Podcast: Mindset, Perfectionism, and Resilience in the Outdoors

Replacing Self-Doubt and Perfectionism in the Outdoors with Compassion and Inclusion

I recently joined Jacalyn Gross on the Women Empower Active podcast to chat about our outdoor stories and mindset reflections. The podcast is a production of UR Sportswear, a running apparel brand for women. Jacalyn and I had an open and honest conversation that we hope will normalize the messiness of each of our outdoor journeys.

Jacalyn and I focus on different outdoor activities in very different environments–she’s primarily a trail runner in the Pacific Northwest, and I’m a skier, backpacker, and nordic skater in Alaska. We had a great time chatting about the themes that are common to both of us, and we bet you’ll relate to our stories, too.

We focused a lot of our chat on how mindset matters in the outdoors, and what a difference it can make for our experiences. We talked about the power of community and our hopes for inclusivity and acceptance in outdoor spaces. Plus, we peppered in some practical thoughts on injury resilience, too. And plenty more!

Below, we’ve taken notes on the specific time points of each subject to help you navigate the episode and give you a flavor of what we talked about.

Topics covered include: 

  • (2:00) A quick recap of my athletic and outdoors background
  • (8:16) My current favorite activities, including some details on nordic skating on wild ice!
  • (14:21) All about the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic!
  • (25:18) Self-doubt and the power of breaking through our own glass ceilings
  • (28:33) Re-orienting my approach to outdoor time and a story about self talk
  • (36:05) The theory behind Mind & Mountain’s programs
  • (40:00) Unlearning perfectionism and high achievement mindsets
  • (42:21) Injury resilience and balance
  • (46:02) Creating welcoming cultures outdoors and finding your people
  • (53:51) Wrap up and where you can find more info

I loved this conversation and I hope you’ll give it a listen! If you have thoughts or any of these topics resonated, I'd love to hear from you! 

Where to listen: 

You can also read the full transcript of the interview below.



Episode Transcript: 

Jacalyn 0:00
Hi, this is Jacalyn the host of women in power active I'm here to tell you about anchor anchor is an easy platform to make a podcast on anchor has tools that allow you to record and edit your podcast right from your phone or computer when hosting an anchor. You can distribute your podcasts on listening platforms like Spotify, Apple podcasts, and there really are a lot more not just those two, I think we're on like eight anchor sent the podcasts out to those other platforms. So that was really really easy. It's everything you need to make a podcast in one place truly is anchor is totally free, download the anchor app or go to anchor.fm to get started. Welcome to women in power active and initiative started by you are sportswear to empower women to find their own active adventure. I'm your host Jacqueline gross. Today we are speaking with Sarah his stand pronouns she they, Sarah is an incredible person. And I just really enjoyed this conversation, I feel super lucky to have had the opportunity to speak with her. And they share such an amazing story with their wilderness classic adventures, and sky skating. Sarah will go into those things more in depth in the interview. And also Sarah has a company called Mind and mountain where she trains you not only physically but also emotionally. And I think that's really important because a lot of the times the roadblocks we put up are our own and we stop ourselves from doing things. And it's really important that you're not only just training your body, but you're also training your mind to be supportive of your body. I now know the importance of that. And I'm working on being more positive. Myself had such an incredible conversation with Sarah, I really think you're going to enjoy this episode. Awesome. Well, thank you for doing this. I'm very excited. I just want to dive in with like, how did you become active? How did this journey happen for you?

Sarah 2:14
Well, so I I'm a lifelong Alaskan. And I was born and raised up here. My parents are from the Midwest. So they are from like Ohio, Indiana area. And so growing up up here. They are kind of new to Alaska, and we saw but we grew up doing kind of mellow outdoorsy stuff like canoeing and some little hikes and things definitely like sledding in the winter. Like a big part of living up in Alaska is that like, you have to be outside pretty often or else it's going to be pretty boring. So that was I like that was early life. And then after I left the state for college and then came back in my 20s and started to get more into the outdoor recreation world. Like started, I spent some time working in national parks and was introduced to people who are doing more ambitious backpacking, and mountaineering and backcountry skiing and some of the more like sportier outdoorsy things. And that's been kind of the focus of my life ever since. Trying to get into those sports in ways that like as an adult learner felt like it's been quite a journey to grow my skill set and make mistakes along the way and push the limits and then get humbled and like lots of lots of challenges and learning opportunities along the way. It's been really empowering and also humbling.

Jacalyn 3:46
Oh, where did you grew up in Alaska?

Sarah 3:48
In Soldotna. So that was like our little town. That's a couple hours south of Anchorage. Cool. Yeah, I live in Anchorage now.

Jacalyn 3:56
Okay, that's another one of my questions was Where were you living now? Do you see a lot of moose? Yeah,

Sarah 4:02
we do see a lot of moose. Yep. Especially these days. We have had a lot of snow like three or four feet in the last two weeks and so there's just like piles of snow everywhere and the moose have nowhere to go so they're in the streets and they're round.

Jacalyn 4:18
Did you play any organized sports when you were growing up?

Sarah 4:21
At all? Yeah, I did like basketball track. I was super into track cross country. Yeah, indoor indoors stuff mostly. I mean, I guess track is outdoors but it wasn't like off the off trail at all. In Focus it now.

Jacalyn 4:40
What events did you do when you're growing up? Like what in track?

Sarah 4:44
Yeah, in high school. I was doing sprints and jumps and ended up realize like feeling like I was a better kind of like all around. I was like okay at lots of things and so I started to train for the heptathlon. Which wasn't a enough entered here in Alaska, but I did something like traveled out of state a little bit to try to compete in that. And then I did a little bit of that in college too. I think that's that's like, feels like overall my athletic strength is to be like a pretty good athlete and a lot of stuff, but like, not exceptionally good at any one thing. And so it's more of like an all around athlete, which feels like a helpful skill for backcountry time.

Jacalyn 5:24
Oh, for sure. Yeah. And where did you go to school?

Sarah 5:27
I went to college at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Jacalyn 5:33
Oh, wow. Okay, so that's a big, big change. How did you get there?

Sarah 5:39
I went there because my high school track coach had worked in Lincoln and had some connections there. So he had he knew the track coach there and they had some heptathlon skills. So there was like a little bit of an inroad to that program. And then I also growing up in Alaska, I felt like I was like, really confined to this world of like, kind of isolated Alaska living and I wanted to where I didn't know anybody, and had a really clean slate and was able to, like, totally reinvent myself. So kind of randomly ended up in Nebraska.

Jacalyn 6:20
Yeah, it does. It does seem really random. I had a similar experience where I grew up in a very small town, like a one stoplight town when I went to school in a very small college and then ended up transferring to Michigan State because I felt like I wanted to kind of get get out and see more than what I had seen.

Sarah 6:42
Me to I like, I that was a good college experience. But I did get out as soon as I could to and spent a lot of time like studying abroad and trying to get like a bigger, bigger idea of what the world was like.

Jacalyn 6:54
Yeah, exactly. I don't know Do you know like where that came from, for you, like does that like that need to like want to find out more about the world.

Sarah 7:08
I think initially, it felt kind of like an escape from a what felt like kind of my parents, my family was really religious. And we had a lot of like, kind of rules and expectations around how I needed to be as a kid, or at least that's what it felt like growing up. And so I think a lot of that was kind of escapism from the rules and then trying to discover what else was out there. My family is also Mennonite, which besides the rules, they also have a lot of humanitarian contributions, like there was always this really strong sense of giving back to others and awareness of different the values of different cultures and of what of all the different people who have less than US resource wise. And so there kind of was always this idea of like, there's a lot of other people and cultures and a lot of other richness out in the world. And I always felt like I had no idea what that was really like being in Alaska and wanted to go out and experience it.

Jacalyn 8:16
Athletic wise, what's what do you really love now to do

Sarah 8:22
now? Well, it's winter here, we're gonna like doing this call on Solstice. It's like the heart of winter. Right now. I'm really enjoying skiing, backcountry skiing, especially when there's good snow for that. And I also love skate skiing and other Nordic skiing. And then my other favorite winter sport is backcountry ice skating. So ice skating on wild ice. Right now, because of all the snow we have. There isn't much ice around, it's all buried. But there are few big lakes that are still open that we're waiting for them to freeze over and might still turn into some really nice ice skating. In the summer, I love back packing and especially the longer trips that I've been doing over the last few years that combined backpacking with packrafting like carrying a little mini little mini raft in your backpack so that when you can, you can hike for a while and then when you get to a river you can float and go back and forth between using your body to hike and then giving your legs a rest and getting some water time and that's a really nice way to cover ground up here.

Jacalyn 9:30
was really cool. I was looking at your videos of the going back to your ice skating what you call it wild.

Sarah 9:38
Nordic Yeah, wild ice or Nordic skating. Yeah.

Jacalyn 9:41
That those are so cool. Then you were like testing the ice to see how it was like, Can you kind of go into that process? A little bit?

Sarah 9:50
Yeah, yeah, there's a whole thing because like when you're out on lakes or rivers that aren't like nobody's paying attention to them. He's thickness on you have to be really cautious of what of the conditions and ice tends to be pretty variable. So it'll be like really thick in some places and then not so thick in others. So we're always, we're always really tracking what's going on with the ice and watching for changes in the texture or the color or any like little clues as to what might be going on. And then we also have a bunch of safety tools like these little picks that go around your neck. So if you were to fall in, you could unclip them, and they have little pokey thing metal pieces on each end that you can use to get purchase back onto the ice to help pull yourself back in. That's like the number one safety tool for wild ice. And then we also have this really cool like, it looks kind of like a ski pole, but it has a like have some weight to it. And it's really well calibrated. So if you use it to pop out the ice, and if it if you punch it into the ice and it doesn't punch through then that is about it's like strong enough to hold your body weight. But if it pops through, then it's not strong enough. And so it's a really nice way to tell if the ice is gonna support you or not.

Jacalyn 11:11
Well, and are you like, kind of? What's the approach like for this? Like, are you hiking in several like miles to get to these areas?

Sarah 11:19
It depends. There is quite a bit of Lake access. If you're wanting to drive a little bit from here. Some of our favorite lakes are like yeah, like either north or south of Anchorage. And usually drivable. But there are some very cool lakes that if you're if you want to, like hike up and get to them, then yeah, like up in the mountains to are often really nice options. We usually do research through watching satellite imagery and looking to see if the imagery that's coming through the satellites looks like it's either water or it looks like it's ice, or it looks like it has snow on it. And then you're like, Okay, well, that's not worth going to. But that gives us like a clue as to whether it's worth like heading out to that area or not to see what it actually looks like on the ground.

Jacalyn 12:15
Well, what a really cool adventure of this like whole process of like finding the areas and then going to them and like exploring to see if they're actually I mean, it's it's such a like, cool process.

Sarah 12:25
Yeah, it's an interesting one. And I have to give my husband a lot of props for that he is really into the data driven, like venture planning stuff that's off the beaten path. And so many teaches this stuff in his business. So he's like, he's so good at like looking at all the satellite imagery and then being like, Okay, this is like, worth a shot. Let's go try it. And we either we win some and we lose some. But when we win, and we find something really good, it's feels very special. And yeah, you're right, you kind of never know what you're gonna get. So you have to be up for the for the adventure either way.

Jacalyn 13:03
Yeah, exactly. I mean, I just can't imagine just like how quiet it would be. And just like you're skating and just like so calm looking out and like the mountains ratable

Sarah 13:16
It really is. There's really nothing like it. Ice Skating is such a free feeling too. There's like, if you've got good ice, there's like no friction. You're just like flying through the terrain. It's beautiful. Yeah, I love it.

Jacalyn 13:31
Do you take groups out for this? Or do you just do it with your husband?

Sarah 13:35
This has been a pretty we go with friends hasn't been something we've brought into like professional lives though Luke is teaching I safety classes now. And so it might be something that we do, he or he starts doing more professionally. But it's the conditions are so rare and hard to predict that it's pretty hard to set up anything in advance to to do so that's like one of the really big barriers with like, trying to bring new people into the sport. You just never know whether it's when it's gonna be good.

Jacalyn 14:08
Like you can sign up and we can drive out there but it might not turn into anything. So be flexible. Yeah. But yeah, like you said, the payoff is huge. Going from there into like a different kind of adventuring. You've done the wilderness classic things several years in a row. And I wanted to learn a little bit about that. I wonder if you could like go into that because it sounds like it's pretty secluded and you're kinda on your own is is there a crew or how does that work?

Sarah 14:43
Yeah, this is the wilderness Classic is a event that happens up here in Alaska. There's a summer version and there's a winter version. I have mostly done the winter version. I did the summer one once but the winter one is one I'm more familiar with. And but both versions they there's a starting place Use and there's an ending place. And because we have so much space up here, without roads or anything, there's typically like not much in between the two spots. And the goal is to get from one end to the other without using any other resources, you choose your route, you carry all your supplies. There is usually some support at the beginning and at the end, but in between you're on your own and there isn't really anybody checking up on you, and you're not allowed to resupply or anything, you're just needing to be self supported the whole time.

Jacalyn 15:33
Wow. And how long is it? Sorry,

Sarah 15:36
yeah, it's typically like between one to 200 miles, depending on kinda the year and where they set the course and what route you choose. There's often like, short, shorter, like more direct routes that involve a lot of extra climbing and technical challenge, or maybe some longer and less technical options. And sometimes they end up being people end up going different directions, and it matching, getting there at the same time, because the technical stuff takes so much longer. Yeah, usually the winter ones we did between four to seven days on to complete the route.

Jacalyn 16:21
So you're out there, outside. Yeah, I'm in Alaska by yourself for seven.

Sarah 16:30
Yeah, it's all felt supported. It's, I've done it with partners always. Like my brother and I did it together for the first few years. And then I did it with a team of women one season. So you can you can group up and people people kind of merge with other people who are out there, it's really nice to have someone else to be out there with just for safety reasons, because you're so out there. And there's a lot of unknowns in those situations. But yeah, you're carrying your winter camping gear. And it's usually a pretty light version of that maybe without a ton of creature comforts, because you're also trying to have as light of a load on your back as possible. So you can keep going for as many miles as you can without getting too tired. And then trying to like ski for as many miles a day as you can sleep for. Because I mean, it's dark here a lot these days. So and it's usually in the spring. So we people do sleep in the winter, when especially because it's just dark. And it's not that efficient. And it's real cold in the night. In the summer when more people are willing to like skip the skip the sleeping part cut their nights really short and just like push through for a few days. And some people finish them really quickly in the summer. But

Jacalyn 17:56
wow, is it. So in the summer ones like are they? You said tech more technical art? Is there like rock climbing involved? Or like, what kind of technical parts are there?

Sarah 18:07
i Yeah, I was thinking more about the winter ones be having some mountaineering too. And for sure people, some people bring ropes and harnesses and there's some sometimes glacier travel and some tricky passes if people want to take the more like, mountainous routes. In the summer, I'm trying to think if I've heard if people haven't heard of people adding rock climbing into them. In the summer, sometimes there are some people who have tried paragliding in the summer to cover ground. I don't think I haven't heard of anyone being too successful with like catching the right wind direction at the moment to be able to do it. But that could that could potentially be successful. It's all guys. The only rules are that it's human powered. And so there, there could be some ways to get around some of the hiking, but most of the mostly in the summer, it's hiking, and it's all off trail. So it's like yeah, hiking through the backcountry, and then also packrafting often.

Jacalyn 19:07
Wow, and how are you navigating this you have a map or like how does that work?

Sarah 19:12
Yeah, maps and usually a route using your phone like the GPS app on the phone that can and often will spend a bunch of time on but again, like using that satellite imagery tool to try to guess what the best route is ahead of time. So you have at least a general idea of where you want to go and then are able to make micro decisions when you're out there. But yeah, the route planning is a big part of the skill set to be able to accomplish these routes in a decent amount of time without spending too much time, like wandering or making inefficient route finding decisions.

Jacalyn 19:54
How was it doing? I mean, this is an incredible thing I'm so interested in like how is it Um, how was it working with like a group going through and doing this together? Because I feel like some people would might want to rest at other times people might want to keep going, you're tired, you know, this is prolonged, like, everybody's having to work together, like, how did that go for you?

Sarah 20:18
Yeah, the Oh, it's such a, it's such a journey I, the year that I did it with the group of women, there were five of us. And in Yeah, we ran into a lot of those kinds of challenges with different bodies needing different things at different times. And what we ended up doing between the five of us and the thing this often happens with bigger teams in this group in this, in this event is that you go in with enough gear between the five of you to be able to split off into like, quote, unquote, independent nations, it's like one of the little ways of thinking about it, so that so that the people who are feeling really strong and like they want to keep going and push the pace and maybe do a little bit more of a trail braking, can head out, can can go up ahead and have also enough camping gear between that part of the group to be self sufficient if they end up separated for a night or more from the rest of the group. And then the people who need more rest, or are dealing with blisters, or some other body thing that comes up are able to split off and go at the pace that they need to. And then those two groups often end up merging back together. And maybe then the configuration changes a different day. And you know, other people are feeling strong and end up in the front. So it's kind of maybe like an amoeba kind of thing, where they're like splitting off and then coming back together. And that's part of it, you know, all of our bodies need different things at different times. So it's nice to have that flexibility.

Jacalyn 21:51
So there are some people that do it solo i You had said have in you said you'd never have done it by yourself.

Sarah 21:57
I haven't No, I'm really enjoyed the safety of having a second person around for that length of a backcountry time. And also just the like, mental support of not having to like make all the decisions myself and especially with the people who I've meshed well with out there. Like I'm thinking of my brother. And some of the other partners who I've been with like, there's, there's often this cool balance, if if the two of you are flowing really well, where like one person is really hurting during the time when the other person's really feeling capable. And so like the capable person can go in the front and kind of make the micro decisions that have to happen as you're choosing terrain and figuring out where to go. And then the other person can just be kind of like head down plodding along, like just keeping going. And then at some point, the energy switches and the other one person's totally, the other person is like overwhelmed and tired and grumpy and just like so over it. But then the other the bit like somebody else steps up and is like, this is beautiful. I love that we're out here and can like carry the group along when the when somebody else is hurting. So that's really worked well for me.

Jacalyn 23:12
Yeah, that's so cool. And how how many people normally are in the field that are all trying to do this event? They're pretty

Sarah 23:21
small these days, somewhere in between 15 to maybe 30 at the biggest that I've seen them.

Jacalyn 23:30
Wow. So there's not that many other people that are going to be out there that you would maybe run into you're kind of just like, if you've all decided to do this, you're probably just going to see that group the whole time.

Sarah 23:39
Yeah, there. That is that's true. And often the groups get strung out. So you won't necessarily cross paths. Or maybe you're going a different route from other groups. And so you wouldn't necessarily you wouldn't expect to see them but but they're, I think on every trip, every one of these I've been on there have been times where you just intersect with other groups at the same time. And it's so fun after, like spending so much time in your head out alone, and also kind of wondering how everybody else is doing. It has less of a this this event has less of a competitive vibe and more of a like, I wonder how everybody's doing let's see if we can all get to the finish line kind of camaraderie to it, which so running into other teams is kind of a positive thing that like brings you out of your own struggle to

Jacalyn 24:28
Yeah, oh, yes, it was yeah, I it does, like really remind me of like, ultra running because like there's just everybody just wants everybody else to do good and it's just such a good community feel to it. So yeah. Wow. Yeah.

Sarah 24:44
I don't know that similar. That's cool. Yeah. Like, ultra running but like in the in the wilderness instead of on a trail.

Jacalyn 24:52
Yeah, yeah. It's like fast packing, basically, I guess. You're trying you're still trying to go as quickly as You can like personally it but it's more about your yourself and your body and like you, you you compete against yourself then then the field, and about finishing more so than like trying to go for a good time because you can't really know your time you're like, yeah, exactly. So I'm sure you've had situations where you're like, oh, man, I don't know if I can do this. Like, can you describe a situation like that that happened?

Sarah 25:27
Yeah, well, I'm thinking about the like, the first two years that I did this event, I'll try to like be quick with telling them but like, I like the very first time I did this, even just hearing about the event growing up, I was like, oh, that's for the like super athlete types. Definitely not me, I for sure. Didn't think that that was something in that I was capable of doing. And then when my brother and I decided to take it on the first time, it seemed like very overwhelming, and we weren't sure we'd ever finish. And so we had a bunch of like, bailout plans built in. And then we, and we brought a bunch of extra food because we thought we might be slow. So we had a lot of a lot, a lot of backup plans. And then when we did actually finished that first year, it was like, incredibly empowering. And I kind of couldn't believe it, and had also, like, just learned so much. It was like the hardest thing I've had ever done. And to finish it was really kind of blew my mind and kind of broke this glass ceiling that I hadn't realized I had set on myself. But then we did like, feel like we learned so much and and pretty soon after we kind of forgot the immediate pain of finishing that we started to think like, Oh, if we like changed our skis and like did a little bit different training and cut a little weight in our backpacks like that. I bet I bet I bet. And so we went back the next year and did the same, it was the same course. And we ended up cutting two days off of our time. So instead of like seven days, we cut it down to five days, which is like a huge improvement. And then on that last day, there was like the final pass that we had to make it over. And we ended up Matt meeting up with two other groups who had been going different routes. And we were all like coincided at this final pass. And those other two groups were full of these, like super athlete types who I like look up to my whole life. And we ended up we were all at the front of the pack. And we ended up all finishing together. And it was again this other just like mind blowing experience of being like, wow, not only did I finish this thing, but I like finished with some incredible athletes that I've always looked up to. And again, my like glass ceilings blown again, I like to think about how actually, there's a lot of capability and possibility when you're able to train and learn and when things go right. Even for me, you know, yeah, they thought of myself as like one of them. But there I was.

Jacalyn 28:10
Well, that's Yeah, that's so cool. I'm, I don't want to take too much more time on this. But like, this is such a cool event. And I think it's such a such an interesting way to like push yourself, like, because it's so unstructured, you have nothing to compare it to, even if you're doing it again. You know, I mean? Yeah. So cool. What are your goals now? Like, moving into maybe? Just what's next? Do you want to? Are you going to do that again? Or like Do you have any other aspirations?

Sarah 28:44
Yeah, these days, my. So I have been on a fertility journey, actually for the last few years. And that has really shifted my relationship with my body. And I've needed to slow down quite a bit. And it's shifted my focus from accomplishment and like really pushing hard in the mountains to trying to do it. Like, spend my time outside in a way that like is in partnership with my body and my nervous system. So I've like kind of reoriented the way I'm doing things and am doing a lot of healing of nervous system work and working toward this new phase of adventuring that might include a little person here someday.

Jacalyn 29:32
Yeah, that's really exciting. Kind of like moving on from that you also kind of focus on not just being like active but like the mindset of having like a positive mindset. And there was there's a reason posts that you post on Twitter, or Instagram and you might have posted this and other places as well but just that like keeping it a positive mind, self and mindset and positive like self talk but just something that I hadn't realized that I've been talking negatively to myself in races competing for a really long time. And like, how did how did you come to that realization that positive self talk was helpful?

Sarah 30:15
Yeah, this is such a big thing. And I'd say him, I don't think I realized I had been struggling with it quite as badly as I had. But I am. So I'm a therapist, as well as a personal trainer. And when I was in grad school, getting my social work degree, I was learning a lot about this kind of things and learning about self talk. And then my, like, kind of odds that was happening, we had a break in school and my husband and I went on a long summer trip, backpacking and packrafting trip up in the Brooks Range and the north part of the state, again, where there's like, no trails, and we're using that satellite imagery to pick a route. And then so he again, he'd liked done a bunch of this route planning this way. And we had this, we had heard there was a hot springs that we wanted to get to. And so he kind of scouted this like, quickest route to get us to this hot springs, which are involved walking along this ridge, and then descending the ridge to get down to the valley floor, which is where the hot springs was supposed to be. And this is like way out in the backcountry. We'd been like hiking alone for two weeks, and we just like her to this place didn't even really know if it was there or not. But the The descent was where it got real spicy, because the Ridge was pretty high, the valley was low, and the route that he'd sketched out took us kind of like straight down. And the slope was like, these big, chunky rocks, that were like the size of like refrigerators and dishwashers, you know, like big, massive rocks. And they're kind of stacked on top of each other on this steep slope. And they were kind of loose, like they had a little bit of wobble to them. So it's like talus, that's not very settled, it's like a little bit mobile still. And as we were working our way down this slope. He in those situations, he's got this like inner mountain goat and just goes like doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo. And like, bops his way down that stuff. And my process is a lot slower and steadier. And I like want to like check that the rock I'm stepping on is like not gonna wobble before I put my weight on it. And it's like, a slower process. And I was feeling really angsty about that, because I was watching him just like make his way down what seemed like really effortlessly. And I was not feeling like that. And it felt stressful and scary. And I think because we had just been studying self talk in my schooling, I realized that as I was working my way down that I had, in my head this cycle going, that was why are we doing this? I suck at this. Why are we doing this, I suck at this and just like playing that on repeat. And, and I like realize that was happening. And I felt my body get like building up tension as I worked my way down just like rag getting even more stressed and my shoulders tightening up in my, like, everything's starting to feel more and more stressed about it. But the minute I realized that the that like negative self talk cycle was happening, I was able to realize how unsupportive that was and and switch it and I in like, switched into a more like with self talk. We're always looking for something that is more accurate and more helpful. And the accuracy of the like, why are we doing this? I suck at this. Like, that's questionable because like actually going slow is maybe a really smart thing to do in this situation. So it's maybe just fine that we go slow. The why are we doing this? Is it sort of a different question, but I switched to a mantra of I've got this, I'm good at this. And those felt like positive enough and also believable, even if it meant I was going slower than I am good at this. I can do this. And I swear the minute I switched to that positive self talk mantra. And I I swear the slope got easier and like the rocks got smaller. And I like there's no way of testing that it can't tell if it actually did or if it was just the mental space. But the I've got this I'm good at this has become a really a go to mantra for me, and it helped me get through that situation. And it felt so much easier once I was able to like be with myself in that way. And yeah, that's something I'm more and more every time I um work with that self talk, it gets easier to notice when it's negative and easier to replace with something that's again, more accurate and more helpful.

Jacalyn 35:10
Yeah, and I think too, like in that situation, like, we're animals that are trying to survive, like your body was telling you this is stressful because it was it's stressful. It's a it's a survival instinct. And yes, there's probably some anxiety there where, you know, and then you're putting judgment on yourself, because you're not being able to keep up with your husband. So yeah, I totally have been there I was while you were talking about them, like picturing there's this place called the enchantments kind of on Eastern Washington, it's a trails, beautiful like white goats, glacier water you but you have to climb up this really rocky section that is very, like not stable and you're kind of like stopping to wait to see you know, if the rocks I am right there with you, I definitely take would take my time to that section. But yes, that's such such a good point, kind of going from that I wanted to go into you have a company where you like you said, you're a personal trainer, and you have several programs. And my really good friends actually recommended that I contact you because she has taken your ski babes and summer strong programs. And she really, really loved them. And I really look up to her. She's an amazing person. I just wanted to know, like a little bit more about that. And kind of like what how you created the structure for those and just go into like, maybe expectations within that those those two workouts?

Sarah 36:44
Cool. Yeah, sure. That's awesome. That your that your friend was the link between us and I've had a good experience with it. Yeah, so those training programs, they're virtual. So online workouts that help build both mind and body strength for to support our outdoor time. And I tend to get people who like yeah, like want to have really great times outside when they get the chance, but also tend to be really busy and maybe aren't able to get outside as much as they wish they could and need a way to do a little bit of cross training in like squeeze it into their daily life. So these are pretty short like 35 to 45 minute workouts that we do either two or three days a week, and it is a really nice complement to an outdoorsy lifestyle. And just like we were talking about self talk, I love a indoor bodyweight workout for the for how it helps us both replicate the moves that we need our body to do when we're outside, which tend to be pretty nonlinear, and pretty, like unbalanced and just funky. It's like very obvious to do that in the winter was skiing when we're like on side slopes, or I mean hiking too, right? We're on like weird slanty trails or so we can like replicate the weird situations that we're in from the living room, and then be able to track what's what like, where our body goes and build the mind body awareness of like weight balance, and how to find stability in a funky situation, when there's actually less going on. So like when you're outside, there's so many things that your body has to be judging about whether it's safe and navigating, and making these micro decisions all the time. So we can like train for some of that, for the basis of that from home. And then when you're outside your body will at least have some muscle memory for some of this weird stuff and make it easier that way. And then I also love the ability to train the to build awareness of like what is happening with your self talk when you're in a challenging workout. And you're comparing yourself to the instructor or maybe who's going faster than you or you're feeling like you're not going to be able to do as many reps as you were yesterday and like what happens to your mental space during those times. So it's also a really, we call it mindful interval training where you're able to like I'm coaching both the body awareness and also the mental awareness while we're playing with challenge kind of learning to speak the language of your nervous system as it moves in and out of challenge. So yeah, and we do we've got the winter oriented version, which is ski babes in the summer one that is summer strong. We train in six weeks cycles so they there's like a build cycle over the course of six weeks. And then I've like each season has three cycles that build together if you want to sign up for the whole summer the whole winter and add adding challenge on as you move through each of those cycles.

Jacalyn 39:59
That's That's awesome that you do both like mental and, like the physical side of things. Because I think a lot, especially when I was growing up and being athletic, there wasn't that side that was talking about the mental side of things. And I didn't, unfortunately, learn a lot of that until I was older. And honestly, I'm still trying to undo some of those things.

Sarah 40:21
Here. Yeah.

Jacalyn 40:24
Because like, you were saying, like, Oh, if you're comparing yourself to the instructor, I'm like, Yes. Are you like comparing yourself to last time? Yes. You know, like, and, and, and real, like you said, like you're talking about before, like, realizing when you are doing that, it's probably part of this training, too. So that's amazing that you have incorporated that in there.

Sarah 40:43
Yeah, I feel like that's such a big part of like, there's so much in like, traditional fitness culture that is in this like more and more and more like expectation of always being at your peak performance. And like next, the next workout being the best one always. And that is just not the way the human body works. And so there's quite a bit of unlearning, like you're talking about around that expectation of perfectionism. And I think, especially for those of us that are high performers, and are used to like being pretty high achievers, both maybe athletically and in other areas of our lives, being able to work with the actual body that we have, in the moment and realize the mental aspects of that the nervous system aspects of that, and then how we care for it as it moves through phases of growth, where it's getting stronger, in really obvious ways. And then phases of like expansion and contraction is part of every growth cycle, right? So we have to be with those times when we're able when it's when things are less feeling less, and we're not always in we're not in a game cycle and let that be okay. That's, like pretty critical to keeping going long term and not from a super punishing place internally.

Jacalyn 42:00
I think it's incredible that you're, you're teaching women because hopefully, you know, eventually we'll start out this way like yours, you'll start out not judging yourselves. Yeah,

Sarah 42:12
that'd be awesome. I agree. Maybe in a couple generations, we'll get there. Really awesome.

Jacalyn 42:21
I wanted to I wanted to one other point about that. Your your style of training is that something that I've really, lately have really been focusing on is that if there's a motion or something that I feel that I'm weaken training, that specific motion, instead of like, I'm just going to lift weights, because I want to lift get through these lift weights, I'm trying to have more intention and like purpose to like, Okay, I'm going to do step like these step ups, because they really help when I'm thinking about running. And then you're like doing this giant step onto a rock or a branch or something else, you know, that you're really stepping up. I want to strengthen that motion, because otherwise I'm gonna get injured or like, I feel that's where I feel tired. Where's that? My fatigue comes from? Like, I think that's huge that you're training for that specific motion of like slipping on a trail or slant on a trail? Like that's huge to injury prevention alone, you know?

Sarah 43:17
Yeah, yeah, exactly. And whether it's injury prevention, because your body is learning how to move through this weird muscle, this word like body pattern, that it's not used to the super big step, or the big step down, you know, which can be so hard from the body to, or if it's the Yeah, exactly, like learning how to recover when you're off balance. And not to necessarily, like blackout and have a crash, but maybe there's actually a way that you can help your body expect to be a little bit off balance, and then know how to regain some of that and not necessarily need to go into a full on fight or flight response. Eventually, you know, if it if it builds comfort with that instability and the regaining of stability, then that can be a really powerful place to be and even, like, help us both, like, reduce our, like, acute injuries when we crash, reduce the overuse injuries, because we're like, the body's used to like moving in alignment the whole time, instead of having to like work around something weird. But then also help the mental stress and the potential to lower stress injuries to if we're able to be with the times when things are off and, and know that we're going to be okay even even when things feel weird, and we're able to recover from it.

Jacalyn 44:39
Yeah, a good example of that, for me, too, is like a lunge. Like that was like don't put your knee over your toe, but it's like when we're running that your knee is over your toe. Not to

Sarah 44:53
exactly, I know and then that requires a lot of like, inter of like tiny little muscles stability. To make that happen, and you know, it's not just a traditional lunge where you want to maybe like add a ton of weight to it, right? It's maybe a less load, but a different range of motion to help those joints be stable in that like fully extended or contracted range of motion.

Jacalyn 45:18
So I did want to talk to you a little bit because I a little background on me, I've actually, I've worked in like the fishing industry. So I've been up in Alaska for probably the last five years during the summer. And I would, I've been to like Kodiak and Ringle and Seward Soldotna I've been to Kenai you know. And all over basically, Alaska. I love Alaska. It's gorgeous. I really, really, really miss it. And bliss last summer, I was just like, kind of, I don't know, smell is kind of like one of those things where it's really tied to memory, obviously. And so just like some days when it would really smell that pine smell, I was like, Oh, I really miss being in Alaska. But I was gonna, I kind of got a little bit burnt out because a lot of those areas are pretty, like, close minded. I mean, wrangle had like, q&a. I mean, there's queuing on everywhere, but there's like Q anon in the garage. And just, you know, a lot of issues with that. And I, as a woman in the office often would feel there's a lot of sexist comments, you know, got called the Secretary and some other you know, like, just people not, and, you know, making passes that you whatever else like, how do you You're such an open minded person. And, you know, very liberal from what I can tell one line, like, like, how do you how do you deal with that, like, even mentally, it's really tough, you know? Yeah.

Sarah 47:00
Oh my gosh, that stuff is so real and terrible. Oh, my gosh, yeah, it makes me so mad to oh, we're just hearing hearing your experiences. Yeah. Wow. So fires me up. Yeah, I, you know, I, you're right, I am really passionate about the need for these outdoor spaces to be something that people of all identities can experience and have good have a good time in. So I feel like that is a big part of what I want to do in the world is like, help there be more safety and representation and just like safe, safer ways for women and people of color and queer people and all of us to be able to be in the, like, have these empowering experiences in nature. But you're right, it's, it's quite challenging at times in different environments, and not everybody's here for it. And I would say a lot of my approach to that has been to build up my community of like minded people, and to really lean on them. It's pretty different than being in like the I'm not in the fishing world. So I think I'm, I'm like, at this point, pretty protected from some of the hardest places where there's like a culture built around some of these misogyny or some of these, like gross jokes and all of that. I've been kind of intentionally creating through my business, a group of people and I'm like, very upfront about my values and my business so that like only people, pretty much I only get people who are like down for like, being outside with this lens of like, yes, we want this to be inclusive and welcoming, and everybody belongs. And I think the people who aren't who aren't on board with that, like see my stuff, and they're like, Nope, I This isn't this isn't for me. So I personally don't have to interact with it all that often. There are like, I know, some women who run fishing boats. And I've like last last season, one of them reached out and said I want some more women to like run my to be on my boat with me. And like we were able to, like put that out in the community and she found some a crew and so like, I think there's like little pockets of people who are like looking for more like minded people and almost looking to create a new culture. And I there might be some ways to do that from the inside. But I think in general, a lot of people who are pretty set in their mindsets toward like sticking with the old ways, aren't necessarily gonna make a change willingly. And I really lean on the people who are like creating a new way of doing it. And like creating culture and in a different way.

Jacalyn 50:04
Yeah, I think it's usually like, that's a good point about creating that community because like, even when I was, in those situations, like I, I found this other woman who ran when I was up in Alaska, and I went to see her and run with her. And when I was in wrangle, there was a group that I'm sure it would be totally on board with all of your programs. That was awesome, and was able to, like, have some time with that that person as well. It's just, yeah, day to day to day working in an office in that environment, when you know, you're working really, really long hours, just dealing with that is, is really hard. But I guess you're right, if you're in a different community, and you don't have that around you all the time, and you've created this, like accepting space for others, like that's the, that's the way to do it. And then hopefully, slowly, grow that further and further and further and further out.

Sarah 50:57
You know, I totally, that's the vision, it's hard when you're in it, and like not everybody has the, like ability to just like opt out completely, and like go create something new. So I think, yeah, if you are in a environment where there's a lot of those micro aggressions or like, crappy situations going on, then I mean, it would be lovely, if you could extract yourself from that. But that was maybe easier said than done. But like, I think there really is something on like finding your your people to be able to go afterward, at least, like, share what's going on. So you know, you're not alone. Even if it's like some people lean on the online, like the ski babes community or the summer, strong community even for that, because sometimes you don't find it in your like, in your actual, like, on your fishing boat. Maybe you're like, in real life in in real time. But maybe there's like an online space where there's at least some, some other people who can like validate, and normalize and, like help me know that you're not alone with it, and like what you're experiencing is actually not right. And then that might at least fortify you enough to be able to get through whatever is going on. But yes, I am definitely dream of a world where there's less and less of that. And when it happened, we're like, this is not cool. Can't can't act like this around here.

Jacalyn 52:18
Yeah, no, I mean, luckily, I was not there all the time, and had another network too. But like, I can't imagine, I can't imagine like other, you know, women or you know, people of color or, you know, the queer community just like having to deal with that, and not having anywhere else to go, especially being in the smaller towns in Alaska, so. Yeah, I mean, I definitely did not feel safe at times. And I do think that I think it's so cool that she reached out to you for the crew. Because I do know, some female crew that were underpaid, because they were women and stuff like that. So like, definitely might know somebody Kodiak. But yeah.

Sarah 53:12
But yeah, that kind of network that feels like the way that we build culture that around these, like, values that are actually like supporting of each other and, like, not allowing for any of that bullshit. Like acceptable anymore.

Jacalyn 53:29
Exactly. Yeah. So you're so much more powerful when you have your whole community around you. Yeah, and even though I was a personal one, I definitely tried to, you know, be supportive of other people that were in the office making sure that they felt safe there. So we always ask this question for women in power active is that what are your words of empowerment for people trying something new, who might, you know, feel a little bit nervous going into it? And you know, have these maybe even have those higher expectations on themselves?

Sarah 54:08
Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, it's tough to be an adult learner, especially with all of the expectations that we talked about throughout this conversation. So I would just really normalize that experience. And, like, say that it's okay to feel uncomfortable, scared, intimidated, like, all those things are really normal. I've been there. Everybody I work with everyone has to, you're certainly not alone with it. And I would encourage I would encourage the slow and steady learning curve, and really try to let go of the comparison traps that we can get from Instagram and all of the other places of seeing people make this look like it's easy. None of this is Easy, we're in like, truly risky situations, both physically and mentally and environmentally. So there's like a lot of safety, red flags often that are going off in your nervous system when you're learning something new. And the way to do that, that doesn't just like overwhelm your system. So So you end up like flooded and scared and never want to do this, again, is to do it in like little doses and pick take on a challenge that's like just a little bit, just maybe within your comfort zone or just a little bit outside of it. And then come back and rested, make sure your body is able to integrate that and realize that it survived and then rest and go back enough different day and pick up something that's like maybe a little bit a notch higher. But I wouldn't really would want to take away any pressure to move too quickly through the learning process, because we don't learn very well when we're scared. So whatever it takes to like enjoy the experience is gonna really help.

Jacalyn 56:03
Yeah, that's, that's so true. Yeah, definitely not learning when I'm freaking out. That like I've been in climbing situations when that's happened to like, trying to teach me while I'm climbing and I'm freaking out about falling or whatever else. Learning is not

Sarah 56:18
the part of your brain that learns the prefrontal cortex is turned off when we're in a when we're in survival mode or body is just like, I've just gripped so I can get through this. And I can't learn in those situations. So yeah, the there's, there's a lot to be said for baby steps for the green slopes when you're skiing for the easy climbs for the stuff that is, yeah, not too big of a push, and eventually your system in your skills build so that the bigger challenges aren't as threatening to the body?

Jacalyn 56:51
Is there anything else that you wanted to cover that I didn't ask you, or anything else you wanna plug or anywhere else you wanna be found?

Sarah 56:58
You know, the depending on when you publish it, will we open up a new cohort for the training programs about every six weeks so the next ski babes one is January 16. And then I am doing some of the deeper like nervous system work with some one on one sessions and somatic therapy stuff in smaller groups these days, too. So the way to know about that is to get on my email list. It's mind and mountain.co

Jacalyn 57:32
Awesome. Yeah. And then what was your your Instagram handle to because it's great stuff on their Instagram like there's such great videos and just like your perspective and what you're posting constantly it's very positive and I love your videos.

Sarah 57:47
That's a nice way to say things I do love it on there it's a fun way to share some of these values and this like different way of being within our training and outdoor time. So yeah, that's my handle is Sarah am his stand there.

Jacalyn 58:01
Well, thank you so much for doing this seriously. This has been such a just flew by I'd really enjoyed speaking with you like thank you for showing up and being here because you didn't appreciate you.

Sarah 58:12
Yeah, you're welcome. Super fun conversation really easy to talk with you. We could keep going forever.

Jacalyn 58:17
I can totally. You can follow me personally that's at Jacqueline gross JCA li N gr o SS I mostly take pictures while running and thinking positively about myself. You can check out you are sportswear that's letter you the letter R sportswear on all social platforms, and our products can be found on your sportswear.com if you are listening to this and you'd like to watch the video version, you can check out your sports wares YouTube Channel. This video and audio podcast was produced by Jeremy Canaria and edited by me. Thank you so much for listening

Transcribed by https://otter.ai




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