Health has been an important part of my life and healing. I became a vegetarian at the age of 21, and have since had to cut dairy out of my diet. After watching my father die of cancer, I became increasingly more aware of the quality of food I put in my body. Over the years I have switched to a primarily organic and whole food diet. I avoid extremely processed or artificial foods, and take special care to make sure that my body gets everything it needs to keep me healthy while adventuring. I rarely eat out, while at home or adventuring, and have found ways to buy healthy food on a tight budget, and maintain the same healthy food diet while adventuring, as I do at home.

I have always enjoyed cooking and baking, with a natural talent for knowing what goes well together, and a rare use of recipes. I have come up with some of my own recipes for meat free and dairy free foods, that have even the meat eaters asking for another helping. I am also learning to make my own vegan backpacking food at home, with the use of a food dehydrator. I will share my necessary packing items, recipes, and tips for eating well balanced vegan diet, while on the road or traveling.

While diet is important, so is exercise. Exercise is my drug of choice when it comes to treating my mental health needs. It helps with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and treats the physical side effects stress has on the body. I have daily needs for exercise, and have a variety that I do in helping my body remain strong and healthy for the adventuring that I do. I will share with you my exercise routine, tips for getting that daily dose of exercise in, and information about how best to train, prepare, and recover from the variety of adventure activities that I engage in.

The special care that I take with my diet, exercise, and sleep balance has effectively treated my mental health needs, and has allowed me to avoid medications designed to treat anxiety, depression, sleeping issues, and pain from inflammation. When I am traveling or adventuring, and am not able to get the proper balance, because I don’t sleep well, don’t get a balanced diet, or am spending all day sitting on a plane, I have learned some ways to cope with this, and medications that help me maintain balance when all else fails. 

I have become much more sensitive to medications, as I have gotten older, including developing some allergies that keep me from taking over the counter anti inflammatory medications, and having my system thrown off big time every time I have to take antibiotics. In my efforts to avoid taking medications, unless absolutely necessary, I have learned a lot about natural remedies, and the value of making sure my body has the right vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and probiotics. I have found a combination of natural products and practices, that keep me healthy (both mentally and physically), that help me recover quickly from high impact adventures, and that help keep my body in balance so it is more resilient to whatever I put it through.

I have also become increasingly aware of the importance of taking care of my pet’s health. I had a rescue dog develop diabetes, that would eventually lead to his early death, and cause me to learn a lot about what is actually in dog food. My current dog, a golden retriever named Maverick, has a ton of food allergies and this furthered my awareness of dog health, and how to take care of special dietary needs. Maverick is a healthy and active adventure dog, and his diet and exercise needs are just as important as mine.

I attended the Colorado Master Gardner Program, and always had a big garden at my farm, which was located in a higher elevation plains region, prone to wind and drought. I avoid chemicals in my food and garden, and learned a lot about natural methods of dealing with common garden pests. I can offer advice on how best to grow certain vegetables in this climate, and what types of flowers are good to grow here too. Growing your own food is not only healthy (and delicious), but it is therapeutic through the connection with the earth, and budget friendly in that you can freeze or can food so that it lasts throughout the season.

Coping skills are an important part of health, and I would like to share what I have found to work for me, when traveling, adventuring, and dealing with stress at home. My anxiety and PTSD makes it hard for me to be in public places, or confined spaces, with a lot of people. I spent two decades of my life avoiding airplanes due to this, and my true happy place is out in the woods, far away from civilization. There is nothing about the chaos of cities that I enjoy. I have had to develop coping skills to help me through these situations, in order to travel like I want to. There are other elements of my mental health needs that are an ongoing struggle, but learning my triggers, the importance of balance, and forgiving myself for my bad days, has helped me get through challenging times more quickly. It is an ongoing learning process, and with every step outside of my comfort zone, I gain confidence and skills.

I have found that a good balance of all the elements of health, are vital to my overall feelings of well-being and happiness. I have spent a lot of time learning about these topics and making gradual changes to see the impact. I find that when something makes me feel better, it is worth incorporating in to my health routine. Every year, I feel I am in the best shape of my life, and I have a better understanding for my body’s needs.