How Hiking in Los Angeles Can Help You Keep Your New Year's Resolution

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Photo by David Lockeretz of Nobody Hikes in L.A.

By David Lockeretz of Nobody Hikes in L.A. / Special to LAist

If you’re reading this article, unfortunately, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve already broken your New Year’s Resolution. However, the year is still young, and it’s never too late to get back on track. We’ve already explored how hiking in the incredibly scenic and varied outdoor areas in and around Los Angeles can help you set and achieve New Year’s Resolutions; hiking can also keep you motivated when your spirits are low, and perhaps inspire you to take up the mantle again even if you’ve already given up.

Here are the top five reasons why resolutions fail, according to a blog post at ABC News, and some suggestions for how hiking can help you avoid these obstacles.

Obstacle #1: Setting unrealistic goals.

One of the nice things about Southern California—in addition to the weather that permits year-round outdoor activity—is that there are a huge variety of hiking trails to explore (check out some of our suggestions here). To be sure, some of the most famous hikes in So Cal, such as Mt. Baldy or San Jacinto Peak, are quite challenging, but with tons of neighborhood trails, accessible urban parks such as Griffith and plenty of beaches that are great for walking, getting outdoors is easy. A goal such as hiking 100 miles this year—2 miles per week—is easily achievable.

Obstacle #2: Expecting something magical.

One of the beauties of hiking is that the journey can be as much of a reward as the destination. Sure, slugging your way uphill might not be fun, but when you get to the top, the views—and knowing that you made it happen for yourself—are great payoffs. Anyone can drive up to Mt. Wilson, but how may people have hiked up there? It puts you in an elite class.

Obstacle #3: Being surrounded by temptation.

L.A. is one of the temptation capitals of the world. A subtle temptation faced by Angelenos is the habit of driving everywhere. Even if you’re not up for a hike, try walking to the grocery store or coffee shop instead; you may find that getting fresh air and getting your body moving inspires you to further challenge yourself.

Obstacle #4: Setting too many resolutions.

“Focusing on one goal will guarantee greater success,” Dr. Martin Binks, of Binks Behavioral Health, tells ABC. In hiking, the focus of getting to a destination can be quite centering and refreshing.

Obstacle #5: Going in blind.

“Don’t go to extremes,” warns Binks. The huge variety of hiking trails in L.A., and the wealth of available information about them online and in books, allows one to plan trips to suit their ability level and interest. Maybe you won’t do Baldy this year, but why not check out the bridle trail leading from the community park to see where it goes? How about visiting one of So Cal’s many waterfalls? (Yes, there are waterfalls near L.A.—we have a few suggestions here and here.)

Even if you’ve already put your resolution on ice, or are having trouble sticking to it, it’s never too late to re-frame how you look at it. Maybe 2012 hasn’t gotten off to a great start for you—but it’s still got a long way to go. Don’t let it get away!