Monday, July 25, 2011

Tackling the Healthy Living Mountain

Normally I'd do a little ramble prior to starting the Friend Makin' Monday but today's topic excites me and deserves it's own post because I get to talk about my favourite subject: ME! Tanzania (and travel). So, without further ado, it's FMM!

Guideline: Answer the question on your blog, link to it in the comments over at All The Weigh and then comment on other peoples. So simple the Geico Gecko could do it!

FMM: Defining Moments
Was there a defining moment in which you realized that you needed to lose weight? If so, will you elaborate? (If you experienced this moment in some other area of your life, please feel free to share that too!)

My plane touched down at Kilimanjaro International Airport at 10:30pm. Once we left the lights of the airport, the absolute darkness of the place hit me. There were no street lamps and the only thing we could see was what as illuminated by the headlights of the Landrover. I thought the excitement of my first day would keep me awake but after two days of travel to get there, I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

Kara and my shared room until the volunteer quarters were completed. (I was the far bed.)

My first real look at my surroundings was the next morning when I rolled out of bed at 6:00am. I groggily wandered my way up to the Baby Home (fancy word for orphanage) for my first day of work. The first thing I saw was Mt. Meru beyond the compound walls.

Hand's down, this is the picture that most makes me ache for Tanzania.
Meru in the background, Baby Home on the right.

Every morning I looked at Mt. Meru as I made my way to the Home and I'd smile. It was my morning ritual. Even once we moved into the volunteer quarters and could cut into the home through the back door, I still walked the long way around so I could see Meru. It became my mountain. I searched for it from bus windows when returning from my holidays. I stared at it while contemplating life over a Coca baridi (coke cold). I wondered what the view was like from the top. While tourists to Tanzania talk about wanting to climb Kilimanjaro, I dreamed of Meru. For the first time in my life, I had to choose not to do something specifically because of my weight.

View of Meru from Deb's house. Her property ends at the start of Arusha National Park.

The kicker is that there is a very good chance I could have climbed Kilimanjaro but Meru was definitely beyond me. Kilimanjaro is not a physically difficult hike but it's a high hike. I am not saying it's a walk in the park, you still need to be relatively fit, but 90% of the time it's the altitude that does people in. If you have altitude experience and/or you take it slowly, you'll probably succeed.* Meru, however, is a difficult hike. The snob in me knew that for climbers, there's more climbers cred (if that actually exists) in saying you've done Meru than Kilimanjaro. This is one time I wanted to be a snob.

Mt. Meru and Jacaranda from roof top bar in Arusha during a day off.

When you summit Meru, you do it just before sunrise and then watch the sun rise over Kilimanjaro. I longed to do that. I still long to do that. And then I'll hug the ground and whisper sweet nothings to my mountain. You think I'm joking but I probably will do just that.

Unless there happens to be a nest of siafu near by. In that case, I'll whisper sweet nothings from the safety of my hiking booted feet. I've been bitten by them and they hurt!!

Every once and awhile, when I get into a 'why bother?' mood, I pull out my pictures of Meru and go through them. I honestly don't know if I'll ever get back to Tanzania (there's just so many awesome places I want to go to) but I want to know that if I do, I won't have to let Mt. Meru pass me by again.

Sunset on Meru

*My biggest piece of advice for climbing Kilimanjaro is this: each day you spend on the mountain raises the cost of the hike by a ridiculous amount (park fees alone are $100 per person for a 24 hour period) BUT it also greatly increases your chance of making it to the top. If you do not have a lot of altitude experience, take your time and choose a longer route. You may balk at the extra money the longer route costs but if you don't summit, then all your money will have been for nought.


RobinH said...

Coolest reason for wanting to lose weight *ever*! You win!

AndreaClaire said...

Ha ha! Thanks :)

Kris said...

What great motivation! I'm not into climbing mountains, but bungee jumping, zip lining, hot air ballooning... those are all things I would have had trouble with at 244 pounds, so I understand wanting to lose in order to do things you want to do!

Good luck!

AndreaClaire said...

Thanks. Even though there's still a lot of weight hanging in there, my cardio has increased a LOT and it's amazing the difference it makes in my willingness to get out and do things with other people. Before I'd only go if another 'slow person' was going but I don't worry about that any more :)

LRD2010 said...

Wow! This is a brilliant reason! I have to agree, Dearly Beloved is a Hiker (read - crazy person) and I want to be able to go hiking with him without wishing for death every 20 minutes! I should set a goal like this, inspirational!!

AndreaClaire said...

Hmm, maybe the Six Peaks Challenge? :)

LRD2010 said...

lol! Yeeahhhhh...... Babysteps! :D

AndreaClaire said...

Start with Snaefell, it's only 620m ;)

I'd love to do the Six Peak Challenge but without the time limit that people have made for it. I have a slightly crazy idea of hiking and biking it over a week or so some day. I guess then it wouldn't really be the Six Peak Challenge, more the Six-Peak-somewhat-lesuirely-bike-ride-and-climb-because-I'm-not-in-a-hurry-and-would-like-to-enjoy-the-countryside-as-I-go. Hmm, the title's a little long, might need to work on it :)