I also grew up playing group sports: basketball and field hockey mostly, with a season or two of soccer and volleyball. This was not only a wonderful way to stay active and fit, but was my socialization. I loved being surrounded by a like minded group of active ladies, to share the victories and defeats, to laugh at inside jokes from long bus rides, to encourage each other during sprints and drills. One of my first true “a-ha” moments was shortly after I realized that I wasn’t just running as training outside of practices, but that I actually enjoyed it. Devastatingly, I thought I’d injured my knee. While waiting for the results of my MRI, I feared not being able to do something that had come to mean significantly more to me than the necessary training. (Luckily, all was good with my knee!)
Once I hit college, the “a-ha” moments continued with playing club field hockey and running two half marathons (never thought I could run that far!). But I’d say one of the most life changing discoveries was when I found yoga. I attended a free promotional class at a new studio during winter of my freshman year. I remember the astonishing and unexpected physical challenge of the Baptiste power flow, the sauna-level sweat that drenched my clothes, but most importantly I remember telling my mom on the phone, “I just feel so amazing and relaxed.” I had found that yoga high! Less that four years later, I underwent my yoga teacher training and love sharing that high with others!
The last few moments (so far anyways) relate to reconnecting with the outdoors. The summer before my senior year in college I did a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) course in Idaho: 18 days backpacking in the Lemhi Mountains, and 10 days paddling the Salmon River. Talk about the “a-ha” moment you get when you don’t shower for a month and day after day summit mountains with a 50-pound pack on. The fatigue, the sweat and body odor, the isolation from friends, family, Facebook, and bathrooms…all of that fades away the minute you reach the top and you look out over the most stupendous vista. This trip was incredibly empowering for me, and also greatly influenced my decision to postpone grad school in favor of moving to a ski town in Colorado.
For the last three years, I lived the life of a ski bum. Every day in the winter was all about skiing, every day in the summer was all about hiking and trail running. The powder, the moguls, the view from the lifts, the alpine lakes, the mountain tops… Every day was an “a-ha” moment for me. Especially my last year there. Not only did I get super into trail running for the first time last summer, but during the winter of 2013-2014, I discovered the sport of skinning. (I put a sticky/furry layer on the bottom of my skis, which have a special binding that lets my heel lift up, and I ski uphill. At the top, I take the skins off, clip all the way in, and ski down.) I’ve never experienced any sort of exercise high quite like that of skinning, the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment I got after hiking my butt uphill with heavy gear, sweating buckets under my ski layers even as my huffing breath steamed up in the frigid air. I would get to the top, take in the amazing view that my own strength got me to (take a selfie, naturally), and then thoroughly enjoy the ride on the way down!
One of the most recent moments that renewed my love of an active lifestyle was while I was in Costa Rica last year. For a month, my days were filled with juicy mangos and fish tacos, beach running, meditation, surfing, sandy yoga sessions, 8-10 hours of sleep every night, insanely beautiful sunsets…a wholly healthy lifestyle. In my third week, I was out surfing with my instructor. They call the break at this beach “the wave machine” because there are constant waves, even between sets. It took me 20 minutes to paddle out, and that was catching it at a good time and feeling strong! I was catching my own waves (4′-7′ waves!), (kind of) standing up, and having a blast with my new friend as well as chatting to locals I knew out in the water in Spanish. It was afternoon, and dark grey clouds were coming up over the mainland, causing the green of the jungle to stand out. A rainbow appeared, arcing over us. It was one of those utterly perfect moments that just wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t love activity, fitness, and a new challenge!
Can’t wait to see what the next “a-ha” moment is!
I am the social media intern for Fit Approach. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter: @lizwilsonyoga !