When in Rome…Don’t Stress Out

Recently, I’ve read quite a few articles, listened to some podcasts, and watched several videos dedicated to balance and that…it doesn’t exist? Well, to be fair, this stance generally entails entrepreneurial aspects, essentially stating that juggling work and life affairs hand-in-hand is nearly impossible. Realistically, most people have no choice but to crank up the energy into one channel of their life and sacrifice other parts. Sometimes, that means saying no to happy hour to cater towards improving a business. Other times, it means taking time off to care for the family instead of scheduling more meetings. But let’s be real here–most of us are not adult entrepreneurs. In fact, most of us have regular jobs or studies whilst enjoying our social circle and leisurely pleasures. But what if your passions block you from truly experiencing the highest quality of life?

I can fully attest this: my passions mean so much to me that they don’t just block me from enjoying life…they can often become my life. This occurred with sticking to a precise diet and exercise routine, with blogging, pretty much everything I came across to love. Whenever I find something that resonates with me perfectly, I pour my heart and soul into embracing it. However, this generally leads me to experience heightened stress and fear as withdrawal symptoms. You know how an addict exudes aggressive anxiety and/or agony from separation from their object of addiction? Well, that sums up my passions and I (and possibly the same when I find out that we’re out of Sriracha, but that’s not the point).

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Now, let’s talk about vacation–traveling across the borders, to be exact. Since the beginning of sophomore year, traveling to different countries, states, cities, even different regions within my home city sparked bouts of anxiety within me. My fear of the unknown pulled me back to any form of safety–I’d find every opportunity to eat as little or as healthily as possible, plus I would workout extremely early in the morning in the comfort of my bedroom or even in the bathroom for even more privacy. If both of these tasks were incomplete, all I would mentally wrap my consciousness around was emotionally preparing myself for failure. What’s really sad is that I forgot many events behind the photos I took since my focus was elsewhere. Choosing between prioritizing my passion for health, fitness, and consistency versus the present moment and trying new opportunities was a constant battle, and the former generally won.

Since freshmen year of college, I started working on alleviating my vacay anxiety whenever holidays come around for several reasons. Firstly, I recognize that it’s not worth draining mental energy on such negative consequences that might not even happen. Secondly, I lose sight of what’s truly important–making memories, not steps of precision. Third, many of the times, I will not be able to take these chances again. Fourth, trying new foods serves as flourishing my sense of sophistication. Fifth of all, I can always say that tasting exotic dishes also proves to be educational in my food science career. For instance, how on Earth do sushi chefs make the perfect rice? Why does gelato taste a billion times better in Rome than it does here? What is the secret to perfectly cooked coconut yucca root?

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My getaway last weekend would be so challenging for me to describe. It was a Northern California trip to visit a family wedding and I never wanted it to end. I can proudly say that, in this duration, I released the most anxiety and uncertainty that I thought was inhumanely possible. To be honest, I walked around 3,000-6,000 steps a day–less than a quarter of what I generally complete, did not work out even once, ate a ton, drank a third less of the amount of water than standard, consumed more oil and salt in a span of three days than I usually do in three-fourths of a year, and did not measure a single portion with a measuring cup or a scale (I always had to eye-ball my food in this case). What my mind completely focused on was spending quality time with my boyfriend and our loved ones, exploring the cities, and enjoying new experiences. I even tried a little bit of champagne and wine–hated them all, but I did end up loving the sparkling cider that was served at the ceremony! Guess what? Nobody else cared or judged me for how I looked.

Consequences after vacation shouldn’t be anything to obsess over. Funny enough, I didn’t put on any weight. I actually ended up losing a few pounds upon checking the morning after my last day. Oh, the irony…I still can’t pin-point how this is possible. But ANYWAYS, I just want to make a disclaimer that whether you gain weight or lose weight or maintain your image post-getaway is NOT important. What truly matters is the mental and emotional transformation. Gaining knowledge, awareness, a sense of self, and a healthier relationship with living are immensely more fulfilling in the long-run.

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Ultimately, the purpose of a vacation is to change the scenery. That’s exactly what I needed prior to the trip last weekend and I truly wish I cut myself more slack. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look more toned and shredded for pictures, but it becomes an issue when you consciously regret any opportunities you don’t take–that sums up the occurrences whenever I’d try to get into shape before vacation. This doesn’t mean you have to go overboard when traveling and gorge out on everything and be sedentary all day–if there is any opportunity to sneak in physical activity with skiing, scuba diving, hiking, or anything else, have at it. Same goes for visiting restaurants that use fresh and local ingredients or cater towards the vegan, Paleo, gluten free, organic, sugar free, and even the keto community.

Challenge yourself to try something new when you’re abroad, on the road, or even at home. Make a vacation out of anything. Obviously, there is a time and place to be comfortable and follow a routine, but not everything has to be followed like it’s work or studies. It’s fine to not always have a plan. Life is much more enjoyable when there is at least one aspect of your day to decide on the spot.

Cheers to new memories, new relationships, and a new you.

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Although, I may have slipped back into my routine one time when I found out that a grocery store had Cinnamon Roll Halo Top. Yeah, I can’t pass that one up.

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