Are you participating in the 365 Mile Challenge and feel like you are falling behind? Welcome Contributor Suzi Minor to the blog because she’s got some great encouraging words.

We’ve passed the first quarter mark of our 365 Mile Challenge, the miles are tallied and according to mathematics, in order to meet this challenge we should be somewhere around the 100-mile mark, right? What did you say? Is that right? You aren’t even at the 50-mile mark yet? Ok…well, let’s see how we can reframe this perspective, especially if you are beginning to feel like you got an “F on your first semester report card by not meeting your own expectations.

Back in my elementary school days there was a letter system for grading, with S for satisfactory and N for Needs Improvement, which was a lot better than the fretted “F” grade. I’m sure those of you feeling a little behind on your mile tally can relate to the “Needs Improvement” category, and I’m here to tell you, don’t let that get you down. “Needs Improvement” isn’t a fail by any means, it just shows that a little more focus and attention is required, “Needs Improvement” can be a great motivator if you use it as a trail marker to get you back on track.

Think back to when you signed up to take on the 365 Mile Challenge, remember the enthusiasm you felt to set a personal goal for the year and all the supportive energy you received from fellow hikers that joined in this challenge with you. Our Facebook group is a great group of ladies sharing stories of their hiking efforts as they post their own struggles in getting on the trail; dealing with and overcoming health issues, making time in their busy days, balancing work and family and me time, bundling up the kids on those chilly winter days (these ladies get extra credit in my book), so many of us have stepped out onto the trail on days when it would have been so much easier to stay inside. This is not everyone gets a trophy perspective, but there are points for effort.

Turn discouragement into motivation

If you are feeling overwhelmed by all the 100+ mile posts, turn your discouragement into motivation and appreciate what you’ve already accomplished. No matter how many miles you’ve already trekked, you made an effort to step outside, and maybe even outside of your comfort zone. Measure your own success and not against anyone else’s progress. We are here to cheer each other on and not compete with each other, if anything, consider it a competition with yourself to step into your personal best.

Let’s say we turn that N – Needs Improvement into N – Nature well spent. Any time we immerse ourselves in Nature, we benefit our health. As a Certified Forest Therapy Guide, my work provides an opportunity to help people reconnect with nature, by slowing down and experiencing a deeper connection to the natural world. Recent studies reveal that spending time in nature offers us many health benefits, from lowering blood pressure, decreasing cortisol levels (stress), and boosting our immune system.

“We are here to cheer each other on.”

So on those days when you are feeling defeated in your mile count, step out of your funk by stepping outside, inhale the fresh air and exhale the expectations. Enjoy the outdoors and realize the value in that alone. There is still plenty of time to achieve your goal, as long as you keep moving and improving.

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