Seventeen years ago I was twenty years old and living in a Seattle suburb. There's hills there. Big ones. I had recently returned there when my brother was terminally ill and stayed so my mom and I could work through our grief and support each other after he passed on. I was kinda miserable. Of course losing a member of our families is one of the hardest things we have to deal with in life. But I was also just uncomfortable. I never was a city girl. I was the weird, "horsey" girl in boots and Wranglers, who had been misplaced into a suburban world. I was also physically uncomfortable. I returned to Seattle after living in Texas for a while. I loved Texas. And I loved the food!! Southern cooking rocks! But my body was telling me I had loved it a bit too much and I had put on a little weight.
So I found myself living in a house with some roommates that practically lived at the gym. Body builder types. One of them encouraged me to go "running" with him one day and I hesitantly agreed. That turned into maybe "jogging" and then "walking" as I quickly ran out steam. But to get home we had to climb "the hill".
As I huffed and puffed along next to my lanky roommate, he said something to me that sparked my motivation. "You know.... if you just came out here and walked up this hill once a day.... you'd be smokin' hot in no time." Hmmm.... I thought about that. Would that really be possible? One walk up a steep hill, about a quarter mile long each day would do the trick? I didn't really believe him. But I noticed that I felt good after our walk that morning. Not just physically, but mentally. Better. More powerful. Like I was strong enough to handle the stress life had handed me. And so a new routine was born.
Each day, before my shift at a grocery store, I went out and made a little loop around the neighborhood that ended with "the hill". Soon I found myself running the loop around, except "the hill". It was still too steep. After a while I could run half way up "the hill". One day I even ran up the whole thing....
After a little while I had to buy new jeans and work slacks. I wasn't really paying attention to the outward changes to my body, but I felt better inside. I wasn't dieting at all and was living on bakery bagels and Chinese food lunches. Ben & Jerry's were my friends. But even so, I lost about thirty pounds and I probably proved my roommate right. I looked better than I ever had.
Fast forward to now. I'm thirty seven and I have had three sons. My second pregnancy was "buy one get one free" and my twins are three. I have gone through the world's ugliest divorce. That's a whole different kind of stress on a person. It ages you. I find myself looking at the last twenty three pounds I never lost after having the twins and wondering the best way to fit more exercise into my life of being a single mom, farmer, blogger and entrepreneur. Then I noticed "the hill".
In my south pasture I have a hill. Close to the house and not as long as the hill back in Seattle. But it's steep. So two nights ago after evening chores I snuck out when no one was looking. ( Granny was helping get the rugrats ready for bed.) I introduced myself to my new hill. I walked/ran up and down the hill ten times. It was enough to get my heart rate up and break a sweat and it felt good. Last night I snuck out and ran the hill ten more times. Tonight maybe I'll try fifteen....
So here's a thought: What's your "hill"? Many of us aren't doing enough to keep ourselves happy and healthy. There's every kind of diet out there. All kinds of expensive equipment sitting is garages and basements covered in dust. But if we just look around there are simple changes we can make to improve our health and our hearts. Taking a walk with the kids instead of staying in front of the t.v. Or deciding to once and for all stop drinking that poison that goes by the name "soda". I hope each one of us can find our "hill" and make life a little more beautiful....