Never Stop Moving!

Call of the Wild Adventures tends to attract older clients than many expect.  It’s not the hard charging youthful women in their 20s and 30s – they are often too independent to use guided services, have career and/or family obligations, and are still on a budget.  The majority of our clients are roughly 45-65 with a decent chunk of superstars in their 70s.

I was so amazed by these women who were almost twice my age but who could out hike me if I let them run wild (I always manage my trips to a group pace to maximize the potential for everyone’s enjoyment and success).  I couldn’t help myself and with sincere interest and naiveté, kept asking the same question over and over expecting a different answer, a new angle, some special secret…but the answer was always the same.

NEVER STOP MOVING!

These women are not extreme athletes.  None are ex-Olympians.  Few are marathoners or triathletes.  All hike and workout regularly, often every day.  They garden, ski, cycle, walk, backpack…I could go on.  They take active vacations.  They eat healthily but don’t deprive themselves of a treat from time to time.

One such woman is my dear friend, Louise.  Louise finished the entire SPS list of 247 major peaks in the Sierra Nevada of California on her 70th birthday.  She and I climbed Mt Thielsen in Oregon last October which involved 10 miles roundtrip, 3,000ft elevation gain, and a 4th class rock climb ~100ft to the summit.  She’s coming with me on a Call of the Wild trip to climb Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania at 19.3kft. Afterwards just she and I are heading north to Kenya to give Mt Kenya a go.

Louise is one of the most active people I know, young or old.  She struggles with some knee issues but wears a knee brace and has a medical routine to control her pain.  She does not let it stop her!

MC, 54, and Louise, 73 at the time, on the summit of Mt Thielsen in OR

MC, 54, and Louise, 73 at the time, on the summit of Mt Thielsen in OR

Contrast Louise to the average 50yo I bump into who says, “Oh, I could NEVER do THAT!  I’m too <insert adjective here – fat, old, slow, unfit, afraid>.”  It makes me so sad that they have 25+ years of activity left that they won’t take advantage of.

I was further reminded of the power of moving last week when I was completing a full circumambulation of the Three Sisters mountains here in Central Oregon.  It was an amazing trip – 51 miles in 5 days with a wonderful new partner, Kristie around three beautiful Cascades volcanoes.

The weather was glorious, the views were astounding, and we saw no one on the trails.  That is until we bumped into Greg, a 77 yo old man backpacking with his daughter and son-in-law.  He let us pass and we could barely keep a pace to stay out in front of his group.  He was a lifelong hiker and backpacker.

I didn’t ask Greg what his secret was because I now knew the answer…NEVER STOP MOVING!

I was ruminating on this blog post about the power of movement as the fountain of youth, and within 24 hours I bumped into two more examples.  I was killing time before a doctor appt at one of my favorite places to borrow wifi, the tasting room at Humm Kombucha.  I couldn’t help but overhear one of these gentlemen say, “Now that I’m 70…”  My ears perked up and I took a second look.  The fellow on the left, Jack, doesn’t look a day over 50 (he was the 70yo) and his buddy, Gary, doesn’t look over 60 (but he was 69).  They both said they stay active daily and “Uncle Gary,” who has done yoga daily for 20 years and is blissfully married, proceeded to tell me his 3 secrets to staying young:

1. Stay social and get outside

2. Maintain a strong love of life

3. Don’t eat any cow products

Sounds like pretty solid advice to me…although I do love my cheese…

Jack and Uncle Gary at Humm Kombucha in Bend, OR

Jack and Uncle Gary at Humm Kombucha in Bend, OR

I came home with my outline in mind and saw that my Warrior Mind Coach, Gregg Swanson, posted an article on Facebook from Psychology Today.  The topic?  The one word answer to adding years to your life…MOVE!

Talk about serendipity!  The article provided more support for my anecdotal evidence:

There are many theories. First, let’s consider the Standard Model:
1. People who move around more have lower blood pressure.
2. If you move more, you make your arteries more elastic and less prone to plaque.
3. Greater physical activity makes you stronger, allowing you to avoid accidents, falls and physical debilities.

 

Next there’s the Regeneration Health Model:
1. The body is an information system. Physical activity provides a much greater load of information to the body than virtually anything done sitting still. If you walk outside, your immune system must respond to thousands of different—and mutating—bacteria, viruses, fungi and other organisms. It must counter many different chemicals and pollutants. Updating on the fly makes the system more resilient, and effectively smarter.
2. Moving in three-dimensional space is itself a tremendous stimulus to the body and brain, which must coordinate cognitive, sensory, muscle, connective, and skin tissue activity in real time. Just consider what your eyes and ears have to do in conjunction with immunity to keep your body aware—and alive. The biological rule is simple: Learn continuously, or die. The end result is growing more brain cells in memory regions, plus making the brain and body more resilient.
3. Physical activity improves mood, which allows people to remain engaged physically and mentally, and makes it easier and more reinforcing to stay active in all spheres.
4. Physical activity causes the heart and blood vessels to be stressed, causing more and sometimes quicker regeneration of tissue. Most of the heart, for example, is replaced in three days time, and more of it will be replaced from the greater use and material demands of physical activity. Many organs are more efficiently regenerated in activity than when left in a resting state. As a counter-example, sitting is increasingly recognized as an important risk factor to overall mortality.
5. Moving improves the ability to sleep and rest, increasing regenerative capacity overall. Walk in the morning, sleep better at night.
6. Moving causes frequent and ubiquitous hormonal shifts, including increased insulin sensitivity. The latter may help with greater energy efficiency throughout the body, as well as prevent build up of fat surrounding abdominal organs, now recognized as a hormonal gland in and of itself.
7. Increased physical activity leads to more engagement with the environment. That improves learning and can augment the ability to connect with others along the way. Notably, heart attack risk goes down 30-50 percent in British housing estates where people have greater access to green space—letting them move around and meet each other.

 

Source: “The Simple, One-Word Secret for Adding Years to Your Life.” Psychology Today, May 28, 2015.

I don’t need any more convincing!  Packing my car right now to go climb Mt Hood tonight…how are you going to get out and move today?  And tomorrow?  And the next day?

It’s never too late to NEVER STOP MOVING!!!

Can You Sit With Your Fear?

So many of us run kicking and screaming away from fear. We feel it, it freaks us out, and we turn away to go right back to doing whatever it was that was safe and secure, or stay with whomever it was that makes us feel comfortable.

Mountaineering and, even more so now, entrepreneurship has forced me to face my fears head on. And I’ve realized it’s a quality that is not recognized or lauded as much as being “fearless” – giving the impression of having no fear at all.  Being fearless is the AMAZING quality that’s highlighted again and again as valued above so much else in our culture.

Obviously, I’m not advocating running toward an avalanche, jumping out of a plane without a parachute or leaving a perfectly good job without some sort of plan…but if you think about the potential reward, could it just maybe be worth it to face your fear?

Can you sit with fear? Feel it in your bones? Let it give you goose bumps? What if you really examined your fear instead of running away from it?

My biggest fear is financial insecurity. Hands down. I don’t come from money, have very little living family, and have been self-sufficient since the age of 17. I am far more afraid of being broke than I am of anything I face in the mountains or in the spotlight.

The margins in the adventure travel business are low and the business challenges are high (permits, staffing, natural disasters, government shutdowns, etc), and I have not yet been able to pay myself a salary for running the company. The financials are on steep upward trajectory which is great, but there are still bills from the last 3 years to be paid.  My biggest and best option is selling my home which has appreciated since I bought in May 2012 and cashing out the equity.

I have been ruminating on this for MONTHS. Just tossing and turning and flipping the idea over and over. I could not come to a decision because it felt like giving up on part of my dream of creating the lifestyle I envisioned here in Bend.

However, I had an illuminating conversation with my friend, Kevin, when I was telling him about all of my big dreams and goals for 2016 – giving a TedX talk, scouting Ethiopia for Call of the Wild, climbing Mt Noshaq in Afghanistan with local women, and climbing Everest. Selling the house could help me keep the business dream alive and accomplish ALL of those things.

Then Kevin innocently asked me one key question, “What’s holding you back?” I only had a one word answer for him, “Fear.”

Fear of becoming homeless and a ‘bag lady.’ 

 Fear of never being able to qualify for a home loan again. 

 Fear of not knowing where I’ll be living in a month or two. 

 Fear of giving up on my dream vision. 

 Fear of feeling like a failure because I could not get COTWA profitable enough to sustain me financially. 

 Earth shattering, soul quaking fears for me.

But once I uttered that word, “Fear,” as my response, it made me realize that that was a completely bullshit reason for holding myself back from the potential reward on the other side of facing my fear. It became so blazingly obvious what I needed to do.

The wheels are now in motion.  The house is going up on the market. I’m making some last minute improvements and the roofers are banging on the ceiling as I type.

What could you potentially be accomplishing if you sat with your fear and REALLY examined it???