I hate working out. Just ask my extremely fit, former personal trainer boyfriend. I dread it. I complain a lot. I make any excuse that I can to not work out. But I do it. And no, it’s not to get a “beach bod” for when I go on trips that involve getting in my bikinis. I have learned to not care as much about that anymore. The main reason actually stems from over 2 years ago when I was driving across Canada on my way to move the Yukon. I stopped in Calgary for a pit stop and to see my friend Seth, whom I met 6 years before that on my flight to move to Australia, and had not seen since. He took me out for a day of adventuring just outside the city. And as we hiked up a mountain I remember him turning to me and saying, “I think you hold the record for most stops to rest going up this mountain”. He went on to tell me that he assumed by what I looked like, that I was in shape. Funny how that works.
Seth, if you are reading this, thank you. As embarrassed as I was about it, it kick-started something in me that I never knew I had. I had a revelation, I finally understood why working out should matter to me. Adventures. I never ever want my ability to do anything during my travels hindered by the fact that I am too out of shape to do it. I told myself right then and there that I wouldn’t let that happen.
Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t turn into some healthy, gym going fitness addict. Far from it. I ate 5 cinnamon bun Oreos for breakfast with my coffee this morning. I just became very aware that my lazy attitude and lack of working out was going to make me miss out on great opportunities during my travels, and that would be my own damn fault. I started slow. I love to walk so when I lived in the Yukon and it wasn’t cold, I’d often wander around whenever I could. I went to the gym eventually, reading a book while on the stair master became my thing.
But real work outs started when I met my boyfriend, Nick. He is intimidatingly fit. I don’t usually like a man with muscles, but it wasn’t his muscles that won me over anyways. The two of us would go for long walks on the island while living in the Marshall Islands and people would ask where we were going. We would just point ahead and say, ‘that way’. We just walked, to walk. I also worked out with my girls’ basketball team in Majuro. I truly believed that I couldn’t ask those girls to go through a ‘Mr. Nick workout’ if I wasn’t willing to do it myself. And I did. And it sucked. But I am grateful for it. I think of all the hikes we did in Pohnpei last year, and how I hiked back on our last hike, on a broken leg, and how much harder it would have been if I were out of shape then. And how hard it was to get back in shape after having a cast on for 4 weeks.
Now I am here in Niamey. Living somewhere that doesn’t allow for much walking. Being active can only happen when you make an effort to do so. So, I do. For the first few months I worked out 3 times a week on the roof of our house, with Nick telling me what to do (I hate all of it, but did it all… except burpees, don’t ask me to do a burpee). Now we go to the gym at our school a few times a week and he has a routine with his friend, and I do the elliptical mostly. I want to build up my cardio. I know I must add in more, and I will get there. But it takes time, especially for a girl who hates working out.
So here I am, finishing up this post, eating my oreos for breakfast, after working out on the elliptical yesterday, thinking about my travel plans for the next little while, as I am living in Africa. My goal is to climb Kilimanjaro in Tanzania before we leave here. Laziness is not an option. So spare me your beach bod talk, and your goals to look good in your bikini, I look just fine. Just need to make sure my body doesn’t break down in my attempts to do whatever it I chose to do in my travels. Whether it’s a hike a day like I did in Pohnpei, or just walking all over Lisbon, the city of seven hills, or climbing a mountain. I just want to make sure I can do it all if I want to.
So travelers, here is my tip to you. Don’t focus on how your body looks in a bikini for those travel photos. Think of how awesome your body will feel after it accomplishes the climb up that mountain, or the hike through that rainforest, or that swim through the ocean. If you hate working out, as I do, just try to walk more places than drive. Take up hobbies that involve being active. I bought a stand-up paddle board for when I lived in the islands. Don’t let your body hold you back from doing all the things you could be doing. The view from the top of a mountain is usually better than the view from the bottom.