I recently spent a week in Maui. What an awesome trip! And not just because it's an awesome kind of place... I mean, yes, it surely is, but, it was the way in which I was able to experience it, that made this trip extra-special. A turning-point sort of trip. A revelation, a reward. From this trip I gained courage, I gained "youth" and "adventure," I gained confidence, I gained pride, I gained a new level of optimism and energy that will drive me forward. What I did NOT gain, was WEIGHT.
So just what did I do that was ever so inspiring?
1) I hiked in a rainstorm, down a rocky slippery trail (that was more like a waterfall/creek, given the weather), in nothing but my bathing suit and Teva hiking sandals, to visit the Nakalele Blowhole. It's a short hike but the terrain is steep and difficult. The path was out of the question, as the fine soil had turned to a teflon-slick muck that defied any attempt at solid footing - the way down was to "keep to the rocks" and clamber on down. And then awhile later, back UP. The only people we met at the bottom were two 20-something guys, and I will let it be known, I KEPT UP when we all climbed up together. Now - 200 feet of elevation gain might not sound like THAT big a deal. BUT 6 months ago I could not walk up a single flight of stairs without gasping for air at the top. 6 months ago, I might have walked the level-ground to the overlook to snap a picture. Or, I might not have bothered to get out of the car.
2) Snorkelling with fins. Ok, I've snorkelled before - it's not that difficult if one knows how to float and breathe through the mouth. But the FINS, my GOSH. What's bad about the fins? Well, having to put the stupid things ON. It's really really REALLY difficult to pull on a pair of fins, when you can't get your feet near enough to your hands! Which, I honestly couldn't. I gain weight from my double-chin to my C-section scar, none of it goes to the arms or butt or thighs... which means when i'm 245#, there is a LOT of mass around the middle and it DOES get in the way and prevent simple tasks like tying shoes or snapping on fins. So, the last few times i've had the opportunity to snorkel, I have claimed "I dislike using fins! Nope, just not a fin person, me! I prefer bare feet, thanks all the same, I'll just take the mask!" Well 38 pounds of interference have left my midsection, and (while I still might not be very graceful about it), I CAN get my fins on all by myself. So "yes, I think I'll give the fins a shot this time, and see if I like them better than I remember." Oh yes, I like them better :) They allowed me to swim really quite far out into Honolua Bay, where I had a thrilling close encounter with *eleven* sea turtles. It was awesome. And possible now!!!... where it would have been beyond comprehension only a few months back.
3) Wearing my bathing suit in public. Everywhere. All day. I got a "skirtini" bottom, so it's modest enough for random wanderings-about. And so I did. And I do mean EVERYWHERE. I hiked to that blowhole. I hiked down a jungle path (in a rainstorm). I walked to the Iao Needle (in a rainstorm). All around me were other tourists trying (hopelessly) to stay dry, donning all manner of jackets and ponchos and garbage bags and hats... and there was me, IN MY BATHING SUIT. I figure there may have been some pointing and snickering, but I also noticed some nods of approval, like "heyyyy now that's actually a good idea!" (And it is - so what, you get soaked, but you towel off, pop into the car, good to go. You dry out much more quickly than you do in soggy jeans or khakis!). Practicality aside, where on earth did my body-consciousness, my modesty, my shame, go? For years now, wearing a bathing suit has entailed donning said suit, wrapping up in a giant beach towel, picking a choice moment where maybe nobody is looking before dropping towel at the last-second before scuttling into the privacy of the water. BUT NOT ANYMORE. Here I am at a couple points of interest along the Hana Highway:
I feel like I can do anything! I feel brave! I feel fit! I feel young! For so long I've felt just so... OLD. I have mistaken my lethargy as being a "normal part of the aging process; you're not 18 anymore" - I was WRONG, it has nothing to do with my age, and everything to do with my body condition. And now I know, it is CORRECTABLE. I see other blogs here on Spark of people losing weight and running 10k's or going on kayak trips etc. etc., but I didn't really think I would ever be one of THOSE "success stories." But now? Yeah. I COULD DO THAT. I just have to decide what things I want to do... and there is really nothing stopping me. Time and determination CAN and WILL take me places I had abandoned all hope of ever revisiting.
I feel like I've gained back years of my life. Doing these activities reminded me of the earlier days of my marriage, when a good holiday always entailed some ridiculous adventure... backpacking in Denali, hiking the West Coast Trail, climbing to the top of Whatever happened to be in front of us.... I'd given up on all that. I had relegated it to my past. But now I can see it again, in my future.
I turn 48 tomorrow. And I am younger than I was last year.
It's awesome. It's epic. I couldn't be more pleased or proud of me.
Oh yeah, and I did not gain weight. How I managed to avoid *that*... might be a topic for another blog.