This Fall, I went back to school to become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. Fitness and nutrition are a passion for me and I find a lot of ways to relate it to everyday life. I’m currently taking an Anatomy class which terrified me because science was never my forte. Luckily, I’m finding it to be fascinating. The human body is amazing. So many things have to work in harmony to make it work right. Our bodies are constantly changing, fixing problems, and regenerating all without us actually consciously doing anything.
How Our Bodies Work
Two specific things our body does have been on my mind lately as far as they relate to everyday life. The first one is our skeleton. Our skeleton seems like a stagnant thing, but it is constantly breaking down and rebuilding. Basically, it regenerates. Cells designed to regrow bone along with cells designed to break down old bone constantly work together in harmony to keep our skeletons strong. But in order for these cells to go to work, they need a trigger. What is that trigger you ask? (At least you ask if you’re a geek like me). Our bones have to be physically stressed to regenerate. That means they have to be exercised regularly and be pushed out of their comfort zone. In essence, they have to be a bit beat up.
Muscles are similar to bones. When we lift weights, we actually create small tears in our muscles. Those tears heal and the muscles become thicker and tougher in response. So to get stronger, we literally have to rip ourselves.
I could now make a lot of arguments about why this means you should exercise regularly, and I’m sure that will come up in later posts, but for now I want us to all sit in a circle, sing Kumbaya and talk about life. Not really. If you’re lying on the couch watching “Friends” reruns and reading, that position will work just fine.
What We Can Learn About Life
We all lead very different lives and we all have our own personal struggles, fears and joys but one thing we can probably all agree on; life is hard. Sometimes I look at a particular moment in life and think, “This sucks.” Life can also be very scary at times. I know I’m not alone in this. I guarantee you all have been or will be beat down in your life and there are times you have to reach way out of your comfort zone. We’re going to face trials and tasks that push us to the limit of what we can handle. We have to decide what we’re going to do after that. Are we going to learn and grow from our hard times or are we going to let them destroy us? Are we going to face our fears or let them define us?
Think back to the trials you’ve experienced in your life? How have they shaped you into the person you are now? Are you stronger or weaker because of them? What lessons have you learned from those trials and what have you changed in your life because of those struggles?
Think back to the last time you did something that truly scared you. How did it feel at first to have to leave that comfortable zone and reach beyond what you thought you were capable of? How has that changed you?
Climbing My Personal Trial
Last weekend my husband and I climbed a 14er (A mountain whose peak is at least 14,000 feet in elevation). This was the hardest hike I’ve ever done. At first I was over-confident because I knew the hike was just shy of 8 miles, a distance I’d hiked several times. I also was too sure of myself because I saw a hill high up in the distance and assumed that was the summit.
We started toward the hill and I discovered this hike was a bit tough. I was pushing myself but was still able to keep conversation going. We reached the top of the hill and I was a little disappointed the hike was so easy. Then I looked up… and up… and up. I saw tiny specs on the top of a hill that I assumed must be mountain goats and not people. Because only someone insane would climb that mountain. Then I realized, that’s the mountain I’m climbing. That’s the summit. I’m one of those insane people. This small hill is only half way, and it just so happens to be the easier half.
So we began climbing. I’ve never walked so slowly. I assumed I was the slowest one, but whenever we stopped to take breaks, the people around us were going just as slowly as I was and huffing just as much.
Going up, I realized I had to take it one step at a time. If I looked at the top, it felt too great a task. If I worked on going up just 10 steps at a time, it was manageable. When I looked up, I noticed I was getting closer and closer to the top.
The last bit of the hike was basically a series of massive boulders we had to climb up using both our arms and legs to get to the top. The air was thin, my legs screamed (side note: don’t do a heavy leg weight-lifting day the day before a massive hike. I paid for that one for days), my nose started bleeding at one point and my feet were sore. Not only that, but I’m a bit afraid of heights and was actually scared I’d fall and die at some points (good news. I didn’t).
But then I got to the top and looked down. I saw the beauty of where I was and the amazing distance I had come. Even though I was tired and sore, I felt so accomplished. That feeling stayed with us as we enjoyed the summit and the entire way down the mountain.
Now, a week later, I still have that knowledge that I can push my body. I physically stressed my skeleton and created those tiny tears in my muscles so I’m physically stronger. I climbed those boulders even though the thought of being a smudge at the bottom of the cliff crossed my mind several times, so now I know I can face my fears.
Your Mountains to Climb
Life has moments like that climb. Some moments are like the first half. Tough but something we know we can manage because we’ve done it before. We’re a bit uncomfortable, but life lessons have taught us we’re capable of facing those moments.
Some moments are like the second half. We see what we have to face and think it might be impossible. We think we’re not a match for the task ahead of us. But if we take this one step at a time, we can get through our trials and fears. When we take time to have a break and replenish ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually (we ate a lot of jerky and trail mix going up that mountain), we can get through it. Then when the trials over, or when we’ve accomplished a task we thought was way out of our range of ability, we’ll have the confidence that we can do it again or face whatever else life throws at us.
One of the most important things I’ve learned in my life is, I’m stronger than I think. I can get through difficult times when they come my way. When I push myself out of my comfort zone and do something that scares me, I don’t regret it.
You are the same way. I promise you; you are stronger than you think you are. Face life with courage and learn from those moments that naturally tear you down. If you do, you’ll come out stronger that you thought possible.