Happy Friday, League!
Growing up, I memorized a lot of things: the Pledge of Allegiance, the Star-Spangled Banner, the preamble to the Constitution, the school fight song, various speeches, and other things that someone had deemed important. Thinking back, it’s funny because I memorized the words but most of the time I had no idea what the words meant. I don’t remember ever being taught the meaning behind what we were saying. Only the words.
Over the years, I realized that of all the important things we’ve had to memorize, we really weren’t taught how to create our own creed or foundation for how we wanted to live our lives. We kind of stumble through figuring it out and often it takes our whole lives to do so. I have shared before that I have an ultimate life goal, but it has always been something I am reaching towards in the future. It’s not necessarily representative of where I am currently and lacking a framework of values to continually work towards it.
My ultimate goal is: to achieve optimal health centered around the cycles and laws of nature.
But how will I know if I’ve reached my goal? What does it mean for how I live my life right now?
Kim’s Creed of Wildness
I believe that humans were forged in the wild. I believe that living close to the wild gives me the best opportunity for optimal health. I believe that optimal health encompasses my mindset, what I do with my body, and what I put into my body and mind.
I believe that my experience of the world is shaped by my mindset. I believe I have the ability to change that any time I desire and that I control what my mind consumes.
A recent example of this is how much I’ve fallen into thinking, “Can I do this?” versus “Do I want to do this?”. Throughout my childhood and into my 20s and 30s, the only consideration of how to spend my free time was whether I wanted to do something. Did I want to go for a long hike? Did I want to try bungee jumping? Did I want to find a quiet, secluded spot to go fishing? If I wanted to do it, I did. We floated down rivers on rafts we made from sleds and styrofoam. We enjoyed all-day road trips. We decided - last minute - to go downhill skiing for the evening. We woke up on a Saturday morning and went for a 15 mile winter trek. My point being, the only consideration was whether I wanted to do those things. Somewhere along the way, my mindset changed from “Do I want to?” to “Can I?”
Some of that, I think, comes from having kids. All the things I did that created treasured memories suddenly seemed a bit dangerous for my kids! I had to swallow my fears a bit to let them do the things I grew up doing. Having to be more cautious immediately following an injury contributed to that mindset, too. Long after my injury healed, the mindset stayed with me. Suddenly, I wasn’t considering whether I wanted to spend the day hiking, but whether I felt I could. I hate that change. It makes me feel incapable when I know that is not the case. Any time I hear myself ask “Can I?” I switch it to “Do I want to?” and eventually that mindset will become more automatic again.
I can control what goes into my mind the same way I control what goes into my body. I don’t have to doom scroll social media. I don’t have to check the news multiple times a day. I don’t have to engage in material that induces anxiety. One of the best feelings in the world for me is when I spend days in the wild and realize I didn’t read the news or check social media the whole time. Everything that seems important when I am enmeshed in daily, modern life, fades into the background when I’m in the wild. Consuming too much media isn't good for me and it's not how I want to spend my time.
I believe that moving my body in the outdoors enhances the benefits of stress relief, Circadian rhythm regulation, and ensures that I move my body through its full range of motion.
If I truly want to re-adopt the mindset that I can do anything I want to do, I need to ensure my body is ready for anything. For me, being outside is automatically anti-sedentary. I can’t help but move around a lot. I get up more frequently, I move in a less repetitive way, and everything takes more effort than doing the same thing in the house. It’s more work to walk up the rocky hill than to walk up the stairs. Sitting on the ground instead of at my desk requires more effort. I get up and down off the ground probably 20 times a day. It’s a simple motion that moves a large number of body parts, especially if I vary how I do it. Hiking is more effort than walking on paved loops. Walking through snow is much more challenging than walking on carpet. Another word for house is “domicile.” Funny how much that word has in common with domestication…Modern living absolutely has benefits that I would never give up. But maintaining a connection to the wild matters to me, too. It's all about balance.
My goal in movement is to be able to move my body through its full range-of-motion every day and to have the strength, stamina, and mobility to move however I desire. Being outdoors makes that much easier because the opportunities are endless.
I believe that eating foods that come from nature is optimal for my health.
I aim to limit foods that don’t exist in nature. If I couldn’t find it somewhere in the world growing or living in the wild, I don’t want it in my body. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy treats and desserts! In this case I mean in a “How do I want to fuel my body every day” way. If I want a dessert I usually make it from scratch rather than buying it in a box so I can control what is in it. We make our own bread, biscuits, and pizza crust. I try to avoid hydrogenated oils at all costs and most processed foods contain them.
I include a healthy protein, some plants, and healthy fat every time I eat. In the summer, that often means I eat a couple of boiled eggs, a handful of walnuts and a bowl of fruit. Or a salad with seeds, chicken and some olive oil with lemon juice. Plain Greek yogurt with berries and chia seeds is another common choice for me.
I don’t believe that food scientists and labs within corporate food giants have optimal health in mind. They sell us convenience but they aren’t honest that the cost goes beyond our bank account. They don’t care if their profit costs us our health. I can’t control everything, but I have a fair amount of control over what I choose to put in my body.
The Other Stuff
Obviously, there are more considerations to health than those three factors. Things like stress levels and sleep. I tend to find that all of those things work themselves out when mindset, fitness, and nutrition are in place. It’s well-known that time outside and exercise improve both our stress levels and our sleep. That doesn’t mean that I never suffer more acute stress from life events. I do have practices in place to mitigate those times. But much of our stress happens in our mind which then has a direct impact on our bodies. I actually find that the more time I spend indoors, the more I ruminate. I am much more likely to feel anxious, stressed out, and I have a harder time overcoming obstacles if I am indoors. Relaxation – and often answers – come when I walk out the door. Sleep comes much easier when I eat well, adequately move my body, and get ample access to sunshine and fresh air. Focusing on those three things largely eliminates my need to have to think about everything else.
The bottom line is that my early life was shaped by the wild and I am slowly returning to the same degree of wildness. Every morning I do the Momentum app workouts outdoors and it sets me up for a wild-focused day. I know that sounds like I am just hyping our app, but I wouldn’t use it if it didn’t find it immensely beneficial. My time is too important for me to use tools that don’t move me closer to my goals. Momentum is the newest addition in my journey back to a wild-forged life and I feel the benefits already. Give it a try. Do it outside! You’ll move your body in ways you probably haven’t for years, and you’ll be wilder for it.
Make it a wild weekend!