This is a guest post by Hayley Blake; read About the Author below to learn more about her work.
Vacations. Times to abandon routines, embrace adventure, and explore new places, foods, and activities. Vacations are things most people look forward to and get excited about. I know that was the case for me for the first fourteen years of my life.
Every vacation I went on with my family was welcomed with open arms and every minute of those vacations was spent living freely with a big smile on my face. That is, until I decided my body weight was more important than any experience. At fourteen years old, I started down the ominous road of disordered eating, which continued for almost a decade. During that time, vacations became something to fear, something to dread, and definitely not something to enjoy. Vacations meant being told to go with the flow, and my disordered mind resisted it like the plague. In the flow was a scary place to be.
During those eight years of my life that I had an eating disorder, I still went on vacations. The circumstances didn’t change, but my mindset made a complete 180. Rather than sipping on a virgin piña colada poolside with my sister, I would hit up the hotel gym and then stall putting on a bikini until the last possible second. I would then drink only water and anxiously think about our dinner reservations all day as I tried to cover up my stomach, all the while ignoring my family’s suggestions to go swim in the waves or try out the new café for lunch. I refused to break out of my “routine” that I had at home, one that consisted of intense workouts and low calorie meals. I refused to do anything not scheduled (so I could mentally prepare for it) or feel any sort of pleasure. I refused truly living.
For the past three years, I have challenged and destroyed so many of the food rules and restrictions that held me captive for so long. I have embraced following my intuition and going with the flow when it comes to eating. The way I view food and the way I eat food has changed, but more importantly the way I live has changed. Vacations have reclaimed their beauty and have become something I look forward to again. I no longer fear breaking out of my routine or going with the flow. In fact, I wake up exhilarated and excited each day of a vacation because I don’t know where the day will take me. Today, I keep 5 things that remind me to enjoy vacation instead of obsess over food in the forefront of my mind to help me relax and go with the flow.
What do you want to look back on and remember about this time?
I used to get so caught up in sticking to my workout schedule and eating “safe” foods, but at the end of the vacation, would look back with regret at all of the things I missed out on. Ask yourself in each moment, “What will my future self want to remember from this vacation?” Act accordingly.
No one is looking at your body.
Seriously. Getting hung up on the way your stomach looks in a bikini is a waste of time because no one else is looking at it. Remind yourself that you are hyper-focusing on your own body, so others are probably only thinking about their bodies too. Choose to focus on everything else. Choose to put on a bikini and walk confidently, realizing nobody is perfect but we are all worthy of a fun vacation.
Be the type of person you would want to be around.
You know those people who enthusiastically say “Yes!” when you ask them to do something, without overthinking or stressing about it? Those are usually the people you want to be around on a vacation. Embrace that attitude as much as you can, and see how much more fun you have. We are who we pretend to be.
Remember, a vacation is only temporary, so you might as well make the most of it while it’s happening.
In X days, you won’t be in Hawaii with your whole family, but the memories will always last. You might as well make the most of each minute of where you are currently as it won’t last forever. You can always go back to your routine if you want, but it’s not every day you have the opportunity to take that hula dancing class during your usual gym time.
With these things in mind and the healing of my relationship with food, I started to enjoy vacations again. I no longer say no to unplanned ice cream cones after lunch. I no longer say no to jumping into the river with my clothes on and giggling until my stomach hurts. I no longer say no to going with the flow of life and doing things that make my soul happy. I finally am able to say yes to food and to life, unscheduled and unplanned. I am now able to go with the flow instead of always swimming against the current, and it has made for a beautiful ride.
About the Author
Hayley Blake is a life coach and blogger who loves writing about self-love, body acceptance, and living an authentic life. She works with clients to help develop healthy relationships with food, their bodies, and cultivate more joy and gratitude in their lives. If you’d like more inspiration from Hayley, visit her blog and Instagram.