Working On It, Week 15: Taking A Hike

This week in my journey to better health and more wellness, I cancelled my gym membership in preparation for moving to Chicago in a few days. Did you know that some gyms require 28 days’ notice to cancel? Someone (me) did not read the fine print.

Cancelling my gym contract was a celebratory moment because I actually went, regularly, for 12 whole months. That’s 11 months longer than my last attempt at working out, in my mid-twenties. This time I stuck with it long enough to enjoy it. I got stronger and fitter, and my lungs and heart learned to hurt a little less when I made them pump.

I branched out, past the treadmill. I tried paddle-boarding and rock climbing and golfing and hiking. I mustered up the courage to do a fitness class, in a swimsuit no less, and completed a fairly wild ab challenge. I cut out excess sugar and sourdough. I worked on so many things!

You all helped so much. For nearly four months you gave your tips and words of encouragement, for me and each other. You helped keep me accountable for continuing with this journey, trying new things and sharing the results with you. Thank you.

This is my final Working On It column. It’s not the end of my journey to immortality, not by a long shot. I still want to be able to do a push-up and run for longer than a minute without feeling like my heart will beat out of my chest. But first I need to settle into my new city with my beautiful wife and figure out what my healthy lifestyle can look like there. I’ll need to find a new gym, and new friends to do activities with.

Here’s what has and hasn’t been working for me this past week.

Working: Hiking

hiking 2

I’ve never been hiking because I’m scared of snakes and ticks and spiders the size of my fist. Australia! If I’m to be honest, I also didn’t really ‘get’ hiking. I asked my friend Owen, “it’s just walking, right?” Oh how he laughed and laughed.

We went to the Blue Mountains, just a few hours outside of Sydney. Owen wanted to do a half-day hike but we negotiated down to 1-2 hours because I have a bladder the size of a pea. He picked a gentle touristy hike that involved taking a train down the face of a mountain and walking back up at what felt like a 90 degree angle but probably wasn’t.

The first fifteen minutes were amazing. We were weaving through narrow paths and climbing staircases and stopping to stare at the most incredible mountain range and waterfall. The next half an hour was challenging. My calves started to burn and the trails and stairs got longer and steeper. The last half an hour, well, I don’t really know how I made it. I was panting and sweating hard, even when stopping every five minutes to complain and take selfies in front of the three sisters.

Of all the activities I’ve done this past year, hiking was by far the most physically challenging. I loved it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. There were no spiders or snakes, just lots of fresh air and good company and amazing views to remind me how beautiful the world can be.


Not working: Golfing

I went to a driving range to hit a bucket of balls and sucked pretty hard. I was semi-competent at using one of the irons but then totally terrible at every other club in the bag. My attention span is fairly short and so it only took a few minutes for me to get bored and want to leave; there were no windmills or laughing clown heads or baby alligators to keep me interested. I’m glad I tried it but I think I’ll stick to mini golf from here on.


How’s your week in health and wellness been? Tell me what you’ve been up to.

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Founding member. Former writer. Still loves Autostraddle with her whole heart.

Crystal has written 320 articles for us.


  1. Oh man, good luck with your move! Reading this column every week got me to join a gym and I am definitely healthier for it. I walked up 10 flights of stairs yesterday and didn’t even feel like I was dying! So thank you, for everything.

  2. This is totally a shameless plug, since this park was practically in my backyard, but about 90 miles southwest of Chicago off of I-80 is Starved Rock State Park. There’s lots of hiking, waterfalls, fall foliage, and a nice lodge. It’s a nice day trip from the city. :)

    Good luck in Chicago!!

    • So many great hikes you can do on a long weekend in that area! Devil’s lake and Peninsula state park in Wisconsin, and Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. Enjoy!

  3. Ha! Glad to know I’m not the only one with the ultimate fitness goal of “to be able to do a push up”.

    • It took my mum a year of gym classes to do a proper full pushup. But she kept going and two years later, just last week, she ran a half marathon in 2hrs and 12 mins. Aged 53! I’m massively proud of her. Aim for that one push up, it can be a great achievement.

  4. I will genuinely miss this column each week! Congratulations on your move and all your health and fitness gains. A Working On It — Chicago Edition update would be totally welcome if you ever wanted to touch base with us.
    Congrats to errybody for investing in their health and wellness and contributing to the weekly comments group; I will miss hearing from you too! ASswimteam forever; go Sea Otters!

  5. If you’ll be living anywhere near a Cheetah Gym in Chicago, I definitely recommend it! In my experience, they’ve been super queer, inclusive, and friendly.

    • Thanks for the recommendation! That’s the gym closest to where I’ll be living and so Katie and I have been talking about signing up with them.

  6. I totally did that hike to see the Three Sisters this time last year! The scenery was breathtaking, but you start to feel the stairs after a while. Definitely wish I’d done more hiking while I was Down Under, but at least I’ve got a reason to go back.

    • Oh nice! And yeah, I feel you on that. I’ll definitely be planning some hikes on my return trips.

  7. Speaking of hiking (runhiking I guess), I completed my first trail 25k this weekend! Running on a treadmill is boring and makes me want to cry, but running through the woods never fails to be awesome.

    • Congrats! That’s such a great achievement. I haven’t heard of run-hiking before now, I’ll have to look into it.

  8. this column inspired me to get a bike and try to eat right because if you get in better shape than me people will be able to tell us apart :(

  9. Aww I’m sad this is the last Working On It column. :( I hope moving goes well and that you find a new gym!

  10. Good luck on the move! I loved reading this column and sharing in the comments. This column motivated me to do more yoga and to say yes to more things. Thank you!

    I went hiking to see the super blood moon and I thought that I was going to pass out after like 5 minutes. So kudos to you on enjoying and rocking at hiking!

  11. I’m disappointed that this is the last column, I always looked forward to it! But good luck on your move, and thanks for writing this for the past four months :)

  12. “there were no windmills or laughing clown heads or baby alligators to keep me interested. I’m glad I tried it but I think I’ll stick to mini golf from here on.”

    this is the same way i feel about golf!

  13. Have a good move!
    Sad to see this column go,I got a lot of great advice from commenters around here, went to the gym at least semi regularly and yet felt that I didn’t go all alone!
    I wish you and everyone here wonderful travels and great courage in overcoming new challenges!
    As for me, I’ll try the “Working Out” on a cruise ship for a couple of weeks and will get into a new circuit training/boxing routine at the gym as soon as I shake this horrible cold.
    Still vying for Superhero status!
    Take Care everyone!

    • I’m so glad that this column helped motivate you! Thanks for all commenting each week. Good luck with shaking the cold and reaching superhero status!

  14. I started doing yoga regularly just as you started up this column, and reading it weekly has been like a weekly check in and cheer-on for me to keep at it! I am getting better at mediating my back pain, now, and I am getting So Much More flexible. Most of all, I’m just getting better and better at listening to and understanding my body. Thanks for cataloguing all this Crystal!

    Also, I’m now working 2.5 hours a week at my yoga studio in exchange for classes, and my studio has a whole program where a lot of people can do that. It’s worth looking into those options locally for anyone who doesn’t really have a ton of money to throw down for yoga or other types of classes, but who does have a few hours a week to spare!

    • That work-for-yoga situation sounds great! What a good idea. And I’m so glad to hear that you found this series motivating.

  15. Good luck with the move! I really loved this column, so relevant to my probably-insane love of training (and it was so great having a regular Aussie accent on AS!)

    My week in immortality? I had a week off work so I spent the entire time beach hiking, rock climbing and at a really excellent handstand workshop. I’ve decided that humans aren’t supposed to spend 8 hours a day staring at a computer, I’m so much happier when I’m outside and moving. I’m quietly contemplating quitting my job and getting a personal trainer qualification… but also maybe too terrified of giant life change? Who knows!

    • Thanks so much! And thanks for all the advice you’ve shared over the weeks, it’s been super helpful. Good luck with figuring out your career situation! I hope you figure out a way to take the leap if that’s what your heart is feeling.

  16. Awww you guys Im going to miss this column!! You guys are such an inspiration to me to push myself every time im at the gym. Im going to miss all your insight and comments on what works and doesnt work.

    Good luck on your move!!! Hiking is a great activity! Its been so dry lately so I havent gone in a while but Ive come to enjoy it immensely. I always tell people my hiking boots are one of my best investments.

    • Thank you! And as above, cheers for always being here each week and sharing tips – I’ve appreciated all of your input and motivating words!

  17. Awww! Good luck with the move Crystal!

    I can’t believe it’s been 15 weeks of this column. I’m not going to lie, I’m super sad that its finishing, I’ve really loved reading it. Thank-you so much! I managed to stick to, and finish, the 30 day squat challenge, and got through 25 days of the ab challenge and push-up challenge (doing them at the same time), and also started hiking! So thank-you for the inspiration! And all the best with the move. xx

    • Thank you! Wow you’ve done so well with all those challenges, I hope you’re feeling super impressed with yourself and keep on keeping on!

  18. Congrats on the move to Chicago to be with your sweetie. Stoked you gave hiking a try and didn’t have to confront any of the creatures that had turned you off of it. Its really an amazing past time, especially when you can get out on some of the paths less traveled and truly feel like you’ve escaped the day to day and are just out there in the natural world.
    I’ll also chime in with everyone else, this has been a fantastic column, and would love to hear eventual updates and or see something new/similar make its way onto autostraddle. So thanks for sticking with it and writing about it!

    • Thank you so much for reading and contributing! I’ll definitely do my best to pump out some updates once I’ve settled down in Chicago.

  19. I haven’t been commenting but I have been kicking ass! Thanks so much for running this column, it’s awesome to see you and other Autostraddlers doing this, I feel like I have company. For real, every time I get dissatisfied with my fitness level I just think ‘I’m Working On It!’

    I’m still loving Body Pump but have been preparing for Stronglifts 5×5. I’ve finally got a passable home gym setup and enough shoulder mobility to start it, so that’s exciting! Also bushwalking, digging the garden, running, swimming and aqua aerobics with my queerbro. Next stop – maybe yoga?

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