Richelle Olsen describes herself as a normal girl with an adventurous spirit. She’s plus size and has always loved the outdoors. At 21 years old, Richelle set off to South America and hiked the Inca Trail. She’s scuba dived all over the world, made new friends, and enjoyed the tropical islands. And even though she didn’t love walking, she trained and signed up for Everest Base Camp.
These many adventures showed Richelle just what she was capable of accomplishing. Today, Richelle runs the community, Escaping Your Comfort Zone, where she leads plus size women on body positive adventures to challenge their limits and achieve what they never thought possible. Richelle is a champion of empowering women to discover what they’re capable of and escape their comfort zones.
Find Your Pace
As Richelle set off on the Inca Trail, she had no fitness whatsoever. By the first half hour of walking, she thought she must have been insane to sign up for this. Part of the problem was having no concept of pace. Finally a guide told her, “This is the pace I want you to walk at.” He used the tiniest of steps, but as Richelle copied the movements she got to camp and was able to maintain her pace.
This is advice Richelle keeps with her today. On all day hikes and bike rides, she won’t think about anything but putting one foot in front of the other at a pace she can maintain. Richelle teaches us that even if you don’t have the physical strength, you can get through with mental strength and the perseverance that comes with pace.
Jump on Experiences
Richelle considers herself someone who is always up for an experience and climbing to Everest Base Camp fit that desire to a tee. When approached with the idea, she didn’t think about the logistics of actually walking, but was simply set on exploring the world.
When she realised how many kilometres walking Everest Base Camp would be, Richelle knew she would never have done the expedition if she’d known the numbers. By not looking into the details and imagining whether or not she could make it, Richelle went on an incredible adventure to Everest. It’s amazing what you’re capable of when you don’t give yourself the opportunity for self-doubt.
Believe You Can
Before she got to base camp, Richelle was anxious about not being able to keep up with others on the expedition. In the end, it turned out that everyone was a mix of different shapes and sizes. In fact, the heaviest person there was the only one who didn’t get altitude sickness and reached the apex easier than anyone else.
The message that’s put out in the media about how women need to look and think can be incredibly difficult to get out of. But in reality, if you want to run a marathon, you can do it. Richelle started Escaping Your Comfort Zone to show that it doesn’t matter what size you are, you can do anything. “I know that there’s a lot of women out there who tell themselves they can’t, others tell them that, or they don’t see themselves out there.”
Richelle created a place where women can just go and have fun. It’s about getting women outside, forgetting weight loss, making new friends, and seeing amazing places in the world. She believes that you aren’t broken and you don’t need to be fixed. The world is out there for you to explore.
Know that Slow isn’t Bad
Looking for an adventure she could do with her boyfriend, Richelle and her partner decided to bike the Great Divide. Even though it looked tricky, Richelle decided to go for it. At some points, the adventure was tough for Richelle because she was comparing herself to her ultra-athlete boyfriend. Now, Richelle realises how amazing she was just to be out there, pulling the miles she did.
After 10 weeks on the bike, Richelle was done and headed for Napa. Instead of looking at it as a failure, she thought about how amazing it was. Richelle went to drink wine for three weeks while her boyfriend finished up. “It’s good for each of us to be doing exactly what we want to do without getting in the way,” she related.
Richelle regrets all the time she spent beating herself up for going slow and not making it to the end. Yes, she was slow, but that doesn’t mean she’s a bad person. Richelle advises, “Stop comparing yourself to others in terms of looks, speed, or abilities. You never know someone else’s story or how hard they’ve worked. Only compare yourself to yourself.”
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