I went hiking yesterday. Today, I HURT.
I didn’t realize it was possible to be this sore after wandering in the woods for a couple hours. Everything from my waist down hurts. My stomach and my thighs and my bottom and my calves are whining at me every time I move. I’m one blog post away from collapsing into bed and sleeping the deep sleep of the overexerted. Clearly, I overestimated myself in just about every way.
Except one. I’m not letting myself get discouraged this time.
Lately I’ve been working on reframing my approach to my body. I’ve spent so many years hyper-focused on the little red needle on my bathroom scale, so clearly anxious about the number in the waistband of my jeans, that a good portion of my brain thinks that’s the only acceptable way to be healthy. But clearly, it hasn’t worked.
So this round, I’m trying to refocus my binoculars on the numberless mile markers: muscle tone, stamina, energy, clear-headedness. If there must be numbers, let them be rounder, cheerier ones: hours I can dance, miles I can walk or bike or hike, days I can go without a head-drooping, mind-clouding blood sugar crash in the middle of the workday.
And I’m focusing on the healthy things I adore, the things I get excited about. Like broccoli roasted with chili powder and garlic. It’s such a simple thing, but so primally satisfying: crackly-crisp florets, a soft underline of smoky chili, and sweet-sharp garlic. If being healthy means eating this stuff on the regular, then I have no reason to expect defeat.
So my legs are sore today. Tomorrow they’ll be stronger. The woods are beautiful, and I want to go back. That’s that.
Chili-Roasted Broccoli (serves 4 as a side dish)
Adapted from Rachael Ray
2 medium broccoli heads
1/4 cup canola oil (or other neutral oil)
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt (I used celery salt)
Cayenne to taste
5-6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
Preheat oven to 425º F. Cut broccoli florets away from the stems and separate them into bite-size pieces; trim and peel the stems, if they’re thick, and cut into 1-inch dice.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together oil, chili powder, salt and cayenne. Toss garlic and broccoli in the spiced oil until coated, and spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast until the broccoli stems are easily pierced with a fork and the florets are crisp, 12-15 minutes. Serve warm.