When I first began this travel journey I was walking about 12-15 miles a day. I was eating more food than I’ve ever eaten and still I maintaining/losing weight due to all the constant activity. Being active is not an option for me. It’s never really been about physical appearance, but mandatory for my mental health. I knew I was going to have to find a way to stay active (outside of the exploring I was/am doing in each new place). Staying healthy is actually not the easiest thing to when you’re in a new country every week or two. Kristin Addis’ blogs at https://www.bemytravelmuse.com/ on the travel blues and travel health have been really helpful during this solo journey. Getting in a funky headspace while solo traveling is no fun, and I felt it coming on. So when I woke up in Florence feeling the funk, I went straight to a fitness center and paid too much for a weekly pass, but I’m so glad I did. After forcing myself to go to a class I felt almost immediately better. Endorphins are real. This was also an EXTREMELY comical 60 minutes of my life.
Let me set the scene:
1. I’m the biggest person in the class. I mean I like to think I’m an averagely sized human with fluctuating amounts of jiggle, but these ladies, and one man, were tiny. (Tiny is beautiful too btw, I’m just setting the scene.)
2. I get red when I’m active. I mean REALLY red. Not just flushed. I get a heat rash on my back, and my face stays like a lobster until about an hour after I’ve worked out. The people from my gym at home are used to this, but I forgot I was around all new people and when I say they thought I was going to pass straight out..they were concerned y’all.
3. I have a super limited wardrobe. And by limited I mean I have about 5 outfits in an Osprey backpack. So I was wearing a shirt that wasn’t for the gym and showed SO MUCH SWEAT. It looked like someone had dunked my upper body in the toilet.
4. I also had this headband on that I had just picked up at the 99 cent store. It fell off about 20 times. Every time I saw myself in the mirror all I could think about was that I looked straight up like Ham Porter from the Sandlot!
5. This class required so much agility. The reason I love crossfit is because all I need to do is throw heavy (relative) things around. And there are no mirrors! Moving to a beat is not something I can do very well. I was laughing so hard during this class. Watching myself was like watching an octopus on land trying to keep in step with a group of flamingos.
On a serious note, while I really enjoyed this class, and it was really nice to be a part of a “group” even if I didn’t know any of them, I couldn’t stop the negative thoughts about my body that kept popping into my head. I never really analyze my body, but I kept getting this vibe that people were judging me because of A,B, and C. Then I started looking at myself in the mirror too hard and critiquing the things that have never really bothered me too much before. Regardless of my effort and ability I felt the need to shout, “I know I don’t look that fit, but I just walked the Camino!” “I know I’m jiggling way more than you, but I’m strong (relative) I promise.”
Why the hell did I feel the need to project my ability to the room, even though I will never see these humans again? While I did stick out like a sore thumb, the majority of them probably never even noticed I was there. The insecurity was completely mine. At the end of the day, the way your body looks has nothing to do with how healthy it is. I may have needed to binge all of these thoughts just to remind myself that healthy doesn’t show up in the mirror, but it was necessary.
I’m going to continue laughing when I’m caught in these situations, because that’s the way I’m wired, but I’m also going to make more of an effort to laugh with myself and not at myself. I think the easiest way to be gentle with others is by practicing on yourself. So self, I promise to be gentle and forgiving, because you’re awesome.