Stepping Outside Our Comfort Zones

This is a cross-post over at WeAretheRealDeal today. You can read it here or after the jump.

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?

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5 thoughts on “Stepping Outside Our Comfort Zones

  1. Good for you for feeling more and more “normal” as time goes on. How incredible and amazing a feat you’ve overcome here! I’m sure you will thoroughly enjoy the time in Korea – though I’m with you, no live octopus, eek! As for your q, I do get a little anxious about work trips and vacations and being thrown from my routine. I’m trying to make my pending work trip (next week) less uncomfortable (in terms of being out of my routine) by scheduling a run with some colleagues who will be at the same trade show as me, and I’m trying to find a gym to go to one morning too. I think it’s important to find balance, especially on a work trip, for your own time, not just “work” time. Plus, I know I’ll be eating more “heavy” meals and drinking in the evenings so the workouts will make me feel more “balanced” if that makes sense!

  2. I’m so excited for you! I went to Malaysia 1.5 years ago on a missions trip, and I was worried that my food restricting and over-exercising would ruin my time there. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that they didn’t. Instead, I’ve never felt more free. I tried all sorts of new and different foods, and snuck in moderate exercise when able to. When I was NOT able to, however, or I was required to eat something I might not have chosen so as not to offend my hosts, it was okay. I dealt. I didn’t gain weight, either. It was an amazing experience! I bet your trip will be, too!

  3. omg, travelling and being out of my comfort zone definitely makes me panic. once i sit down, take a deep breath and realize that i can still bring my snacks, etc, then i realize i will be fine.
    i would not be as fabulous as you are with the the gym and letting go of all the other food stuff. i’m really impressed! you are truly growing and should be damn proud of yourself. you inspire me to “let go” some more too.

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