March Wellness

Ain't No Mountain High Enough | Taryn R.

In my adult life thus far my health was something that admittedly took the back seat. About two years ago I had a health scare that forced me to become someone who valued exercise and trying to keep a moderately health lifestyle. In a nutshell I was having severe chest pain daily that truly felt like what I believe a heart attack feels like. It was debilitating. I chalked it up to indigestion for a while and then one night it got so bad I passed out and my dad had to take me to the hospital. I found out I had developed a Hiatal Hernia (something I learned runs in my family, thanks genetics!). After an endoscopy I learned that I had two options: lose weight, or have surgery to remove it. Surgery and removing the hernia would create inability to burp, and sometimes even throw up. I CAN’T BURP. WHAT. Those side effects sounded weird and pretty awful. Weight loss, healthy eating and medication would minimize and cause the severe acid reflux to go away. I was 24 when this started and I didn’t want to take the easy way out and get surgery this early in my life. I decided to tackle the more difficult route.

Over a 3 month period I lost almost 40 pounds by going to the gym once a day (sometimes twice a day), not drinking alcohol and eating healthy. It was the longest 3 months of my life because I hate the gym. It’s boring, it’s crowded and I’m sweating profusely in front of a wave of strangers. I played softball for almost 9 years and I love to be outside and active so exercise wasn’t what turned me off. It was the way I had to do it to see results. I stuck to the treadmill and quickly learned I burned the most calories on an uphill incline an accelerated speed. It felt like I was hiking, but inside the gym. I began to get this high I have never experienced that I feel like people have always talked about in reference to working out. I started to feel great and get natural energy that I didn’t have prior. Once I hit my goal I celebrated with a hike in Laguna Nigel with one of my best friends Emily on the morning of New Year’s Eve. We celebrated at the top with my first drink in 3 months, Pliny The Elder. Yum.

After that, my gym stint transitioned into a hiking stint. Hiking then became my favorite way to exercise and something I did weekly. As a Long Beach native I was fortunate to be in the middle of a variety of neat trails. On my days off, a good hike became my high priority plan for the day. I hiked in Palos Verdes and Laguna Niguel with challenging trials and beach destination views, Signal Hill for a quick local workout, and a variety of unique trails in Los Angeles. Looking up trails became a fun obsession, but to my surprise, the coolest peaks were the most challenging hiking trails. It was difficult with a unique work schedule to always find a hiking companion so it turned into “me time”. I made playlists to pair good tunes with my workouts and I’d often bring a beer and book to relax at the top after a particularly long hike.

I’d say my favorite hike I have ever done was the hardest one. It also didn’t help that the week before I had gotten my wisdom teeth out. I was stir crazy after a week of immobility so I selected a trail for a much needed solo adventure. It’s called “Wisdom Tree Trail” in North Hollywood and it is a 3 mile steep incline trail to the top of this particular peak. This trail is what you take to also get to the Hollywood sign, so for any LA hikers reading this, you know that is a very difficult one. The trail leading me to wisdom tree felt almost entirely vertical. I was using my own body to push off of just to step higher and higher up the trail. There were times I would grab the side of the mountain or even a stray branch just to get my footing. Half way up I almost turned around because it was so difficult and my jaw was throbbing. I decided to take as many breaks as I needed and not give up. This was in July so the 98 degree heat wasn’t a nice asset to my workout. I finally made it to the top and I am so happy I didn’t give up. It felt accelerating to finish because I saw a handful of people turn around and not make it to the top.

At the top of the Mountain there is a huge tree with seats under it and a trunk filled with notebooks and paper. Hikers are encouraged to write notes, wishes, goals, etc. and fold those notes and place them under numerous stacks of rocks dispersed all around the top of the mountain. The stacks of rocks had uncountable messages stashed throughout each tower and I myself stashed my own message in one of the stacks. I sat at the top and admired the insane view I had of Los Angeles. You could see Lake Hollywood Reservoir and the beautiful city scape all the way to Downtown. I did take a moment this day to celebrate this small victory because I knew for a fact a year before I wouldn’t have been able to complete something like that. Exercise was not important to me for many years and finding something that brought me happiness to help me stay healthy was something that made me very happy. Hiking turned into my workout, my time to relax, to be outside, to reflect, enjoy my own company, and my way to have some adventure.