Guest Blog: How I Found My Superwoman Within Atop Mt Leconte
by Lindsay Johnson
The "Be Fierce & Flourish Mt Leconte Climb Adventure" was my first trip alone away from my then one-year-old son. I suffered from postpartum depression for many months after his birth, so motherhood became an infinite struggle as I worked to build my identity, partly from what I was before he was born, but mostly into my new role as a mother and who I was apart from him. On the adventure trip we practiced yoga, moved our bodies, and practiced the act of “just being” in nature, exploring multiple layers within ourselves and discovering inner truths. I was able to lay more of the brick and mortar of my own identity that I so desperately needed after my son’s birth. Before this trip, I knew I wanted to move my own fitness and health journey into one that involved helping others to find theirs as well. I learned from Heather's (our trip leader) journey of facilitating others on this retreat and created a more clear vision of how to make that vision tangible and concrete.
I first met Heather several years ago, as she was one of my go-to yoga instructors at a local studio. I loved her style, her willingness and ability to challenge yogis to get out of their comfort zone while also listening to the needs of their bodies, and just her overall approach to the practice. When the studio closed, I continued my practice, as well as my friendship, with Heather, as she brought (and still brings) positivity to my life. Heather and I have always connected with our love of fitness, food, and finding peace and solitude in being outdoors, so as she began to expand her practice beyond the yoga mat, naturally, I joined her.
Before Heather began doing retreats, we shared many memories that revolved around feeding the body in multiple capacities: through nutrition and utilizing it as fuel for the body; through hikes, walks, and runs throughout the city in urban and secluded settings; and, through many laughs and talks over strength and yoga sessions, dinner, and even wine :) . I have always admired her knowledge and appreciation for yoga as a holistic practice beyond classes or even the mat, so when she invited me on her August 2015 retreat centered around yoga and a hike to the top of Mt. Leconte in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, I was immediately on board. I looked forward to the challenge and the opportunity to be in nature, but I didn’t know just how much the experience would alter my life’s compass.
On this retreat, I was one of several women, all from multiple walks of life and backgrounds, who came together with a seemingly solitary goal: to make it to the top of Mt. Leconte, a nearly 7,000 ft. elevation climb; not a feat for the faint of heart. However, though this goal began as the primary focus for many on the trip, including myself, the mountain became merely a cog in the holistic wheel of the trip. The trip became a chance to build community with other women, despite our differences. It became an opportunity to find within ourselves the capabilities we didn’t know we possessed. And it became a time of raw vulnerability that one must have in order to truly pave the path he or she wants. As we all shared food, friendship, tears, and discomfort, we also each grew exponentially, growth that carried far beyond the retreat’s end. For me, the experience became an inspiration to take from life what I wanted and needed without letting inhibitions and past preconceptions inhibit me. It helped to allow me to let go of the emotional staleness that was bolting me down.
After the trip, I began doing more strength training, as I knew my body would thrive on it, as the sense of empowerment I felt after the trip inspired me to discover the multiple benefits of resistance training. I began to practice more yoga and began making meditation a part of my daily life, something that has completed my life in ways I can’t describe in words. I have also made sure to make being outdoors a daily habit, even it’s for a short period of time. Research shows that mood and overall well-being are infinitely improved through creating a daily practice of being outside, in nature and fresh air, and I am proof. Through these incremental changes in my life, I began to unfold the potential I knew I had within myself to inspire others to change their lives.
As a result of finding empowerment on the gym floor and with weights (stemming from the retreat and hike up Mt. Letconte), last year (August of 2016) I became a certified BODYPUMP Ⓡ instructor, and I now lead others in a group fitness setting to achieve their goals and find their own self-empowerment. My regular participants (and new people I meet each day) express infinite gratitude for the energy and inspiration I bring them. During each workout, we really are a team. I also recently became a certified personal trainer (CPT) through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), and I’ve started doing CrossFitⓇ as part of my strength-training regimen. CrossFitⓇ pushes me beyond any threshold I thought I had, and it busted up any prejudices I had about women and strength and fitness. On my yoga mat, in my group fitness classes, and in my box (CF gym) are where I harness the wild and untamed superhero I hold within. And, I have Heather’s guidance and friendship to thank for being one of the instruments to help me find those gifts.
After Mt. Leconte, I later joined Heather on her retreat to Lake Tahoe, CA and the WanderlustⓇ Yoga Festival, but that experience is for another blog, as it changed me beyond measure. The point in sharing this experience and final detail is to express why I continue to join Heather on her journeys of self-exploration. She truly has a gift for empowering others, especially women, to find their own Superwoman within, and her retreats and other learning and growth opportunities are sure to help you find yours.
***Click HERE to find out more information about the upcoming "BE FIERCE & FLOURISH MT LECONTE CLIMB ADVENTURE."***