The mountain and me
Six years, countless climbs. Still conquering the mountain & me!
This is where I officially decided that I wanted more out of life than being obese and living small. This is where I decided I wanted it all. And most importantly, I decided — YES, indeed, I could do it!
It was December 2010 when I first met Oberg – a little mountain on Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior. I weighed upwards of 360 lbs (down 20 from my all-time high). I was on day two of weight-loss boot camp when they told me we were going to climb a mountain…in snowshoes.
I was pissed, scared, and a bit defiant when it came time to suit up in our snow gear. Fear took over as I contemplated my first mountain climb ever. I stood there and allowed Jeremy, the young activities director, to strap on my snowshoes because it was too hard for me to bend over and I had no idea how to assemble those contraptions to my feet.
How time flies and circumstances change!
Today, March 18, 2017, I find myself back at the foot of Oberg Mountain Loop strapping on trackers over my hiking shoes. I am alone. I am -200 lbs lighter in load. I am strong, confident, resilient and beautiful. And this time, I am oh so grateful for the trip up what I now refer to as “my mountain.”
I KNOW this mountain. I know me. And I know that I will find exactly what I need today as I make my way up the deceivingly steady incline at the start of the trail, on the switchbacks, and as I make my way around the hilly 2.2 mile loop with breathtaking views.
What I don’t expect is the difficulty of the climb today after a fresh 3” snowfall. It appears I am one of the first humans to tackle the trail since yesterday’s snow conveniently plunked itself on top of crunchy packed snow and layers of ice. The trackers are a necessity. And you have to have your wits about you as you navigate steep snow drifts, uneven terrain and areas of patchy ice. I find myself sinking into the deeper snow in some areas and losing my footing in others. I get winded on the ascent. And for the first time in about 50+ climbs over the past six years, this mountain gives me a physical challenge. YES! This time, I’m smiling not swearing.
Today’s climb harkens me back to 2010 and those first few climbs in snowshoes at 360+ lbs. I remember like it was yesterday. Soon tears of joy and gratitude are streaming down my face. I stop to thank the Universe for helping me find my way — up the mountain and to a bigger, better, happier and healthier life. I thank the Universe for the many gifts this mountain has given me each and every time I’ve climbed it over the past six years. And then I carry on.
I am so incredibly grateful for my health. For my physical abilities and the journey of becoming a mountain-climbing girl. For more than six years, this mountain and all the others I’ve climbed have changed me — literally and figuratively. Inside and out.
I could have continued to spend my life focusing on others at the expense of myself. Running my successful marketing agency and closing my best self off from the outer world. I knew how to do that. It was comfortable. I had a way of being and showing up in the world that had become so familiar and safe. I gave and gave and gave — and then gave some more — at the expense of myself. I worked 12-18 hours a day in my new business and over-delivered for my clients. I smiled a lot on the outside. All to prove my worth. Most others saw me as happy. The fat but happy girl.
But I wasn’t happy. I was hiding the pain inside behind layers of fat. I was medicating that pain with food and work, and I was ensuring that I wouldn’t be alone by giving everything I had to everyone…everyone, but me. Little did I know at the time, I was dying inside this small life that I had orchestrated for myself. That was, until I met Oberg Mountain.
It was on these trails where I learned to push past fear and to push out of my comfort zone. I learned that it was my mind that was stopping me, not my physical capabilities. I learned to cuss like a sailor. And, I learned that I am stronger than almost anything you can throw at me. I am worth it. I deserve to be happy. I deserve to be healthy. And I want to live a big, happy and whole life, not just a busy one. It was here, that I found and connected with the depth of me and what I am truly capable of.
On the 50-some climbs since that first one in 2010, I’ve always gotten what I needed on this mountain. Today, it was a physical challenge and a reminder of just how amazing I am. It reminded me how incredible this journey has been and continues to be. I didn’t do this alone. I had some pretty serious help from God and the Universe. From my amazing tribe – my kick-ass wellness team and the friends and family who supported me. I am a lucky, lucky, lucky — mountain-climbing girl! YES!!
Today, my knees and hip hurt a bit so I slow the pace in the deep snow and uneven terrain. The mountain is definitely giving me a physical challenge, and it feels awesome. I know the way. I know I can and will do it. And now, I like challenge. I seek it. It makes me feel alive and well. It reminds me that I’ve accomplished something truly BIG and great, and that I’m still going. There is more to do. More to come.
I conquered this mountain for the first time in 2010 and I’ve conquered it countless times since. I’ve conquered other mountains, too — bigger ones, tougher ones. And I’ve conquered — or am in the process of conquering — ME. I gave myself a very cool gift — the gift of healthy, happy and whole. The gift of YES! A “Bring-it-On” life. A “What Next?!” life. I am happy living this life even when it is damn hard. And yest, at times, it’s damn hard.
Yep, I conquered this mountain and I am conquering myself. Today, the climb was hard. And I am grateful. So incredibly grateful for it all.
P.S. To anyone reading this who thinks they can’t. Or, it’s too late. I am here to tell you with certainty…YES! You can.
P.S.S. It’s NEVER too late!
Read more blogs about my journey and my relationship with the mountains:
- Six years a mountain climber. Anything is possible! (Dec. 2016)
- From last one up the mountain to the heart of an athlete (Oct. 2016)
- Grateful girl on the mountaintop (Oct. 2016)
- When in doubt, take it to the mountain (Sept. 2016)
- A girl and her mountain (May 2016)
- An epiphany on my mountain (Oct. 2015)
- Mountain-climbing therapy (July 2015)
- Three lessons I learned on the mountaintop (May 2015)
- From fear & dread…to anticipation & love of the mountain (Dec. 2014)
- Hiking! Mountains! Happy! (Sept. 2012)
- Tears on the mountain…an epiphany (Oct. 2011)
- An active vacation, a mountain climb with the sisters! (Aug. 2011)
- My personal journey to climb the mountain (Nov. 2010)