My Best Exercise for Weight Loss

The beautiful view of nature as far as the eye could see brought me to tears the first time I hiked up Round Valley. It was late March and the hills were completely green, wildflowers were blooming, the sky was perfect, and the trees looked like a painting. I cried for the beauty all around me, but also because of so much more. I cried because life had just thrown many difficult hurdles at me, the biggest one being that I lost my job the day before. I cried because I was exhausted. I was 250 pounds the first time I did that hike. It was so strenuous for me. However, above all, I cried because I was proud of myself. 

 My view from the highest peak of Round Valley Regional Preserve that day in March 2017. 

My view from the highest peak of Round Valley Regional Preserve that day in March 2017. 

At that point I had lost 75 pounds, from my highest weight of 325, but that was the first time I did something I never thought I could before. In that moment, all the things that were happening felt manageable. I wasn't scared because I felt like I was capable of doing things bigger than I had ever let myself believe. I knew that day that whatever chaos would come into my life, I would make hiking a priority. It was something I needed to do for myself, not only to lose weight, but to give myself time to think and process all I had on my plate. 

 Very first (now of many) hiking selfie, with the cows on the Contra Loma trail

Very first (now of many) hiking selfie, with the cows on the Contra Loma trail

After that day, hiking became my meditation. Walking miles at a time through nature allowed me the clarity to plan, set goals, and manage anxiety. I've had so many wonderful adventures on hikes and seen so many interesting things- from exploring caves (video below), watching vultures sun-bathe, being afraid of a barking coyote (that I did not know at the time was really not a threat to me), and much more. 

Hiking is now my passion. Though once the Round Valley trail was a difficult accomplishment for me, it's now my favorite hike and I walk it a couple times a week. I can march right up that hill with ease, and I know almost every rock, every tree, every step along the full 5 mile trail. 

What I have learned is the best exercise for weight loss is not the latest fad or what a trainer tells you to do- it's the one you have passion for and will be consistent with. For me, that is hiking. Hiking has helped me lose 173 pounds in a healthy and sustainable way. 

 Hiking Round Valley a few days ago, December 2017

Hiking Round Valley a few days ago, December 2017