Stepping Outside Our Comfort Zones
This coming Saturday, my husband and I will be heading to Korea to visit my brother who is teaching English over there for a year.
And while we’ve traveled throughout Europe and Latin America, neither of us have been to Asia — so we’re in for a quite a cultural treat on many levels.
I think it goes without saying that we will no doubt stick out like sore thumbs in my brother’s adopted city (Gunsan) and, unlike in Europe or Latin America, we won’t understand the language or traditions — which I’m stoked to learn about.
But to be honest, one of the things I’m most excited about is the fact that for a full week, we will be completely removed from our routines and life as we know it here: work, school, gym, commitments, etc.
For someone like me — a recovering disordered eater/over-exerciser — being outside my comfort zone will be a really big challenge … but one I’m sincerely looking forward to embracing.
Sure, like always, I’ll pack my usual artillery of instant oatmeal packets and almond butter squeeze packs for the plane (it’s a 13 hr flight).
But once I’m there, I want to be there. I want the full experience — and that means loosening up and living a little.
In Korea, obviously I won’t be hitting the gym every day like I do here at home. We’ll be walking plenty I’m sure, and maybe we’ll go running a few times and/or do a bit of hiking … but certainly nothing like my obsessive-compulsive gym routines here (which are I might add, much calmer now than they were a few years ago).
And I think the time “off” will probably be a healthy change of pace.
Likewise, in Korea, I will need to be flexible with food choices. My brother speaks a little Korean now, but my usual way of ordering (X on the side, no oil, etc.) won’t be happening there. And you know what? I think that’s OK.
It seems like there will be a lot of healthy options anyway — vegetables, fish, etc. (and apparently we’re having Korean BBQ our first night there!) Anyway, I want to experience the flavors and culinary traditions of Korea, so I’m trying to be as open-minded as possible. My brother says a lot of the food is shared, like tapas … served family style. I’m looking forward to that, too.
(My only caveat to him was that I draw the line at eating live octopus tentacles — which he ate and filmed for us to see a few months ago. Other than that, I promised him I’d be as open-minded as I could, recognizing it’s a totally different culture than anything I’ve experienced before).
What I’m realizing on this recovery journey is that each time I travel or just loosen up at a girls’ dinner or on a date night with my husband, I feel like I’m making more and more progress towards becoming a more “normal” eater.
Each time, there’s less fear of the unknown and less anxiety … but I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that there’s also more of me now than there was three years ago … and sometimes it upsets me.
Still, that being said, I’d rather carry these extra pounds and be happier, saner and mentally healthier … than live a life of restriction and self-punishment. That’s no way to live, either. And I don’t miss those days.
Since life is about balance, I’m hoping to have an enjoyable vacation and experience Korea in moderation. I can’t wait, and feel up to the challenge. I’m not sure I would have felt so cool, calm and collected about a trip like this even a year ago.
To me, that in and of itself is a huge sign of progress.
How about you? Do you struggle when you have to travel for business or if you’re on vacation? Does being away from your comfort zone make you anxious?