The 7 Things I Learned About My Body While Traveling in South America

On January 28, 2014

I spent the last 2 weeks traveling throughout Patagonia with my dad, the best travel companion there ever was.  First of all, this man loves adventure.  He is the kind of person who says YES to life, something I got from him and always seek in others.  Our travels always have a few different components: cultural experience, physical challenge, spiritual awakening, lap of luxury, and incessant shopping.

We both love people.  We love observing them, analyzing them and getting their story.  We love adventure and adrenaline, anything to get our hearts pumping.  We love finding the quiet moment or the details and stopping to appreciate them.  We also love a plush mattress, a gorgeous shower and an a mind blowing meal.

I know what you’re thinking, and unfortunately my parent’s aren’t accepting applications for adoption right now 😉 but I do want to share some of the things I learned on this magical Patagonian adventure.

Going into it I knew I would face some challenges.  For starters, I didn’t really train for the 10+ mile hikes we’d be doing every day in a variety of weather conditions and rugged terrain.  And by “didn’t really” I mean “didn’t”.

Secondly, I have food allergies.  Eating gluten can put me out of commission for a couple days (which was not an option) so I had to be really careful with what I was eating.

Also, I was going to be completely out of my comfort zone.  No routines, no internet, no mascara, no nothin’.

Here are some of the things I learned about my body while sharing a space with my father and 15 strangers in a foreign country for 2 intense weeks…

full rainbow

1. My body is capable of way more than I give it credit for.

I did absolutely no training for this trip and yet my body was still able take me on 10-15 miles hikes up mountains and through rocky terrain as the weather shifted from seemingly random combinations of sun, cold, rain, and wind at 15-minute intervals.

I realized how strong I am naturally.  And that’s amazing.

2.  It can handle the effects of  non-stop meat, malbec, dulce de leche and cappuccino… as long as there is pleasure involved!

I totally surrendered to the South American way of life.  Malbec at every dinner.  Flan for the hell of it!  In “normal life” I limit all of those things, but in South America I let go.

I just focused on listening to my body and not overdoing it and everything was fine.  It was more than fine.  I ate whatever I wanted and yes, I was hiking a ton, but the point is that when I really tuned into my hunger and celebrated pleasure, it was all good.

3.  My body has a tremendous capacity to heal.

I rarely get sick, so when I came down with a fever the night before we left I was frustrated, scared and frankly, a little pissed at my body.  I didn’t want anything to hold me back from being totally present in this vacation.  I did all the health coach-y things I do when I get a cold (herbal remedies, lots of sleep, healing meditations) yet the cold persisted.

I am a strong believer that everything is a teacher and this cold taught me that it’s okay to show weakness (something I usually avoid at all costs).  No one judged me, no one was mad at me for being sick.  Everyone just wanted to take care of me, and if I wanted to heal, I had to accept that and take care of myself.

As soon as I succumbed to the fact that I was really sick, and I needed to rest, I got better.

4. You’re never too old

I was one of two youngens on our trip.  Everyone else in the group was between 52-70.  On day one I was huffing and puffing, while people twice my age raced up a mountain in the pouring rain.  It was humbling, sure.  But more than anything it was inspiring.  Just because you’ve been alive for a long time doesn’t mean you’re old.

5. Other people (even doctors!) don’t always know best. 

There was a doctor on our trip who said all of the following things, “I read a study that said water wasn’t that important“, “What you eat has no effect on your GI system.  Changing your diet just has the placebo effect”, “Probiotics are pointless”, “You should never stretch or do yoga”.  It’s doctors like this that kept me sick for over 10 years.

Each of one these things: more water, an improved diet, probiotics and gentle exercise has brought me on a path to vibrant health.  It made me so happy to realize that I’d finally learned to listen to my body and figure out what’s best for me based on trial & error and personal experience rather than listening to everything I hear from “smart people”.

6. This is the only body I will ever have.  So I better be gentle.

Ok, I know this is not a huge revelation for some.  But as the trip went on my knees started to get a little creaky and it became really real to me that if something went wrong with my body now, it was probably going to stay wrong.  So again, I was forced to slow down and not push it.

A great line that our guide said was, “walk like an old man, see the world like a child”.  A lot of people who hike just see their feet, this quote gave me and my dad permission and inspiration to slow down, tune in, and appreciate the magnificent beauty all around us. [See the rainbow above and other pictures below…]

7.  It’s perfect just the way it is.

I thought I was going to lose some weight considering I was hiking for around 10 hours a day.  I didn’t, in fact I probably gained weight.  But the amazing thing is—I so don’t care!

So much time away from the Internet was tremendously healing.  When I stoped looking at Beyonce or Angelina every day I stoped thinking that my body is supposed to look like theirs.  It was so F’ing refreshing.  This unintended tech cleanse inspired one of my New Years Resolutions this year, to spend less time in front of the TV and on the internet, and more time on the couch, in a blanket with a good book–where women can be as petite and curvy as I want them to be!

 

And now, here are some of my favorite pics from the trip…

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photo (30)

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