Monday, January 4, 2010

Resolving to hit the trail

I’ve always thought it was pretty funny to make a resolution the day after a week of indulgences ends. As if for some reason we actually have the willpower to promise away all of the treats we consumed over the previous week, while at the same time some of us are stuffing our faces with pork and sauerkraut, juices still dripping down our chins as we curl up for a midday nap.
Because really, aren’t most resolutions just about being more healthy and to take better care of ourselves? To make the choices we know we should be making but really that pork and sauerkraut taste so good we might as well have one more helping while we can because we can always get up early the next day and go for a jog?
The only resolution I ever made that didn’t have involve calories and sweating was a few years ago when I decided that I would do whatever it took to finish each load of laundry in one day. This brainy idea lasted a few weeks until I reverted to my old routine which required us to streak through the house on a quest to find clean undergarments. It was then, with my kids shivering in only their bath towels, that I realized that resolutions cannot be life changing. It’s impossible.
Almost as impossible as trying to find a matching pair of socks in four laundry baskets.
If I’ve learned anything from being a mother to young children, it’s that the reward system really does work. Eat your dinner and all of your veggies? Get a popsicle. Use the potty? Have a sticker. Practice the piano? I won’t scream and yell. It’s really a win-win situation for us all. Some may call it bribery, but I like to think of it as positive reinforcement.
So this year, as we welcome 2010 and hang our new calendars, I’m planning on using positive reinforcement. Will there be sugar and stickers involved? Probably. I won’t lie, especially since I’ve made this year’s resolution family wide and will drag (or be dragged) until we make our goal.
In the year 2010, I resolve that my family will hike 100 miles.
Oddly enough I made this decision long ago, on a delightful day on the trail when there was little whining and even fewer mosquitoes. But back then it seemed like a really good idea, and I suppose in a way, my actual resolution will be not to resolve to laughing at myself and actually sticking with the plan.
We chose 100 miles because it was something significant, and we chose the woods because that’s where we are happiest. It will be a daunting task but one that I think will make us all feel good about ourselves if we can actually achieve it. And we will achieve it. I will make sure of that.
Because when it comes to positive reinforcement, I am not one to give up. It may take me fruit snacks and M ‘n’ M’s by the case, but I am bound and determined to welcome 2011 with my boots a bit more worn, my head a little higher, and my own taste buds smiling, because I know full well that I’ll be using positive reinforcement on myself as I down dark chocolate covered coffee beans along the way.
Yes, bribing myself because 100 miles is a long way to go for a busy family. I won’t deny that in the back of my mind I imagine myself hauling three children in a sled through the snow come December 31, 2010 around in circles until we have met the full 100 miles.
“And miles to go before we sleep, and miles to go before we sleep.” And as I whip a few stickers and some candy back at them, “until we get up and eat some pork and sauerkraut.”

100 mile GORP
“Good Old Raisins and Peanuts” is just a starting point.

Dark chocolate chips (not for summer fare)
Salted almonds
Sweetened banana chips
Small pretzels
Carmel corn

Mix together and store in small containers. Great for munching on and off the trail.

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