lessons learned: choose your own path

This post is part of the discussion series titled The Path to Healthy Living Through the Great Outdoors. The point of these topics is not for just me to just share them and move on, but rather to foster some discussion on these ideas and how they apply in "your" life. We're not sitting around the same table, but we can still have a discussion. Just leave your own thoughts in the comments below, or send them to me privately if you prefer. You'll find a complete list of all the topics at the end of this post.

I do a lot of hikes with different groups from as few as three or four of us, to groups of a dozen or more. It doesn’t matter how many we have, way more often than not, we’re not all at the same level, be it experience level, fitness level or whatever. We each have our own pace. And even when we’re all following what seems to be the same trail, some of us may make stops at different points to catch our breath more often than others, or sometimes it’s just about stopping to take a moment to soak in nature, or take a photo of a wonderful view.

Hurricane Ridge

Conscientious hikers follow the principles of “leave no trace” by minimizing their impact on their surroundings. In the summer, this means you literally are all following the same trail, being careful not to stray off it, potentially damaging plants or such.

But in the winter, when snowshoeing for example, you definitely have more options. This photo is from a trip to Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park. We had trekked our way up a fairly decent slope to one of the first ridges. On the way up, most of us took the same route, following in each other’s footsteps. Heading back downhill presents its own set of unique challenges, and as such the group naturally split up a bit as each person took the route they felt most comfortable with.

When it comes to treating obesity, if you visit any online forums, you find people looking for others of similar age, starting weight, etc. They are often hoping to compare notes, to try and see if they’re losing enough weight, losing it fast enough, etc, etc. The thing is, it doesn’t matter how similar you are, your path is your own. Comparing yourself to others inevitably leads to disappointment and feelings of failure.

By focusing on your path, you will be less apt to feel you don’t measure up, and thus less distressed. You will be better prepared not just to tackle your obstacles, but also be better able to enjoy the wonderful things that will happen on the way.

Hurricane Ridge

Like this view. For pretty much this entire trek, the clouds dominated the skies to the point of barely seeing any peeks of the surrounding peaks. But a couple of us sort of lagged behind the others on the way back to the trailhead, and even though the majority of our group was already back, by taking our own path, at our own pace, we were rewarded with this spectacular view as the clouds broke open for a short period of time.

It’s fine to seek out others on a similar journey, the same way I seek out others with similar interests to hike and snowshoe with. But we don’t compare ourselves to each other, we don’t worry over who is “getting there” first, or get upset when someone is able to hike up that hill faster than ourselves. Instead, we are there to support each other along the way, and hopefully… enjoy views like this, together.

This following is the complete list of topics that make up The Path to Healthy Living Through the Great Outdoors discussion topics. While these topics are listed as a sort of progression, they can be viewed/discussed in any order. Titles will get an active link as they are posted.

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