Travel Burn-Out, Weight Gain and Finding Peace

After 8 months on the road throughout South-East Asia I am starting to wind down and take a slower pace. And by slower I mean do literally nothing but relax with no pressure to sightsee and move on to the next place.

To be honest I’d been feeling a little burnt out about 4 months into my journey but I kept soldiering on. I felt guilty for already wanting to slow down and feeling exhausted. It’s not like I get up and go to work everyday and have a routine like I used to. But, I guess being on the move every few days, adjusting to other cultures, struggling in places with limited or no English speakers and generally living out of a backpack takes its toll. I’m in a very privileged position to be able to take so much time off work to travel and do what I like on no-one else’s schedule, so that further added to my guilt.

Besides feeling burnt out I’ve never been able to shake my homesickness although since booking my return ticket home in October it has subsided. I’m lucky to be travelling at a time where data plans and WiFi are prevalent…even in the Himalayas! Being able to contact my Mum and close friends has definitely helped with easing my homesickness. It’s also nice to instantly share what I’ve been up to and keep up-to-date with life back home which is really important to me.

In recent months I’ve been more aware of my well-being and the effects of travel on my body. Until now it’s been several weeks since I felt well-rested and slept through the night. In Laos and Vietnam I was waking up before 6am and not feeling rested. I was either waking up naturally or being woken up as the locals are on the go very early in the morning…loud radios and all! I was going to bed at a reasonable time but I struggled to fall asleep and sometimes my sleep was broken.

I’m also acutely aware of my travel weight and how I’ve transformed from an athlete’s body to a travel body along with feeling lethargic. Experiencing a country’s food is one of the best ways to immerse yourself into its culture. I certainly wasn’t going to deny myself some of the most wonderful food I’ve tasted. Whilst I largely accepted that I will gain weight (ahem…at least 15kgs oops!), I still cannot help feeling disgusted when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

Before I started travelling my fitness was at the best it’s ever been and I had lost over 15kgs thanks to 3 years of fight training. My fitness and muscle mass has dwindled which I feel more ashamed of than my weight gain. I can hide my body but I cannot hide the way I feel when I’m out of breath just climbing the fucking stairs, yep that sucks! How can I go from being able to run over 16 miles and training 6 times a week to this pathetic mess?

Being on the move so often provided no motivation for any sort of exercise or training, though I made a point to walk everywhere and hike wherever possible. Besides if I couldn’t train at least 3 hours a day at the intensity I was accustomed to then what was the point? I’d end up feeling more disappointed.

I knew when I stopped caring if I never see another temple or museum again it was time to slow down and find somewhere to have some extended time to unwind. I wanted somewhere quiet, peaceful and where I could run. And that place has ended up being….Kep, Cambodia. I am staying at The Bacoma Resort and it’s perfect. Over the last few days I feel so much more rested and feel less pressure. Kep is a quiet coastal town with very little traffic so it’s completely safe for me to run. I also have access to amazing seafood and food which is fresh and healthy.

In the last 8 months I’ve learnt that I prefer a more slow and relaxed pace of travelling. I only wish I had slowed down abit sooner. Kep is a wonderful place for me to focus on running again and losing abit of weight before picking up the pace in Thailand in a few weeks. I’m looking forward to training in Muay Thai again and being reunited as what I can only describe as my true love. There is never a day when I don’t think about Muay Thai and all the wonderful gifts it has given me in the last 6 ½ years. It’s true that constant fight training over 3 years burnt me out as well as the endless hours at work. I have welcomed the break and exploring a different chapter in my life but I always knew my heart would lead me back to what I truly love.

When I return to the UK I still want to take as many opportunities to travel. Now I know the kind of travel I enjoy I can make travel choices which will make me happy and ensure I am travelling for enjoyment and not to tick off boxes.

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