For nearly the entirety of my journey to live healthfully, I’ve chosen to focus most of my effort on eating healthy foods. I’ve pored over books, articles and videos about food combining, macronutrient ratios, veganism, raw foods and our species-specific diet. I’ve embraced a raw food diet and immersed myself in a lifestyle that helped me heal my acne and gut issues, lose weight and gave me more energy than I’d ever felt before. Raw foods have changed my life in many ways, but over the past year, I’ve come to realize that health is about more than simply eating healthy food; it’s multifaceted. Though I’ve been on this journey to become the healthiest version of myself for years now, I’ve been neglecting a key part of overall health: physical fitness.
A Challenging Hike Inspires the Launch of a Physical Fitness Routine
In May 2018, I was on a hike at a gorgeous park called Wildwood in California. The view at the top of the hike up a small mountain is stunning, and I should have been thoroughly enjoying myself because hiking is one of my favourite activities. I wasn’t enjoying the hike, however, because, at the time, I felt dizzy, light headed and thought I might pass out on the trail. All around me were other hikers easily making their way up the mountain while I had to take breaks every few minutes to catch my breath. Though I didn’t want to admit it to myself at the time, I had become very out of shape. Eventually, I did make it to the top, and, at that moment, I promised myself that I would start a physical fitness journey and one day come back to hike the same path with ease.
Attempting to hike that day and realizing that I barely had the physical strength and endurance to complete it was a big wake-up call for me. I’ve always been interested in physical fitness and have dabbled in weight lifting, HIIT workouts, running, cycling, pilates, yoga and walking over the years but have never really committed to a regular fitness plan with a concrete goal in mind. I had always thought that if I simply ate raw foods, I wouldn’t necessarily need physical fitness to be healthy. Once I admitted to myself that eating healthy food alone wasn’t going to increase my fitness level, I set out to increase my strength, endurance and stamina through exercise.
A Physical Fitness Program Can Begin Slowly to Reinforce Positive Results
When I began this physical fitness journey nearly 10 months ago, I knew that I needed to start with a plan that would allow me to slowly work my way up to the level of physical fitness that I wanted to achieve. I’ve started and given up on many workout programs over the years, and the trend has always been that I began at a level that was far above my fitness level, didn’t have the strength to complete the workouts, felt defeated and decided to stop. This time, I decided to start with the Couch to 5k running program. The program was easy to follow, and even though I was out of shape, I managed to complete the beginner 30-second running intervals. Being realistic with my current level of fitness and starting very slowly was the best decision I could have made. Instead of feeling frustrated and giving up on an advanced workout program, I instead felt enthusiastic because I was making some progress, however slowly.
Over the months, I slowly increased my level of physical fitness, working my way up from running for 30 seconds to completing my first 5K run. I ended up repeating many of the weeks of the program because I simply wasn’t ready to move on yet, but having this compassion for myself, allowing myself to go at my own pace with no judgment, kept me on track. After I ran my first 5K run, I added in weight training to my routine. I knew that going to a gym regularly wasn’t practical for my schedule, so I ordered dumbbells and began doing workout videos from home.
A Physical Fitness Program Is Often an Evolving Journey
Each day, I’ve made the decision to focus not only on eating healthy but with moving my body. I committed to working out for five to six days a week, completing a variety of workouts that challenged me but were still doable. I’ve branched out from running and weight lifting to include plyometrics, Tabata workouts and other HIIT routines. Doing these workouts has given me a new confidence in my body, knowing that I’m working consistently to increase my physical fitness so that I can partake in some of my favourite physical activities like hiking.
When I began this journey, I could hardly run for 30 seconds, was unable to complete even one modified push-up on my knees, and was lifting very light weights. I’ve now worked my way up to running for 6 kilometers, completing 15 to 20 modified push-ups, and now need to purchase heavier weights! I’ve watched my body transform through fitness and feel stronger than I ever have before. In celebration of the progress I’ve made over the past months, I’ve planned a trip to hike the 180-kilometer Tour Du Mont Blanc, a stunning trail through the Alps in Switzerland, France and Italy, this coming summer, eating entirely raw foods along the way. The trail includes 10,000 meters of ascent and descent, and I know now that I’ll be able to hike the path without feeling out of breath or defeated.
Feeling in the Moment While Building Strength and Stamina
One thing I’ve learned throughout my efforts to increase my physical health is that it’s incredibly important to never give up on yourself, whether your goal is eating 100 percent raw vegan or gaining strength. I began quite weak and could have easily become discouraged, but instead chose to accept that building strength, endurance and stamina takes time and consistency. Through focusing on completing my workout each day without worrying about the time it would take to achieve my goals, I was able to remain in the moment and truly get the most out of the effort I was putting in. Physical fitness, regardless of the workout, never really gets easier, but when we put the effort in, we become stronger, and that’s what really counts.