Mont Blanc: Losing Myself to Find Myself
In my twenties, I dreamed of travelling to Europe. But I thought it was just a dream …. too big for a small world girl from Brisbane. So I let the years go by and the dream slipped into the ether.
I met Randall, we had four children, then discovered travelling as a family.
At the back of my mind there was always a slippery sense of regret that I hadn’t taken the chance for adventure, before the responsibilities of life took hold.
Before I knew it I was in my mid 40’s, and completely occupied with raising a family and running a business. The family and the business were both doing well, but I realised it had come at the cost of my health and much of my happiness.
I always felt I took up too much space in the world physically and I felt constantly ashamed. Over the last few years, I worked with a psychologist and tackled the thoughts and beliefs that had been lurking behind my weight gain. It put me in a place where I was ready to appreciate my body and look after myself.
This time last year I was awake early, nervous and ready for the gastric bypass surgery I had thought long and hard about having.
The former lawyer in me had researched all the options, and what it would take to be successful. I realised quickly that I would need to embed movement into my life.
I thought about a fitness goal that would chase me hard enough to turn it from a “should” aspiration to a “did” achievement.
And once again, Europe called me.
Mont Blanc Adventure
I saw a post on Instagram two years ago of a woman who hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc, a series of mountain ascents that circle around the largest mountain in Europe, Mont Blanc – aptly called in English, the White Mountain, because it is always covered in snow.
I found myself thinking about that adventure frequently.
I had never hiked, and I weighed in at 128 kilograms, so the idea seemed far beyond me at first.
I put it on my mental bucket list – the place where “if only” ideas go to wither to nothing. But I knew this was never going to cut it.
So, instead, I reached out to a circle of friends and asked if anyone would join me in trekking Mont Blanc.
One brave friend said that although she had no experience either, she was up for an adventure too.
We got training, found a tour group and saved our pennies.
Three weeks ago, 56kgs down, and a year’s training under my belt, I boarded a plane to France. I left Randall and the kids at home, and embarked on the type of adventure I’d dreamed of as a sunburnt Brissy kid.
I flew out dreaming of mountain tops, with a twinge of trepidation at the idea of 111 kilometres to be traversed. The undulating route involves 1,000 metres up, and 1,000 metres down in a day.
I climbed every single one of those metres.
I stood on mountain borders straddling two countries. I climbed when my feet hurt. I climbed whether the sun beat down or the rain poured. I climbed along cliff edges, and I saw sights I couldn’t have imagined.
I grinned like a mad woman and made total strangers listen to me as I said over and over: “how amazing is this?”
It truly was.
I came home refreshed and re-energised. I came home to the tales of all the great meals Randall cooked during his solo parenting duties, all the washing that was kept up to date and the chores that were managed. I came home to hand drawn “Welcome Home” banners and big hugs.
And I came home to a new sense of self.
This morning I jumped on the scales for my weigh in and entered the number into my weight loss log.
And as I hit the submit button, one magic word appeared: normal.
Twelve months on, I have reached my goal to weigh in the “normal” range. I have shed 56 kilograms and my body has grown strong as I have made exercise a priority in my life.
I went to my GP just before I headed away to Mont Blanc and he observed that this decision has been life changing. Apart from the weight loss, he felt I had gained confidence. He is right.
Over the last year, I have lost more than weight. I have lost shame and gained peace and an appreciation for my life.
I don’t have a perfect body and I am still not a perfect person. I have no aspirations for either. But I am a happy, stronger person. I am healthier in body, mind and spirit.
I can literally climb mountains!
Death to the Bucket List!
As I stood at the peak between Italy and Switzerland – 2,556m above sea level, I made myself a promise.
I am never going to write a bucket list again.
I have found that working towards one goal is infinitely better than a list of ideas and dreams that never turn into a reality. Even if it involves taking the smallest steps forward, and years to get there.
So I also returned home to my next goal. Watch this space!
Maybe you have unfulfilled dreams slowly dying on your bucket list; or niggling regrets.
Maybe you really want a new job, a better job, a promotion, a tree change or an adventure.
Maybe you want to pay off your mortgage faster or retire earlier.
Can I encourage you to pick one clear goal and tell people about it?
Pick one clear goal and start taking steps towards achieving it.
Maybe it is throwing $10 a week into a bank account.
Maybe it is starting to get your body moving.
Maybe it is seeking out someone in a job you really want, to get some advice on what you could do to land yourself that type of position.
Take action, real action.
Trust me – standing on the other side of achieving that goal, knowing how hard you worked to get there, will make it all worthwhile.
I would love to hear what goal you have for yourself.
And if you need help getting there, sing out.
Tricia Velthuizen – Mountain Climber!