Healing and Hiking is a reflection of my journey through self-identity, from insecure beginnings to vigorous physical feats.
As a young girl, I struggled with Body Dismorphia, a mental health disorder where I obsessed over my flaws and saw them as much larger issues. I was a thick child and hated my larger tummy and thighs while the popular girls had slender figures and held the attention of boys in the palms of their hands. I remember looking into a mirror and crying because of what I saw staring back at me.
I now look back and realize a lot of my fears started from the subconscious role models presented to society. Magazines, toys, and media all had the common thread of a very specific type of woman: tall and skinny with legs for days.
This is not what ALL women look like. This representation makes developing girls who aren’t built with model characteristics, which is most of them, think that their bodies are wrong. My Barbies and Bratz dolls always had a perfectly cinched waist, long legs and a symmetrical face, things that did not reflect in my own mirror.
I began to hold heavier value for vain appearances, determining my self worth through the amount of attention I received. I valued being perceived as “thin” rather than being healthy. I obsessed over the number on the scale and being perfect instead of how I felt. I did whatever I felt was necessary to stay thin, including depriving myself for days.
Stress and unhealthy habits took over, resulting in poor digestion and mental health issues. I was unhappy and unhealthy. I thought I could eat junk food and fast food when I decided to eat, then fast to balance it. Gorging and starving myself physically and emotionally was a cycle that persisted for years. I felt that eating was one thing I could control. This continued for years until I woke up and took an ACTIVE ROLL IN MY HEALTH. I was tired of always feeling weak, bloated, sick, hungry, exhausted, depressed, etc. I wanted to stop worrying about “diets” and start worrying about positive lifestyle changes, starting with attitude towards food and consumption!
LETS TALK ABOUT PERFECTION
Society puts such an emphasis on perfection. You shouldn’t leave the house without your hair and make up done.
“That’s not lady like” was a term I heard growing up often when I would do something messy or profane. That term now feels detrimental to my inner child. What does that even mean? To me, it feels like it is saying that if you do not conform to being powdered and pressed, quiet, and have a gentle demeanor you are not a “lady”. As if ladies never play in the dirt, swear or fart!
As a child, I wanted to be a “lady”. Tall, thin, beautiful, perfect, successful, respected… they all seemed to go hand-in-hand.
What I did not understand was that being a “lady” is WHATEVER THE FUCK I MAKE IT. Why would I let creepy old men tell me how to be a woman? Why would I let anyone tell me how to be me? Why should i let anyone else determine if my body is good enough? It has been a long journey breaking that mind set, and it is still not over even after 6 years of consciously rewiring my brain!
Being “perfect” is not a real thing.
The mindset has to change from “I want to be perfect” to “I want to be the best me I can be”.
Looking at my body differently has given me the sense of strength and self that I always strove for, but was misguided to believe I did not possess.
Hiking and training has given me a new confidence and appreciation for my body. What were once seen as insecurities are now being seen as strengths and barriers to break.
My thighs are big——————–My legs are strong and carry me up mountains
I am small chested——————-I no longer feel restricted by bras
My stomach is scarred for life——I survived an invasive surgery and came out stronger
I sweat and smell——————–I worked out so powerfully my body is expelling my sins
I swear, burp, fart, and trip———-I am human!
I have used these strong legs to climb mountains I did not think I could climb. I put limits on myself before even trying. However, I persevered. I broke those imaginary barriers I placed on myself and felt an unreal shift in pride and confidence when I have reached peaks overseeing hundred of miles. There is my journey. A finite physical path before me that represents an infinite emotional path.
Getting out to hike and explore helps me step away from focusing in on my own life too much. Small adventures around your neighborhood to take in the beauty of the natural world around you is a great place to start. Maybe take a new way home! Stop by a new park or coffee shop and reflect. Learning to stop taking yourself so seriously is no small feat! We are all humans with the ability to adapt, change, and grow. The first step to any healing process is to acknowledge the problem and to take the steps to take to change. Change does not come in a day, it comes from a lifetime of work and conscious behavior.
Loveland Pass, Colorado, Winter 2019
Continental Divide, Elevation 11,990ft.