It’s that time of year again. After a solid month of stuffing ourselves with turkey and cake and chocolate and candy canes, the trousers are feeling a little tight. Jeans have to be shimmied on in the morning and peeled off at night. There are a couple of dresses I’m avoiding wearing – and let’s not even mention swimwear.
Suddenly, after a month of hedonistic indulgence, we’re all being urged to stick to celery and cereal.
Umm, no thanks.
I’m not saying Christmas eating is something we should stick to all year round – even I can’t sustain that level of indulgence – but I do object to the guilt-tripping. I object to it especially when it comes from advertisers – the same advertisers who only a month ago were urging us to stuff our faces.
In summer, just a couple of days after I’d come back from my big America road trip, I spent a few days at my grandma’s. Stuck to a phone box around the corner from her flat was a poster that had clearly been there since the start of summer. It was a poster for a weight-loss programme. It featured a well toned woman in swimwear and the caption: BE HAPPY IN YOUR BODY THIS SUMMER
I’d just come back from 5 weeks on the road in America. Needless to say, I’d eaten like a champ the entire time.
And you know what? I was happy.
Early 2016 wasn’t a great time for me. I struggled emotionally. I had a lot of issues and anxieties clogging up my life, and whenever I tried to get myself into a routine that might help, my body threw insomnia at me, and all hope of routine went out of the window.
Travelling to America ripped me out of that. It was full of new challenges and fresh perspectives. Every day was a new horizon. Whatever my worries of the previous day, the next morning I was somewhere new and the old woes were left behind.
And let’s face it, I was travelling with two of the loveliest ladies a girl could have the pleasure to know. I actually burst into tears at one point on the trip. We were sitting on Pier 39 in San Francisco, eating fish & chips, and I just started crying. When my friends asked me what was wrong, all I could say was, ‘It’s perfect – I’m just so happy.’
I hate it when people preach that travel is the solution to all problems, because I don’t think that’s true. But for me, over the summer, it definitely helped.
I still live with a lot of the problems I had this time last year, but because of that trip, I feel a lot more resilient. And that’s worth so much more than toned abs or a slightly slimmer waistline.
It gives me more confidence in myself, too. I could have the body of a supermodel, but if I didn’t have that travel-inspired confidence, there would be so many things I wouldn’t have the courage to do. I would never have gone skinny-dipping in the North Sea. I would never have had a hammam experience in Marrakech. And I would never have had the guts to take this photo:
Self-confidence may not be the answer to everything. It certainly won’t cure a heart attack or help me climb a mountain. So yes, I do need to exercise more this year. I do need to try to be fitter. But I refuse to feel guilty about eating, or about enjoying lie, or about being a dress size bigger than I was last January. So there.