A healthy breakfast at The Hive Wellbeing in East London, my favourite café
Nearly eight months ago, I embarked on a journey. A journey that shouldn’t have been that difficult – no really, it shouldn’t have – and yet it was something I had to consciously think about until, well, I didn’t (which took about two to three weeks).
Eight months ago, I gave up my two biggest vices in this world: alcohol and men.
The results? Giving up alcohol in particular led me to be quite healthy in general, so I lost weight, became more productive, and saw my happiness levels increase. Don’t you just hate when something like that actually works? Damn it.
Over that month span, I wrote weekly accounts of how I was doing along the way. And – spoiler – although I succumbed to both vices while on holiday in Italy (c’mon, it would have been blasphemous NOT to succumb while in Italy), I felt great both physically and mentally. I wrote nine blog posts, the most I’ve done in years, and I had way too much fun writing those recaps.
If you’re interested, you can read them here:
My Month Without Alcohol and Men… Part One
My Month Without Alcohol and Men… Part Two
My Month Without Alcohol and Men… Part Three
My Month Without Alcohol and Men… Part Four
Goodbye, sweet nectar: drinks in Zanzibar, Tanzania
But you can guess what happened come February. I went right back to my whiskey-swigging, man-eating ways*, reignited my love for all white carbs, and didn’t feel as motivated to write. No surprises there. Living in a city like London – a place so diverse, so energetic, and so on all the time – means there’s always a party or event or new bar to go to. There are hundreds upon hundreds of restaurants I want to try, no exaggeration. When you couple this with the fact that I am a hedonist and have no willpower, it makes for a very dangerous combination. I am always up for dessert or for another drink. I’ll always suggest an appetiser, even if I’m not that hungry. I love eating out, trying new bars, and am, quite frankly, a bit of a greedy-guts. It’s not good.
As if that pasta-loving, wine-drinking, I’m-gonna-eat-the-last-cookie-no-apologies-given gluttonous monster wasn’t enough, I’m also lazy as hell (future suitors, are you taking note? I’m clearly a catch). I would happily sleep for eight to ten hours a night, then laze in bed reading in the morning for another hour. I watch way too many movies, always put things off until tomorrow, and have perfected procrastination like an art form. If I want to do it? I’ll put everything aside and do it with fervour. If I don’t want to do it? Nah. I’m going to wait until the very last possible moment to get it done, or just not do it at all.
Case in point? Exercise. Although I walk anywhere between 8,000 and 15,000 steps a day, I am really averse to working out. I honestly don’t think I’d mind it when I got going, but I’m so freaking lazy that I never even think to start, if that makes sense.
OK, so do we all have a clear image of me right now? Boozin’, stuffing my face, barely moving an inch off the couch?! All right, it’s not that bad, but I’m definitely not as healthy as I could be. On top of that, I just finished over three months of travelling across four continents (Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America), and I’ve long struggled to eat healthy when I’m travelling. Even now, back in Canada for the next month, I’ve eaten pretty much nothing but white bread. Why? Because I’m renovating my house and it’s the easy thing to do. I also really like sandwiches and bagels, so… yeah. There’s that.
In exactly one month I will be flying back to London, and a week after that, I’ll fly to Italy for a couple of weeks with my sister. I can tell you right now that the second I get back to London I’m heading straight to my favourite pub to see my friends. And I can also tell you that the second I land in Italy with my sister we’re heading straight to the closest family-run restaurant where I can eat my weight in pasta.
Looking for that Zanzibar zest again…
So I’ve decided to give this whole healthy lifestyle a go again over the next four weeks. I’m going to document the days much as I did in January, and keep track of how well (or how poorly) I do. Much like the digital detox I just took, I want a chance to feel healthy and… flush out my toxins? Is that what people say?! I just know that I want to feel more of a spring in my step again, especially as the past few months have been so crazy. I want to take care of myself physically, and in the process, take care of myself mentally as well (I’m still not feeling very motivated to write, even though I have so many blog posts planned from East Africa).
So expect a renewed obsession with sparkling water, adventures in quinoa, and a feeble attempt to get more active. Expect tears when I find out Caesars are on special nearly every night of the week (Canadians, you get me on this), there’s a Forensic Files marathon on TV just as my dad invites me to the gym, and I can’t be sure if I’m hallucinating or if the smell of barbecued meat really is always in the air. But I’m ready to try this. Again.
Stay tuned for next month, when I’ll reveal how I did!
Beautiful, beautiful breakfast in Florence… some of it’s healthy, right?!
Do you find yourself going through healthy and unhealthy periods, like me? Does your health correlate to how productive and creative you feel?
*Hah, no, I wish. I saw Atomic Blonde at the cinema last week and am pretty much obsessed with Charlize Theron as Lorraine. How can she be so beautiful and so cool and so badass?! Quite frankly, I’d give up my firstborn for that white pleather trench coat and those black boots, no lie. Anyway, my February was less “drinking straight whiskey while making out with hot German men” and more “drinking cheap red wine at the pub while wondering if it’s socially acceptable to flirt with a bus driver while he’s driving because, damn, that guy was kind of hot, and, oh god, I’m so single”.
Good luck with your month of health!
I’ve recently started working out – after years of paying for gym memberships and never using them, I’ve finally got into a routine and it feels great! I think it really is about getting into the habit, but it can be difficult when you’re travelling.
However I also love food (and booze) and can never deprive myself…life’s too short, right?!
I agree – life IS too short. That’s awesome that you’ve found a routine you like!
I can totally relate! I love food and sweets and books and movies and curling up and enjoying all of them together. Can’t wait to read how you do, good luck!
Ha ha – there are just too many good things in life! 😉
This sounds great! I’m trying to do something similar as I start a new chapter – looking forward to the stories to come!
Thanks, Victoria! Good luck on your new chapter 🙂
Hi…I just returned to the US after spending a month traveling through Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Russia. My God, how do those Russian girls stay soooo thin! However, knowing how much walking you really do when one travels…..3-10+ miles a day (I wore a Fitbit every day), then I’m surprised eating and drinking don’t equal out with your walking every day! You should wear a Fitbit…maybe you’re walking more than you know! Keep up the good writing…….it’s quite good!
I do own a Fitbit, which is why I know how many steps I walk every day. It’s not about how much I’m eating, it’s WHAT I’m eating… as in, lots of white carbs and not enough vegetables. It’s not healthy to eat like that daily.
Atomic Blonde, YES. At this point I’m not sure if Charlize Theron is really human. Good luck with your health month!
Ha ha, totally. She was so good in that movie!!
I feel like we are twins, haha. If you ever come to Vancouver, I’ll sit and eat and drink with you and pretend to have gone for a hike before brunch (oh vancouver!!) 🙂
Ha ha – I will totally pretend to have done a hike with you 😉
I remember those awesome posts in February…good luck over the next month! To be honest, I just pay a personal trainer to keep me mostly fit. There’s something about paying her, and accountability, that makes me stick to it. I treat it like a utility bill for my health and don’t feel so bad about the cost. Plus, when I’m traveling, my reward is to eat whatever my heart desires! I’m in St. Lucia now and I’m stuffed and it’s only 2pm…lol
Yes – I’d love to do that if I didn’t move around so much! I think a PT would really help me. And yeah… you’re on holiday… eat until you can’t possibly eat any more!! 😀
Good luck Brenna! I love hiking and am quite active with that and just walking in general, but I have better things to do than spend time cooped up in a gym – urgh. It is definitely a struggle to stay healthy while traveling – I was just on the road for 2 months and am now back in Colorado and trying to be good for a while. In a place like Colorado where the beer is so damn good – it’s hard! And then there’s the donuts… I’m looking forward to reading about your progress
Ha ha… beer and donuts… kryptonite!! Thanks for the encouragement, Katie 😀
I LOVE this! I’ve been following your blog for some time now and I would love it if you could check out my Instagram (Effie.smith.fit) where I focus specifically on fitness and health for travelers and busy people that requires little to no weight! I think it’d be a great compliment to what you’re trying to do! 🙂
Cool, thanks Effie!
Haha gosh this is written like it came out of my own head…today I promised myself I’d do some form of exercise for at least 30mins everyday for the next month. I did a 4km hike today and might have gone too hard too fast haha…hurting!
I love the way you write Brenna! Also life is definitely too short to skip dessert, go easy on carbs or put down the block of chocolate!
Aw, thanks, Lisa! Good luck with your goal for the next month… we can do it! 😀
I loved February’s posts so I’m looking forward to this journey too! Like you, I walk constantly in Boston, but otherwise I don’t have a fitness plan to speak of, and my eating habits involve way too many delicious food trucks. I also find myself way more interested in movies and…activities that don’t involve moving or cooking for myself? Lol. At present I’m reheating pizza and thinking, at the very least, I need to walk to the ATM tonight (some of those lunch food trucks only take cash, see.) : )
Oh god, food trucks are just awful… but amazing. And yes, a walk to the ATM totally counts! 😉
Yes and yes! I just finished a crazy two months at work where I was working 65+ hours a week, sleeping too little, eating a lot of cafeteria food and not working out at all. I was clocking in anywhere from 12-18,000 steps a day, but it wasn’t consistent and the overeating took its toll. I am trying to get back to eating in moderation, eating 5 small meals a day instead of 3 big ones, cooking at home instead of eating out, and working out more regularly. It’s still only week 1, but so far so good. My parents and I are going on a week-long trip at the end of the month, so that’s when my temptation to cheat will hit its highest point, so I am hoping my routine will be regular enough by then that it won’t be too bad. We shall see! Good luck to you, and I can’t wait to read about the results! xxx
Sounds awesome, Veena! I wish you all the best on your healthy lifestyle… sounds like it’s off to a great start!
I did so enjoy those blog posts. I found that finding an exercise you love means it’s more fun. I can’t stand running, treadmills, or the gym but I do love hot power yoga so I do that. I have also been slacking this last month so I’ll commit to getting healthier in this next month too. Thanks for the inspiration!
I can’t stand treadmills, either… hoping to do lots of fun stuff like bike riding and badminton instead! Thanks, Cait 😀
Personally a goal helps me stick to a workout plan far better than just going to the gym on a random schedule. I’m a runner so my goals are races (I’ve got a fall marathon that’s getting my butt moving even in the middle of nowhere Aussie outback), but any goal works. Find what you like to do a set yourself a goal in relation to that, it might help. Also key word here is like, if you hate running don’t sign up for a 5k, if you don’t like what you’re doing you’ll never see it through.
That’s great advice, thank you so much!
This is exactly why I love doing yoga at home so much (seriously — the Yoga with Adriene videos on YouTube — check them). I’ve learned over the years that health and strength comes with time and gradual practice, not a practice in extremes. When you force yourself to live a certain way through depravation, you’re not actually learning anything… except maybe how much willpower you have.
But eventually you cave because we’re only human, and you go right back to old habits that, ultimately, don’t leave you feeling good about yourself. It’s great to have short-term goals for the sense of achievement they provide, but I’m convinced that the best path towards feeling content with your body (at least for me) is doing a little bit every day to practice balance. Take the 15 minutes before going out to eat to do a yoga practice or fast-paced walk around the block — you’ll feel better about what you eat, no matter what it is, and healthy choices ultimately lead to more healthy choices in the long haul. But you never have to feel bad about that piece of chocolate cake or extra glass of stout beer because deprivation falls on the opposite end of the spectrum from gluttony — in the end, neither one will form good habits or make you feel good about yourself, and you are a gorgeous, intelligent, world-traveling woman! There’s NO reason you shouldn’t feel amazing every day.
*steps down from pedestal and refuses to apologize for the 2nd cup of coffee that spawned this rant because it just felt right — and that’s a happy way to live.* 😉
Ha ha – I like that rant! And you are totally right about what I should be doing… SHOULD being the operative word there…
Haha, best of luck, Brenna! I’m constantly saying how I’m going to try to do an overhaul and go a certain number of days with being healthy. Never pans out quite the way I plan. Chocolate is my kryptonite. If I could eat dessert every day without making myself sick I’d weigh a a five hundred pounds. Anyway, stay strong! And don’t give yourself a cheat day or cheat meal because that is just a slippery slope. Trust me.
Thank you, Nina! I’ve unfortunately given myself a whole month of cheat meals……. 🙁
I read this a while ago but forgot to comment! How is the month going??
Don’t ask… 🙁