In just under a year and a half of travel, I’ve dropped two dress sizes.
I still eat my fill of French pastries. I haven’t joined a gym in any of my temporary cities. And while I have many friends who do extreme sports, I haven’t joined their ranks.
No. The shifting of my body from average to strong and small was a gradual process brought on by my travel lifestyle changes, some accidental and some very deliberate. Things like walking for hours on an almost daily basis because I’m just so excited to see a new city from the ground. Or intentionally spending months in places where I can walk out my door and onto a hiking trail (something I love to do, but rarely did in Denver because hiking meant at least an hour’s drive in each direction). Or choosing to live up six flights of stairs. Or eating food that’s free of chemicals and GMOs, because they’re strictly regulated in Europe and much easier to avoid.
And so in the last year and a half I’ve become leaner and stronger, ditching one size of clothing, then another.
Every few months I’d notice a change. And then the changes started coming quicker (due to a September spent hiking the Alps and not working).
At first, I’d hike a tough trail and need to take two days off to recover. Then it was one day. Then it was no days. And suddenly I was doing hour and a half hikes in just over an hour. Handling multi-thousand meter altitude changes with short breaks. Going boot shopping only to realize that my muscular calves were too big to zip into the boots.
I say suddenly, but I guess 1.5 years isn’t really “sudden.”
It simply feels sudden when you realize how far you’ve come. When you walk past the mirror and do a double take because whose legs are those?!?! When you realize how all the little changes multiplied over time, making you almost unrecognizable.
Of course, my size isn’t the only thing that’s shifted. It’s just the most immediately noticeable.
My stress levels have dropped. I worry less and trust myself more. Because, after a year and a half of learning to combat my negative self-talk and face my fears over and over again, suddenly self-trust comes easier and dwelling on all the things that could go wrong seems counterproductive.
With a drop in stress levels and a healthier lifestyle comes a healthier digestive system; where stomach upset used to be my frequent bedfellow, it’s all but disappeared. My anxiety is better too, still sometimes present, but controlled with love and confidence.
And, of course, the greatest and most beautiful change of all was learning to love myself.
Every single one of these changes took time. The road to them was filled with baby steps and setbacks and constant forward motion.
Because that’s the thing about change. Sometimes it happens suddenly, brought on by a tragic loss or culture shock or a new love or an earth-shaking event. But most of the time it happens slowly, even quietly. Until one day you wake up different – more loving, kinder, more confident, stronger, healthier, or bolder.
This is how it happened to me.
Slowly. Quietly. One decision at a time.