I did my first interview! Big yikes.
It was a little weird to talk about myself (in writing I do it all the time, but to a stranger?! On the phone?!). It was a lot of fun though, and it has really given me the impetus to get movin' again in terms of posts.
Big shout-out to "The Healthy" for the feature, and Alyssa Sybertz, the author! The title of the article is, "My Severe Back Pain Turned Out To Be A Hip Misalignment."
Read the full article here.
I know I haven't posted in a while, life just got in the way! Remember that time I decided to redo my kitchen myself? Greeeeat idea.
But seriously, I'm happy they featured my journey to get a diagnosis. Don't ever stop looking for a solution! It can be awful, and hard, but you are so worth it.
I've been thinking a lot about next year. What I want to accomplish with Misfit Hikers and with myself. And I've come to a realization that I need to focus less on my weight and more on my goals. What is it I want my body to be able to do? And what do I need to be able to do to get there? When I'm 75, I'm not going to give a shit about a roll (unless it's Pillsbury). What I am going to care about is whether I'm able to still do the activities I love and if I'm still able to try new adventures.
For most of my life, I've set arbitrary weight goals. I want to weight 135 pounds. I want to lose 40 pounds. I want to be size 8.
Over the past year, I've really been examining whether or not those goals are a) realistic b) healthy and c) what I actually want. Truthfully, they're none of those things.
I'm tired of the constant fight with food, with clothes, with the ups and downs.
And so this year, I'm going to focus more on my overall HEALTH as opposed to my weight. I'll still (try to) eat an anti-inflammation diet, and some weight-loss might be a side effect of that, it's no longer going to be the main goal.
Mainly, I want to focus on how I want my body to function and the adventures I want to accomplish. I'm going to Australia in April - how do I do that flight with my back? How do I hike further and carry more weight in my pack? I want to go rafting. And try rock climbing and scrambling. And I want to be able to do those things in 30 years.
So I'm going to focus on building up strength and flexibility through activity (I'm never going to be a gym rat).
But really, though, fuck it. I want my hiking and my cheesecake, too.
What do you think? Comment below or email me here!
I need to be kind to my body. I have to remind myself of this more often than I care to admit. I often get frustrated by my limitations when I'm in the outside world. I want to hike further, explore new and more remote areas, and climb technically difficult summits.
And I can't always do that.
It's my back injury. I know that if I push too far, go too far, I'm going to end up in a lot of pain and unable to get back out there for weeks, maybe even months. And that's definitely not worth it.
I have to do things differently. I have to use lighter equipment. I have to make sure my boots have the right support. That my pack doesn't press in to certain areas of my back - 52 packs later and I finally found one!
I have to take breaks and do stretches throughout hikes, even shorter ones. I need to remember that high mileage hikes two days in a row may be a problem. Heck, even hiking two days in a row may cause a problem.
In other words - I need to be kind to my body.
Despite my frustrations, I need to remember to thank my body for what it CAN do. It CAN go on hikes, and take me to places I haven't seen, deep in to forests. And that there are people with able bodies that will never see the hidden, secret places I will.
And while I may have to take it slow and easy, that's just part of what makes it my journey.
So happy birthday to me - and my body.
And remember, be kind to yourself and your body.
Do you ever get frustrated with the limitations of your body? What do you do? Leave a comment below or contact me here!
This is my favorite hike at the moment. There are parts where I really feel in the woods, and because of the varied, beautiful scenery I like to pretend I’m like Anne of Green Gables, giving unique, totally overblown names to all the different sections.
When I started hiking again, I was self-conscious and had a lot of anxiety about it. I had to go slowly, take a lot of breaks, and the hiking clothes, while awesome, were still more form fitting than I wore at the time.
Plus, I was a fat girl, all alone, trying to figure out how to be on the trails. I didn’t really want to constantly run in to dudes on the trail that inevitably give me the look. Or would say things in a patronizing manner like, “Only a few more miles to go! Don’t stop, keep working up that sweat!” Uh, thanks random guy.
I wanted to take my dog, enjoy the outside, and figure shit out for myself without worrying about what others were thinking/going to do.
And that’s what Sagamore Creek Loop provided…..
The Sagamore Creek Loop Trail head is located at 7733 Canal Rd, Valley View, OH 44125 (Frazee House Parking Lot) and is part of the Bedford Reservation, near Bedford, OH. The easiest way to access the trail head is behind the outhouse, and take a left when you get to the bottom of the incline.
Note: At the beginning of the hike, you'll pass a place on the right where you can cross the creek. You'll do this at the end of the hike to complete the loop - I mention this because the alternative ending on the other side is NOT crossing the creek, but a muddy bog and ending the hike with a quarter mile walk on a main road.
Accessibility: Not wheelchair accessible.
Sagamore Creek Loop remains, by far, one of my favorite hikes. When I first really managed to get hiking again, Sagamore provided the reclusive atmosphere I yearned for, where I first recognized that I could this outdoor thing, despite the pain/anxiety/etc. It’s the first trail I ever completed a night hike on. It will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Do you have an outdoor space that’s special for you? Leave a comment or drop me line here!
The video at the top of this post is how I envision night hiking - always ready to FLEE. As the days begin to cool and the temperatures drop, the sun dips out of sight faster and faster.
And it's *F83king* scary.
I normally hike alone, which as a misfit hiker, already puts me on high alert thanks to the unique hazards that poses.
This post is specifically about night hiking for beginners......who hit those dark and dusty trails all alllooooonnnne.
If you have an active imagination like I do, you literally think the worst the whole time. Aliens. Monsters. There are two reoccurring images that constantly pop in to my head as I'm hiking in the complete blackness of the forest. First, that I'll turn around and there will be someone just standing on the trail, legs slightly apart and head cocked, and they'll be staring at me. Not moving. Just standing.
The second image is that someone will come running full sprint through the woods at me, like in "Get Out."
The third is it will be like the Blair Witch and I'll stumble upon a cabin in the middle of the woods.
The fourth is I'll be walking, and just keep walking. And walking. And walking. And the trail won't go anywhere. Okay, so maybe more than 2....
The dark has always been an awful and terrifying thing for me, every since my father terrorized my fragile five-year-old mind by stalling the car out on a wood-lined dirt road and yelling about how the Gamork (the monster in the Neverending Story was about to get us. He'd then "manage" to get the car started and would careen down the road to our house. You know, tender moments of parental bonding that last a lifetime.
But as the sun fades quicker, I don't want to find myself limited to hiking on the weekends. I want to still be able to go after work.
So what do I do to prepare myself mentally and so I'm physically safe when I'm out hiking alone?
1. Headlamp: I bring a lightweight headlamp with me, and I make sure I have extra batteries. I use the Black Diamond Spot Lite 160, from REI, which was a cheap $26.00 bucks and has done me well.
2. Know Thy Trail: I wouldn't recommend doing an unfamiliar area in complete darkness. Does it take some of the scary fun out of it? Yes, but losing your footing on some loose shale and snapping your neck falling down a cliff will ALSO put a damper on the fun.
3. Choose Carefully: The trails I head out on at night are ones that are moderately difficult, but not crazily technical. As a night-hiker beginner, I only do trails at night if I've hiked them a number of times in the light, after reading reviews and having an idea of the general safety of the area. I also familiarize myself with the wildlife, so I know what's going to be scuttling around me. Why take chances?
4. Cell Phone: I carry a fully charged cellphone with me so I can call for help if I need to, and it gives me a backup light. If you're going in to really remote areas, get a personal GPS - to figure out the right one for you, check out this article from REI.
5. Implements of Safety: get a small canister of pepper spray. I won't link what I have, because it doesn't have a keychain/way to connect it, and I wish it did. Make sure you can attach it somewhere, because the one instance I really needed it I couldn't get it out of my pocket in time. Pepper spray will help defend against coyotes, dogs, wayward hilljacks, etc. I carry 2 to 4 oz. I also carry a small knife. Though the rule of thumb is if someone/something (i.e. Pennywise) can get that close to you, you're probably &^%$$ anyway.
6. Hike Buddy: Make sure someone knows where you're going, when you start, and when you plan to be done. Every. Single. Time. If nothing else, they talk you down when you see crazy *&^% on the trail at night (see image on right)
7. Hiking Poles: I always use hiking poles, especially in the dark. Helps me keep my footing, and has saved me from tripping and falling a number of times.
*Always take your regular gear, too, like water and a map.
Once I'm on the trail, I check behind me at regular intervals (about every 50 feet). I don't wear ear buds for my book on tape, for two reasons: so night runners, etc. will know there's someone else around and so I can listen more acutely. I also keep an eye out upward for any potential deadfall (branches or trees about to come down on my head).
You want to be extra careful during hunting season, that some yahoo poaching deer doesn't mistake you or your dog for the big kill of the season. Be sure to check local park pages to see what's in season and when. At night, consider reflective gear, too.
Some folks like to turn off their headlamps and hike in complete darkness. That isn't me. Besides my imagination, it's a safety issue for me, as I hike in areas with a lot of rocks and tree roots. And monsters that I want to be able to see coming.
If you're like me, and your imagination can carry you in scary, unhelpful directions, have a phrase you can repeat to redirect your attention. I like a line from Stephen King's "The Stand" - He thrusts his fists against the post and still insist he sees the ghost.
And finally, have fun! Night hiking isn't for everyone, but if you're willing to try it, it is a TOTALLY different experience.
I'll be sure let you know if it gets any less scary!
Do you hike at night? Have a good story of terror in the darkness of the trail? Have any additional tips for hiking at night or have a question? Post away or contact me here!
Last weekend I got to try out a new adventure - a 5k, hosted by Hermes Sports & Events. They partnered with Brewnuts, a local Cleveland joint that sells gourmet donuts and beer in a lovely, hipster atmosphere.
I've never done a 5k and wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but I figured something hosted by a local donut shop wasn't going to have runners with the intensity of the Boston Marathon. Plus, you got a medal AND a delicious Brewnuts donut afterward. I've been following a runner on Instagram, Mirna Valerio, (themirnavator), a plus-sized runner who does crazy long runs and looks badass doing it, and I thought to myself that it looked hella fun. I convinced my husband, Bill, and friend Ben, to accompany me.
I knew I was going to have to do the 5k a little differently. I'm not supposed to run, if I can avoid it, due to my long-lasting back injury. That meant I was going to have to walk it. And so walk it we did!
It was a beautiful fall day, and once we got going it was almost too warm for the layers we wore.
- No one gave us any weird looks, and we weren't the only ones walking.
- I got a lot of pics with me in them. Usually, I'm the one taking the pictures, partly because I'm not always thrilled with how I look in them. But one of the things I'm working on this year is getting more with me in them, because the memories are more important than how my anxiety-riddled mind THINKS I look in them.
- For $30.00, totally worth it - got a neat shirt, a medal, and a donut (not the one listed below)
- I got to eat a delicious Dolce de Leche, custard-filled donut with caramelized white chocolate and kit kat bits. It was the best <insert expletive> donut I've ever had.
- There wasn't a lot of diversity in the race. There were a couple of us bigger ladies, but I didn't see anyone wearing Pride Pack (my own term for the LBGTQIA++ group), minorities, or differently abled folks. It was primarily white folks in their 20s, or middle-age white folks with their kids for the kids race. (Note: Brewnuts provides a *very* welcoming atmosphere, and are having a Drag Show there tomorrow, Thursday the 24th (2019). Part of this has to do with how the event was advertised, I'm sure, but there's also some other reasons I'll discuss in a future post after I have time to do more research.
- Hiking/Walking Poles - I'd debated taking them, but didn't. It was only "three miles" and I *knew* no one else would have them (one person did!). I should have taken them. Walking on hard sidewalks and blacktop is more difficult for the knees and back. I could have used the support, plus you get a better workout with them.
- Finally, I wish I'd spoken with more people. I don't normally go out and just talk to people, it makes me uncomfortable. But, I'd like to move out of that comfort zone a little more in the hopes of better community building and making more meaningful connections.
I'm glad I did it, despite my nervousness for doing it differently than most everyone else did. It's all about the adventure, right?
I definitely would like to do this in the future. Anyone interested in joining me to walk a 5k? Have you done a 5k? What did you like/not like about it? Let me know in the comments or contact me here!