Each chapter of life leaves you with lessons and they usually happen during a time of challenge or exploration, two things that are ESSENTIAL for growth. Consciously or subconsciously, I am a seeker of growth which is what led me to a trip that changed my life.
The summer of 2011 I graduated college and asked myself the question: what do I want to do next? I had already worked 3 years as a personal trainer, my passion and career choice. I needed some freedom and adventure so I sold most of my items, broke my lease (whoops) and planned a trip that had no expiration date. I moved to Ahe, French Polynesia, a tiny island off of Tahiti to work on an organic pearl farm. The island had no running water, solar panels for electricity, 1 store that was essentially a hut and only 553 people on it. Culture shock.
My family truly thought I was crazy and did not really support the idea but I didn't care. When I think back it almost seems like a blur. Like a distant dream. But I learned some of the most important lessons during that time period. Things about my fitness, nutrition and emotions (which are 3 of the most important things to me, hence my health coaching :) ) that I don't think I ever would have learned otherwise. These lessons can relate to every single person. You don't have to travel that far and go to those extremes to learn. But sometimes you do..
1. Food. I started my trip as a 105 lb vegan that was obsessed with every little thing I ate. My menstrual cycle stopped and I was fighting anorexia. I soon realized after arriving to Ahe that I had no choice of what I was eating and had to take what I could get. Our first meal was chicken and potatoes which I forced myself to eat. I got my period back the next day and trust me, I did not expect that and had to use HUGE pads I got from the tiny store hut. I started to slowly gain weight again although it was very hard for me emotionally. Living in a place where there are few options you realize that food is fuel, not a luxurious decision. You don't eat for pleasure but rather to make you strong, healthy and capable (even though the food was so fresh and healthy- the owner and "father" of the farm was an amazing chef).
*Lesson learned- food is fuel and knowing why you eat what you eat will change your life. I was eating (or not eating) to feel more confident. In other words, I thought that being thin and getting more attention was my answer to happiness. When I reflect on that time in my life, I was always obsessing about what I was eating and would miss out on delicious food because I was afraid I would gain weight. Not only that but I thought that my skinniness would lead to the type of love I have always craved. How silly is that? Genuine love is not judged by appearance. You will not receive the love you want until you TRULY love yourself. Sounds cliche but it is so true.