November 11, 2013 by mybattlebuddyfitness
Traveling abroad is a lot of fun. You see new places, try new activities, meet new people. It is great for routine change. And boy oh boy, did I ever need a routine change. It felt like I had fallen into a rut: working out at the same time of day, eating the same things day in and day out, and not making any progress. I am sure I was building some decent muscle, but I hadn’t lost any weight in over 3 weeks. My job sending me to South Africa came at the perfect time for a mental break and a change of scenery.
But then it gets hard. I started off well, hitting a gym in Atlanta on my 6 hour layover was awesome – I got in about 2 hours of hard work. But then, the flight killed me. You cannot bring enough food for a 15 hour flight that will do you right, and while I did order the vegetarian meals, they were still full of fat. I landed in Johannesburg and went to the hotel. I couldn’t leave as it was late, so I had to opt for the best option on the room service menu: chicken with vegetables and potatoes. After dinner, it was off to the gym. I use the word gym loosely, since it was a single treadmill and a bike. I got in an average cardio session, and then set about finding a gym near the hotel that I could go to in the morning. I promised to start clean the next day.
Alas, when I woke up at 6am to get to the gym across the way from the hotel, they were charging $45 for a day pass! I am willing to spend money to work out, but that was more than my monthly membership in the US. So I went for a ‘run’ in Johannesburg, which is not the best / safest idea. It felt like I was thwarted at every turn. I went back to the hotel after 30 minutes and hopped on a treadmill to finish my workout. But the day went south from there with client meetings and team lunches and team dinners.
By the time I hit Friday, I was desperate. I flew from Johannesburg to Cape Town to see my brother, and thought for certain the hotel there would have a decent gym. I had been skunked again, this gym was only a marginal step up with machines that were not functioning properly and a total lack of any decent equipment. Of course I was out with friends that evening and we went somewhere that was totally over the top – great food, but not many healthy options. And the next day we went to wine country and Bierfest, which means calories upon calories.
When Sunday arrived, I gave up. I had been so tired of my routine in the US and now totally killed by an inability to get a new routine in South Africa that I threw in the towel. Whereas before I had been trying to ‘do my best’ and eat as healthfully as possible, I now was giving up. I think on Sunday I had a candy bar, some chocolate covered peanuts, a cheesy sandwich, and a full fat cappuccino. Plus fried eggs for breakfast with bacon and a hamburger for dinner at the airport.
The problem for me is that here, without a routine, without my ability to fully govern where and what I eat, I have been struggling. I also don’t have my support system. My friends in Phoenix who understand my weird dietary restrictions are nowhere to be found. My biggest supporter, my inspiration for where I want to go with my physical being, my sounding board, the person I go to when I need to vent or confess as the case may be – Elisabeth – is thousands of miles away. So I gave up.
But now, 24 hours after giving up, I am recovering. I decided I couldn’t just give up forever. I checked into a new hotel that has a much better gym and is across the road from a Virgin Active gym, where I can workout for $70 for 2 weeks (not cheap, but worth the mental sanity). I have decided that vegan / vegetarian here is impossible, so instead of fighting the battle, I am going to go with the flow and go paleo. Lots of meat here and much better quality than what we get in the US. It isn’t my thing per se, but I have no hope of making anything else work.
Here are some lessons learned that I think can apply to everyone:
- If you are stuck, I would say try to change your routine. Do things differently for a while. If you are at the end of your rope, then maybe you need to let go, but with the caveat that you need to have a trampoline at the end that will bounce you back up so you can grab ahold of the rope again. I’m not advocating total permissiveness with yourself, I am not suggesting that you just give up, but if you have been feeling this sort of malaise, lack of enthusiasm for life, just let go (with purpose).
- Support is maybe the MOST important thing to keeping healthy. I have lost a lot of hope because I lack my support network. If you don’t have the right people to support you on your journey, then you need to either a) get the existing people in your life onboard or b) find people who can provide you the support you need.
- It is ok to take the path of least resistance. If you go on a vacation or a business trip and you cannot perfectly execute what you have been doing for the past 3 or 6 or 9 months, go with the flow and try what works. I can’t run outside, it isn’t going to happen. So it is the gym for me. I cannot be vegan here, so I will go paleo. Square peg, round hole problem is one of those things you don’t need to try to solve for. Life is full of challenges, this doesn’t need to be one of them.
I know, I am going to pay for the damage I have done over the past week. I am going to be upset with myself for gaining weight, for slacking off. I’ll feel guilty. But I will get over it and I will move on. It is all part of the journey.