If you've ever struggled with disordered eating or have been stuck in the diet mindset, you're likely familiar with the panic/anxiety/fear that comes with any sort of trip or vacation. And I get it- there are so many things that make traveling a challenge when you have a poor relationship with food. Recently, I found myself on a 10-hour road trip (when I say recently, I mean 5 weeks ago and this post has slowly but surely been in the works since then) and I was reminded of how several years ago, spending multiple hours sitting in a car without access to my "safe" foods was my worst nightmare.
Tomorrow I'm leaving for my first real vacation in so many years, I can't even count. I'm heading to Las Vegas with my sister and our partners and I'm so excited for good company and good food. Besides the odd weekend away here or there (mostly for weddings and/or family events), I haven't been anywhere just for pure fun in so long. And it's a very weird feeling, mostly because I am always always doing something. Even on my days off, I'm cleaning or writing or working on my business or learning or doing something to stay busy. The last time I laid in bed all day and relaxed was when I was sick (which wasn't that relaxing at all). My partner is always poking fun at my inability to sit still. So going on a trip that likely won't involve any work at all (probably, maybe) is an odd (but good) feeling. There's also something different about this trip...
Historically, I haven't been very good at vacations. When I was younger, my travel anxiety was so severe that I couldn't really go anyway without throwing up (I was a lot of fun!!!) And then when I got older, I was so entrenched in diet culture that I couldn't enjoy the food I was eating or the sights I was seeing because I was so stressed out about calories and when I was going to make it to the gym. The last time I went away for an extended period of time, I was still pretty caught up in diet culture and as anyway who has been in the depths of dieting or disordered eating while traveling knows, it's not particularly fun. Honestly, is there anything more depressing than looking out the window at a beautiful place from a hotel gym? Is there anything worse than looking at all the delicious food options but instead, opting for something "lighter" or "cleaner" or whatever bullshit term you want to use to describe less-delicious food (not to say that all stereotypically "healthy" meals are not delicious- just that when you only allow yourself a very limited range of foods when you're surrounded by so many enticing options, it gets pretty sad). I thought that I was "in control" but in reality, I was being totally and entirely controlled by my disordered relationship to food. I thought that I was keeping myself in "check" but truthfully, I was just ignoring my body's inner wisdom and intuition.
My vacations (and life in general) were pretty rooted in deprivation. Rather than enjoying all the delicious and appreciating where I was, I was thinking about all the things I couldn't have or couldn't do because I was too worried about eating "too much" or not being able to go for a run. It makes me sad to think about it now but like so many other things about recovery, that sadness is tinged in gratitude. Gratitude that I can now order whatever I want guilt-free. Gratitude that I can pack a lighter suitcase because there's no need for workout clothes or sneakers. Gratitude in knowing that I can nourish my body and my soul, whatever that means for me in the moment.
Unlike every other vacation I've been on since I was about 15 years old, my prep for this vacation hasn't involve altering my food or movement at all. There's been (and will be) no restricting to compensate for all the tasty food I'm going to eat in the next week. There's been no extra workouts. There's been no trying to force my body into a size that it doesn't naturally want to be at just so I can look "better" in that dress. I'm not worrying about any weight I may or may not gain. I trust my body to take care of me. I trust that my body will know what to do if I eat more than normal. And that's the big difference between this and every other vacation: I trust my body to take care of me. I don't have to worry about what's going to "happen" to it because I know my body has my back (no pun intended?). So here's to a week of body trust, intuition and fun. What a radical concept!
Talk to you when I get back,
Cover photo by louis amal