Perspective. Challenge. Change. by jennifer ludington
As I write this blog and reflect on my personal journey through fitness and living an active lifestyle, I CANNOT count the number of times the fitness industry has presented the latest and greatest advice on what to eat or not eat, how to train or not train, how to get flat abs or a six pack and I realize just how overwhelming and not to mention absurdly confusing this information is to me. And this is my business!
Everything changes...that’s inevitable. What I am writing today is true for me today, but I can almost guarantee in the future it will change. I like change, but I also like consistency and a schedule in my daily life as well as my fitness lifestyle. I think aboutall the different modalities in fitness I have utilized, the sports I have played, the stage competitions, yoga, the trail and marathon running, road and mountain biking, hiking, and recently the 12,000 foot summit race I completed.
Conquering challenges is what I do physically but they also help me conquer ALL of life’s challenges. For me facing obstacles that bring a bit of fear to the surface always seem to elevate my awareness about something pertinent in my life. Generally I start with a physical challenge and it morphs into something more expansive; often it’s an elevated sense of what I can accomplish when I am physically AND mentally strong, it can humble me completely in one moment and check my ego in an instant.
Recently, this “ego check” happened on a larger scale. Large is not quite the right word for Hyndman Peak. Sitting at 12,009 feet above sea level and full of surprises the peak forces pure adrenaline to rocket through your veins, demands your mental toughness, and physically requires the very best performance from even the highest level of elite athletes. I was not prepared for this, and combine the challenges with the unpredictability of the Idaho wilderness, weather patterns and the Hyndman Sufferfest dubbed the “Toughest 20K Race in the World” quickly turned into an emotional rollercoaster. The epic beauty of Hyndman Peak actually perplexed me. I was amazed that in 36 years I never fully embraced the astounding perfection of nature; it was shocking for lack of a better adjective. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional high from my surroundings both figuratively and literally. With every step of the last 1,500 foot scramble, I was humming a mantra as the storm clouds rolled over my head and engulfed my senses. The temperature rapidly dropped to about 28 degrees and the wind gusts made you quite aware that you were inching your way along a vertical ascent with a sheer cliff just to your right. The elevation gain was treacherous to say the least and the bouldering and shale scrambling was technical and tedious. Strangely enough I found myself sidetracked and distracted from the race as I basked in the profound glory of nature surrounding me.
I should know better than to have expectations; however, my ego had a much different plan for the race. I was humbled. I was scared. My ego was shattered. I was out of my comfort zone. These were the signs that I was exactly where I needed to be. I finished. 3rd place women are in fact. I am proud of my placing; however I am more proud that I was fully present in the moment when I reached the summit. Yogi’s call “being present” quieting the “monkey mind”. For me its finding peace, tranquility, my inner voice, power and strength… it’s simply moving meditation.
Things change in fitness: ideas and science change, points-of-view, everything changes. And I too have changed my view about fitness. In moments like summiting Hyndman Peak worrying about having a six pack is trivial. No longer did my jean size matter, only that my legs were strong enough to summit a 12,000 foot peak. My “fat loss cardio” strategy had no more value; the only real value was that my conditioning was properly programmed for optimal performance, endurance and oxygen flow. Again it’s all about perspective. We all need perspective once in a while. I find mine on mountains, on trails, in the wilderness, in the weight room, on my yoga mat and anywhere else I can physically challenge myself. Where do you find yours? Maybe it’s time to reevaluate your ideas on fitness too?