Hi Title Niners! My name is Amy and I am beyond delighted that Title Nine has invited me to be a columnist for this blog, Timeout with Title Nine. I am a huge fan of the company and their products, but most especially, I adore and whole-heartedly believe in their philosophy and vision. So I’m pretty stoked to be here and wanted to use this first post as an opportunity to introduce myself to you. In a nutshell, I love the outdoors and the variety of life lessons, personal growth and transformations I’ve experienced from exploring and taking risks in the outdoors. I believe that taking risks and pushing beyond our comfort zones, past our self-imposed boundaries, keeps us young, fit, growing and constantly evolving into better and more vibrant versions of ourselves. A few years ago I took the biggest risk I’ve ever taken when I quit my comfy corporate job and leaped into the unknown jungle of a new career and subsequent entrepreneurship as I launched my own company, Expand Outdoors, to help women like me—and perhaps you—to take more risks. To push our boundaries and test our limits to expand our vision of ourselves and the world around us. To leap. And so begins the birth of, JUST LEAP. A monthly column on stepping out of your comfort zone and pushing your boundaries, by me, Amy Christensen of Expand Outdoors. Breaking Down My Own Barriers. I remember the first time I got the Title Nine catalog in the mail. It was around 2000 or 2001 and a year or two after I had run my very first mile—ever. Continuously. Without stopping. Running that first mile was a significant defining moment in my life that marked the beginning of a new path. I was a true beginner, feeling at times both in over my head, overwhelmed by all there was to learn about this new endeavor called “working out,” and exhilarated, strong in the growing realization that I was not only getting stronger physically, but my attitude and confidence was shifting. I found myself speaking up more in meetings, and saying “yes” to more adventures and experiences that had previously seemed out of my reach. As I opened that first catalog, preconceived ideas (that I didn’t even realize I’d had) fell away. My gaze landed on the running tights. You mean I can run in the winter? In the snow? In hindsight, of course, this seems like a no-brainer. But back then, I didn't know people did that. Having grown up in suburban Maryland, people didn’t do that—at least none I’d ever seen. So I ordered the tights and began to get outside and off the treadmill a little more often. My runs became meditative and, dare I say it, fun. I started running during snowstorms, feeling strong and a little more of a badass than I’d ever imagined myself to be. My confidence climbed a little higher with each run. I began to believe there might be other things out there I could do that I hadn’t considered. As the years passed, it became a theme. If I can run in the snow and ice, what else can I do? If I can run 5 miles, how much farther can I go? A half marathon? Check. A full marathon? Check. I never imagined I could run 26.2 miles. What if I run 50? Suddenly, more and more possibilities opened up. And not just in running: I’d always had a steady, predictable job. Could I start my own business? Do I need a home base? What if I lived out of a van on the road for a year? My self-imposed barriers began to soften. Instead of feeling stiff and permanent, I saw flexibility.
Through trail running and other outdoor activities, I finally learned—and experienced—that the barriers around me were only there because I put them there. We all have barriers we put around ourselves for one reason or another. Over the past two years as my business has grown, plateaued, and grown a little more, my barriers have been tumbling down. For me, the constant thread keeping me sane throughout this process has been the outdoors: Trail running, climbing, mountain biking, surfing, camping, hiking. These are the things I do that constantly remind me what I am capable of. They teach me patience, perseverance and passion. They remind me that I am stronger than I think, and that the process of the experience is what creates the magic. I’ve leapt, and keep leaping into new adventures. This is one of them and I’m so excited to share it with you all. I hope you’ll join me and do some leaping of your own. ------ Amy Christensen is owner and life coach at Expand Outdoors. Because she’s super-stoked to be here, she’s offering a 20% discount on any of her individual coaching packages to the first three folks that sign up. Contact her here if you’re interested. In the meantime, subscribe here for updates, articles, news and special offers. She’d love to see you over on her Facebook page or connect with you via twitter (@expandoutdoors).