Getting Healthy a Mile High At a Time

Against Doctor's Orders

Getting Healthy a Mile High at a Time - Pacific North Wanderers.jpg

Editor's note: The following article is a guest post by Mark John Clifford. Mark is a long time friend and an active member of our social media community. He writes and podcasts his own material which you can find links to below.



It took a summer of working in the Sierras, a little over a mile high to get me healthy again. That was against Doctor’s orders also. He felt being a mile high would hurt my breathing and then cause havoc to my heart. Little did he know.

We were invited to run a friends resort in Yosemite for a summer, and it was the best thing we ever did. I don’t care what the medical experts say; you can go a mile high with a heart condition, two stents, and two bypasses, and diabetes and survive at that altitude.


To be honest, I flourished. It did take a few weeks to adjust I will admit. It started out that every day I felt weak from walking the grounds and checking things out. People would show up in the middle of the week for a wedding on the weekend, and that’s when we had to work the hardest.

We tended to their every need while they were getting ready for the weekend and their son or daughter’s wedding. For us it was fun. At least after the first few weeks.

Just to give you an idea of how it affected me that first three weeks at the end of a day I would fall fast asleep by four or five pm. Not kidding.

Then things started to change. I found myself walking more and eating less. I found myself breathing clean, fresh air, not polluted air from down in the valley. This was clean, fresh mountain air that I began to love. Almost as much as being near the ocean.

By the fifth week, I was walking more than I ever have. At least three to four miles a day. Carrying garbage bags, luggage for the guest, chopping firewood for the fireplaces around the resort and other stuff you do as a manager.

My heart pumped harder and harder due to the altitude, but it felt good. It wasn’t straining as usual because I was filling my lungs with air. Wow, this was fantastic.

I started dropping weight. Not just a pound or two here and there. It was steady and daily. It caused a little concern at first to Patti, my wife, but when I told her how I felt she dismissed it and chalked it up to my new found walking environment.

I walked the trails all around the resort. 100 acres of trail after trail, day after day. Loved every minute of it except for seeing the Bears one day. Learned to run again that day.

Life became exciting again. I enjoyed walking. I enjoyed working again. My depression went away. My weight dropped. My diabetic numbers became better. Life was great!

We kept at it all summer. As it went along, I kept getting healthier. I don’t know if it was the air, the mineral water from the stream, the bird crap on my food every so often or getting stung by a bee. All I know is each and every day I got better. Stronger and healthier each and every day. 

I was doing things I have never done before. Not that. Get your minds out of the gutter. I am not bringing up my sex life here. Although it did get better.

I found new resolve in living healthier. I found that living healthier wasn’t as bad as I thought. I started cooking healthier since I do most of the cooking. I began to read labels on the foods we bought and changed my lifestyle to one of more veggies and fruits. I can’t eat nuts because I am deathly allergic. Fruits, veggies, and fish became the staple of the lifestyle while there.


My blood pressure was totally under control. No more retention of water. The Doctor took me off water meds and some high blood pressure meds, finally after five years. Things were changing all for the good and I couldn’t be happier.

There is no downside to this story. I know I led you down this great path, and you might be thinking it’s going to go bad when it ends. It doesn’t.

We finished the summer and came home. Back to the smog of the city and the altitude of before. But, guess what? 

I kept up the healthy cooking and living. I kept the new lifestyle up and even got our kids doing the same. One daughter became interested in raw foods. The other daughter started to follow my lifestyle changes in food, drink and living. Our son lost weight just because of my cooking.

Our entire family changed all for the good. It took four months to turn an entire family around and become healthy. Four months. Nothing more or less.

Can anyone do this? Of course. You don’t have to live a mile high to do this. It helps I guess and forces you to make changes quickly, but it’s not needed.

You have to want to do this. Not need to do it. Want! You can need to change your life due to your Doctor telling you or you knowing you should, but if you don’t want to, it doesn’t matter about the need.

Do this for you, your family and everyone you love and loves you.



About Mark

Husband, Dad, Papa. Californian from Boston. Podcaster, blogger and retired. Enjoy the ocean and everything that goes along with it. Sicilian and Irish, inside and out. Enjoy listening and partaking in great conversations.

You can follow Mark on Medium and/or his website, It's All Mishegoss. He's also on Twitter and Google+.

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