I did the Grouse Grind today for the first time. For those of you who don’t live in British Columbia, Canada, the Grind is a grueling 1.8 mile hike straight up a mountain. It consists of 2,830 stairs and is known as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster.” To put this in perspective, I’ve never used a “man-made” stairmaster.
But I do exercise. Daily. I feel like as a fat woman, people might assume that I don’t exercise. I imagine they think that if I did (hard enough and regularly enough) I wouldn’t be fat. That’s not my experience. Unhealthy dieting makes me lose weight. Exercise doesn’t. It just makes me feel good.
I decided to do the Grouse Grind because I’d heard a lot about it and, honestly, I was curious. People talk about how hard and horrible it is (“You think you’re going to die and then you realize you’re only at the ¼ mark!”), so it’s not that I really wanted to do it, but I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Also, I’m always looking for new, interesting life experiences. So I committed to climb.
The funny thing is, I surprised myself. Instead of hating it and wanting to die like I expected, I actually enjoyed it. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was hard! But it was also exhilarating and beautiful. And, most importantly, I set my own pace and I did it my way. If I wanted to go really slow, I did. If I wanted to stop and rest, I did. I didn’t let the pressure of other hikers zooming past me influence my enjoyment of the experience, or my view of myself. I listened to my body and I let it make the decisions.
For most of my life, exercise has been a dirty word. It meant dieting. It meant weight loss. It meant judgment. But now that I’ve thrown that out the window and decided to exercise my way, at my own pace, for my own reasons, it’s started to take on a whole new meaning. Surprisingly, joy.