How to Believe In Yourself When No One Else Will

Once upon a time, someone believed I could be a mountaineer. And it changed my life. When you’re doing something that huge and scary for the first time, it’s hard to know how to believe in yourself. You almost need someone else to believe for you.

I remember standing next to my instructor looking up at my first couloir. It looked completely vertical, this thousand-foot wall of snow. “You can totally do this,” he kept telling me as sweat broke out on my forehead. “You’re gonna love it.” And he was right.

But you can’t always rely on other people for your courage and motivation.

Because in the outdoors — and in life — you will eventually run into naysayers and nonbelievers. Honestly, the better you get, the more of these you will have. Continue reading How to Believe In Yourself When No One Else Will

7 Ways to Push Through Pain in the Outdoors and Life

So last weekend, we tried to climb Snowmass Mountain (14,092’) in the snow. Wow, talk about having to push through pain.

To give you an idea, we ended up hiking 22 miles with over 5,000 feet elevation gain in 48 hours. All on about one hour of sleep. With 50-pound packs

Usually when I hike, I have music in my head and cheeseball joy in my heart. But as we descended (slowly) toward the car, I got stuck in a black place. I felt nothing but my sore toes and tired legs and burning hatred of the monster on my back.

As endurance athletes, we’ve all probably experienced these moments (or hours) of suffering. It comes with the territory. There’s not much you can do during a tough race, climb, or hike, but push through the pain.

Or is there? Here are seven tricks to help you tap your reserves of resilience and mental fortitude when the going gets tough. Come to think of it, some of these work off the trail, too.

Continue reading 7 Ways to Push Through Pain in the Outdoors and Life

How to Motivate Yourself to Work Out When You’re Training for Something Big

It you’ve ever trained for a really big mountain — or an epic ride, or just a summer of all-purpose badassery — you know that its tough to keep the fitness momentum going. It’s freaking grueling to motivate yourself to work out week after week for months, especially when a lot of the work is mind-numbingly repetitive.

(And if you’re there right now, I totally feel you. I’m climbing Mount Ranier in July, and some days I’d rather eat a broken glass salad with diesel dressing than do another Stairmaster workout with a backpack.)

But if you’ve got a big feat of badassery in your sights, take heart. Here are five (semi) painless ways to motivate yourself to work out through months of punishing training. Continue reading How to Motivate Yourself to Work Out When You’re Training for Something Big

9 Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others When Everyone Else Is Oh-So Badass

A few weeks ago, I almost quit my high-altitude mountaineering class. Not because it was too hard or too scary. But because when you’re surrounded by die-hard badasses, it’s really hard to stop comparing yourself to others.

Seriously, the boys all carried 80 pounds for fun. The girls were trim size zeroes. Everyone had top-notch gear and a bottomless bank account to buy even more. When we hiked, I was a mile behind. After the hike, I’d eat a hamburger and everyone else would order a gluten free quinoa bowl.

Granted, this stuff was probably more my own distorted perception than reality.  And you know? It was really ridiculous. Because comparing yourself to others has to be one of the most pointless things you can do.

It didn’t improve my motivation or make me a better teammate. (Who wants to hike with Miss Bitter Pants?) Hell, it almost derailed me from a goal I’ve sunk oodles of time and money and passion into.

But how do you rally when it seems like everyone around you is fitter, faster, richer, prettier, skinnier, luckier, more in love, and has a better couch? Here are a few things that have helped me. Continue reading 9 Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others When Everyone Else Is Oh-So Badass

What Living Under a Terror Threat for 2 Years Taught Me About Life

When I accepted a job at an international school in Jakarta, almost no one was excited for me. I was living in Shanghai at the time, so my coworkers were pretty adventurous souls. But everyone seemed focused on the terror threat hanging over Indonesia.

“Don’t go there now,” one Australian couple told me straight up. Which wasn’t totally unreasonable, given recent events. Continue reading What Living Under a Terror Threat for 2 Years Taught Me About Life

13 Signs He Just Isn’t Badass Enough for You

If you are a badass girl with an insatiable thirst for adventure, it’s no doubt happened to you.

You meet a boy who’s cute, fun, shares your bizarre passion for stout beers, Henry Rollins, and shuffleboard. He kisses like a nuclear meltdown. He happily costars in your Instagram feed. In bed, it’s strictly ladies first. And HOW.

Your friends are charmed. Your dog wants him to throw the ball.

And yet, you have nagging doubts. Because as cool as he is, he also seems a little … safe. Seriously, could you really make it long-term with someone whose adventure dream is a weekend at Sandals Cancun buying Budweiser with U.S. dollars? But it’s so hard to see straight through the hormone-charged haze of early couple-hood. Continue reading 13 Signs He Just Isn’t Badass Enough for You

How to Be a Fearless Badass in the Outdoors and Life

A family friend just told my mom, “It’s so great that your daughter isn’t afraid of anything.” Which was really nice — and also shows how wildly misleading social media can be.

Because I’m afraid of freaking everything. I hate flying. I hate spicy rappel starts. I wear my helmet on class 2+ scrambles. Overseas, I worry about getting bitten by rabid dogs and Japanese B encephalitis. I’m convinced everything I eat is going to poison me.

You probably can’t tell from Instagram and Facebook. But it’s true.

But as you adventuring types know, life takes courage. A lot of the stuff we want — freedom, experience, excitement, love — is on the other side of fear. Continue reading How to Be a Fearless Badass in the Outdoors and Life