180° in 5: How I Improved My Outlook On Life From the Inside, Out
November 7, 2015
Pushing myself out of the most secure comfort zone I’ve known means something entirely different to me now than I originally thought it would. Normally, if I’m ever stepping away from my usual habits, it requires me to physically do something that I typically would refrain from. But here, I find that going out of my comfort zone requires me not doing things that I typically do. Take this for example: I’m a health coach back home and I avidly promote the benefits of living an overall healthy and fit lifestyle. I used to work out every day, if not twice daily. I would plan all my meals, cook for myself, and lived with a solid routine. In Bangkok however, everything is upside down. I haven’t worked out in months, I can’t prepare any food because we have zero access to a kitchen, and routine might as well be a twelve-letter long German word that I don’t understand.
And the thing is, I’m not entirely sure when this shift happened or if it just happened all at once. The adjustment period was “supposed” to last just a few weeks, maybe a month at most, but it seemed as if my adjustment period lingered, stretching farther than most others’. In mid-September I was still confused about why I was in Asia, and it wasn’t until the end of October that I realized what my purpose was in Thailand.
One of my favorite self-reflection rhetorical questions is, “How comfortable are you living in the uncomfortable, no matter how uncomfortable comfortable has become?” It’s not the easiest thing to say, and it needs to be read and reread in order to understand it, but that’s one of the reasons why it’s so important. It empowers me to make a change in my life, and to improve on the things that I feel I am not doing well. It is most helpful during the semester at times when I feel swallowed by all my work. I could easily sulk in the uncomfortable stress, comforted by the negative attitude that keeps me barred. Or, I could face my challenges head on, taking charge of the things that have taken me over and make me stressed. Relating this all to Thailand, I found that although I inhabited the same mentality, the way in which I went about making a change was entirely different from what I was used to.
I found myself doing less of what I typically love at home, not because I lost interest in them, but because I gained interest in other things. I knew that my physical health would be put on the backburner, but I was okay with that because I wanted to focus all my attention on my mental health. And overall, that was probably one of the hardest thing that I’ve ever done. I slept in more and worked out less in order to give my mind the rest it needed. I read more pages and did less push-ups because I knew that building my brain’s muscle would be more beneficial for me in the long run. I ate fried rice! And a lot of it too! I was blatantly disregarding all the healthy habits that I knew back home and refilling the PEZ candy slots in my brain with new habits, ready to be dispensed at any moment.
And with only 6 weeks left in Asia before I fly back home, I realize that all the time I’ve spent as the 180° version of myself is finally paying off. I’ve gained more than I thought I would. Some of that new addition came in the form of extra pounds, while most of it came in beautiful, fresh bushels of knowledge. For the first time in my life, I can look in the mirror with supreme confidence, on good days and bad, and say proudly, “Damn girl, you fine!” I feel beautiful in my body, but most importantly I feel spectacular, radiant, and pretty untouchable in my mind. In the past few months, I’ve had more ugly cries than I’ve had vegetables. But I’ve also lived with eyes brighter than the iridescent Bangkok taxi cars, and wider than my ever-growing hips (thanks to all the yummy fried rice.)
So pretty much, despite all the changes I’ve made to my mind and body, I’ve done so in a conscious effort of improvement. I’m growing more every day, looking forward to each new step that I take from here on out. And who knows, I might even learn enough to help someone through her journey next year, one spring roll at a time.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!