You may have noticed that I haven’t posted for a while. A long while actually. The truth is I have been feeling more little than fierce lately and weren’t we all taught if we didn’t have anything good to say, not to say anything at all? There have been some very big changes to my life since I last wrote, not least of which is the fact that I now live in Quito, Ecuador – 5,717 miles away from Brighton, England. In the last few months I am sad to say my health has taken somewhat of a back seat and I have slipped back into old habits and addictions. There are a few reasons for this. I left Blighty in a ridiculously dramatic manner by falling unceremoniously down a step in my mums flat as we left for the airport. This was not helped by the fact that I had a huge rucksack full of stuff on my back – to say it hurt like buggery would be the understatement of the year. Not wanting to be a squinny (a Portsmouth term meaning cry baby) I limped my way through the terminal and onto the flight refusing to look at said ankle in the vain hope that it would go away (the pain that is, not the ankle – I knew I would be needing that). When I changed flights in Amsterdam I asked if they could help me and was told I should have asked on the plane, so I limped my way across Schiphol airport with tears streaming down my face, but being British didn’t make a scene, obviously.
I then made my way from Amsterdam to Quito and when I arrived 8 hours later the pain in my ankle was not magically healed. I had learned my lesson and asked if they would be able to provide me with some support to get my bag from the carousel. The last thing my poor husband was expecting when he met me at the arrivals gate of Quito airport was me to be wheeled through in a wheelchair. This was not quite the romantic reunion we had been dreaming of. Once he had recovered from the shock and bundled me gently into a cab I knew it was time to look at the offending ankle. It was huge! We were convinced it was broken but once we arrived back at our new, old home (we lived there before in 2009/10) we had a doctor friend take a look and he was sure it was just a bad sprain.
The wonderful belated honeymoon George had planned for us was out the window – there was no way I could do yoga and learn to surf when I could barely walk – but we went to the coast anyway and it was lovely, if a little sedentary (and rather cocktail fuelled). It was when we got back home that the real difficulties set in. We live in a beautiful place. Guapulo is a village on the edge of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. It is referred to as the bohemian area and is full of artists and hippies that live alongside Quiteno families that have been there for generations. The kicker is it is on a massive hill and has some of the most uneven paving I have ever seen in my life! This coupled with the fact that Quito is 2,800 meters above sea level left me feeling like a very old and unfit lady. It was horrible. I tried to exercise – there are a few CrossFit gyms here – but I found that by the time I had puffed and panted my way up the hill, sweating buckets in the heat and jarring my ankle several times on the multitude of wonky steps and curbs, I was pretty much done for and my attempts at work outs left me feeling exhausted and down. For me, as I am sure it is for many people, a healthy lifestyle is as much about the psychological as the physical, and I well and truly lost my mojo.
It is very easy when you are really happy and life is going great to look back at your mistakes, health related or otherwise, and think ‘I am never going back there! Never again will I eat my feelings, never again will I fail to prioritise my health!’ The reality of course is that it is all too easy to slip back into old behaviours and, if you have any kind of addiction (which most of us have), to self medicate with whatever it is that makes us feel numb. For me that is, and has always been, food. When I lived in Brighton it was easy. I was surrounded by like minded people that gave me endless amounts of support and encouragement, I lived a stones throw from Waitrose (a British supermarket with an abundance of organic and ethical produce) and mainly adhering to a paleo diet was normal for me. Even my unusual family (two mums and a surrogate dad) are paleo converts. Food here is different to what you might imagine. A recent conversation with an Ecuadorian friend really opened my eyes. It is South America – surely the food we eat is organic, healthy, natural food – right? Apparently not. She assured me that any food I buy in the supermarket is either covered in pesticides or full of hormones.
Whilst there are numerous food co-operatives that sell beautiful organic fruits and vegetables, it is just not easy to get free range, organic meat here. For both health and environmental reasons George and I have decided to change to a mainly plant based diet. Don’t get me wrong, I am still a big fan of meat, but if I am going to eat it I want to know that it is ethical and is not going to be detrimental to my health. It is about adapting to your environment to get the most out of it. I may not be able to get organic meat as easily here but the fruits, vegetables and dairy products are much cheaper than any I have found in England.
As for the exercise side of things, we have recently acquired a puppy (long story) and he is certainly keeping me on my toes. I am hoping that after a few days of eating healthy food I will have a glimpse of the energy levels and enthusiasm I had a few months ago. It is hard to believe as I sit here feeling sluggish, lethargic and lardy that such a short time ago I felt full of energy, healthy and strong. The difference is I know that I have been there before and I WILL be there again. I will keep you posted.
Thanks for reading, I’m now blogging over at joskibyrne.wordpress.com come and join me!