Outdoor Diary: You Don’t Actually Have to Go All In

Jump To section

Humans Outside Skiing cover art

If you’ve been contemplating an outdoor habit, you may have fallen into a trap Amy constantly finds herself in: thinking you have to go all in. So what’s the real deal? In this episode of Amy’s Outdoor Diary, she talks about her own “all in” habit and how it keeps her from trying new things.

Some of the good stuff:

[:45] What does “all in” mean to Amy?

[1:25] What all in looks like in Amy’s life

[2:00] Why thinking about going all in might stop you from trying

[2:15] The dangers of this mindset for Amy

[2:41] Lessons from a recent interview

[4:20] Don’t let this thinking keep you from doing this

Connect with this episode:

Here’s an edited transcript of this installment of Amy’s Outdoor Diary. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

If there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I don’t have a “medium” setting. I’m either all in, or not in; total enthusiasm, or not interested; going hard, or not going at all. I don’t dapple in things and I don’t dip my toe in the water — I just dive right in. I also don’t do well with weaning myself off something. It’s either cold turkey, or no turkey.

There are so many examples of this. When I decided to do an ultra race, I decided to do the 100-miler, no half version for me. When I wanted to do an elimination diet to solve some stomach problems recently, I quit everything at once. I just couldn’t fathom the idea of doing it piecemeal. When I decided my family and I should try camping way back when my now almost 10 year old was just over one, we didn’t borrow a tent camp in our car. We drove to REI and we bought all the things. We were all in.

Maybe that’s why I found the idea of doing a one-year outdoor challenge to be a good one. Sure, I could’ve done a one-week challenge or a one-month challenge. But why not go all in?

I know, of course, that not everyone is like this. For some people, calling something a challenge makes them not want to do it. Going cold turkey sets them up for failure. Dipping a toe in, or trying something out by renting before buying is a much more logical, safe way to make sure you actually want to do it.

And I can see the logic there. Because the fact is, I’ve realized this week, that my go-all-in nature actually keeps me from exploring and trying new things, instead of encouraging me to experience all the outdoors has to offer. That’s because there’s this thing in my head that says if I dont think whatever it is is something I want to sell out to, it’s not worth doing.

But what if there’s a middle ground?

I was challenged to think about this during a recent interview for an upcoming podcast. Tamar Haspel’s new book To Boldly Grow looks at her evolution from living in New York City to focusing on consuming food she grows or self-sources through fishing or other similar activities. She’s dubbed this type of food “first hand food.” It’s a delightful read and Ill have her episde for you to hear in April.

I am not a gardener, and the reason is simple: I dont want to have a huge garden and be responsible for growing my own food. I dont want a chicken coop. I don’t want to have to deal with any or all of that. And do you know what she said to that?

You can have a first hand food mindset without having a giant vegetable garden or a bevy of chickens. You can just have a few potted herbs on your window sill.

Now I have to tell you: never once did I think of that. That’s because when I contemplate new-to-me activities I think of them in this all-in mindset, and I think of them in titles. If I garden, then I must a gardener. If I pick berries, I’m not just enjoying the experience of being in the woods for an afternoon. No. I’m now a forager. And being a forager comes with dedication that I am not willing to have. I will not fish because I am not fisherman. I will not have chickens because I am not a farmer. And on and on.

I think we can agree that escalating any passing interest or trying something new immediately into a lifestyle complete with a title is a bridge to far. It is putting the proverbial cart before the horse. And I will confess I am very good at that. My cart is often so far ahead of the horse that it’s delivered, disassembled and in storage before the horse has even been fed.

So why am I telling you this? You may hear me talk about challenges and trying new things, and you may hear a tone in my voice that suggests that you cannot just try them, that you must go all in.

And that isn’t true. It’s OK to try things and say they aren’t for you. It’s ok to dip the toe, dapple and experiment. The good news is that nature is full of things to try and move on from before trying the next thing. You don’t have to buy all the gear, gain all the skills or go the distance to test things out. You don’t have to go all in.

And to remind myself of that, I’m going to put some herbs on my windowsill.

If you want to see photos of me trying new things while resisting the urge to make every single one of them a lifestyle, you can follow me on Facebook and Instagram at humansoutside. Share your new and old things with me by tagging them #humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Jump To section



Humans Outside Instagram

How does spending at least 20 consecutive minutes outside every single day since Sept. 1, 2017 change your life? 

We’re on a mission to find out.

[instagram-feed feed=1]

JOIN Us Today


Keep up with the latest podcast episodes, resources and announcements