Old Friends, New Me: Pre-trip Jitters about Returning Home

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change is the only constant

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.

And drinking.


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.


The Beach2Basin 10k run in Whangarei, March 2012

I’ve changed.

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.

pre trip jitters

Healthier and happy Kate

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. 

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{ 25 comments… add one }

  • Edna April 1, 2013, 8:55 pm

    We’ve all been there — I completely changed after just my first year abroad (though I was the opposite of you, I went from straight-edge to party-hearty, then back again), I can’t imagine what it must be like to not see your friends after four years of change! But as you said your friends miss you and not just your drinking…and by this point you’ve probably figured out how to be just as fun without the alcohol! Have fun and good luck!
    Edna recently posted..The hilarious world of strange Internet search termsMy Profile

    • Kate April 1, 2013, 8:59 pm

      Thanks Edna! I knew it was silly to worry about it, but at the same time it was still on my mind, so I figured the best way to deal with it, was to just put it right out there and be done with it. Now I can move on, and tackle the other little niggly things I’m pondering, and continue being happy-go-lucky :)

  • Kate April 2, 2013, 2:28 pm

    I always have pre-trip jitters if I’m going to be away more than a month or so. When I came home from living overseas I only worried about being bored > and I was. Whenever I go away, the anticipatory anxiety pretty much melts away the second I get on the plane.
    Kate recently posted..Travel Blog Names – How to Choose a Name for Your Travel BlogMy Profile

    • Kate April 3, 2013, 8:32 am

      Thanks Kate. I’m not nearly as worried now that it’s off my chest. I’m really looking forward to the adventure and reuniting with everyone :)

  • Nikki Croft April 2, 2013, 11:02 pm

    My 2 cents worth Kate: you are most likely the same Kate we all love but became older and wiser. Hope to see you.

    • Kate April 3, 2013, 8:24 am

      Definitely old, the wiser is just clicking in now, Nikki. Will definitely be around to visit and catch up with my second mum when we’re back!

      Thanks for reading and commenting :)

  • Shirley Stewart April 3, 2013, 5:43 am

    Love you Kate!! Can’t wait to see you and meet Thom.

    I’m only on the other side of the country (and you know how far that really is!) and sometimes when we head home for a visit I have the same jitters! It’s natural. Everyone has their routines. Many of their kids all know each other. They go to the same community things and can get together regularly. But the same way you’re still Kate, they are still themselves too!

    Chil-ax and enjoy my love!

    • Kate April 3, 2013, 8:31 am

      Thanks Aunt Shu! I’m about to be reminded just how big that country is! I do tend to fret about unnecessary things, I know it’s all going to be amazing :) Can’t wait to see you and the boys in less than a month!

  • Deanne April 4, 2013, 12:14 am

    I just returned to NZ after 14 years in London – I’d only lived in NZ for 4 years prior to that, having been brought up in the U.S. (the first four years of my life were in NZ). So, I understand your jitters, although mine are more “Oh my god, culture shock” and wondering how much my family dynamics will change, now that I am physically here, rather than thousands of K’s away.

    I flew on Monday, April 1st, so I can only wait and see how I handle this. For now, it’s one day at a time and accepting that things will be very different to what I’m used to.

    Anyway, all the best for your trip back – I hope it goes well, and the people worth staying friends with will have definitely missed YOU, rather than your habits.

    • Kate April 4, 2013, 7:02 am

      Thanks, Deanne. Yes, looking forward to my “reverse culture shock” combined with Thom’s culture shock! I can imagine your jitters after 14 years! But I suppose, after a while, a long time is a long time, whether it’s 4 years or 14. The one thing I do know? Life will go on. We’ll deal :)

      Whereabouts in NZ are you?

  • lola April 4, 2013, 2:56 pm

    i have jitters before returning home or to see old friends so can relate. travel does change us in lots of ways. i’m happy for you, Kate, you look fantastic & HAPPY!
    lola recently posted..One Day Stay: Miami, FloridaMy Profile

    • Kate April 5, 2013, 8:45 am

      Thanks Lola! I am happy with how I’ve changed and grown, and it’s only going to get better :)

  • Erik April 8, 2013, 2:01 am

    It’s going to be great! You’re older (whether you feel it or not) and wiser (whether you’ll admit it or not). I think you’ll find many of your friends have also changed quite a bit, and those who haven’t you won’t have a lot in common with.

    Above all, you should be extremely proud of how far you’ve come- I was well into my 30s before I realized a lot of the revelations you’ve come to. (Some would argue I still haven’t :-) )
    Erik recently posted..Surrender Story- Appomattox Court House NHSMy Profile

    • Kate April 12, 2013, 8:25 am

      Ah yes, older and wiser. Scarily enough, I’m not far off my 30s anymore! Yikes!

      But you’re right, I do have lots to be proud of :) can’t lose sight of any of that.

  • Jenna April 8, 2013, 2:22 am

    I’ve been going through my own personal diet and exercise changes, and it feels really good. Good luck with going back–4 years is a long time, but I’m sure it will be great! The most important thing is that you are happy with who you are. :)
    Jenna recently posted..Photo Friday: Walking the Pacific Coast at DuskMy Profile

    • Kate April 12, 2013, 8:34 am

      Keep the happy as a priority, and the rest will fall into place :)

  • John April 12, 2013, 1:00 pm

    I havent been home in over 2 years now. I guess it will be interesting to see how everyone back home thinks I have changed. I feel like the same person, but to others who havent seen me in so long there may be noticable changes.
    John recently posted..My First Week in DublinMy Profile

    • Kate April 13, 2013, 10:43 pm

      Time flies, hey! Thanks for stopping by, John. Any plans of heading home anytime soon?

      • John April 15, 2013, 8:08 pm

        I intend to be home at some stage this year but not sure when. I guess a lot of it depends on if I find work in Dublin.
        John recently posted..My First Week in DublinMy Profile

  • Agness April 15, 2013, 11:25 am

    Oh girl!! I read this post from the first sentence to the last one listening to Birdy’s song and I teared up. You are such a strong woman and I’m so proud of you for changing your life, seriously. It’s not easy to give up your addictions (especially food and alcohol) but you did it!! So happy to hear you are eating healthy now and exercise. I know how hard it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle when you travel. This experience will even make you stronger!! Keep it up, you look blissfully happy now so keep it up!
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    • Kate April 15, 2013, 11:33 am

      Aw Agness, thank you so much :) This past weekend really brought home the whole change, as I went to a concert and had a couple of drinks, danced my heart out front and centre, and at the end of the night just watched everyone else who were all smashed. I stayed up later than usual, and had a big (much needed) sleep in, but felt great the next day. It’s gonna be all good.

      Now I must go youtube Birdy’s song….

  • Erika April 15, 2013, 2:14 pm

    Well, first of all, way to go with making those changes! That’s so inspirational!

    I imagine that going home will be a test, but it’s definitely one you can pass. Try not to think about it as deprivation, I guess is the best thing.

    And, like you said, you’ll see if your friends like you for you or just your habits. This is a good thing! It means you can let go of the people in your life who may not be there for you the way you need them to be and make more room for the people who are. And on the optimistic side, maybe you’ll see that you’ve grown in similar directions over four years! Discovering a new bond with an old friend can be so heartwarming!

    I know that I would feel pressure to be the way I used to be just to bond with friends and feel the same way we used to, but I’ve learned that that only hurts in the long run. Sometimes you have to let go and if your friends can’t accept the new you, then it’s time to let go and move on. As painful as it is. :)

    Hope you have a fabulous trip home!

    • Kate April 15, 2013, 8:01 pm

      Wow, thanks for you comment and compliments, Erika :)

      My goal for the last while has been to “surround myself with positive people – those that build you up” so you’re right, I’m sure this will be a good indicator of those people. I’m sure others have also grown and changed as well – I can’t be the only one doing the whole “older and wiser” thing lol

      Thanks for stopping by, and commenting!

  • Monica April 17, 2013, 9:52 pm

    Congratulations on loosing so much weight and having a much healthier lifestyle Kate!
    I’ve had exactly the same thing recently too. After uni I realised I’d put on a whole heap of weight through all the boozing but I lost it all as soon as I started drinking a healthier amount. And then about 6 months ago I found out I’ve got ridiculously high blood pressure so I’m doing everything I can to bring it down and have a healthier lifestyle. It isn’t easy but it’s going to be worth it!

    I was also nervous about going home after 2 years of travel. I found that things had changed but in a good way. All the things I wanted to be the same were. Thing like my lovely friendly still being as lovely as ever. But people had also grown up and changed for the better so everything was back to normal but even better when I got back.
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    • Kate April 19, 2013, 9:20 am

      High blood pressure is crazy, hey!? Good on you for taking control of it too. Definitely not easy, but definitely worth it.

      I’m excited to see all the changes – as well as see home again with fresh new (appreciative) eyes! I’m sure we’ve all done our own share of growing up, it’ll be cool to see everyone again>

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Monica :)


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