Confessions of a Hiker – Inconsistently Consistent

Whether we want to admit it, we all have baggage and struggles. In a recent email, Shroomer (Scott Williams) included a few words of wisdom that resonated with me.

The more I get out, the more miles I put in, the more energy I have for everything else in my life. When I can fill my week with miles, all the rest is wonderful.

The topic: CONSISTENCY

I’ve always been an all or nothing kind of gal, struggling to find balance even when fully aware of the consequences.

While it’s easy to rationalize and make excuses for these inconsistencies, the bottom line is I consciously make choices which sabotage my efforts. It takes discipline to prioritize the things that matter. Since hiking matters to me, and this blog is about hiking, I’ve focused on my personal successes, challenges, and failures in this area. Maybe you’ll find similarities, or maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who consistently maintains their fitness level . . . but struggles with inconsistency in other areas of your life.

I’m most successful with consistency when:

  • I have a deadline

Example: Epic backpacking trip of X miles scheduled in X months

  • The consequence is dire

Example: Must be able to hike X miles per day at X elevation gained/lost

  • I’m accountable

Example: I’ve posted hikes to a meetup group or I have a regularly scheduled date with friends

  • Peer Pressure

Example: I want to be compatible when hiking and backpacking with friends

I’m less successful with consistency when:

  • Life interrupts
  • I’m sick, injured or exhausted
  • I’m traveling
  • Conditions aren’t ideal
broken-chain2

Once I’ve broken the chain of consistency, it is a challenge to get back on track.

My challenges tend to be:

  • Losing fitness level and/or gaining weight means more work and less fun
  • Reestablishing the habit takes discipline and commitment
  • Moving hiking to the top of the list means moving something else down or off the list

WHY are we inconsistently consistent?brokenChain3

It doesn’t make sense, when our brain knows otherwise. With consistency, the rewards and happiness factor skyrockets through the roof. With inconsistency, the heart sinks.

What can we do to improve consistency?broken chain

  • Allow imperfection

It’s okay to take a couple days off, just don’t let a couple days become a week, then a month.

  • Maintain accountability

Have hiking dates with friends and have your next trips scheduled. Meetup has been my Field of Dreams (I even wrote an article about my experience).

  • Plan for the inevitable 

For me, that means if I’m sick, take a couple days off then start walking. When I’m traveling, take breaks to walk or hike, plan travel accordingly. When I’m staying with friends or in an unfamiliar area, make fitness a priority. If I don’t want to be outside in inclement weather,  plan for an inside workout.

  • Reach out

It’s good for us to be humble, to ask others for help getting back on track. Use your friend and family network, use social media . . . Sometimes it’s hard to find our own motivation.

  • Consider cross training

Change is good! If you’re feeling burned out or lacking motivation or the weather doesn’t inspire, find something that keeps you moving. Besides hiking, I walk, cycle, snowshoe and workout at the gym. Classes can be especially helpful during the winter months.

  • Post photos of personal achievements
  • Memorialize Shroomer’s quote 

The more I get out, the more miles I put in, the more energy I have for everything else in my life. When I can fill my week with miles, all the rest is wonderful.

What are your tips and tricks?

Here are some thoughts by others that may provide a few tools to help us find long-term success:

True Confessions

Shroomer’s personal comment hit a nerve. I’d been wrestling with trying to get back on track. I was in search of that magic link in the chain that had broken. I had a fantastic year of hiking and adventure, but the brakes came on unexpectedly toward the end of August when wildfire smoke threw out the cease and desist order (I have asthma). In early September I spent a couple of weeks with a friend who doesn’t hike, followed by another week with family. Thankfully by the time I returned home, I was ready to get back on track. The wilderness was calling my name. I had two fantastic weeks exploring the Trinity Alps . . . and then the chain snapped. I got injured!

The pain was too severe to walk let alone hike. I was down and out. Depression quickly set in. The pounds accumulated. The sizes grew.

I reached out to friends and was offered a change of scenery. That was exactly what I needed. A new place to explore and to test out baby steps that turned into short walks and eventually longer walks. Then it snowed, and I had a new goal. I love snowshoeing and fresh snow and while my body is not healed sufficiently yet, it will be soon and I need to be ready physically. I prioritized hiking and dieting. I’ve reconnected with my meetup group, creating accountability.

I’ve worked hard over the years to eliminate the “all or nothing” cycle I seem to own as part of my genetic make up. It’s easy for me to rationalize defeat when I get off track, but am thankful for the fight I also own to get back on the horse. I’m sure this won’t be the last time I fight the consistency monster; however, it’s reassuring to know I’m not alone in being inconsistently consistent, afterall I share it with Shroomer!

 

Link to more of my posts focused on Hiking and Backpacking Skills

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2 thoughts on “Confessions of a Hiker – Inconsistently Consistent

  1. Thanks for posting on this topic! I get depressed when I can’t hike for a while (broke my toe this summer, e.g) but it takes a while to get back in shape. Hoping I (well, both of us!) keep getting outside through this winter, which is promising lots of rain. Just have to remember I’ve got my umbrella!

    • Glad to know I have another kindred spirit who I can lean on when I need a kick in the hiney. Having a big trip planned for January last year really helped. I’m looking for more early season commitments to help keep me focused during the winter.

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