El & Matt in Ecuador!
I just returned from a trip to Ecuador, South America, for 30 days, the first part of a 6-month hiatus from “real life” with my husband, Matt. Three weeks of that time was spent doing volunteer work on the mainland, and the last week was a getaway to the Galapagos Islands. Not too long before I left, I completed a triathlon, weightlifting with heavy weight, training like a beast, sometimes twice a day. And by the way, I don’t eat meat except for some fish.
In Mid-October, I left my jobs, and entered a brief celebration mode. I let myself eat a bit more sweets than usual, have a few more drinks than usual…work out less rigorously and regularly. And off we went. Life was exciting!!
Before I dive in, let me say that this experience to the beautiful country of Ecuador was incredible, eye-opening, inspiring and life-changing. But the Kaia coach in me is dying to tell you about how I have never in my life appreciated HEALTH and FITNESS more.
I expected some diet challenges. I figured I would be eating more carbs and less greens than I would like, but assumed I would at least have access to good fruit, eggs and beans, which I could get by on! I thought that we could go on some runs and that I could do some sit ups, push-ups and squats regularly to stay in shape. Well, let me tell you about the reality that we faced, starting with diet.
First of all, water is not safe there. So, we had to filter our own water, even to brush our teeth with. Even bottled water at restaurants was sketchy, so soda or beer were the safer options if you didn’t have your own water with you. Then you have to skim the menus for food that you can feel comfortable was not washed with the unsafe water, or was at least cooked after the fact. What that left us with was French fries, rice and bread. If we were lucky, they’d have avocados but rarely would we find beans and only sometimes was fresh fruit was offered. This vegetarian was ready to eat some chicken after a week of endless carbs, but after seeing the conditions of the animals, I was afraid of that option as well. My husband actually got a stomach parasite from some of the seafood we ate. Sorry for these details, but going to the bathroom was either not happening, or happening way too much- if you know what I mean. Which leads me into exercise. Feeling the way we did would not have allowed for the most effective sit ups… Not to mention, if we had any space to exercise on indoors, it was not exactly a space we’d want to put our hands on or sit on (note to self: take yoga mat on next part of trip). The air outside was so polluted that within moments of being outside, our throats were on fire. By the time we got to the Galapagos where we could actually get some physical activity and eat some fruit and fish, we were sick!! We enjoyed it nonetheless, but were feeling less than perfect. And these are just our conditions after one month. I could write an essay about the people we met who have to live like this. Heartbreaking.
One night, we sat and talked about a dream meal: roasted veggies, spinach salad, steamed broccoli….it sounded AMAZING. I remembered myself complaining during triathlon training and in Ecuador I would’ve given anything to be able to run again. I cannot express enough the depth of my realization that we are SO blessed to have endless access to healthy food, clean water, clean air…and that we have these bodies that we can preserve, strengthen, and fuel.
I got back late on Friday night and on Saturday morning was dying to attend a yoga class. My body was SO tight. Reaching for my toes which I used to be able to do effortlessly, was not so easy! And Monday morning, you better believe the one place in the world I wanted to be more than anything was Kaia. LADIES, I thought I was going to puke. Why are push ups so hard again?? I thought I conquered these!!! Why is this bar SO heavy?? I was killing this a month ago!! Megan used to tell me that I could bust out burpees like a beast and I am pretty sure my arthritic grandma could’ve done them faster than me at the end of that workout. Seriously.
One month and I’ve lost so much of what I worked hard to gain, but I was taking it for granted before I left. I was complaining at the gym, I was slacking on regular exercise, totally failing on my diet… Those were choices I made. Then, I had no choice, for one entire month, and I wanted nothing more than those very things I took for granted. In the first 4 days home I worked out 3 times. I’ve eaten loads of greens and colorful seasonal veggies with every single meal. I have 11 more days here and will be working out 9 of those days (it’s on my calendar!). And I’ll get it back.
The moral of my story? Don’t take it for granted. Don’t cheat yourself. Take care of your incredible bodies. Do it now.