in my brain. It rarely comes to the surface in my day to day life. And, when it does, it often goes away as quick as it came because it no longer serves me.

What made a difference? How did I flip-flop from option a to option b? I recognized that destroying myself was not helpful and SLOWLY began the process of less maladaptive behaviors and more healing practices. I accepted and acknowledged fully that I wanted to do everything in my power to not resort to these coping mechanisms which fueled my life, actions, behaviors, thoughts for a decade. Most importantly, I gave myself permission to mess up. Unconditional permission and acceptance.

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I’ll never be a 100% person. Maybe you are, and that’s okay. Maybe you’re like me, that’s okay too. I don’t “do” cold turkey. It F’s me up. I feel even more shame and greater senses of failure. I always end up thinking about the thing that I’m trying to not think about which then makes me think about it more and I end up finding myself waist deep in a relapse, on an 38 day stretch of exercise with no day off, or bobbing in the middle of whatever other maladaptive coping mechanism I’m trying to avoid at all costs. Cold turkey takes me out hard.

I’m a 5 step forward, 1 back, 2, forward, 3 back, 4 forward type of person. This works for me. It’s not only how I approach my mental health, it’s how I’ve learned to approach life.

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It has taken me approximately 5 years to understand/acknowledge/accept this. And for what it’s worth – I needed it to take 5 years, or at least not just a year… because it now feels natural. Practice makes “perfect” my friends.

I remember I constantly either felt like a failure in treatment or that I was absolutely killing it. The latter was when I was using my ED behaviors, but being oh so incredibly manipulative that nobody actually knew. Or, at least I felt like this, I’m sure they knew or had inklings at a minimum. The failure part was harder to swallow. For the bulk of my existence, even when my life was a “shit sandwich”, I was high functioning. So, going into treatment, somehow magically on my own terms, and then feeling like I sucked royally at at – well this was a new form of torture.

In hindsight, I didn’t suck at it. I also hate that I felt it normal to assign adjectives associated with my ability to be “good” or “bad” in treatment and recovery for so long. If I was a 100% person, then yes, by definition, I “sucked” (please note all possible sarcasm here folks). But for me, for my personality type, for what has historically worked for my being – I kept on keeping on. I had my bad days, my slips, my moments of being ready to throw up the peace sign and say “I’m done, never coming back, and going to live my life with a raging ED”. But, despite all this, I went back. I cried (a lot). I yelled (even more). I got angry (very often).

I remember feeling guilty for my actions and shameful for my anger, almost that something was wrong with me. I told myself daily to just keep going, keep pushing, keep challenging myself, and to focus on recovery and living the “recovering life”. What I never realized that the story I was telling myself on repeat was harmful to both my recovery process and also my overall well-being. What we resist persists. I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, and for this scenario it couldn’t hold more truth. I resisted the changes that were necessary. I felt like if I lived in a way which matched what people who are in recovery looks like, that I would eventually find myself recovered. Because apparently my mind had this pre-determined “image” of what I would/should be like as the former anorexic/exercise addicted now recovered Sarah?

BULL FUCKING SHIT.

My intention entering treatment was to get to a place where I could feel happy, myself, and live the life I always dreamed of. I began with the belief that if I simply did what I was told, then I would get better. It’s so much more than this. And, I didn’t realize this until about three years ago.

It’s the process. It’s the story we tell ourselves. It’s our choices – both on a macro and micro level. It’s how we think and feel about how we think and feel. It’s whether or not we can forgive and accept our own being. It’s whether or not your trust yourself, and I mean REALLY TRUST YOURSELF (aka your soul).

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Maybe you can’t go a day without the internal dialogue or picking on yourself to your peers. But, do you recognize this? Maybe you still weigh your food in recovery. How does this affect you? Is it negative or is it beneficial (not for secretly maintaining your ED but for your health/eating enough because your hunger cues are screwed up in the short term)? Maybe you workout. Is it to burn calories or to be the strongest version and physically support yourself ? Maybe you have to wiggle your way our of certain obligations. Is it because you “can’t” do it or because you are protecting yourself?

You see, the scenarios are there. The stories are endless. The intention is what matters.

Most things in life can be faked, at least to a degree.

I did it.

I faked the “recovered” thing for a while. From about fall of 2013 through summer 2016 I pulled off the “I’m good, have my slips, but I’m good”.

YES, I was good by the books. My BMI (don’t get me started) was “healthy”. I got my period back during this time frame. I didn’t work out excessively. I was doing well in school and maintaining a job, social life, and seeing a therapist. I was good right?

NO.

In my now 25 years of life I can firmly say my mental health was the worst it’s ever been from Fall 2013 to Summer 2016.

So, this is part one. To be continued. Sorry not sorry kiddos but this post is long and I want you lovely humans out there reading it to think on it, take it in, absorb and ponder. Be with your thoughts. Perhaps this resonates with you, makes you think of a friend/family member, or you totally don’t connect with me on this stuff – whatever the case – be a sponge to whatever in here you can take away.

I’ll post part 2 next by weekend, it’s in the the works but I want to “give it my all”, aka I want to be as real and as present as I can.

“Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story.” — Cheryl Strayed

XO, S