The views are amazing, but the real joy is the feeling of accomplishment that comes from completing another trail.
I love hiking. It is easily one of my favorite things about living in Hawai'i. The views are amazing, but the real joy is the feeling of accomplishment that comes from completing another trail. Looking out from the top of a mountain after ascending 2000 feet, knowing that this time I traveled a little further or hiked a little faster is extremely fulfilling. It is worth the physical aches and pains—even the mental fatigue that can leave me in tears after a particularly intense hike.
Some people are surprised I hike as much as I do, since I am well over 250 pounds. After all, we all know fat people aren’t active. I suppose this would normally be the section where I talk about how I got fat, but frankly I don’t need to justify my body to anyone. It does not matter how I got here—whether through what is deemed socially acceptable weight gain or not. No one should need to prove some sort of body type legitimacy to be treated with basic respect.
“No one should need to prove some sort of body type legitimacy to be treated with basic respect.”
It took me a long time, but I have finally come to the realization that my body is perfect the way it is, and if you don’t like it—that is your problem. It has been liberating to finally be comfortable in my own skin. I am no longer afraid of being mocked while exercising, swimming, or even just wearing shorts. It isn’t that comments are not made, I have just stopped letting the fear of it define who I am.
The truth is I was not an "outdoors person" before I began visiting O'ahu, but I wanted to find a way to exercise I didn’t despise as much as the mind-numbingly boring elliptical machine. A big part of avoiding outdoor sports and activities was that I bought into what society said fat people could and couldn't do. How could I hike up a mountain? Wouldn't I hurt myself or strain my heart? Surely, it would do more harm than good.
So, I started small, slogging up paved trails like Makapu'u Lighthouse. My first trip up the mile long path I stopped over 20 times for water and to catch my breath. The next time I stopped half as much. It was exciting to be able to see my fitness level increase, and as it did I gained more confidence. I went up Kuli'ou'ou, Kealia, and Kokohead. Along the way I discovered I was an active person, that I actually enjoyed exerting myself on the trail. I have added scrambling and even some rock climbing to my repertoire.
Ironically, since accepting my body the way it was, I have changed it drastically. I have lost weight and, more importantly, become stronger and fitter. The fitter I feel the more I want to move and try new activities, and the more activities I attempt and enjoy, the more confidence I have. With that confidence comes a renewed respect for my body and what it is capable of. It is an amazing cycle that starts with self acceptance and love.