Cafe de Desiree

July 6, 2014

City Hiking

Filed under: Exercise,Health,hiking,photography — desi83 @ 10:12 pm

I am a hiking snob. I don’t consider it a hike if the trail is paved, or completely flat, or less than five miles. That, my friends, is a walk in the park. Before discovering a couple of new hiking trails, I used to only consider it a good hike if I had to drive an hour and a half in the middle of nowhere through the mountains. I want to see waterfalls and climb boulders at some point during the hike. I want to feel like I just had my ass kicked. When my entire body aches, I feel accomplished. I did not think that Nashville could offer a satisfactory hike that would leave me sweating, panting, and sore from head to toe. That was before I joined Meetup.com and was introduced to several new destinations. Mossy Ridge, also known as the red trail at Percy Warner Park, is a 4.5 mile loop, and it takes about 2 miles to arrive at the beginning of the loop. I hiked a total distance of about 9 miles. I should have used my GPS to track total mileage, but I tend to put away the technology when I hike. I have hiked much longer distances than this, but the deep inclines and declines made it a challenging 9 miles.

MossyRidge8

This is the first trail that I have hiked where the majority of the hikers weren’t hiking at all. They were trail running. I have always been intimidated by that because I can be rather clumsy. I decided that this would be the perfect trail to test my skills. Even though it is hilly, there aren’t any terrible obstacles to hinder a runner. It is fairly smooth with just small rocks and a few tree roots. There are a few spots where I had to climb rocks, but they were almost more like steps in their arrangement. I ran occasionally, and I power-hiked. I did stop to take pictures, because this blog is just more appealing to read with pictures! I also noticed that the hikers and runners on this trail are much friendlier than those at any other place I’ve hiked. Everyone at least waved as I walked past. Everyone seemed happy, healthy, and enthusiastic about what they were doing. My favorite human encounter on the trail was a runner approaching me from behind singing “Buddy Holly” by Weezer at the top of his lungs. This guy was happy in his own little world, and he has great taste in music.

MossyRidge7

I came across this random chimney when I was close to the end, and I imagined being out here with some friends during autumn. We could collect a few logs, build a small fire in the chimney, and roast some hot dogs and marshmallows while singing badly, talking too loudly, and just enjoying the moment together. I am sure someone has done that at some point in time at this chimney.

mossywater mossyrocks

This, unfortunately, was the only water source on the trail. I think Nashville needs more rain. Normally, there is a small waterfall flowing from the top of this small cave. There used to be a visible stream flowing through that area. It was still a fun area to explore today. Luckily, I didn’t meet any creepy crawlers in there!

hillatmossy

This is what I call the “Oh Shit” hill. I was trail running, and somehow I made it up this massive hill. The picture really doesn’t do it justice. There was a bench not far from the top of this hill, and I sat for a few minutes to catch my breath. “Good job, Mossy Ridge. You win,” I mumbled between breaths. “We made it!” the lady behind me exclaimed when we approached the top. She was at least twenty years older than I am, but she kept power walking past me. This hike makes me want to live somewhere else even more than I already did. Murfreesboro is flat; there are no challenging trails here at all. If I lived near a park like this, I would go a few times a week so that I could be in the shape that these seniors are in. I met a man on the trail who is 70 years old. He was energetic, had perfect posture and form,  and he was hiking at a fast pace. He told me that he used to run marathons, and he did a cross-country bike-a-thon once with his best friend. I told him that he was now my idol.

MossyRidge

I stopped to meditate for a few minutes, because it is easier for me to meditate outside away from civilization than it is to meditate indoors. I sat on a roughly carved wooden bench with a plaque glued to it with an in Memoriam message engraved in it. I wish I would’ve taken a photo of that; it had someone’s name on it, and it stated that he used to enjoy walking on these trails. I imagined an older man walking on the trail, completely at peace with himself and his life. We can only truly be happy and at peace if we can enjoy life’s simple pleasures. I sat on this bench and closed my eyes. I could hear the wind rustle the trees, and I could hear the squirrels and other small animals rummaging for food or shelter through the woods. My mind was clear and empty of distractions. It was a blissful moment of peace. Whatever your path is in life, whatever it is that brings you joy or serenity, take the time to enjoy these moments away from the stress or problems that you may have in your life. Even in a bustling city like Nashville, there are hidden areas of nature that are mostly untouched by civilization that are there for your enjoyment.

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July 5, 2014

You’re in Control if You Want to Be

Filed under: Blogging,Exercise,food,Gluten free,Health — desi83 @ 12:18 am

I sit staring at the computer screen feeling depressed about the fact that I am filling out yet another job application that will be filed with thousands of other applications. I try to make my stand out, but it is probably similar to the majority of the submissions that the schools are reading. There may even be something on there that causes it to get filtered out, so it never gets read at all. I sit in this little apartment in a bad area of town, and I am grateful to have a job even though it isn’t in my career field. I am grateful to have a roof over my head and food to eat. I am just not living the life that I want. When I begin to sink into the darkness of unfulfillment and depression, I stand up and put on my running shoes. I set a goal for myself that is reasonable yet challenging. I run at a pace that is just fast enough to be a little painful, yet it is not so fast that it is unbearable. My feet pounding the pavement gives me a feeling of power. The pain in my muscles reminds me that I am growing stronger with every stride. Inhaling and exhaling the outdoor air, deeply and slowly, gives me a sense of control. The worry and stress simply melt away. No one and nothing can stop me but myself. I feel alive and relaxed even though I am sweating and exerting a great amount of energy. I am able to gain control of my thoughts and ideas. Everything seems clearer to me during that time. When I reach my distance goal without stopping to walk or rest, I feel accomplished. I hear the crowd cheering for me as I cross the finish line in my head.

 

This is what exercise can do. I don’t need anti-depression medication or therapy. I don’t need to sit around and cry into my ice cream. I just have to do something healthy that gives me a sense of control and accomplishment. I know that somehow, everything will work out as it should. Sure, I am getting a little impatient. I was supposed to be married and working as a teacher several years ago, according to my life plan. However, I am not in complete control of that, unfortunately. Life has had other plans for me. I still don’t like it, because I do like to stick to my plans and be in control of every situation that I am in. I am learning ways to deal with it, though. I have found that simply exercising and eating healthy has transformed me mentally, emotionally, and physically in ways that I never imagined. Aside from running, I also go to the gym and ride a bike. Sometimes I go hiking on the weekends, which is a sort of spiritual experience for me. Being immersed in nature and away from the crowds is peaceful and relaxing.

 

Eating healthy has made a huge difference, and the more I read about it, the more I realize how food can truly be medicine or poison, depending on what it is. I eat mostly organic, whole foods. I eliminated gluten and dairy from my diet. I have greatly reduced the amount of sugar that I eat. I include a large amount of fruits and vegetables in my diet, as well as lean meats and whole grains(rice, flax, i.e. gluten free grains). I drink water and juice instead of soda or tea. I feel healthier, happier, and more energetic than when I didn’t pay attention to what I ate.

Studies show that eating healthy and exercising can greatly reduce your risk of cancer. Smoking, drinking, being sedentary, and eating processed foods will put you at a higher risk of developing several types of cancer. Read more on the American Cancer Society website below. Seriously, just eating healthy and exercise can help prevent cancer. I think it’s at least worth a try! It’s not a guarantee obviously. Life, unfortunately, gives us no guarantees, but why not put the odds in your favor:

<http://www.cancer.org/research/infographicgallery/prevention-studies-for-cancer?gclid=CP-3o5DjrL8CFQMT7AodtnoA_g&gt;

 

The bottom line is, diet and exercise is really all it takes to gain control of your life and become a healthier person. You have to find the exercise that works for you. Running is not for everyone, I know. Some people look at it as punishment. Yoga, long walks, or cycling are also healthy ways to exercise. As for diet, I think it is important to eat whole, organic, non-processed foods. Gluten and dairy are fine for some people. I have digestive issues, so I avoid inflammatory foods such as those. If you do eat gluten and dairy, just make sure you eat whole grains and organic dairy products. It’s just not a good idea to ingest pesticides, hormones, or chemicals in general. Try going to your local farmer’s market. The fruits and vegetables there taste so much better than what you find at the grocery story. Unlike prescription medications, there are no harmful side effects of exercise or healthy eating. Sometimes you have to take medication, but sometimes you can slowly move away from it if you develop a healthier lifestyle, or at least reduce your dependency on medication. So, get off the couch and get active! Then, eat something that will leave you feeling satisfied and energized instead of uncomfortably full.

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