Get Tips and Advice from the guides at Mountain Trek. Nutrition, Hiking, Sleep, Detox and Fitness are just some of the topics we cover.

5 Reasons You Need to Start Hiking in 2019

We’re meant to be outside. The terrible thing is, most of us spend over 2,000 hours at our desks yearly. That’s like watching The Titanic 616 times in a row. The stress, the long hours, the sedentary nature of our chair-bound lives—it’s all sucking the life out of us.

This year, take it outside. More specifically, go hiking. Time spent hiking doesn’t just burn calories, it helps cell health, lowers stress levels, balances hormones, improves immunity, and deepens sleep. How? It all boils down to ditching your devices and immersing in nature.

By simply trading your iPhone, iPad, iPod, i-you-name-it for a walk amongst the trees, you’ll immediately notice a sort of cellular exfoliation. You’ll feel alive. Truly alive. This is because, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, in nature, you’re exposed to terpenes, a naturally-occurring hydrocarbon in plants and animals that are neuro-protective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumorigenic. Don’t ask us exactly how they work—all we know is they do the body good.

That’s just the beginning. According to the School of Forestry and Resource Conservation, forest bathing, by which they mean spending at least two hours in nature, is a meaningful way to significantly lower pulse rate, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Their study also found short bouts in nature to be “an effective psychological relaxation strategy.” Turns out the forest engages all of your senses—your mind stills, and you reconnect to your soul.

Going on a three to four hour hike can burn serious calories—over 1,500 if you really get after it. Beyond the obvious benefit of burning fat and losing weight, this type of medium-intensity, extended-duration exercise does two things. First, it elongates our deep-sleep stage, which is the most restorative stage of sleep that sees the release of growth hormones. Second, it reduces our levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is directly linked with memory loss, poor immune function, decreased bone density, increased weight gain, cholesterol, blood pressure, heart disease, and the list goes on. It’s a no-brainer that cortisol wreaks havoc.

This is why we say 2019 is about booting up—the benefits are too compelling not to. John Muir, the “Father of the National Parks,” once said, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” No matter what you’re seeking this year, make sure you look outside first.

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of hiking, please contact us and send us an email or give us a call.

New Year’s resolutions with Kirk

Last year, I took a week off from my Bay Area-based job to enjoy a week at Mountain Trek. I won’t deny the first few days were difficult—sugar is my vice—but mid-way through the program I noticed a fundamental change within—a change so monumental I decided to leave my job and start creating written content for the retreat. To kick off my role as Mountain Trek’s Content Creator, here is my first interview with Kirkland Shave, Program Director. 

From cutting out ketchup to reading a book monthly, I’ve made my fair share of New Year’s resolutions. And with that, I’ve had my fair share of non-successes. Mid-way through my year of no ketchup, I convinced myself I could have a little dollop every Sunday, then weekends-only, and, soon enough, the sweet, salty, tomatoey sauce made its way into every. single. meal. The year I vowed to read more, read more I did—of Instagram and Facebook.

Concerned for what the onset of 2019 brings–what should I resolve to do differently this year, tangibly, spiritually, you name it, and how can I actually, finally triumph?–I reached out to Kirk to learn the ins and outs of successful goal-making.  


Thanks for talking New Year’s resolutions, Kirk. Let’s start with yours.

Here’s the twist: I don’t make them. Over the years, I’ve learned the changes that stick for me come from allowing enough time for daily introspection—for noticing imbalances and truly feeling, in my deeper self, where I need to create harmony.

I wouldn’t know where to even begin with the harmonizing. What do you suggest?

Pick something manageable. For me, I choose an action I can routinely integrate in a very real way, be it with friends and family or at work. If I don’t find a way to meld my goals with my routine, I end up self-sabotaging, giving up, and feeling defeated. Or like a failure. Neither of which are productive.

What are you currently working on?      

Not allowing for 12 hours of non-ingestion between my last intake at night and my first meal the following day. Today’s intermittent fasting fad isn’t my motivation; doing a natural, daily fast is.

What sparked your desire to fast for 12 hours during the night?  

I’m currently traveling through rice farming villages in South East Asia, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how everything follows the sun. Research shows that digestion while we sleep interrupts autophagy, the body’s opportunity to not utilize energy (from food), instead going into a recycle—repair period. Ideally done for 12ish hours, this time of non-digestion naturally boosts cell health and longevity.

Late-night cookies, pre-bed ice cream, you name it, I’m a post-dinner snacker. How do you combat the urge to eat right before turning in for the night?

I set my alarm to remind me to brush and floss at 7PM. Once my teeth are clean, I think twice about looking for a snack. Am I always successful? No; I’m human. That said, by brushing my teeth right after dinner three times per week, I’m slowly but surely forming a habit. After a few months, I’ll add a day. As they say, “Inch by inch, life’s a cinch; yard by yard, life is hard.”     

What 3 things does it take to help fulfill the lifelong pilgrimage of health and vitality in the wake of curve balls?

  1. Patience
  2. Curiosity
  3. Incremental change—make actionable micro-resolutions you can subtly develop into habits

Using Mountain Trek’s 5 pillars of health—destress, detox, sleep, fitness, nutrition—how can I help myself feel revitalized?

I recommend not trying to tackle them all at once; pick one pillar and make one micro-resolution. For example, if you’d like to work on sleep, you could make a micro-resolution to be in bed (and asleep!) by 10PM three times per week, and not wake until 6AM, earliest. If you’d like to work on fitness, you could resolve to take the stairs whenever you have the option of using an elevator or escalator at least twice per week. Start small and the results will be bigger.


Thanks, Kirk, for the insight. I was going to go cold turkey on sugar again this year, after only making it a couple of weeks last year, but now I’ll rethink my intention. I need to find a way to make eating less sugar something I can bake into my routine more successfully. Going cold turkey on it doesn’t work in the long run.

To set yourself up for some serious mental, physical and emotional success in 2019, read more about why your resolutions are doomed, and how 2019 is all about the micro-resolution. For brownie points, log your micro-resolution for this year in our Micro-Resolution Tracker. Hold yourself accountable, and get after it.  

 

-Hannah Timmons

Set Micro-Resolutions To Succeed In 2019

How doing less will help you achieve more

Ringing in the New Year is supposed to be exciting. The thing is, it’s often far from. While smearing trout atop countless cucumber rounds for the night’s festivities, we’re reminded how our New Year’s resolutions didn’t last more than a few, by which I mean maximum two, of the 52 weeks we were supposed to uphold them. We’re reminded we don’t have the willpower. We don’t have the discipline. We’re “failures”.

Just writing these words bum me out. Because in reality,we’re not powerless. we’re not negligent. we’re not a failure. If anything, we’re simply overachieving, and, in turn, we’re setting ourselves up for not accomplishing our goals.

We’ve looked at this problem long and hard (Learn the top 5 pitfalls of typical Resolutions). Let me introduce you to what will forever change not just your sentiment around the New Year, but your life: micro-resolutions. Micro-resolutions are simple, concrete actions that compound over time to achieve a goal. Tiny behavioral changes you can form into daily habits. These are the key to making lasting changes.  Micro-resolutions, even though the seem less impactful, are twice as likely to succeed as typical goals. These small wins will add up over time to be something far greater than any goal you have set in the past.

With that, I’d like to suggest that 2019 be about being less ambitious—about making intentions so doable they seem trivial. Because if it’s drastic, it’ll feel too foreign, and you won’t bake it into your routine. Chose a micro-resolution that can build upon an existing behavior;something specific and personal. The less abstract your goal, the easier it will be to enforce because you won’t be quite so resistant.

Here’s an example. Last year, I made the lofty New Year’s resolution to cut out all refined sugar, primarily because I thought it would bring my hormone levels into harmony. At first, the arbitrary line I drew was no desserts, cookies, doughnuts, chocolate, candy, waffles, ice cream and brownies. No sweetened yogurts, cakes, milkshakes, you name it, either. I was going cold turkey.

Not even one week later (yes, you have permission to laugh), I was tricking myself into chocolatey granola bars—they’re healthful and fibrous and good for the heart, no?—and jam-topped toast, because jam’s practically a fruit, right? My goal—no sugar, at all, ever—was too ambitious. It caused me to crumble, and quick.

This year, I’m tackling the same sugar-free resolution, but with a micro-resolution mindset. Instead of saying none, ever, my micro-resolution is: enjoy two desserts per week. Seems doable, right?  This means I can still enjoy a vanilla yogurt every now and then, and I won’t feel so painfully deprived. By moderating my sugar intake instead of ending it, hard and fast, I’ll be able to more-easily achieve  my ultimate goal of hormonal balance. Win, win.

Here are some more examples of how to turn over-ambitious resolutions into manageable micro-resolutions:   

 

Resolution Micro-resolution
To eat healthier To cook one new healthy recipes per week
To sit for only four hours daily To stand at my standing desk every morning while I read my emails
To never use my electronic devices around my children To leave my phone at the front door when I get home Monday through Friday
To lose 20lbs To eat breakfast three times weekly
To exercise every day To go for an energizing hike, at least 60 minutes, four times monthly
To give up alcohol To only drink on the weekends, Friday included, after 5pm
To sleep more To get to bed at 10 pm on Tuesday of every week

 

As the author John Bytheway says, “Inch by inch, life’s a cinch. Yard by yard, life’s hard.” Setting concrete, actionable micro-resolutions will seem easy at first, because they are inch-big improvements, but over time will compound into dramatic, mile-sized changes.  

We also discovered that actually writing down your micro-resolutions, instead of keeping your goals to yourself, dramatically improves your chances of success. This happens because once anyone else knows about your goal, it becomes more real than ever. You are no longer accountable to just yourself, but everyone who knows what you are trying to accomplish. To help you accomplish your goals this year, we’ve created a simple micro-resolution tracker. Using it will make you three times more likely to succeed!

I wish you the best of luck this year and hope to see you in British Columbia!