A few years ago, I was obsessed with ‘clean eating’ and attaining the ‘dream’ of six pack abs. I would spend hours each day in the gym, turn down social events if what we would be eating wasn’t ‘healthy enough’ and completely fell into the pseudoscientific trap of detox teas and juice cleanses.
After finishing my first year of university I embarked upon my first solo travel adventure to Japan. Soon after, I started to think about myself and my body in a completely different light.
Here's what I learned along the way:
There are more important things in life than how we look
In the western world it seems that everything revolves around the way we look. Travelling helped me realise that what we do is far more important than how we look. This struck home when I was volunteering in Sri Lanka. It was honestly the best month of my life. Spending 5-7 hours a day teaching English and sport, cleaning beaches and turtle hatcheries and painting classrooms in 30+ degree heat was exhausting but rewarding work. Naturally, there was never any time to check whether you looked ‘good.’ But there was never any need.
My adventures in Sri Lanka made me feel like the happiest human in the world, and it was all done without makeup, hair products, designer clothes or all the BS that society tells us we need to look ‘pretty’.
I can enjoy food around the world - guilt free
As mentioned, I fell hopelessly into the fad of ‘tea toxes,’ juice cleanses and all the rest. I was determined to get six pack abs, as if it would somehow express my value as a person.
Prior to my adventures I was determined to stick to my concept of ‘healthy eating.’ This didn’t last more than a day. How could I turn down all of this delicious, vibrant Japanese food because I was unaware of the calorie content of the dish?
Eating local food now must be one of my favourite things to do when I travel, and it’s all guilt free. When will you get another opportunity to try Japan’s best ramen, or authentic Italian pizza?
I'm done with unhealthy comparisons
I had a stint in modelling in the UK and was deeply aware of societal pressures and unrealistic beauty ideals. This led me to compare myself to other constantly. If I didn’t look a certain way I would get upset and frustrated, but that has all changed.
None of these things matter when you’re travelling. Throughout my journey I’ve met gorgeous and confident women of all shapes and sizes who helped me to realise that no one truly cares if you’re tall, thin curvy, etc. The only thing people will see if your beautiful character and personality.
Overall travel has taught me that my body is amazing. I’m proud of myself and what my body can do. It’s enabled me to climb 5200 steps to watch the sunrise at the top of Adam’s peak, move to another country all by myself and much more. I owe my newfound confidence to solo travel. I’ve found a new respect for my body, and everything it can accomplish.
Got some inspirational stories of your own? Has travel empowered you in the same way? Share your stories here and you could see your work published on six-two.