It is far too easy to think up reasons to take any outdoor adventure – or even a simple nature walk. The weather is bad. There are no mountains nearby. The trails are closed.
However, there are a number of reasons why these obstacles should not get in the way.
I’ve always wanted to hike the entire John Muir Trail – so much so that I’ve made a pact with the co-founder of my last company to make it together. At that time, we worked incredibly hard and knew we had to pull the plug. But a few days after we sold our company to Google, I was hospitalized with unexpected chest pain after driving a 10K.
My friend continued the hike without me, and I was taken in by the wake-up call I just had. My dad had his first heart attack at the age of 45, and I was quickly 37, with the newly discovered decision to change my health.
This life-changing event made it clear to me that it was time not to wait for the perfect moment to go outside and live a better, healthier life. It was time to get out and move.
Although I have not graduated from the John Muir Trail yet, I have turned my life around and stopped using the excuse of “busy life” to not be as healthy as I should. It’s no excuse that I use because it just can not be.
Healthy life and mountains – you have more in common than you think
My health scare has moved my life in a completely new direction. In the following years, I put more exercise and healthy eating into my routine, lost 40 pounds, and ran three marathons. But this trip was only possible because I got up from the couch and went outside.
Being outdoors is an inspiration to me. It gives me space to think about and the open air allows my mind to free where it needs to be. But that does not mean that it’s always easy to find the time to be outside. Many obstacles would have left my decision to gain time, perhaps nullified, for example, to have a massive workload and to be part of a job that was not built on the mission of a healthy life.
However, part of health is overcoming such personal challenges and obstacles. Being outside is a reminder of who we are and reminds us to always find the best way to be healthy for ourselves. This is what it means to be health-literate – constantly learning and working towards progress (not perfection) and making proactive decisions (not passive).
There will always be a mountain to climb, just as there will always be ways to become healthier and better versions of ourselves. Both take work and both could not be more valuable. Follow these steps to identify any obstacles that stand in your way and break them to get up, step out and live a healthier life.
When I started working towards a healthier life, I was not sure I could sustain it. Instead of taking a cold turkey, I made sure my achievements were counted.
For example, if I had turned three meetings in one week and five the next week into outdoor walks, that would be a huge improvement. Setting small goals and constantly raising expectations helped me develop an active lifestyle until it became a matter of course.
Put perfection aside.
There will always be people who can walk or run faster. For this reason, comparing one trip with another is not a success factor. Even if I ran a day slower than normal or did not get out for a week as often as the week before, it’s still a lot better than never getting outside to move at all.
A healthy lifestyle is about progress and endurance. Remember that the walks are completed gradually. Planning only matters so much. Commit yourself to the process and use the work to complete the rest.
Follow the journey.
Before focusing on health, I decided to go for donuts and cookies every day and skip the training. I thought I was young and could focus on health later. Now my priorities are very different. A day with A fast company.
We should always remember the person we used to be and the person we want to move forward. Then when it gets difficult, we can look back to the “before” and see how far we have come.
See the good.
When days or months pass without seeing progress, it can be easy to get discouraged. As a remedy, I remember that I do not fail if I actively seek. As life progresses, I remember improving myself instead of getting negative thoughts out of control.
The way forward is always to keep trying. Health literacy is about learning, not perfection. There are more and more mountains to climb or things to learn, so go outside and discover them. They are getting better and stronger. Who knows – maybe you even wander the way you’ve always dreamed of.