Why to Go Barefoot: An exploration into earthing

Displaying IMG_20150728_202823.jpgSo I am not sure where my intrigue with being barefoot comes from, maybe it is primal instinct, but regardless when I wrote about walking last week, it only made since to talk about shedding shoes.

I guess it began in childhood. I grew up in the country. Going barefoot was the norm. If I needed to pop outside I would, putting on shoes took much time and effort, even if it meant walking across gravel.

Another pivotal barefoot moment came when I began reading (maybe a bit obsessively) Mark Sisson’s about 6+ years ago. Actually even before this, because my family has been lifting weights barefooted for over a decade (just like yoga you do shoeless). Anyways I thought about Mark: What are those toe shoes on his feet? I had to have some. At the time people in Terre Haute had no clue about them. Are those socks on your feet? What the hell do you have on your toes? Are those comfortable? Always my response was: it’s like I don’t have shoes on. The more I wore my shoes or went completely barefoot, the more of a change I felt. Less time wearing shoes really shaped up my calf muscles and legs (there for a bit I actually kept a photo journal). After long hikes in the mountains, I could feel how my feet and legs had worked to adapt to the ever-changing terrain. I could feel my feet grip the ground as I took off in sprints. Part of my research led to the idea that shoes weaken the feet because they cut off the small muscles and bones in your feet. Working it’s way up, that throws the rest of your leg joints and back out of whack. I didn’t wear gloves when I lifted or back braces, same idea. I wanted to use what I had, to strengthen what was there. Muscles correspond. You need a strong core to have a strong back. Muscles in the front correspond with muscles in the back. Why not my feet as well? And then I looked at my foot. I wish I had a before pic of it. My arches. My arches are beautiful and curved perfectly now, compared to the slight flatness I had before. Your body is genius and complex, we have no clue of the full miracle that is our body and all the complex feedback loops it has. The foot is designed to walk. We did it for how long? Shoes are truly like a newborn in the grand scheme of time. The arch is meant to absorb shock. Not to mention how foot strike has changed overtime. Look at barefoot runners, who strike mid-foot or on the toes. A natural human stride. Whereas most shoes with their arches replacing our arches, cause us to strike on our heels. I know so many people with plantar problems. Why cover the foot up? Why not use it? Kind of like steroids. Your body naturally produces testosterone, so when you take it synthetically, your body minimizes production. You are then dependent on the man-made stuff. We weaken our feet and now we are dependent on shoes companies. As a simple, minimalistic girl, I am all about some barefootness. Continue reading “Why to Go Barefoot: An exploration into earthing”

Hit a Trail

“The day we stop exploring is the day we commit ourselves to live in a stagnant world, devoid of curiosity, empty of dreams.” ~Neil deGrasse Tyson

To fully appreciate this piece you may check out my post from Monday about my torrid love affair with walking (I’ve walked to work everyday this week). I would like to progress further on the piece. Because walking and movement is great, but one of my greatest passions in life (besides connections, cooking, and writing) is HIKING. I crave it. I get restless. My body aches to be outside. I NEED, I HAVE to hike. Period. Ask anyone who knows me. For the happiest Brittany. For the creative Brittany. For the eternal optimist Brittany. For the inspired Brittany. For the clear-headed, serene Brittany. I MUST HIKE. It saves me, over and over again. The moment I step into the woods I feel peace. I feel calm. Gone are my worries, and left is the potential and possibilities I feel in Nature. As if the trees can somehow filter out the bullshit of everyday life.

Tomorrow morning I have my alarm set early so I can beat the sun and be on a trail to chase its rise. Why? Why should we hike? Why should you hike (besides being moved to awe by my words and photos and banter)? Here are some of the given reasons for hiking, but as I find in life I think it’s important to always find your own reasons. How do you feel when you hike? What are you passionate about? What drives you? What do you yearn for?

Reasons to Hit a Trail

  • 1625603_10100900799447953_3973042893055115963_nHappier! A mood boost. Being outside boosts serotonin, those feel-good neurotransmitters. Plus you have the Japanese derived concept of forest bathing. Get in trees, let them swallow you up. Stand in awe of a mountain. Watch wildlife. Take off your shoes, get in there. Lay down, feel the good energy and vibes. Listen. Listen to the music of Nature. Breathe. Smell. Take in the smell of the trees. When someone told me I smelled like the outdoors, I resounded with an affirmative: thanks. This is also good then for depression. When I was going through one of the toughest times of my life, I was at least grateful and able to remain positive because I was in the mountains, for those mountains saved me.
  • Sensory stimulation. Watch wildlife. Take off your shoes, get in there. Lay down, feel the good energy and vibes. Listen. Listen to the music of Nature. Breathe. Smell. Take in the smell of the trees. When someone told me I smelled like the outdoors, I resounded with an affirmative: thanks. Touch. Touch that tree. Dip your toe in a stream. Get all those senses involved. Let them participate.
  • Concentration. Man I can’t tell you the level of focus I get on a hike. How acute my senses are. How connected I am. How crisp my thoughts are. The awareness of my body in time and space.
  • Creativity. Hiking fuels my creativity. I write blogs in my head as I walk. I envision photo shoots. I conceptualize recipes. Ideas flow one after another after another.
  • They say it can trigger our primal regions of the brain and psyche, which if you think about it, seems about right. We used to walk/run everywhere, of course that is going to connect us to where we came from.
  • Sleep. I am a total research dork, I do it for fun. I can not tell you how much I have read about sleep and light patterns. Basically we want to pick up on circadian rhythms. Rise and fall with the patterns of the suns/light and our neurotransmitters. The sun is rising, serotonin kicks in to wake us up. It’s dark, melotonin kicks in and we get sleepy. So if we spend time in the natural sunlight and less around artificial light, would that then not promote a circadian rhythm? To me this logic makes since. And here I will write a post: Hit a Pillow, about all the beautiful benefits of sleep.
  • An Experience. Whether you are taking a few days to camp and explore the backcountry, or a day to climb a small mountains, or you go out for an afternoon park visit with friends, there is always an experience to be had.
  • Change. I am a restless soul. Stagnancy and routine kind of scares the shit out of me. Life is changing. Our bodies our changing. In a decade, none of the cells in our body will exist. Nature is a constant state of change. I remember a view years ago I read that success was our ability to deal with uncertainty. Because as much ‘control’ as we think we have, we are never truly in control. And so I like hiking because it is always different, Even if I tread the same trail everyday. Just check out my pics from my favorite local park in different seasons. The gym is the same everyday. Get outside, embrace change.

Continue reading “Hit a Trail”

Why Walk?

11695771_10101015304159593_1006781885763692706_nIn Wildness is the preservation of the world.” Henry David Thoreau

I love walking. I walk everywhere. I feel like Where’s Waldo. Who can spot the purple-haired girl first? There she is!!!

I live in a community where commuting is, I feel, in it’s infancy. I am a novelty. What are you doing? Can I give you a ride? Is something wrong with your car? Are you sure I can’t give you a lift? Then when I explain that I have chosen to walk, you can imagine the looks. Gasp. Googly eyes. In those moments, I feel like an alien. Really? Why? Once upon walking with my pack in the country I stumbled across an older gentleman offering to give me a lift. When I explained I was practicing walking, he brushed it aside: You’ll grow out of that. Does this seem like a problem to anyone else?

For a walking, Nature lover like myself, you can imagine my excitement when I run across support for my lifestyle choices. I stood at the grocery store and Organic Life magazine stared me down in the aisle. On the side in beautiful white letters, it said: WAYS THAT WALKING CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE. It was in my hands before I actually had time to register what I was doing. My body, my intuition craved what that article had to say.

For years I have found solace in walking. Over time the relationship between my gait and I has blossomed into a full-blown love affair. Growing up, my father pushed an outdoor lifestyle, but as I have found, discovering (re-discovering) things on your own is the most fulfilling sensation. One summer in high school, I began walking the mining hills behind our home in western Indiana. There was something about it. I ached for more. More time in the woods. More connection. More trees. More air. More hills. More climbing. More views from the top. More of that feeling. That feeling of life. That stitch in my side. The increased heart rate. Feeling my lungs work harder, as I climbed and climbed. My legs burning. Sweat dripping. I had to keep going. For I never want this feeling to go. I live for this invigoration. Then I Continue reading “Why Walk?”