And I got proof of that today.
I like to hike. I like taking long walks on trails — especially cool, wooded trails winding alongside canyons or rivers. I love to be out in nature, to breathe the fresh air, to smell the plants around me. I really like hiking in solitary places, where I’m not likely to run into another group of hikers with their annoying children or loud chatter, so I can let my dog hike off-leash with me, running ahead, sniffing around, and then darting after me to catch up when she falls behind.
Unfortunately, I was never able to handle uphill climbs. I always got short of breath on any hike that required me to do any climbing at all. I took frequent rest breaks, often holding back some of my companions. It was as if my lungs just weren’t up to the task. This goes way back — I recall doing a hike at Lake George not long after meeting my soon-to-be ex-husband back when I was only 22 and being the second to last person to reach the mountaintop fire tower that was our destination.
Downhill was not an issue. I can hike downhill all day long. Doesn’t matter how steep or how far. Gravity apparently helps out enough that my lungs can deal with it.
Of course, the situation didn’t get any better as I aged or gained weight. Last year I went for a hike in Wenatchee to Saddle Rock with my neighbor and wound up sending him on ahead because I felt bad about him waiting for me. It was a fact of my life, something I dealt with. But not something I wanted friends to have to deal with, too.
So imagine my surprise when I took a short hike this afternoon up a mountain road with an elevation gain of 350 feet in less than half a mile — and didn’t need to stop once for a rest.
I’d tried the same hike back in the end of July — just over a month ago! — and got less than 1/4 mile with four rest breaks. But today, I “motored” up the hill like it was a walk in the park, passed the gate that was my original destination, and walked another 1/2 mile beyond it. I was rewarded with a stroll through tall pine trees and an incredible view of the valley beyond.
I did work up a tiny bit of a sweat on the walk, but I think that’s because it was still pretty warm out — maybe even in the low 80s. Never really got my pulse going, though. And on the way back (when I used GPSTrack to measure the elevation change and distance of the hike), I averaged 3.3 MPH.
I can only assume my newfound energy — or excess lung capacity — is due to the 32 pounds of extra weight I’ve dropped in the past 11 weeks. What else could explain my sudden ability to climb hills?
I do know for certain that the weight loss made it possible for me to slip between the bars of this gate instead of trying to open or climb it. I don’t know the bar spacing, but I know damn well I would not have been able to pass through three months ago.
Regular readers of this blog might be wondering why I keep blogging about my weight. Simply put: I’m amazed by the change. If I knew that I’d look this good and feel this good with 30 pounds off my body, I would have done this years ago. Or never have gotten so overweight.
And I’m also writing this to encourage other people who are overweight to do something about it. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, there are sacrifices. But the way you’ll feel when that weight is off is worth all the effort and sacrifice you made.
Like me, you’ll feel like a new person. I promise.
As for me, my new goal is only 10 pounds away. I should be there before I go back to Arizona in October. Can’t wait to get into those old jeans stored away in the closet!