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The Mountain Diet
Photo: Garrett Gladden
“The mountains are calling, and I must go.” - John Muir

Spend any amount of time on assorted news websites, and you are guaranteed to find the following: overly saturated images shoved in front of your eyeballs featuring specimens of humanity who have muscles on top of other muscles, a negative percentage of body fat, and text screaming at you to “click here to learn about our secret weight loss formula!!!” I’ll let you in on a secret. Unless you are the guy in the photo, you’ll never be the guy in the photo. They just want your money.

On top of this relentless barrage of shady advertisements produced by even shadier companies, are shows like The Biggest Loser and Extreme Makeover which prey on the dream of rapid and almost magical transformations. Big reveals will shock, just shock your family, and your spouse may or may not faint at the sight of your now health-magazine-cover good looks.

As someone who has at times been known to treat himself to a croissant, to purchase something overly fried at a sketchy looking gas station, or eat insane piles of pasta, and then let altogether too much time pass in between bouts of fitful aerobic exercise, I am particularly susceptible to these saccharine lies of immediate gratification and instant results. In fact, instant gratification is probably what got me here in the first place! And over the past six or seven years, I have seen my weight and health yo yo, causing spastic mini cycles of downloading Men’s Health workout programs, P90X, Spartan health regimes and assorted activities. All of this yielded very little in terms of lasting results. Very little—meaning none. No big reveals. No fainting spouse. No beauty pageants for me. And then about a year and a half ago, I had a revelation.


You see, I live to climb. And if you page through the latest edition of Rock and Ice Magazine, or click over to climbing.com, you’ll see a parade of string beans called professional climbers. I guess what I am trying to say is that climbing hundreds of feet of vertical stone is easier when you aren’t packing a lot of baggage around your middle. Shocker, I know.

So in order to climb better, I started trail running in the mountains. I signed up for a few high altitude trail races and a half marathon. And what was revealed to me was nothing short of an epiphany. I imagine John felt much the same on Patmos. I started to lose myself in a way of living, rather than being tied up in a ridiculous and unattainable goal. By immersing myself in the act—running just a little further, just a little faster, just a little longer, and viewing every single one of those times as the goal in and of itself, my life, my body, and my mind began to change. And you know, this year I have already signed up for a number of trail races, planned some wild climbing goals and will run my first trail ultramarathon.  

And what does the Bible say? “I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!” (Psalm 121:1, 2).

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By Garrett Gladden. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW LIVING TRANSLATION © 1996.

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