Wellness Wednesday: Project Meru

I have a finely tuned ability to talk myself out of anything remotely interesting. It’s very easy to stay with what is comfortable. Making a change, well, that is hard. And I’ve found personally speaking, trying the whole “make little changes every day” with no goal in mind doesn’t ever really cut it. I need to make a big dramatic decision, commit to it, and then figure out what small series of changes need to take place in order to make it happen.

Case in point: I like hiking. I’d like to do it more, especially since we live in such a great area for it. The dogs would love it too. But do I do it? No, because that takes planning and I never get around to it.

And yet I decided, when I’m in Tanzania again in June for a World Vets trip, to tag along with our team leader Dr. Teri as she- and now I- tackle Mt. Meru, Tanzania’s second-highest mountain after Kilimanjaro.

Do I camp? Not really.

Do I hike? Occasionally.

Do I know anything about hiking and camping at altitude? Nope. So why would a person who really doesn’t do much backpacking decide to make their inaugural wilderness adventure a 14000 foot slog on another continent? Well, if you must know, my dad called me a wimp all the time when I was a kid, and I’ve spent the last several decades trying to prove him wrong.

There’s other reasons, too. I spent the first five years after I had my first child falling down that sinkhole of taking care of everyone in the family except myself- a story I know I am not alone in- and I was terribly unhappy about it. I didn’t want to be unhealthy, didn’t want to set that example for my kids, and wanted them to know they should value themselves and those around them enough to make healthy choices.

Having a dog, by the way, is a great motivator for this sort of thing. They don’t walk themselves, after all, and they are just SO DARN EXCITED about going for a walk it’s impossible for it to not rub off at some point. Brody played a great role in helping me stick to a routine. I had to. If he didn’t get exercise he’d eat furniture.

So why not take it a few steps further? I figure I have a good 10 more years where cold long hikes with no showers sound appealing and I might as well take of advantage of it while I’m youngish enough to be able to recover from any damage I do. And that is how I wound up here, not a lifelong outdoor enthusiast, not an elite athlete, but a mom of two young kids who decided to do something big to show that even us run-of-the-mill, suburban-dwelling, dog walking, Starbucks loving, reality-TV-watching types can achieve something way out of our comfort zones if we’re willing to take a risk.

Now, making a decision like this is admittedly standing on the razor sharp precipice between brave or stupid, depending on how you look at it. I’ve researched the climb enough to realize it’s certainly within the range of possibility for me to manage, as long as I prepare well. And fortunately for me, I have a willing cohort who is happy to be a hiking buddy / mountain lion deterrent.

Brody and I will be working on our endurance together over the next 2 months, and although he won’t be able to come with me on the culmination of all the preparation, I consider his support an integral part of my training program. (As much as I love Koa, I know her fitness level and her age make her unsuitable for strenuous exercise, so she’ll continue her more age-appropriate gentle walk regimen.)

I’ll be talking about the hikes itself, the gear we end up using, and any health concerns for him or for me that pop up along the way. Hopefully some of you who are also venturing out into the blossoming spring will jump in with your own stories or advice and it can be a team effort! Trust me, I’ll need all the pep talks I can get.

Day 1: It's all fun and games at sea level.

And off we go on an adventure!


Filed: Adventures, Blog, Fit Life, Health Tagged: , , ,
  • Vonny

    Go for it. You know how disappointed in yourself you will be if you don’t do the training so that you can attempt this hike. You may not complete it, but it better not be for lack of training. You have about 10 weeks. Start.

    Yes, I should take my own advice. I have faith in your determination Dr.V.

    • Thank you- you’re right, if I prepare the best I can then I won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen, because it will be out of my control. As opposed to if it doesn’t happen because I dropped the ball.

  • Sue W.

    Ah, so jealous! You are a shining beacon of inspiration! I will continue to tackle walking around the block.

    • My aunt has MS, and to see how much determination she has to do something like walk around the block puts me to shame. She’s amazing.

  • Cappy

    Go take a weekend and hike in and around Denver. That will start you on altitude hiking.

    From another resident of sea level but on the other coast…

    • Hmm, my friend Susi is out there. Maybe I should show up uninvited. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Rose D.

    You are awesome! Sometimes the best motivatior is something BIG! So yay you!!

    • I have to have a big carrot or I won’t go chase it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Cathey

    You are my HERO! Though I think you may doubt it, you are constantly jumping off the “cliff” into the unknown – you are truly an inspiration. I think, partly because of your doubts, I feel like I can “jump” too! I can’t wait for your June posts!

    • Aw, thank you. I appreciate that, a lot.

  • This is so awesome!! My dogs definitely keep me motivated to go jogging because they love it so much!! They don’t seem to act any different when they do or do not get exercise a lot, but it’s a fun thing we can do together!! I just wish my blue heeler wasn’t quite such a psycho on walks!! she’s leash reactive, but we’re working on that!!

    • Koa’s a tad leash reactive too, which surprised me. Only to off-leash dogs, though, which is annoying since we only go in areas where dogs are supposed to be on lead.

  • Sunny in GA

    way to go! ๐Ÿ™‚ one tactical suggestion: those socks that envelop each individual toe can be very helpful in keeping your toes from sweating and rubbing against each other. good luck and looking forward to future posts about this!