Some things change consistently and are expected; the sun rises in the morning, and sets in the evening, the seasons change steadily, and I put on fresh new undies daily. We also know change can occur more sporadically, too. It can pop up, unannounced, uninvited and just like that you’ve just got to deal with it. Natural disasters, accidents – just like that circumstances change in a heartbeat.
I remember the scoffs that accompanied the comment “you’ve changed,” which was a fleeting joke at the time and didn’t phase me. But I’ve since realised that connotation has vividly stuck with.
Pre trip Jitters
In a month, I’ll be returning home. It’s been over 4 years since I’ve been in Canada for any amount of time, and give or take a year since I’ve seen most of my friends. I’m beginning to realise I may have a slight case of the pre trip jitters. A lot can change in 4 years, or even a year. Travel does that to you. Working abroad does that to you. Working at any job can change you. Life in general will change you.
The girl I used to be
I remember her well. She was out-going, she had a thirst for adventure, she tried to be funny (I’d like to think it was quick play on words or sarcasm that usually made people giggle). She looked the part of being healthy and active, wasting money on gym memberships she barely used and thought that this could justify eating whatever she wanted. After all, she did love food.
Boy, did the old Kate like to drink.
It started during my undergrad, when I ‘trained’ myself to like beer because it was cheaper. 4 years of great times at Brock were had. Then I went to Teacher’s College and dove head first in the extreme drinking culture of Otago and New Zealand itself. At least I’d started to get my act together and got into running, in Dunedin. We had some hilariously fun times in the South Island, and even over in Australia.
Becoming an expat, I moved to Northland and ended up living with a fellow former scarfie from the south. Together we fumbled our way through the stresses of the ‘real world’, with our first career jobs. A half a bottle of wine went with dinner some nights. Not to mention that during the half hour commute home, we’d usually ‘treat’ ourselves to a Magnum or Trumpet ice cream bar. It was so hot in the Far North, why not eat a billion calories to cool off?
Once I’d accumulated a nice little group of friends my age, we found ourselves with a reason to drink almost every weekend.
With every over-indulgence came at least one day of torture and agony to recover from the night of fun. You see, for as much (or as little) as I’d drink, I would get a hideous, vomitrious hangover. I couldn’t even try to hide it. I would be sick. Ill. Everyone knew it, and probably even came to expect it as much as I did.
Why did I do this to myself? How did I let that become normal? It had been going on for years, and that was too long.
Enough was enough.
Once I realised I’d reached my highest weight ever, I had the typical “how did this happen!?” reaction (from the background info I’ve just given you, it’s quite obvious now, how it happened, right?). Regardless, I wasn’t happy about it. I didn’t look good, and I didn’t FEEL good. Even worse still, I found out my blood pressure was consistently high.
Diet (sodium intake), exercise and alcohol consumption are all factors that contribute to high blood pressure, which if left untreated, can cause a stroke, among other similar undesirable things. I went off the Depo-Provera (the 3-monthly birth control injection, I’d only had two of, but had packed on the pounds in that time) because hormonal contraception can also affect blood pressure. I started consciously eating cleaner and doing the Insanity dvds regularly (which only lasted for one of the 2 months).
2012 rolled in, and I was determined to make it ‘my year’. It had its ups and downs, but I was out running again, entering Sport Northland’s road races when I could. I consulted a trainer at the gym to get measured, and she put me on to the Paleo diet – cutting out grains and dairy. Again, I was hardcore for a month, but going to Thailand threw me off track.
Towards the end of the year, I’d managed to make some sustainable changes to my diet/lifestyle. I even managed to run the Kerikeri Half Marathon! While I was still social, drinking had definitely taken a backseat. I was also very conscious of what I was spending, as Thom and I were saving for our big cross-Canada road trip coming up soon. I came across a bootcamp starting up the week before school in town 3 mornings a week (at 6am!) and I was sold.
Since I had that minor freak out and decided to take my health and future into my own hands, I’ve lost 14 kgs (30 lbs). I enjoy cooking healthy and I have never completely banned alcohol from my life (I teach 6 year olds all day!) but I definitely feel a hell of a lot better about the choices I (usually) make.
When I went travelling with my Grandmother around New Zealand (more about that to come, I promise) I made time to get up early and go for a run (just to make me sweat before we spent the day driving). I also was very conscious to order salads rather than fries. Lots of little things make a big difference.
Now, I am into the 10th week of a 12 week bootcamp. I’ve only missed two out of the 28 sessions (sleep won in both instances). I cook paleo most of the time, but not all of the time. I enjoy a glass of wine or a beer here and there, but in the past 3 months, there have been only two times that I’ve over-indulged and woke up with a headache (I can’t even remember the last time I had a sick hangover).
The point is, is that yes, I’ve changed. I’m still trying to change.
I’m going back, but old Kate is not
I’m returning to the people who knew the old party-hard Kate. They knew the Kate who drank (and drank) who probably didn’t know her limits and even worse, ignored them. There’s a part of me that’s worried about returning and everyone seeing this new me. I’m worried that I’ll slip back into my old ways.
I can see it being very easy to happen, too. I plan to reunite with so many friends across the country. It’ll be a ‘special occasion’ which will likely involve drinking, and eating deliciously naughty food, and that’s going to be cool. Except that the ‘special occasion’ is going to be more often than not, and I’ll need to have some self control. We’ll also be on the road, and I don’t want to be opting for convenient (notoriously unhealthy) meals either.
I’ll be scheduling some regular exercise into our travel plans. I’ve been waking up ridiculously early for bootcamp to drive into town still bleary-eyed, I would rather wake up at 5.30am and push myself physically, than have that splitting headache. I enjoy not waking up hungover! If I have to wake up early while we travel, I will fit it in.
I don’t want to slide backwards, I want to keep moving forward and getting better. I don’t want to throw away all my hard work again. I’m not going to. I’m healthier than the old young-and-foolish Kate. I don’t want to have Hypertension or suffer a stroke. I want a balanced life, a happy and healthy life.
So, when my old friends see the new me for the first time, and I happen to utter words they might not’ve heard me say before ( for instance, “I’ll have a water, please” or “no more for me, I’ve had enough”), they may tell me I’ve changed. I will happily agree with them.
Besides, hopefully my friends will have missed ME and not my old habits, right? After all, I haven’t changed completely – I’m still out-going, my thirst for adventure is insatiable, I think I’m healthier, and with that comes happier. Now that I’m a bit more educated on what I need to do and eat, I can just tell you all these ‘crazy’ alternatives to grains and dairy, and trust me, I wouldn’t doubt you’ll laugh.
Making changes hasn’t been easy, but it’s been worth it.
Am I alone in my pre trip jitters of returning home?
Have you made lifestyle changes whilst living abroad/traveling and worried about returning home? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.