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Fitness: Listen to Your Body

Listen To Your Body or It Will Take You Down

It happened again. My husband and I went on a short hike on a cliffside trail close to our home, and I didn’t listen to my body (right away that is). We were surprised to find this particular trail the last time we went for a walk in the area. It’s a vertical decline down a cliff to a beautiful rocky beach (and I am getting over a fear of heights). Over the ocean, in the distance, you can see Catalina Island. I knew I should have listened to my body when we reached the trailhead and I looked down.

Down was a long way, and I wasn’t confident I would be able to make it back up. There were two reasons I had these feelings. 1) I have two “uncooperative” knees, and they don’t like going down any hiking trail, much less one that goes straight down. 2) I knew that going all the way to the bottom meant I had to come back up, and I wasn’t all that sure I could do it with no endurance or stamina.

I’ll get right to it – I’m out of shape. Over the past few years, I had fallen entirely out of my regular exercise habit, one that I maintained when I was in my 30s and early 40s. Now I am 50 years old and just plain out of shape.

Not too long ago I proclaimed that I was committing to regular daily exercise, and while I have been working at making it a habit – it’s not quite daily, but close. Regardless, I just was not ready to do this strenuous of a hike without some prep work (walking on a relatively flat trail for an hour doesn’t count as preparation for this).

As we (my husband and I) started to descend the trail I immediately started freaking out a bit because it was steeper than we both expected. My body was giving me some minor signals (flutters in the gut, the strain on my ankles and knees) but I wasn’t heeding the messages. I encouraged myself to continue, and even my knees were doing well considering the incline.

It wasn’t until we started back up the trail that my body started screaming at me. About two minutes into the hike back up my heart was racing. I stopped, had some water and caught my breath. I can do this, I told myself. My husband kept reminding me to take it easy, and he was great about stopping when I needed to, which was often.

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Here I was, on the side of an oceanside cliff, wondering if I could actually make it to the top. My legs felt good, my knees didn’t bother me that bad, but my heart?  It didn’t like it one bit. My heart rate kept spiking to a point where I was a bit worried. A few times I thought I was having a panic attack, it was that bad.

I kept breathing and taking it one step at a time. It took us 13 minutes (I had my husband time us) to get to the top. Not bad considering, but man, I was out of breath.

Throughout the entire ordeal, I was in a struggle with my head and my body. My head kept saying, “you got yourself down here Corrie Ann, so you need to get yourself back up.” And my body was saying, “I hate you woman, stop doing this shit!”

The real pain came later that evening into the night. By then I was convinced I had heat exhaustion. I was nauseous, light-headed, my entire body hurt, my heart rate was a little elevated, I was fluctuating between hot and cold flashes, and my head was pounding. My body was giving me the full disciplinary action for my misdeeds.

The moral of the story is this – when your body starts giving you messages start listening. Listen for the wisdom of the situation and make your best decision. I should have:

  •  Stopped halfway down the cliff and waited for my husband to complete the hike (the view was fantastic).
  • Gone slower on the incline and drank a ton more water than I did (and I drink a lot of water).
  • Completed some “mini climbs” before committing to this entire cliffside climb.

Next time I will pay closer attention and listen. In the meantime, I will keep finding ways to stop hating exercise and incorporate daily movement into my life so that when we do move to the Rocky Mountains, I will be ready to hit the trails.

When was the last time your body sent you a message, and you didn’t listen?  Share in the comments – or head on over to the Clean Body Project Community Facebook group to join in the conversation.

About the Author Corrie Ann

Corrie Ann Gray is a writer, researcher, coach, and cookie enthusiast who lives in Los Angeles, CA. She started the Clean Body Project to share all of her knowledge and resources with others who are interested in running their own experiment into clean holistic living. She is also known as The Renaissance Soul Writer at www.corrieanngray.com.

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