Keeping in Touch with Your Health

By: Adam Edwards + Save to a List

Some tips for healthy accountability

As a person who spends a lot of their time working and playing outside, physical health and fitness is important to me. But sometimes I don’t always take the best care of myself and I find myself entering phases where I just don’t feel up to some of the activities I enjoy.

After taking a few weeks off at the end of the year to rest and digest the happenings and feelings, I wanted to share what has kept me going through long river miles and hard days of work.

Sleep

Getting a full eight hours a night is unrealistic for many people. Personal, professional or any number variables can prevent folks from getting that magic number. For me a general restlessness paired with occasional insomnia makes it hard to achieve. I find winding down a few hours before bed, removing screens from the bedroom, and being intentional about my sleeping space has made it easier to get what sleep I need when I can. On the other hand, fighting insomnia or wakefulness can be just as stressful as the lack of sleep. So sometimes just give into the wakefulness. A soothing book, cup of tea, or that low stress personal project may be a better way to spend that time than anxiously tossing and turning in bed.

The important thing is to listen to your body. Reflecting, again, on what the cause for the wakefulness is may also help you wind back down.

Eat Real Food and Drink Water

As an avid kayaker and surfer, I take a lot of trips where food must be prepackaged or restocked on the road. This is usually where I end up cutting corners in regards to my nutrition. The biggest hurdle for me is not shopping or looking for food when I’m already ravenous. I can't be trusted to make healthy eating choices all the time, especially if I've gone all day on just water and some snacks. 

Planning ahead can solve this but also assumes a lot of privilege about your access to nutritious foods and the space and resources to bring and keep snacks or meals on hand during the day. Whenever I find myself beginning to feel unhealthful, meaning I don’t feel like my normal self, sluggish or morose, I try to take stock of what I’ve been putting in my body. Eliminating processed foods where I can and replacing them with fresh foods or things that require me to prepare them helps me get back to where I feel best.

I eat a lot. But not always well. This is where keeping in touch with your health instead of keeping track of it can come into play. Diets don’t usually work for me, even when I’m training for races or adventures. I prefer to eat what I want when I’m hungry, and at times I’ve no good options nearby. So making sure I have access to natural and healthy snacks and meals is something I put a lot of effort into these days. It can be as easy as finding farmers markets or perusing the produce aisle before hitting the packaged food aisles.

Also drink water. Really. Seriously. Drink it. It's very good for you. You're mostly made of it.

Rest

This isn’t sleep. This also isn’t the crazy adventure you planned for months. This is walks in the park, a good book, a light workout, yoga, you name it. Rest is what we’ve coined as self-care. Taking time to (again) reflect, treat yourself and be kind to you. This one is probably the hardest for me personally. Carving out time to do “nothing” to enjoy a period of time or day without any goal other than checking in and taking care of self. Take time off work to go to the park, enjoy a bike ride with friends, cook dinner for your family. Not just for that big adventure or that vacation to Maui.

Many self-professed 'outdoorsy folx' have a hard time turning off and just relaxing. There's always another adventure to research or go on. Skip that every now and then. Skip the run. Take a day to watch TV, read that book, sit on the couch or sleep in. Consciously taking a break because you WANT to will feel so much better mentally and physically than taking one because you now HAVE too.

Reflection

This is a big one for me. Turning the analytical thought processes we use to navigate our work and play towards ourselves can be difficult and scary but oh so beneficial. Taking time to pause and reflect on how my body is feeling at any given point in the day gives me time with myself but also tunes me into what is actually going on. I’m less likely to have knee jerk reactions to things, real or imagined, if I pause, assess then take action. As you dive deeper into self reflection, sit with what comes up. Truly tuning into ourselves, learning ourselves is every bit of an adventure.

Discipline and Consistency

We all struggle with this. Whether that struggle is a big one or its just that you sometimes slip. When I find I’m having trouble sticking to a plan, I restart small and I don’t remove any restrictions. I start with praise and rewards. At the beginning of each week I write down a list of things I’m proud of myself for taking part in, accomplishing, or simply existing. This helps me reflect that I am capable of completing goals and good things are happening. I can then look at the things where I was maybe not as strong in and I choose one or two things to improve on the next week. I try to set reasonable, attainable goals for myself and stick to them. Building a strong and stable foundation will allow me to take on more complicated and more difficult dreams as I build towards the future.

We will all experience up and downs with our physical and emotional ability. Meeting ourselves where we are at and setting attainable and healthy goals will allow us to pull through those rough patches and get back on the road, trail or walkway sooner. With a better understanding of ourselves we can better tune in to the good, let go of the bad, turn off the inner critical voice and practice joy.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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