Today was an incredible day. I was able to visit what I consider my sacred space twice in one week. And the experience was just as amazing as last time, and the time before that, and the time before that. I refer to this spot as my sacred space because it calls out to me, and I feel more connected while I am there, which is a pillar of ZooFit. And it completes my positive feedback loop for living green and training positive.
Positive Feedback Loops
I talk a lot about conservation with ZooFit. We discuss ways to eat green– eating sustainably for your health and the health of the planet. I often post workouts and encourage us to go outside to amplify the benefits of exercise by being outdoors. My newest program, Wildlife Wednesday, also exemplifies the idea of conservation fitness and moving with a purpose.
When we have fun in our workout or eat delicious food that nourishes us, we deposit a little more motivation in the bank which helps us complete our positive feedback loop for developing healthy habits.
Developing a positive feedback loop is sometimes a completely new idea for most of us. Most of the time, we focus on a negative loop, sometimes called a vicious cycle. The vicious cycle forces us to exercise as punishment for eating poorly. Or uses guilt to make us perform a certain way, eat a certain food, or do activities that we don’t find enjoyable.
Positive feedback loops feed upon themselves and focus on enjoyment and feeling good. We feel good about ourselves for doing our new healthy behavior. That feeling carries us a good part of the way, but when we get to that upward turn (things are difficult), we need a little boost to get us over the hump. Sometimes that’s the motivation in the bank. Other times it’s connecting our fitness goal to something outside ourselves. It can be our family, our community, or, what works best for me, conservation (the entire planet).
It’s Not Just About Me
The outside connection isn’t meant as a guilt-driven motivator but as a reminder. We have our fitness goals, but it’s not just about us. Sure, we are losing weight, or getting in better shape, or improving our energy and health. Those are important aspects, but connecting our fitness to something more than ourselves is super powerful.
When I don’t feel like riding my bike or walking to the store, I remind myself that it’s not just about me and my fitness. Riding my bike cuts down on my carbon footprint, which is something I strive to do every day. When I am tempted with the chocolate in the break room where I volunteer, I remind myself it’s more than an unhealthy treat for me. That chocolate has palm oil in it, and lots of refined sugar, both ingredients have a negative impact on the environment and wildlife.
I am empowered to resist temptation and to push myself to be an example of eating clean, living green, and training positive. And that gets me over the hump, completing the positive feedback loop, and continues on. I feel good about doing something positive for my health and fitness, and the cycle carries on.
How My Sacred Space Creates a Powerful Loop
So what does creating a positive feedback loop have to do with my sacred space? Well, as I mentioned, it truly connects me to the earth in a healthy and positive way. And it reinforces all my efforts to take care of myself and taking care of the planet.
Sacred Space for Eating Green
My sacred space doesn’t have a fast food cafe anywhere close by. So if I want to enjoy a snack on the trail, then I need to pack one myself. This is great for me, as I get to play in the kitchen, making curry cashew nuts, or hummus, or blackberry corncake. And then I also get to use our awesome picnic backpack to carry our picnic lunch.
But even off the trail, I want to nourish my body so hitting the trail is not a tumultuous task. Bagley Lake is not by any stretch of the imagination a difficult trail, but if I’m not taking care of my body, then it makes the trail not as enjoyable.
If I am not fueling my body for these trails, but instead just feeding my face, then the trail becomes something I have to do, not something I get to do.
Sacred Space for Training Positive
Just as going to my sacred space inspires me to eat right, on and off the trail, it also inspires me to move. Luckily, I don’t need a lot of motivation to do workouts and exercise, but this is something that has direct correlation.
I don’t have the best knees on the planet. So, for years, I haven’t been able to hike without severe knee pain. Even after getting knee bands and trekking poles for going up and down steep hills, hiking still irritated my knees. But after months working on glute exercises, losing weight (to reduce the impact on my knees), and moving more, I have seen a vast improvement. In fact, my last two hikes, I didn’t even need my knee bands.
This kind of feedback definitely completes the cycle and reinforces my continued effort to improve my fitness and keep on moving. I want to be able to hit the trail when I’m eighty or even ninety years old. If I want to accomplish that feat, I must work on it daily. And regularly remind myself of why. Heading to the mountains is a perfect reminder.
Sacred Space for Conservation
Conservation is the key pillar of ZooFit. I connect all my healthy habits to conservation and use that as a primary reinforcer to keep me motivated. All of my projects, from Wildlife Wednesdays to my presentations, feed the idea of helping ourselves to help the planet.
I have written about the importance of finding your sacred space, both for our health and for conservation efforts. But this is more than just passive conservation. Or maybe (since I’m coining the term anyways- I can make it mean whatever I want), it extends further than just inspiring yourself to act. Being out in nature, especially in your sacred space, brings out a version of yourself that shines bright for others to see. You are a radiant exemplar, and can even inspire others to behave in an environmentally conscious manner.
I’ve seen it before when my husband and I go plogging (picking up trash while walking around the neighborhood). Whenever we do workouts at the park, I see a little spark of inspiration in people’s eyes. And by being good stewards of the earth– cleaning up after ourselves, staying on the trail, being courteous and kind to other hikers– I hope I am extending that example onto others. Even if it’s in the most subtle and minute ways.
I love it when we have the mountain to ourselves. I’d be lying if I said those aren’t my favorite moments in nature. But I do like to see people engaged in nature, living green and training positive in their own way. And I hope that spark of being in nature inspires them to act in ways which will protect the environment and conservation efforts for future generations.
All the Seasons in One Place
One of the best things about our sacred space is how different it is every time we visit. Last week, it was rainy and cold. There was a thick fog which made it difficult to see very far, and we didn’t have great shots of the mountains. But it was still breath-taking. Even while we shivered under a shelter while eating lunch.
Today, just four days later, it was completely different. Hot, sunny, and clear. We could see for miles. And the colors on the mountains and the flowers were so magnificent.
I actually love how every time we visit, my husband and I pack the car for nearly all kinds of weather. Rain (light waterproof jackets), sun (sunblock), cold (gloves and layers), and heat (T-shirts and water).
I love how we have experienced all the seasons in one place. In March and May, we were hiking on about fifteen feet of snow, walking next to the top of trees. Gradually the snow started melting more, and we could make out more of the trail each time we visited.
This experience also connects me to nature in a healthy and positive way. I appreciate everything about my sacred space, and will do anything to protect it for my own pleasure, and for future generations to come.
Find Your Sacred Space
My sacred space is Bagley Lake in the Heather Meadows area of Mount Baker. It is a beautiful looping trail along a river and combines all four elements– earth, water, air, and fire (many of the rocks were formed by cooling lava from volcanic eruptions).
What speaks to you in a visceral way? Where do you feel connected to the earth in healthy and positive ways? What place calls to you and you feel alive and inspired every time you visit?
Go there, as often as possible, and use your sacred space to reinforce your love for conservation, your health, and the planet. Today, tomorrow, and forever.