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Health, Hiking, Me

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago, I was a totally different person. There aren’t that many photos of me from that time because, well, let’s just say I preferred to be behind the camera. Ten years ago was also 65+ pounds ago.

I don’t remember much of my life back then, partly because – thankfully – it feels like a lifetime ago, but mostly because it wasn’t much of a life at all. I remember staying up all night because I just couldn’t sleep during those bleak, dark hours, then crawling into bed in the early morning, staying there until noon or sometimes even until JK came home from work. Almost never getting out of the house, and not for my normal homebody/introvert reasons, but due to crippling social anxiety and near-constant migraines. Subsisting on a diet of faux-meat “chicken” nuggets, fries, potato chips, Pepsi, and chocolate. Trying unsuccessfully to become pregnant, which in hindsight was a blessing in disguise, because dear lord that would have been a shit show. I couldn’t take care of myself, let alone a little baby.

2007 was the year that changed so many things for me, all set in motion by that one backpacking trip to Shi Shi Beach, which I somehow, stepping way, way out of my comfort zone, agreed to go on. (Thank you Tom and Amy for reaching out and making it happen!) That adventure sparked a fire in me that hasn’t stopped burning since. Right when I needed it the most, along came this whole new world of fresh air, jaw-dropping views, endorphins, sunshine, and new, like-minded friends. It got me interested in life again. I set goals for myself. I felt immense pride in myself when I reached those goals. I started appreciating my body for the things it allowed me to do.

Within a month and a half of that trip to Shi Shi, JK and I had visited Mount Rainier, Zion, and Grand Canyon National Parks. We went to Noble Knob for the first time, gobsmacked by the sight of Mount Rainier lit up bright pink at sunrise. Talk about finding a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Slowly but surely we hiked more and more trails, and I lost more and more weight. That fall, I couldn’t even make it halfway up the trail to Poo Poo Point because I legit thought I was going to have a heart attack, but the following summer, we backpacked to Jade Lake and the Enchantments. We started taking adventurous vacations. We got hooked on trail running. We climbed volcanoes. We finally had our wonderful babies and are continuing our life on trail, albeit a little differently these days.

This trail hasn’t been without its fair share of setbacks (or should I say switchbacks?). I still tend toward depression if I don’t take care of myself, but it’s no longer a constant, towering presence in my life. Sometimes, back in the day, hiking itself brought out some of my old tendencies – my big depression problem of not feeling like I was good enough would come up whenever I hiked with a group of faster, stronger people (in other words, most other people). But over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the biggest reasons why I feel so happy in the mountains is because I feel competent out there. I feel like I know what I’m doing. That’s not a feeling I’ve experienced much in my life, especially now that we’ve entered the ever-changing world of parenting (does anyone feel like they know what the hell they’re doing when it comes to parenting?), so it’s more important than ever that I keep getting out there, finding myself on trail.

Poo Poo Point 2017 St Edward 2017

Anyway, this was just a long-winded way to say, well, it’s been a great ten years, trails. Let’s have many, many more.

Challenge, Health, Me, Nutritarian, Pregnancy, These days

These Days | Mojo Rising

About a month ago, everything suddenly got worse, but that was the motivation I needed to get serious about getting better. I briefly considered finding a therapist, but then I remembered that talk therapy has never really helped me before and that we would be better off investing that time in trail therapy instead. So now, a couple of times a week, JK drops me off at a local trail to literally run off some steam on a five-mile loop while he takes Nora out on a dinner date or to run errands.

They like to send me motivational photos from their adventures, which gives me a bit of FOMO but I know I need to be out there.

Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016
Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016

It’s been so, so helpful. And I feel so much better. I get to walk (and even run, when the ol’ pelvis and this bladder-hugging fetus allow) fast enough to get that endorphin rush that I just can’t achieve on my toddler-led walks. I get to zone out to a podcast or delve deep into my thoughts. I get to feel connected to the world again by observing the changing of the seasons. I even get biology lessons, like when I came across these two canoodling slugs and learned that they weren’t eating some sort of alien life form – that blue blob is a tangle of slug penises! Oh, nature.

Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016

In addition to my solo adventures, we’ve gone on more wonderful hikes as a family. We’ve stuck mostly to the lowlands to look for chanterelles, but this past weekend we made it out into the mountains again (that one deserves a separate post)! I’m so thankful that my SPD is much mellower this time around – it’s still not at all comfortable, but it only gets really cranky if I pull a dumbass move like getting up while putting all my weight on one leg. I’m going to give myself credit for this one and claim that it’s because I lost a fair amount of weight pre-pregnancy, so there’s just less weight on my joints this time around. No matter what the reason, it means that I can hike 2000 feet of steep elevation gain, something that would have been impossible in the third trimester last time around. (Also, OMG THIRD TRIMESTER ALREADY WHERE IS THE TIME GOING.)

Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016
Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016
Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016

I’ve also finally starting eating better, moving back to the Fuhrmanesque diet I ate this winter when I felt so good, with extra focus on cruciferous vegetables in hopes that I can get some of the antidepressant effects of sulforaphane. Bring on the cabbage!

Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016
Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016

(Cabbage Rolls from Vegan Bowl Attack | Homemade pasta sauce with vegetables, arugula, and red lentil penne from Tolerant Foods | Mushroom Gravy Tempeh from the Green Cuisine cookbook with mashed cauliflower/potatoes, broccoli, and cabbage | ginormous serving bowl salad using the enchilada sauce from Veganomicon as the dressing)

Oh, and I switched out the contrast showers for straight-up cold showers – Ray Cronise mentioned a study that showed a five-minute cold shower could be as effective as an antidepressant. I haven’t even bothered to look up that study, because I tend to just trust whatever Ray Cronise says. It seems to be helping me sleep a little better too, so there’s that.

It’s hard to pinpoint what’s working, but something definitely is, and it’s likely a mix of all these things (plus some work I’ve done to reframe my thoughts). I expect that things will keep going up and down, but that’s normal in life – I just need to keep working on preventing the downs from going too far or staying too long, especially in light of our ginormous upcoming life change.

Hiking, Me, Pregnancy, TNAB

Date Night TNAB

This spring, I was in the best shape of my life – so far – and when the babysitters, uhm, I mean my parents came to visit in April, I knew I wanted to spend one of my rare date nights with JK hiking with the Thursday Night Afterburners.

I had spent the winter killing my quads and my lungs on the Cable Line Trail on Tiger Mountain, so I was a little bummed when I heard that the week’s scheduled hike was going to be…the Cable Line Trail on Tiger Mountain. But hey, I do kind of love that trail (in a hateful sort of way), plus we were adding some extra summits with actual views, and there would be a sunset and lots of people I like, so who am I to complain.

TNAB West Tiger 3-2-1

I was also 7 weeks pregnant, and if I remember correctly, this was the very last day I actually felt reasonably okay before the worst of the morning sickness began. So it was good timing after all.

TNAB West Tiger 3-2-1 7 Weeks

Being pregnant meant I couldn’t go all out up that hill, but it was nice to just put my headphones in, turn on a podcast, and mosey on up at a comfortable pace for once. Even so, it was my fastest pace ever at a TNAB, and probably the only TNAB where I haven’t felt like I was going to keel over and die.

TNAB West Tiger 3-2-1

The company was excellent, as always, and seeing Mount Rainier adorned with alpenglow really is a rare treat for us these days.

TNAB West Tiger 3-2-1

It’s a little strange to look back on how strong I was back then from my current vegetative state on the couch. I had signed up for a couple of races this spring and summer, mainly to have them as consolation prizes in case infertility struck again, but we lucked out this time! I was too sick to race, but who cares. We have another baby on the way! And since I got into this kind of shape once, that means I can definitely do it again.

Trail time is invaluable me-time, something I didn’t do a good enough job prioritizing in the months after Nora was born. Come next winter, when I’ll have two kids at home, getting some me-time will be a must.

Challenge, Hiking, Me, Skiing, Top Trips

Past in Present

Over Christmas, I finally decided on a my one little word for 2013: present. I tend to waste so much time and energy either dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, so I entered the new year making a conscious effort to focus on what’s happening right here and now.

(Ironically, this trip report is three weeks late. Oh hush you.)

Cold and happy. Also, cold. Perfect start to the new year

Back on New Year’s Day, the here and now was cold enough to freeze your nubbins off. JK and I drove over Snoqualmie Pass which was socked in once again, hoping to ski above the clouds on Amabilis Mountain.

It seemed to take much longer to reach the sun this time than it did on Kendall, probably due to my total ineptitude on cross-country skis, but once we made it, it was oh so glorious.

View from Amabilis

I love days like this one, where the sun is out but it’s so cold that the trees are still snowy. I usually only get one trip like a year, but this season I keep getting lucky. Mount Rainier was out along with the prominent Alpine Lakes Wilderness peaks, which made for gorgeous views. We couldn’t see Kachess Lake this time, but we can’t complain since it was replaced by a beautiful sea of clouds.

JK was there too

Even in our ginormous winter puffies, we were cold as the dickens, so we only sat down for a quick lunch before heading down. I was anxious about skiing down right from the start – see why I chose my one little word? – but I needn’t have worried, I only fell six times. Six times. At least they all happened on the ungroomed part of the trail, so I had relatively soft landings…and anyhow, that’s all in the past now.

Hello 2013

Hiking, Me, Running

The changing of the seasons and of other things

I’m sitting here listening to the rain playing drums on our roof, and it feels like Seattle again. We had an absolutely incredible summer with endless sun and no significant rain from late July to mid-October, but now autumn is here and it’s time to lounge around in front of the fireplace, reading books and ingesting myriad pumpkin-spiced foodstuffs.

For once, the rain was welcomed, as it seemed like half the state was on fire. Unfortunately, the Table Mountain A-Frame burned down (poor Pooperine!), but obviously that’s inconsequential when you think of all the people who lost their actual homes.

Mazama Ridge

In personal news, I’m still trying to find the root cause of my pain problem. My doctor’s new theory is that it could actually be a musculoskeletal thing, which would be preferable to a scary internal organ thing.

I tried total rest, but that didn’t help at all (and it turns out that chronic pain is much more difficult to handle without a regular influx of endorphins), so I’ve been doing easy but wonderful hikes and lots of slow (as if I have much choice) runs. Just in case the doctor is right, I’ve also been doing pitiful, Fondaesque adductor exercises to strengthen and stretch the area in question.

Labyrinth Mountain

I’ve been hesitant to mention this online or to most of my friends, but I’ve stopped eating gluten. I know, I know, it seems like such a fad, right? Originally I tried it because of anecdata showing it might help with my pain problems. Well, it didn’t, but three days after going cold turkey, I woke up feeling clear-headed for the first time I can remember since my teenage years. No brain fog, no headache, no lethargy. I didn’t want to say anything at first since I figured it might be some sort of placebo effect (and I can practically hear the exasperated sighs all the way from Norway when my parents realize that I now not only eschew meat, but also bread), but a month and a half later I am still going strong.

It’s been surprisingly easy so far, but I could see problems arising during the holidays – no Norwegian Christmas cookies? No Field Roast?? No gravy??? No onion-rosemary rolls???? Hnnngh. But really, I would rather feel this great than eat a cookie. Besides, I can still have sweet potato soufflé. Mmm. I should probably do a test where I eat something really glutenous and see how it affects me, but I just feel so damn good now that I don’t want to risk it.

Homeward bound

Due to this new-found energy, I have started running more consistently and really enjoying it (mostly). And…I signed up for the Orcas Island 25K in January! I’m hoping it will keep me from hibernating all winter long. This will be my first race of any kind ever, so the only person I will actually be racing against is myself. As long as I’m not last, I’ll be happy (but, honestly, there’s a pretty big chance that this could happen).

Actually, I’ll be happy if I make it to the race at all, if it turns out I do have some sort of musculoskeletal failage. Maybe my uneven-legged, pigeon-toed gait and crooked back has finally caught up with me.

Sleeping in for the win

So, this was an update of sorts, complete with photos from different hikes we’ve done which I will get around to writing about at some point. I guess going gluten-free didn’t magically turn me into a better blogger…but I’ll try not to let an entire month pass before my next post.

October on the beach