Archives for posts with tag: hiking

The first time that I learned the importance of pacing, I was pregnant. The fatigue was really challenging. I was keenly aware of myself as a limited resource. I prioritized. I still ended up doing a lot but it was stressful and work was unsatisfying in many ways. Then I became a mother and it all became too much for me. I became clinically depressed, got treatment, and took a good look at my life. I was no longer depressed and with time, my energy increased and I was able to do more work than I had previously.

In 2012, my daughter was a teen and did not need my constant attention. I was working a lot at my private practice. I worked hours that I thought I “should” even though I was working more than full time hours during most weeks. I was working at a hard pace and if I am completely honest with myself, enjoying making decent money for the first time in my life.

Later in that year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I learned how quickly daily work schedules can be changed when they have to be. It was incredibly hard. Two years later, when I was done, I was still wiped out, though slowly regaining energy,  not to full strength, but to a higher level than before. I have not returned to full-time work since that time. I work about 80% of full time to allow for self-care.

Lately, I have been literally pacing myself. I am in training for a big hike. I am not naming it because it is a kind of hike and not really a specific hike. I want to increase my ability to hike uphill. I really enjoy hiking but I have avoided certain hikes for decades because I had trouble with elevation gain either due to injury or lack of fitness. I also had a fancy cardio test a few months ago and learned that although my aerobic capacity is better than average, my anaerobic capacity is less than average. I start building up lactic acid earlier than most. I wonder if this has always been true. It may explain why as a kid who was athletic, I hated running long distance and sports like soccer, which seemed like non-stop running. I am from Seattle and as you may have noticed, it is surrounded by mountains. There are a lot of steep hikes.

I am hiking a lot, gradually increasing the elevation of the hikes. I take photos, an activity I love to do, which also provides little breaks along the way. I am learning to hike at my own pace instead of trying to match the pace of others. Uphill, I am slow, but steady.

The frequency of the hiking is higher than before. I am going out 1-2 times a week to hiking areas. Sometimes I hike alone and other times I don’t. I am enjoying it immensely.

I do notice that it is a big difference in my level of outdoor activity. It reminded me of the second summer after my cancer diagnosis. I spent the first summer in surgeries, one after another, three total until the margins were finally clear with a right side mastectomy. At the end of the summer, I started one of many reconstructive surgeries. I had lost a summer of outdoor opportunities living in a place that has some of the nicest summers you will ever experience. By the next summer, I was bound and determined to live outdoors as much as I could, considering that I was still in treatment. We had a ball.

Two years ago, I was recovering from a SCAD induced heart attack and traveling to the Mayo Clinic. Last year, we were caring for my dad, who died in July.

At this moment, I am healthy and energetic, thanks to luck, exercise, healthy eating, yoga, and meditation. I am enjoying what I am able to do with this body of mine, which has been through a lot, and will be through more.  At this point, this pace is right for me.

April was wet but beautiful.

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May has been filled with splendid views and wildflowers!

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Our dear friends, Robin and Nate, were visiting from North Carolina recently. They asked a question about a parking sign they’d seen in Seattle, Robin had even taking a photo of it, “No Parking West of Here”. “We saw this weird parking sign. How do we know what direction is west?”

I thought immediately, “What’s weird about that sign? West is the direction of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains are to the east.”

My second thought was, “Oh yeah. I live here I know the landmarks.”

A life with without major landmarks is confusing. Disorientation is exhausting.

I am at a point in my life when I am establishing new landmarks. Actually, that’s not accurate. I am at a point of my life when I am mindful of the fact that I am in a perpetual state of landmark establishment.

I still think, every day, about the fact that I was diagnosed with breast cancer nearly 8 years ago.

I still think, every day, about the fact that I had my first heart attack (the second, 8 days later), nearly 2 years ago.

Despite this daily mindfulness, these landmarks have changed in my life.

I have been working hard on my mental and physical stamina. I am working hard to have a positive influence on my health. I meditate regularly. I do yoga twice a week now. I have increased my exercise and a couple of months ago, I tracked my 500th meal.

I am feeling healthier and more fit. I have had fitness testing and my cardiovascular health has improved a good deal in last last year or so.

Despite all of this, I am still considered, “obese” with my current body fat percentage, which was calculated in fancy ways. I actually think I look good. But that’s not what it is about, is it? I thought I looked good 25 pounds ago. I started working on my fitness so that I can do more of the things that I want to do and to reduce my body fat, because it raises my risk for disease.

I have used “looking good” as a landmark for so long. For so long, I didn’t think I looked good. For decades. Bit by by, I developed a better body image.

Looking good is not the same as health. I have improved my health in a great many ways. I can accept it if my current fitness doesn’t improve. I will work to see if I can improve it. I will hike, do yoga, and meditate.

I will do my best to enjoy the process, which does not require, at any time, looking in the mirror.

I will do my best to focus on what I can do right now.

Here are some photos from what I was able to do last week, hiking with John and our friends, who happen to be relatives, near Bend, OR. (Note: I appear in none of the photos because I was the photographer.)

 

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