Real Change Takes Time

by Gigi Griffis

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.

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Ali November 25, 2013 - 5:06 am

I love this. Congrats on the new size! Travel doesn’t quite have the same effect on my waistline. I want to try new restaurants & often eat too many not so healthy meals. Pretty sure I’ve gained weight in Berlin. One thing at a time I suppose.

gigigriffis November 25, 2013 - 9:25 am

Thanks, lady!

Libby Walkup November 25, 2013 - 5:25 pm

Hehe. Ali. I have the same issue when I travel. As a human or Italian American so much pleasantness comes from food. I want everything to happen over drinks and dinner. But I love it too much to stop!

rob November 25, 2013 - 6:44 am

Congratulations. Big changes, in very small steps. Best way to do it and the best way to keep it up.

How many dress sizes has Luna dropped? She has a LOT more steps than you every time you go hiking!

Also, either it’s a phenomenon associated with the photo or both that cup and teapot are huge!

gigigriffis November 25, 2013 - 9:26 am

“Best way to keep it up” <-- totally agreed! Luna has gained weight, the little piggy. ;)

Maria November 25, 2013 - 7:05 am

Whoo-hoo! Stay fit so you can keep sending posts from fantastic travels. Hugs to the little one who has to try to keep up with you. :-D

gigigriffis November 25, 2013 - 9:30 am

She says hugs back. She also wants me to clarify: I have to keep up with her. She’s a fitness machine. We get to the top of a mountain and she wants to run around in circles and smell everything. I want to sit quietly and eat goulash. ;)

Brief Rommate November 25, 2013 - 12:05 pm

You’re beautiful at any size, but I’m delighted that you can climb any mountain and still enjoy French pastries to the fullest :-) Truly one of the best things about any job that doesn’t involve sitting in a cubicle is that isn’t sedentary – I don’t exactly pine for the days of being a lifeguard and cleaning barf out of kiddie pools, but I actually do miss spending part of my day outside and moving around, even if all I was doing was changing a soap dispenser.

At any rate, this was timely for me because Eric and I have been working on cutting processed food, sugars, and a lot of meat and dairy out of our daily diets over the past year, and last night he said to me out of the blue, “We eat so healthy now! I feel really good!” And I was like, “I know, we made the switch!” But it definitely wasn’t something that happened in a day or a month, it took time to research things and try new foods and recipes and change where we were grocery shopping, etc. And of course we still indulge in ice cream or Cheetos or whatever on plenty of occasions, but somewhere along the way we successfully made it a habit to prepare whole foods most days of the week, and now it feels a lot easier to say with confidence that we’re eating nutritiously in a way we can sustain. Cheers to baby steps!

gigigriffis November 25, 2013 - 12:49 pm

Right on! Congrats on your healthier eating habits!

Rebecca November 25, 2013 - 12:18 pm

Congrats! I love the fact that no diet was required. I really hate the latest fad or whatever where you have to practically starve yourself in order to drop any weight. Lifestyle changes help.

gigigriffis November 25, 2013 - 12:51 pm

Agreed. Real lifestyle changes, slow though they may be, are so much more sustainable and, frankly, more fun. :)

lee November 25, 2013 - 2:38 pm

just another great post, the reson I read your blog and not many others. have only found a 10lb loss after my 8 wks in Italy but it is a start! great attitude to be healthy and happy

gigigriffis November 25, 2013 - 3:11 pm

Thank you. And congrats! 10 lbs is a lot in in 8 weeks – it definitely took me longer to lose that much!

Tammy Plumb November 25, 2013 - 3:17 pm

Giggi, I’m surprised to hear you say you learned to love yourself. It was your love for yourself that I noticed first many years ago. But sometimes I guess what others see in us, it takes awhile for us to see in ourselves. Hugs! I do miss you! More than you can know.

gigigriffis November 25, 2013 - 5:43 pm

Hugs back!

MelD November 25, 2013 - 3:47 pm

Glad to catch up again after a few months and delighted to see you featured once again on Miss Minimalist :)
Also pleased to see that Switzerland has done you so much good – I know it’s where I prefer to be… <3
All the best!

gigigriffis November 25, 2013 - 4:41 pm

Hi! Welcome back!

And thanks – Switzerland is the best, isn’t it? :)

Libby Walkup November 25, 2013 - 5:26 pm

Gigi. I was wondering. Do you get lonely on the road and how do you deal with that? (If you’ve already posted about this you can direct me.). Cheers.

gigigriffis November 25, 2013 - 6:00 pm

Excellent question. I should probably do a full post on the topic, as it’s a question that’s come up a number of times. I think part of the answer is something I talked about in my self-love on the road post (, which is just that I’ve gotten comfortable with myself, learned that I like myself.

It’s not the whole answer, but I think part of what we’re afraid of when we are afraid of being lonely on the road is actually that we won’t like who we’re alone with (ourselves). For me, solo travel has actually gotten me very comfortable with being alone.

And the short answer is that I feel less lonely now than I did when I lived in Denver, even though I had scores of friends just a short drive away.

Renee - RambleCrunch November 25, 2013 - 10:46 pm

It’s wonderful when everyday life involves lots of walking. For the past few months we’ve been staying at a rather remote bungalow…no enjoyable hiking nearby and of course no city walks either. I miss the natural exercise and see the difference when I look in the mirror.

Glad you’re happy in Switzerland. It’s a beautiful country.

Best wishes from Mexico!

gigigriffis November 26, 2013 - 4:13 am

I had a similar problem in Mexico. The town I was in was super tiny (one end to the other took about 30 minutes on foot) and there was only one hiking trail I could find. I think that’s one of the reasons I was so devoted to learning to salsa dance while I was there. I missed moving!

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Kiernan May 22, 2014 - 12:12 am

I’ve always lost weight when traveling, too! Your post is a good reminder that such seemingly effortless weight-loss is a good model for other life changes, too.

You’re always an inspiration. Keep writing, please!

gigigriffis May 22, 2014 - 12:34 am


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