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  • Writer's pictureBrande Victorian

Is Your Commitment To Wellness Predicated On Convenience?

On May 8, I set out for a 12-day trip to South Africa for work. And let me tell you, I left my house at 8:22 am that Monday morning with the best of intentions for my time away-- two pairs of sneakers -- one for workouts, one for dirty safari roads -- two sports bras, two pairs of compression leggings, and 6 moisture-wicking tops. I decided I'd let the "find 30 minutes" mantra of my now-trainer guide me out of my bed at least a half-hour early each morning to get a workout in before tackling the day's itinerary. And I even established my own guiding principle to get me through the trip without losing my waistline altogether: "You have goals and a life you have to return to after this trip."

And then I was handed a glass of champagne before I could even put on my seat belt and the generous man seated next to me had the nerve to offer me some of the Buffalo Wild Wings that smelled so good between us that I texted my friend about them before takeoff. I hesitated for all of a quarter of a second when he asked "Would you like some?" and then I replied, "I would." Four glasses of wine later, I was snacking on smart popcorn (balance) while watching The Bridges of Madison County and trying to daydream discipline into fruition over the next 11 days. Spoiler alert: It never materialized. And while I could blame my birthday, early morning wakeup calls, being in the bush, lack of electricity, poor internet, and a sad excuse for a gym at one of the properties on the fact that I didn't workout not one day while I was abroad, that wouldn't explain how another woman on the same press trip with me who was subject to the same conditions managed to maintain commitment to her healthy lifestyle without fail.

Every meal, the travel writer was unrelenting when it came to her mostly vegetarian, gluten- and dairy-free diet. When a chef made gluten-free muffins for her she wasn't even tempted by the aroma because eating breads simply isn't something she does anymore. When we split an avocado corn salad -- the one food item I can be proud of on the trip -- she asked if I minded having it without the dressing. Knowing there likely wouldn't be a meal that fit her dietary restrictions on our domestic flights, she purchased her own snacks and packed them in her carryon. In the mornings, she woke up early and did her exercise routine in her rooms -- she'd written it down so internet connectivity and electricity were non-issues.

Every day I told her she inspired me. Day 8 I actually finally put on one of those pairs of compression pants and the matching top (priorities) and made my way to the hotel gym. It was a hot mess so I rapidly made my way back upstairs after 3.2 minutes on a treadmill from 1972. I tried to hype myself up to do some jumping jacks and other cardio moves in my room before dinner and never made it. I didn't even turn on my Latin playlist and work up a salsa sweat. I checked emails until it was too late for me to do anything meaningful (my logic) before dinner and before I knew it I was back on my 15-hour flight to New York with nothing more than two obligatory hikes under my belt.

In short, what that trip taught me is I'm still not about that life. I try to be, and for the most part I succeed at making healthy choices when I'm at home. But even then, if I'm being honest, I do so when it's under optimal conditions -- I cooked over the weekend, I packed my lunch, I brought my own snacks to the office, I weighed my portions, I have a workout class to go to so someone else can tell me what to do... I've made a decision to be healthy no matter what. That last one is really the crux of it all. The woman on the trip with me isn't on any type of fitness journey, you know, like me, she's just conscious of what is and isn't good for her body and isn't interested in putting things in it that don't make her feel good, physically, mentally, or otherwise. She, my friends, is about that life. It didn't matter that we had to use a solar-powered lamp the size of a mason jar to see six inches in front of us before the sun rose, she got her Tracy Anderson workout routine in. And if there was something on the menu that didn't agree with her body, she didn't eat it. It wasn't convenient to have to explain her dietary restrictions to every waiter, or constantly amend her order, or even bypass certain meals altogether. But it was a commitment to her health and a testament to her lack of discipline that I, myself, can only describe as #goals.

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