Breaking Vertical

I tried not looking at the trail ahead of me. The sweat raining from my face and the pounding of my heart in my neck told me it was treacherous. Still, I’m a glutton for punishment. There in front of my eyes it appeared, a pitch that looked something of Biblical proportions. I was certain that I was about to hit my vertical limit. It was nowhere close to Mount Everest, but to this nearly 300+ pound woman, I might as well been hiking at 29,000 feet. I was too tired to notice the disgusted looks from other hikers peering back down the mountain at the boulder of a person trying to make her way up. I had bigger problems. With every step my mind had some sign posted telling me why I couldn’t do it, why I wouldn’t make it, why I’ll always be fat, etcetera, and etcetera. And then it happened, just after I made the summit and back down the mountain to my vehicle. I drove off from the trip feeling elated only to pull over not even a mile from the trail head to sob in my car alone. I broke vertical. The limit I had placed on myself shattered when little ol’ big me silenced all the negative voices competing inside my head. I was overwhelmed with the realization that all these years I had been living nowhere close to my vertical limit.

Mountain top experiences are fabulous, but alas I don’t have any photos of conquering summits. I’m just an ordinary woman who is slowly finding victory in the small summits in life, like getting on a bike for the first time in nearly 20 years, being able to bend down and tie my own shoes, being able to say “Hi” to someone on a hiking trail and feel okay that somebody actually saw me– all 300 sweaty glorious pounds of me huffing and puffing.

Losing weight is hard, but finding and embracing an inner strength that I scarcely knew that I had was, and is, more treacherous than climbing any mountain or hiking any trail. It sounds silly, but I’m finding myself again. All these years hidden beneath the layers of fat there was a perfectly beautiful me waiting all along to be discovered.

If I could offer any unsolicited encouragement to the woman sitting at home reading this, you are immeasurably strong in your spirit. These daily summits we ascend quietly build our character and resolve, sometimes without our even being aware of it. Don’t stop fighting those internal recordings in your head that tell you that you don’t measure up, that you can’t change, that you won’t make it. Give those voices an eviction notice. You deserve to live, love, and have laughter in your belly. You are a gift to this world that is meant to be shared. There is a perfectly beautiful you waiting to be celebrated by the world. So get off the couch, take a risk on yourself, and take a hike with your fellow trail sisters. Who knows, you might just find yourself breaking your vertical limit.

Yours for the Hiking,


“Trail Mix” aka Stephanie

Be Your Own Hero-Part 2

5 Steps to Being Your Own Hero- Part 2

From a blog posting on More Of Me To Love, for more info, visit




4. Compare lists- What do these people have in common?

    When you are done listing the wonderful traits of these people, look at them closely and see if there are any commonalities among them.  These are the qualities that you associate with heroism. You will start to see patterns emerge within these people.  Maybe a majority of them are adventurous.  Maybe many of them live honestly.  When you see these traits start to repeat themselves in more than one of your heroes, you know that you have found something that speaks to you on a deep level.  If you can find these qualities within yourself, you will be well on your way to seeing your own personal hero every time you look in the mirror.

5.   Put yourself in your heroes shoes

    Now is the time to find these qualities within you.  This is where it gets fun! First you will need to start by being honest about which qualities you already have, which ones are attainable through hard work, and which are probably never really going to happen.  

    For instance, I knew that I had kindness and compassion.  I also knew that finding integrity and courage within my self would be a struggle, but that I was capable of both.  These are things that all people are capable of.  

    However, no matter how much I looked up at them for their humor and community outreach, I did have to realize at some point that I was never going to be a Harlem Globetrotter. The point is, this wonderful body that I was given might not be suited to jumping hurdles or teaching gymnastics, but I can certainly adjust my goals and dreams to use the attributes that I do have.  

    Now, start looking for opportunities to act in accordance with your own ideals.  When these situations present themselves, think to your self, “What would my hero do?”

    Remember, a hero is defined by an action that he or she took. It is not a vague idea that occurs in someone’s mind.  Looking back on the lists in your journal, it was an action that caused you to look at each of those people and say, “I want to be like that”.   In each case, their heroism was embodied in an action.

Whether it is the grand gesture of a firefighter putting his life on the line, or the simple act of a woman refusing to take part in the vitriolic gossip around the bunko table, heroism lies in the actions we take daily.

    Finally, remember that being a hero isn’t easy.  If it were easy, everyone would be one!  When it gets hard or scary to act in accordance to the ideals you have set out in your Hero Journal, lean on your champions.  Use their courage as your own.  Through emulating them, you will find your own personal hero emerging in front of your eyes.  And then, don’t be surprised when someone tells you that you are their hero. 

    Who are your personal hero’s and why?  Comment below and tell us all about them…….