New Challenge – Summit Aconcagua Before:
It only took a few days for my Mount Elbrus summit euphoria to come crashing back down to earth. I’m pretty sure I’ve never been as unfit as the sorry state I let myself get into before the impromptu climb of Europe’s tallest mountain and I’m determined to never let that happen ever again.
Long-term travel is the sneaky bandit that steals your optimal health – especially if you gallivant the globe at my recent level of intensity.
“Eating vegan on the road is easy-peasy,” I often read, usually from well-meaning hipsters who gush about the array of colourful smoothie bowls they have at their disposal on business trips to Portland, or California.
That’s not challenging travel, it’s a glorified wee wander and I personally want to go everywhere. The cold, hard truth is the more adventurous you get, the harder it is to stay healthy when you have restrictions with food.
Refined carbs are not the only item on the naughty list here and no one forced me via gunpoint to try out most local alcoholic beverages on my trip – I did that with bags of enthusiasm and I have the E.T. physique to prove it.
On top of that, my levels of stress during my burnout were at an 8/10 on most days, with the added burden of getting by on very low-quality sleep. I craved routine and healthy grub, so I finally listened to my battered body and have hung my hat in a familiar city – Bangkok.
Now it’s time to get my teeth into a solid physical challenge…
… as the title suggests, I’m going to try and climb to the top of the beast of Argentina – Aconcagua, which is the tallest mountain in South America and of course one of the Seven Summits of the world.
It would be nice to officially confirm from this article that I am going to attempt the remaining five summits, but the truth is I’m very much humbled by the impending challenge and I just want to focus on doing all I can right now so that I am in the best fighting form possible to get to the top.
Good stress vs bad stress
It may seem somewhat oxymoronic to combat stress, exhaustion and poor health by climbing a bloody massive mountain, but I object, Your Honour!
Someone I deeply respect told me a few years ago that stress management is an illusion. The concept being that stress in the body can often be a good thing – it’s what kept our ancestors and us alive all these years after all.
It’s the type of stress that makes or breaks you. Bad stress eats away at us – its parasitic energy eats away, manifesting in the ugliest of forms. Good stress motivates us – it’s a powerful driving factor towards us achieving our goals, which in turn leads to more joy and satisfaction.
I’m at the baby stages of turning bad stress on its head and getting on the good-stress train … and I’m starting with Aconcagua in 47 days! (At time of published article). I feel so much more fulfilled when I am working towards a goal and this one is big enough (literally and figuratively) to intimidate me, so it’s game on!!
I’ll be attempting the formidable 6,962-metre ascent with my good mate Johnny from OneStep4ward.com on November the 30th. The climb will take 16 days, with 2 days being kept spare for any unplanned weather issues.
I’m training hard every day with HIIT classes for an hour, which I’ll be ramping up to twice a day within two weeks’ time. On top of that I have personal sessions with a strength coach and also a movement coach because I’m woefully stiff at the moment and my range of motion is goddamn horrendous.
All of this is at an award-winning functional fitness gym, so I’m in good hands here. The rest is up to me, along with the luck of the draw of avoiding altitude sickness on the big day.
A cheeky bit of home yoga courtesy of the brilliant Yoga With Adriene is also on the cards. I’m intimidated but hopeful and optimistic that I can do this. Physical fitness is a must, but so is mental fortitude – most of the hardest battles we have are fought in our minds.
Oh and an extra bit of incentive for us to get to the top – it’s off season in the Himalayas when we climb Aconcagua. So if we summit – we will be the highest people in the world! (Not including people on planes, that’s cheating. 😛 )
So here goes! I wish you more good stress than bad stress in life.
Song for the moment – “Go Big Or Go Home,” by The American Authors
So if we’re gonna go at all
Go big or go home”