Greetings and salutations fellow fly Earthlings! As the warmest (and busiest travel) season of the year bears down upon North America, you may find yourself with a bounty of opportunities to lace up your sneakers or shimmy into your bathing suit. Throughout the course of my life, whether I met these possibilities with excitement or apprehension, were in large part contingent on what relationship I had with my body at the time. So today, in the spirit of seizing the moment, we’re coming to you live from the mountains of Mordor to bring you a fly fatty/gorditx approved guide on enjoying the great outdoors! Can’t find the route to Mordor on your waze app? Well, this corner of the United States is rumored to be somewhere in Tucson Arizona; Sabino Canyon to be exact.
Wherever your Summer plans take you, we’ve already written about how to get your head right and your suitcase tight with our Tierra de Lagos y Volcanes travel guide, but what about the extracurriculars? Well, if your speed is more Netflix and Chill than hiking up a hill (or worse, a motherfucking mountain), I got you fam. Now I’m by no means an expert, but over the years I’ve found my own tried and true method on how to step out of my comfort zone and embrace the outside, regardless of what size leggings I put on. If you’re a little fuzzy on the benefits of reveling in nature, check out our previous posts The Burbs and Mental Health to embrace your inner tree-hugger. Don’t need any coaxing? Then let’s get on with it!
Tip #1: Get Comfortable!
Picking an outfit for an excursion into the wild blue yonder is essential to having a good time. If your underwear digs, or pinches, or does anything other than feel like a second skin, get rid of it. If your shoes mush the sides of your feet so that they resemble hooves more than squishy human toesies, get rid of ’em. If your accessories are going to snag on something, or bounce around, or be in anyway a burden, skip wearing ’em. Instead opt for function over fashion, always. Yes, I’m dead-ass. Making comfort your top priority doesn’t mean you can’t be fly either. More importantly however, comfort can be the difference between having a wonderful time, and being fucking miserable.
On my first trip to New York City I learned why trainers and pencil skirts make the perfect pairing; because do YOU have cab-fare motherfucker? I chose fashion over function on that fateful trip, and let me tell ya. Never. Again. This doesn’t mean you have to go buy some matching set of athleisure from your local sweat-shop at the mall to look good either. If you’re outside, you’re sure to need sunglasses, so pick the cutest pair that can take a beating. If long-sleeves are on option (and in the Arizona desert they definitely were), something lightweight will spruce up your leggings in a snap. Get comfortable, get fly, and you will one hundred percent, for sure, kill it.
Tip #2: Know Your Limits.
Regardless of whether you’re the most fit in your group, or the novice among experts, don’t be afraid to set your own pace. Being the plus-sized human in a group that’s setting out for a physically demanding excursion, can be a daunting position to be in. I feel you, but do not let it stop you from a) doing the thing, and b) knowing when to say when. Sometimes, we talk ourselves out of going places or doing new things out of fear of the stigmas attached to being double-x, and we forget to own our fly. So for the love of God, own your motherfucking fly, but also, remember that the only person you should be competing with, is yourself.
Anytime I’ve been worried about taking on a new activity, I appease the anxiety by doing my research. If the activity includes a weight limit, I make sure I know what it is. If skill level might be an issue, I ask for specifics. If I’m still feeling uneasy, I’ll ask an experienced friend along. Why? Because if you look for an excuse to not do something, you’ll find it, so instead, remember to stay in control. If you need a breather, take it. If you need help, ask for it. If you’re done, be done. When you’re in the midst of a new outdoor activity, odds are you put yourself in said position because you wanted to have a good time, right? Make sure that whatever motivated you to do “the thing” continues to motivate you as you’re smack in the middle of doing it. If you suddenly find that you’re not having such a good time, don’t be afraid (or ashamed, or embarrassed) to adjust the plan, it’s your prerogative. That being said…
Tip #3: Push Yourself.
Okay, y’all know me well enough by now (and if you don’t know, now ya’ know), that although in every post it seems like I contradict myself, I’m really not. Because you see, knowing your limits is extremely important. For your ability to enjoy and “be in” the moment, for your physical comfort and capacity, hell, even for your own safety. However, if you find yourself at the precipice of a steep mountain, the edge of a boat before your first dive, or in front of any physical task that looks or feels daunting, evaluate it. Is the self-imposed limit you’ve set, reasonable? Or is it simply fear disguised as common sense?
See, I’ve been on the edge of these life-affirming moments before, and whether you choose to stop or continue is more important than you know. I’ve feared that my body would be unequipped to scale rock, that my swimming skills would be no match for the depths of the ocean, and sometimes I’ve stopped, still other times I’ve pressed on. There is no right or wrong choice, taking precautions, and listening to your intuition are nothing to sneeze at. However, if you want to stop an activity, be mindful in that moment, and ask yourself why you want to stop.
Did your research prepare you for what you’re experiencing? Are you following suggested guidelines for the activity? Are you hydrated and well-nourished? Do you feel at ease in your group or following your leader? Are the discomfort and fatigue of the activity itself wearing you down? And if so, can you do more?
Can I do more?
This is the fine line between 2 and 3. Know your limits, but also, push yourself. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t turn around too soon. Don’t stop before you’ve had a chance to warm up. Sometimes, we talk ourselves out of doing more. Sometimes, we allow others to discourage us. If we belong to an ostracized group, fear can be ever more present in these decisions.
So what’s it gonna be? Is this as far as you’ll go, or will you do more?
Whatever your decision is, be proud in it. After all, by the time you’ve reached your limit, you’ve (ideally) already stretched yourself beyond your comfort zone. These moments, where we do things we never thought possible, when our bodies surprise us with their strength, and when we surprise ourselves, these are the moments when we feel transformed by the beauty of being alive. Seek these experiences out as often as you can, especially when you’re scared, or depressed, or think you can’t. A paved road can be a lovely and scenic walk, but the kinds of trails that can only be carved by foot are the ones that yield the highest return. Until next time, tie up your laces, dare to take the road less traveled, and keep your double-x fly.