It all started as an experiment. It was 2015 September and I just decided to hitchhike a boat in early 2016 and then explore Latin America for a year with a backpack. At the time I was just recovering from depression, sleep paralysis and insomnia. I really was in a bad shape, hence the drastic travel plans.
But I knew I didn’t have it me to be strong when I’m at sea with strangers for god knows how long, then reaching land on a continent I have never seen before, interacting with cultures that are alien to me, away from everything and everyone I know.
I needed prep time. Emotional prep. So I came up with a plan. Why don’t I ditch meat, boys, and alcohol for 3 months? I chose the 3 substances that were (so I thought) some sources of happiness, just to see if I can resist and how this will affect me.
The first week of vegetarian was great, but I was super hungry all the time. The first time I refused beer with friends when out in a pub, I was alienated. The first time I was single and not out looking for fun, seemed boring. No one was feeding my confidence from the outside. I had to start doing that for myself.
The week went by. I felt hungrier and hungrier for a beer, for chicken stew and for a cute message from a man.
About a month into my „diet” I started to feel the change. The pressure began to feel lighter, the desires lowered and I discovered how much fun I can have without any of these 3 things. I started to enjoy time on my own, I loved not having a headache after 3 beers (not a good drinker anyway) and it seemed as I dropped some weight even though I wasn’t trying.
I wouldn’t say I had to push through the 3 months because it became easier over time. Then I left on my big trip, ended my diet and went back to how I used to be…well… an improved version of me. The year in Latin America transformed me into a person I’m finally proud of.
But…things kind of declined…
The way I felt during those 3 months was gone. I felt desperate to have male attention, to get loose with alcohol and even though I tried to stay vegetarian I ended up diving into my fridge, feasting off bacon and all. I felt my body was craving sugar and meat all the time. So I punished myself emotionally each time I failed to stay vegetarian.
This was nonsense…
I realized that if it feels like a sacrifice, it is not the way to go. Emotionally suffering because I’m unable to follow a plan is way worse than just changing the plan. And that’s what I did. I gave in and started eating meat as usual.
I gained a massive amount of weight relative to my size and started getting ill around the clock. I have tried Western medicine, Eastern medicine, shamans and coaches and I found out what has happened. I had chronic post-travel depression.
2016 was the best year of my entire life. I was free, happy, spending all my money, seeing the world, learning about myself, finding my career path…then it ended when I ran out of money.
Then the work began to find a way to keep the good energies, keep my freedom and regain my health. I consciously tackled the problem from an emotional and a physical angle while removing the pressure. This wasn’t something society wanted me to do, no. They actually wanted me to do the opposite. Be a capitalistic, no-questions, work hard, buy stuff, child baring woman. At least that’s how I perceived my culture at the time.
But that was never me. So I went down a different path and started testing how far I can go when I believe that everything is possible. I opened myself up to experiences that fundamentally changed the way I see the world, my previous strict science-based beliefs were demolished and I had to rebuild my understanding, my core from the ground up.
What a journey this has been.
While I worked on my soul at the same time I returned to vegetarian and a few months later transitioned into vegan. Now I not only not gain weight at all, but I haven’t taken meds for headaches or any sort of pain since the beginning of 2016.
If I had to pick the best thing about this 4-year journey rebuilding myself is the love I found. The love from within that is not dependent on anything or anyone else. Life is a great teacher and boy, I had opportunities to test just how strong my foundations were. At times it wasn’t standing still, so I at least got some feedback in the form of slaps from life. But since I stopped blaming others and started to take action, I’m in full control of how I feel about me.
Food has never been this tasty. Since my body went through a detox phase I feel energetic, light, I started to taste the vegetables and fruits, when I crave sweets I instantly make myself a massive fruit salad and you know what? That is what I actually crave.
Now I never feel bad about what I eat, because I only crave what I really need. Yes, I do eat cakes and chocolate, but not out of emotional eating, or craves, but for the love of them. Because I know how it does matter what kind of energy I put in my food. I only want positive energy to go into them since by eating the food, that energy is going to come home.
Now I pay attention to having enough me-time when I meditate, learn new skills, say no when I don’t want to, connect with all living things. Time has slowed down. Before I was consumed by the thought of the past „I should have said this, I remember when, my ex used to be like that…” or with thoughts of the future „I must buy this tomorrow, I have to prepare for that meeting, what will I eat when I get home.”
No more being lost in time. The now is happening now and I walk my dog without my phone in my hand, I go shopping with some music and shake it in front of the vegetables because when I feel like dancing, I feel like dancing. People might think I’m crazy. So what? I stopped being defined by what others think of me and I rather show an example I believe is beneficial. Why hide that I’m happy? Why not express it when it comes?
To summarize, I think the 3 key components to a balanced healthy lifestyle are these:
1. Don’t believe just because they said so, trust your own personal experience.
2. Dare to try new things even if they seem far fetched at first.
3. Stay in the present. It is called the present for a reason.