This past summer, Casey and I went hiking up Buck Mountain in beautiful Lake George, NY. These are the foot hills of the great adirondack mountain range. Buck Mountain is a moderately challenging hike, 3 miles up and 3 miles back. Whenever we go hiking or spend time in the great out doors, we find ourselves in these grand life talks. I like to call them Mountain Talks, or Mountain Thoughts.
This hike lead us to reflect on where we’ve been and where were going. We noticed that how we’ve gotten to where we are now is the slow path. That everything we jumped at with the thought of “ no pain, no gain” really didn’t last very long.
Casey is a fitness enthusiast and takes pride in how he has been able to transform his body from an overweight highschooler to a lean and limber what ever he is now ;-P He was reflecting on all the different life style changes he has done over the last 10 years or so and how it really has been the slow road that has helped him to accomplish where he is now. He noticed the difference from when he was dieting (6 small meals a day, i.e. a can of tuna for breakfast and a clementine for mid morning, etc…) lead him to be able to obtain a 6 pack with that method, but once he got what he wanted, the life style he had created was not able to sustain longevity. Once he started to just do what felt right to him ( which in my eyes is some form of natural movement… crawling around and flipping over things) he said that he is happier with his bodies ability to carry him, and he looks in the mirror and is proud of what he sees. Moral of this story is that once he slowed down and listened to what his body was trying to tell him, choosing happiness got him to where he wanted to be. Not only is he happier with the slow road, but he is stronger, more flexible and mobile than any other practice has given him the ability to be.
I think its easiest to think “ no pain, no gain” when talking about fitness but I’ve found it to be true in my life and career choices also. At this point in my life right now, I have followed my way to happiness by checking in with myself and taking the slow road. When ever I make a quick shift in my career, life, relationships. I tend to feel it in my body and the message is always clear. Most recently I’ve had a few shifts in my career. The career move was necessary, but how much I have taken on was me mindlessly thinking about how if I hustle for this company they will “ like me”, “ see me as beneficial and lucrative to their company”. But in reality, this hurt. I wanted to say yes to all of these things, but found myself over loaded and again… in pain with way to much gain. Now that I have sat back and reflected on my hustle, I’m recognizing that I’m burning out. So this is a sign for me to slow it back down.
There have been plenty of other examples of this, but “ no pain, no gain” for us, has proven to cause more pain in our lives and then we have to slow it back down to correct it. I love the idea of taking leaps and learning to fly on the way down. This is not what were talking about here. What were talking about is not being in tune with your body or mind and just doing something because it is the fastest way to get the “goal” you want. If you don’t take the time to check in with yourself, it has been our experience that we usually feel the pain before, during and after.
So in honor of our “ slow it down” conversation, we decided to continue our track up the mountain slowly. It took us a total of 2 and a half hours to reach the peak ( 3 miles) and the grade was not all that steep. We were able to catch a wood pecker knocking on a tree, some frogs that had crossed our path. Hung out by a waterfall and recognized all the little fall details that were increasing as we worked our way up the mountain. By the time we got to the summit, we had felt like we got the most out of this hike, that we had experienced all that this mountain had to offer.
As we sat at the summit, we noticed that Casey had to get to work and we couldn’t take the slow way back down. So we decided to test our theory and sprint and hop back down the mountain. This was dangerous as the gravel was loose and it was rocky/steap for the first mile back down. But we were testing our theory so we did it any way ( not smart…).
As we flew back down the mountain, I noticed that we had gotten to certain marks on the trail faster but once I noticed where we were, it was more of a “ wow I don’t remember passing the other things that I recognized on the way up… how did we get here?” But either way we continued on in the same fast paced gate. I started getting pain in my knees and ankles that were not there when I was going up the mountain, I was winded and by the time we had gotten to the last mile of our treck, the bottom of my feet were raw, and I had jammed my ankle on a rock that set me back a bit. This experiment was proving to be true to our theory.
Slowly going up the mountain allowed us to see more, experience more, be more in tune with our bodies and not hurt them. Making our time at the summit peaceful and very much worth it. Quickly hoping and running down the mountain turned our legs into jelly and I honestly did not trust them to carry me the rest of the day because they were so sore and beaten. I am also paying for it today and probably for the next few days.
When you do things quickly, the consequences of the pain you put yourself, body, and mind through can cost your body, mind and spirit pain for day’s/ months/ years to come. Slow it down and check in with yourself throughout the process and make adjustments as you see fit at those times. Both ways will get you to your end goal, but one is more kind to yourself, builds your happiness and allows for you to check in and maintain your happiness.
This can be difficult in the society we live in today where productivity is key, and impulsive responses are glorified. But our rate of professional burn out has increased and from what I see, they go hand in hand.
This was a fun experiment that I will most definitely feel for a few days. I hope you’ve been able to take away some important nuggets or lessons to implement into your daily life, or just slow down to think about where you’re at.