Lone Star Trail in Sam Houston National Forest

Hiking for Health (And fun!)

Why 52 hikes?
It’s a question I get almost every time I post a picture tagged #52hikechallenge2021. The short answer is that I’m hiking for health—and because it’s fun.

Life had zapped my mental energy before 2020 even started. Setting any goal felt out of reach. We were still very much in transition in our return from Ireland. I was not in a good place—well, except for the new grandbaby thing. I was in a great place about being a Gigi. When Covid restrictions kept me from roaming, what had seemed difficult suddenly felt impossible.

I love being a Gigi!
March 2020. I was in a funk, but being Gigi to little girl was/is enough to make me smile!

The only thing close to a goal that I was able to come up with in 2020 was that I wanted to create space in my life for creativity and community—and that included getting theroamingtexan.com up and running.

After six months of thinking about it, I finally put up the first post. And I only got around to it then because my business coach at the time, the amazing Carrie Wilkerson, called me out because I’d been saying “I’m fixin’ to” for too long.

Have you ever been in a place like that? Where you felt like making plans was a futile act? Of course you have, you lived through 2020 with me!

New Year, Same Health Goal

When 2021 rolled around, I had started to feel as if I were regaining my foothold on life. I have always been a goal setter, a striver. For me, not setting a goal in 2020 seemed like a failure in and of itself. I determined to get (at least some of) my mental state back on track in 2021—I wanted to feel more like me again. To do that, I needed a goal. As “luck” would have it, I also needed to lose weight.

In the the past, I have set big weight loss goals for the year (many times), only to barely make a dent. Losing weight, while important to my health, does not inspire me. Amongst all the new-year-new-you propaganda that shows up every January, I came across the 52 Hike Challenge and  felt the first glimmer of inspiration—the inspiration I had been missing.

New Year + Fun, Hiking Goal!

My thought was that if I were to do something fun, I would be more likely to stick to it than I would an arbitrary scale goal or, blech, a workout plan. I also believe that positive action in one area of life tends to lead to positive actions in other areas of life. Meaning, if I’m doing something healthy for my body by moving it then I’m less likely to overeat.

Lick Creek Park in College Station, TX
#Hike1 of the #52HikeChallenge2021. A local park was a great place to start.

Plus, the rules are simple: You can do one hike a day. As far as the 52 Hike Challenge goes, that’s the only rule. It doesn’t matter where you hike, how long your hike is, or how strenuous the hike is. I set one other rule for myself: The hike has to be out in nature, not in my neighborhood. (I regularly walk with my granddaughter to the park. Pushing the stroller around the neighborhood just doesn’t feel like a hike to me!)

Hiking is as much a mental exercise as a physical exercise. Sort of like yoga. You are able to rest your mind, tune into the task at hand, enjoy your surroundings, focus on your breathing, and in the end, you feel the results.

Grotto Falls in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee
#Hike7 was in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (a free NP!)

So with the inspiration of the 52 Hike Challenge, I decided to join the movement. I even bought a patch for my backpack as a reminder of my goal for the year.

Within weeks of setting the goal, my husband, youngest son, and I all got Covid-19. Then the snowpocalypse of 2021 hit. I’m from Texas, y’all. I don’t drive or hike in the snow.

Some hiking progress is better than no progress, right?

Currently, it’s week 30 of the year and I am up to #Hike17. That means I’ll need to double up on 13 weeks, but that’s doable, right? I think so! Even with the slow start, I’ve dropped 10 pounds. That’s progress!

Royal Gorge in Colorado
#Hike14 was the Overlook Trail & Loop at the Royal Gorge in Colorado. So lovely… and so far down!

I set a few other goals this year, including reading through the Bible. Using the free YouVersion Bible App, I’m on target to complete that goal in about 150 days. (Hooray!)

I also have a long-term goal to learn to surf. This goal is proving to be a bit more challenging to accomplish. First… I need a core. As in core muscles. I have none and haven’t had since 1994 when my first son was born. (I know there are lots of strong, svelte mamas out there, I’ve just never been one of them!) So, first things first, before I can get on a surfboard, I need to develop some muscle tone. I have started small. Really, really small, with sit ups and working on my stamina (thank you, hiking). Next up is to start swimming laps to build my arm strength. At some point, I’ll go to a surfing school. But I figure there’s no point in doing that until I have the strength to survive the lessons.

Angostura Trail in Carson National Forest, New Mexico
#Hike17 – I didn’t get as far as I wanted but I went farther than I’d ever been on this trail. This scene, when you step out of the woods and into the meadow, is one of my favorite hiking experiences.

For now, I’m loving my time on land, seeing God‘s beauty, and getting away, even if it’s only for an hour or two at a time with a hike.

Questions for the Comments

  1. Do you set annual goals or resolutions?
  2. Do you have a favorite hiking trail? I’m always looking for new places to roam!

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