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Testing Our Limits (all the gainz)

Yeah, physical gainz are life, but what about emotional and mental gainz though, bro?

Ever heard of the Chilkoot Trail? (If you’re a Yukoner, of course you have.) It’s 53-km trail from Dyea, Alaska to Bennett, BC. It was used by would-be gold miners during the Klondike Gold Rush to get to the Yukon gold fields in Dawson. It was pretty gruelling. (Look it up.) Depending on how hard you push, the hike usually lasts between 3-5 days.

I’ve always wanted to do it. So I finally registered and booked the time. I’m doing it in August.

I’m just a little intimidated.

I’ve done overnight hikes before, but never a 5-day hike. In many respects, I’m stronger physically than I have ever been in my life – which is awesome and that makes me really happy – but my endurance isn’t great… And to be honest, it’s more my emotional endurance that could use some help. There’s a thing in the mental health and psychology realm called “distress tolerance”… and I don’t really have much.

I’m not an athlete. I don’t come from a sports background or even a competitive background. When you say “go hard or go home”… well, I go home. To nap. I don’t find pushing myself past my comfort zone to be fun or even rewarding. When things start feeling hard, I get overwhelmed, I panic, and I bail. These are just #truefacts.

This doesn’t mean I don’t work hard. I do like feeling strong and using my body. I’ll run laps, do planks, climb hills, take a spin class, do deadlifts, run up flights of stairs, plie until my legs are shaking, do 3-minute teasers just because… All of it. But it’s on my terms. And when I say I’m done, I’m done.

But I’m going to try to change that.

Because that mentality does not align with who I want to be and the things I want to be able to achieve.

Like Joe says in the quotation above, “To achieve the highest accomplishments within the scope of our capabilities in all walks of life we must constantly strive to acquire strong, healthy bodies and develop our minds to the limits of our ability.”

So my training to prep for my hikes this summer has two parts.

First, I do definitely want to get stronger physically and increase my physical endurance. This means strengthening my legs and hips so that trekking for 5 days straight doesn’t feel worse than it has to, and making sure I’ve done everything I can to get control of my posture and core control – because a heavy backpack can be brutal when you have poor postural habits and a weak back and core.

So I’m going to keep up with my private Pilates classes with my teacher, and I’m going to maintain my own self-guided routine of targeted Pilates exercises to fine-tune my details, work on the small muscles, and keep my body working as a fluid and connected system. I was initially drawn to the Pilates method by its thoughtfulness and attention to detail and control. It isn’t something that’s meant to be rushed through, and it requires loads of self-discipline. All those things are really helpful in helping me to get ready to push myself a bit harder this summer.

But on top of that, I’ve also started strength training a little harder at the gym… well, actually a lot harder. If you’re following me on social media, you’ll know that this first week of my new schedule has been just a bit savage when it comes to how sore I’ve been for the next one or two days after a workout. While I’m there, I feel challenged because unlike when I’ve been doing the gym on my own for the last while, my trainer is pushing me to do more, go a little further, and take less breaks. And man, can I feel the difference. And I appreciate it. (at the time, I kind of hate it, ngl) I can already tell that it’s going to be super effective. #getthosegainzbro

This leads into the second goal of my training… The emotional stamina. I need to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. I’m not actually going to die, even if my anxiety tells me I’m going to. So I’m trying to learn to complain a bit less and not bail (or cry lol) when the going gets tough. I’m going to try to ‘develop my mind to the limit of my ability’. I think that’s going to be the hardest part.

It’s been said before that the way you deal with discomfort and difficulty in exercise is usually the way you deal with discomfort and difficulty in life. I want to learn to be more resilient without needing to retreat to protect myself from discomfort. That is a skill that helps in reaching life goals and maintaining healthy relationships.

So we’ll see how it goes. It’s not going to be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever really is. And no matter what happens, I will be making it over those mountains and through the forests and over the sand and it will happen. Because it has to. Quitting is not going to be an option. And that’s pretty exciting for me. #ALLTHEGAINZ

Do you have goals for this summer? Are they physical, emotional, personal, professional? What might be standing in your way? What do you need in order to make them happen? How are you feeling about it?

Let’s talk.

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