A chef’s life is a labor of love, dedicated to impacting the lives of others through food. We are required to be mentally, emotionally, and physically fit 24/7. Fortunately, I’ve found one activity that improves my fitness in all three areas – hiking!
In Arizona, I couldn’t be more blessed with beautiful scenery. There are multiple trails here in the valley. Some of the more popular include Camelback, Cholla, and Squaw Peak. I’ve hiked those and many others. This week I hiked A Mountain in Tempe. (Just to be clear, “A” is actually the name of the mountain. There is a huge letter A painted on the side of the mountain. It’s right next to Arizona State University’s main campus, so you can figure out the importance of the letter A from there…)
Let me tell you, it’s not just ASU students hiking this mountain. If fact, one woman was marching along wearing a skirt and sneakers, with a cell phone in one hand, and a sandwich in the other. Kudos to her for rocking the reality of a busy life while getting her steps in.
This is a popular spot for a quick hike and usually really busy. On this day however, it was very overcast and the mountain was quiet. Many of Arizona’s inhabitants don’t seem to know how to function without sunshine. Fortunately for those of us who can manage without that bright fireball, we had A Mountain to ourselves.
There is a popular saying - “Focus on the journey and not the destination.” I have to admit though that I started my climb focused on the destination. Who doesn’t stand at the bottom before the climb and ask themselves, “Why did I wake up early on a Monday morning for this?” I mean, if you run into a small woman climbing a mountain asking everyone on her way up if she’s there yet, it’s probably me. Once I got to the top though, my mind was renewed. My imagination was creating food from a different point of view. Literally! Some of my best creativity comes from nature. When you stop staring at and worrying about what everyone else is doing, your own imagination can ignite. By the time I reached the top of the climb, what everyone else was doing melted away for me, and I could take true inspiration from what I saw around me.
In any line of work, you can fall into a routine. When you’re passionate about what you do, it’s easy to get carried away with it and lose balance. Lose balance long enough as a chef and it will affect your artistry. I’m a believer that a balanced life must include exercise. When I’m not climbing mountains, you’ll find me tucking at TenPoint5 Barre Studio or getting a quick 30 minute work-out in at Simply Cardio. Staying in shape and experiencing nature keeps me balanced and helps me be a better, more creative chef.