You may have heard that hiking is a healthy pastime but for those suffering from Eating Disorders it may be especially helpful. If you suffer from binge-eating, anorexia, bulimia or another type of eating disorder, it is important to stay present as much as possible. When I say "present" I mean living fully in the present moment or "The Now" as author Ekhart Tolle explains it in his book "The Power of Now". If we are living in the past or the future, we are missing what is happening in our lives right now. The present is the only place we actually have a chance to exert any control. It is the place where we can give ourselves the gift of a different reaction versus the reaction that has become habitual. Disordered eating is the result of a coping mechanism that has become habitual so being in the present is important for recovery.
Fortunately, accessing as many of our five senses as we can in any given moment brings us into the present fairly quickly. Submerging ourselves in nature is one of the easiest ways to stimulate our five senses and get a chance to get out of the loop of negative thoughts and anxieties that many with eating disorders experience. Hiking immediately submerges us in nature, releases endorphins, provides an outlet for excess energy that if not released can lead to anxiety. Out on the trail, we are surrounded by changing geography and scenery, wildlife, temperature change, winds, sounds, scents and textures that we are not used to or do not get a chance to experience indoors, in the car, in front of the TV or computer.
Below, I have listed three lesser-known but beautiful hikes for Los Angeleans to enjoy.
1) Franklin Canyon Park, 2600 Franklin Canyon Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 (310) 858-7272 ext. 131 http://www.lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=14
2) Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Park, 4100 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90056 (323) 298-3660 http://parks.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/dpr/Parks/Kenneth_Hahn_State_Recreation_Area
3) Tuna Canyon Park, Tuna Canyon Drive, Topanga, CA. http://www.lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=61
If you are suffering from an eating disorder please consult with an expert in the field. Eating disorders can be life threatening and should not be treated lightly. Hiking can be very helpful for the reasons mentioned above for those wishing to recover from an eating disorder but can not be considered a substitute for professional help.