body positivity walk Body Positivity Walk 2019

Test walk 2 – rain, pain and blackberries

Distance: 19.36 km
Time: 4h14m
Speed: 4.57 kmph
Soundtrack: Rammstein – Ich Will

So I was not looking forward to today’s walk for several reasons. I’m on my period and it was scheduled to rain all day. But I told myself that on the way to Berlin I would surely encounter more or less these exact conditions so I might as well try and get a feel for them. The third reason I was not terribly keen was that my little toes have been quite sore ever since my walk on Monday.

Well, I patched myself up a little, put a rain poncho over my backpack and out I stepped. And boy did it hurt. I mean like already the first step was pretty much “owowow my toes!”. I considered turning back several times within the first 5 km, but told myself I better go on a bit, as surely I’d also encounter pain during the actual walk and then I wouldn’t have the option to just turn back.


Now I don’t have a very high threshold for pain  – I’ve heard it attributed to HSPs, but I also know HSPs who have very high pain thresholds, so it could also be a Sarah thing. So I don’t generally subscribe to “no pain, no gain”. I do enjoy a few aches the day after a hard workout, as I feel it means I made an effort, but generally pain is a thing I try to avoid. So this was kind of a rough trip.

Though I guess there is something to be said for the “it’s all in your head” thing, as not long after those 5 km I started to manage to push through it and just walk. The exception being any time I stopped – even for a minute – and then started walking again. At some point I thought my toe had actually exploded.

I wasn’t actually fussed about the rain. You get wet and you get on with it. Plus it looked really lush and green out and smelled amazing. And I had pretty good cover under a tree for my lunch break. It’s definitely a different mood than walking in the sun though. I would have expected that I’d walk faster in the rain but I guess the whole toe debacle prevented that.


Though I enjoyed parts of today’s walk – the scenery in particular, it did worry me a little that it was such a struggle. I think I only got through the last 5 km thanks to Rammstein on my Bluetooth headphones and the sweet, juicy blackberries I picked along the way. Could I have gone another 5-15 km today? I don’t think so. Maybe, if I really didn’t have any other options. I am hoping that my feet will heal properly and get used to the shoes, though I may have bitten over more than I can chew here.


So, because of this concern and the fact that my current funding level is at 30%, I am starting to consider plan B.

Plan B is going from Amsterdam to Antwerp, with a detour along the coast, making it roughly 200 km. Which is something I could do in 2 weeks with less extreme dailies, and maybe even at the current funding level. Plus, as I think I’ve established before: Sarah + sea = happiness.

I’ve not completely abandoned the Berlin plan though, and will see how things go over the next week. Rather than a let-down it honestly feels good to have a plan B and to know that I am not failing, I am just making adjustments to make sure I will be able to complete my project one way or another.

Upwards and onwards,

xx Sarah



body positivity walk Body Positivity Walk 2019

Test walk 1 – 23 km

Distance: 23.28 km
Time: 4h57m
Speed: 4.68 kmph
Calories burned: who gives a flying fuck?!

trees in water

After a relaxing weekend away I decided to take the shoes I bought last week for a test run, or more accurately, walk. This was the first time I wore them for more than a couple of kilometres, so starting with 23 was maybe not the best plan. Then again it wasn’t so much a plan as it was “let’s see how this goes, oh that’s 12 km, better turn around!”.

My little toes have turned into blisters, and there’s a few others blossoming here and there, and I’m sorta hobbling a little bit, but it’s the first time in a very long time that I’ve walked this far and with almost brand new shoes. So it could have been a lot worse.

Besides, I was talking to this woman who cycled from Amsterdam to Berlin the other day and she said you feel pain the first few days and then you get over it. It’s mostly a mental thing.

But.. That got me thinking… Is this really a body positive thing to do? You know, choosing pain?

I’ve been grappling with this question since last week and I have come to the conclusion that for me the answer is: YES (convenient, I know..). I think it’s mainly down to motivation. I am not doing this to punish myself or to lose weight. I am pushing my body to the limits, but I am doing it lovingly and while listening to my body, trying to connect with it. My top priority is making sure I’m adequately fuelled and hydrated while on the road, and as well rested as I can be.

I am someone who only really started appreciating physical exercise in her 30s, and I enjoy exploring what my body is capable of. It is a wonder to me, and something I appreciate and am thankful for every day. By mindfully and joyfully moving my body and supporting a cause that is very dear to me – acceptance for all bodies – I think I can only become closer to myself, be truer to myself. It is a form of meditation and of gratitude, though there are admittedly some physical discomforts.

green path.jpeg

Thoughts and observations

  • If I can walk 23 km with no buildup in almost new shoes and only slightly mangle my feet, I can totally, totally do this (at least with a little help from my friends, and my strangers…)
  • Asphalt sucks, forest paths rule
  • Walking close to water is soothing, even if I can only hear it
  • A cheese sandwich and a peanut butter sandwich after 8 km taste pretty much as bland and boring as after 0 km (but it was handy fuel to bring with me)
  • An apple after 16 km tastes like magic juicy awesomeness
  • Judging by the number of flattened mice I saw on the bike paths, they do not have the best survival instinct
  • Why is it that flies and some other bugs seem to simply insist upon flying right into my ears? What’s the appeal?
  • At some point during this whole walk I’m probably gonna have to pee in a ditch next to the highway and just not give a fuck
  • Pizza (yes, that is a complete thought)
  • Carrying 2+ litres of water in my backpack with the stomach strap clasped feels almost literally like nothing, which is encouraging (though of course I’ll be carrying more stuff once this thing kicks off for real)
  • I have this strange reluctance to stop, even to get some water or food or my phone from my pack once I’ve started walking
  • Fire bad, tree pretty
  • Oh and did I mention that asphalt sucks?

selfie under bridge.jpeg

Until next time,


body positivity walk Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPo walk – the route (UPDATED)

So after a lot of planning the route is now more or less done. It’s now a total of 674 kms, which means an average of 27 km per walking day, with the longest day being 37 km (not looking forward to that one..).

If you want to join part of the walk, the best thing to do is to contact me ( or @thobopo on Instagram) so we can arrange roughly where and when we’ll meet up. Most days of the walk will be during normal working hours, but joining for an hour or two in the evening/afternoon is always possible. I expect that most walks will start around 10 AM in the morning, possibly earlier for some of the longer (30+ km) hikes. I’d like to reach each destination while there’s still daylight.

Accommodation: In order to save some money I have decided to travel back and sleep at home the first 5 nights – this also means I can have my first rest day at home. For the rest of the journey I have booked a combination of cheap hotels/(Air)B&Bs and couchsurfing (though I didn’t have much luck with the latter as their location filter is not great and most people take a long time to respond – it’s a great idea, it just doesn’t work too well for a trip of this magnitude where exact locations are kind of important).  While I do have accommodations booked they are all still cancellable, so I’m still open to tips and suggestions.


Final version (I hope):

September 1: Amsterdam – Almere (Buiten), 35 km

September 2: Almere (Buiten) – Lelystad, 22 km

September 3: Lelystad – Kampen Zuid, 35 km

September 4: Kampen Zuid – Nieuwleusen, 30 km

September 5: Nieuwleusen – Slagharen, 21 km

September 6: REST

September 7: Geesbrug – Wieteveen, 30 km

September 8: Wieteveen – Meppen DE, 24 km

September 9: Meppen – Herzlake, 24 km

September 10: Herzlake – Quakenbrück, 26 km

September 11: Quakenbrück – Vechta, 26 km

September 12: REST

September 13: Vechta – Ehrenburg, 32.5 km

September 14: Ehrenburg – Balge, 37 km

September 15: Balge – Steimbke, 18.5 km

September 16: Steimbke – Wedemark, 30 km

September 17: Wedemark – Celle, 25.5 km

September 18: REST

September 19: Celle – Hohne, 23 km

September 20: Hohne – Ehra-Lessien, 31 km

September 21: Ehra-Lessien – Neuferschau, 21 km

September 22: Neuferschau – Kalbe, 25.5 km

September 23: Kalbe – Stendal, 35 km

September 24: REST

September 25: Stendal – Schönhausen, 20 km

September 26: Schönhausen – Nennhausen, 35.5 km

September 27: REST

September 28: Nennhausen – Nauen, 28 km

September 29: Nauen – Staaken, Berlin, 22 km

September 30: Staaken, Berlin – Berlin HBH, 17 km GOAL



body positivity walk Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPo walk – an introduction


One morning in May I was out running, and seemingly out of nowhere an idea fell into my head. What if I were to do a walk to promote body positivity, love and acceptance? I could walk from Amsterdam to Berlin. I’ve long wanted to see Berlin anyway (at this point I had absolutely no idea how man kilometres this would be) and this would be a cool way to do it. 

This was immediately followed by the usual thoughts I have when I get a slightly unusual idea. “That’s crazy”, “I can’t do that”, “I’m afraid”, “It’s overwhelming”, “Better forget about it”. But this time I didn’t let these thoughts get the better of me. For while on the surface this was just a spur-of-the-moment crazy idea, it had actually been a long time coming.

Traditionally I am not someone who does things. I am a dreamer, not a doer. I am not a natural entrepreneur. But over the last few years something has started to shift. 

I have identified three major threads in my life that have woven together to create this path that I am now on. 

One has to do with all the projects I have ever dreamed of doing throughout my life but never had the energy or the guts to follow through with. Most of them have in some way been travel-related, like travel and work experiences when I was younger, going on an interrail trip, studying abroad and more recently going on longer solo hiking trips. My father was a busker who spent most of his life on the road, so I probably have a good portion of restlessness and curiosity from him. And I was very inspired and slightly terrified when I read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild a few years ago. Her journey was so meaningful and she wrote about it so beautifully, it really spoke to something deep within me. However, hiking something like the PCT by myself is way too hardcore for me. 

The second thread is related to work and the desire to find meaningful work, the desire to help people and to use my sensitivity for something good. A couple of years ago it would never even have crossed my mind that I would be starting my own business and that I would be heading out on this trip. Oh, I wanted to, but those thoughts that I mentioned earlier? It was more like a thousand hairy horsemen shouting at me in my head. Constantly. I had a job. I had an income. You need money to survive, to live, and I was not about to take a chance on losing it. So for a long time I felt trapped and miserable. I kept looking for other jobs in web content management, because that’s what I was already doing. The problem of course being that I didn’t want to be in web content management. Then I got a burnout and suddenly staying in my job seemed to be the only option I could not consider. It became clear that I needed a drastic career change and gradually it started to be OK to consider the scary but exciting things I hadn’t really let myself think about before. Which leads me to the last thread…

The third and last thread in this tapestry is my history of eating disorders, body image issues and self-loathing. It took me so many years, experiences, books, therapy sessions,  conversations, so much introspection and reflection before I managed to make friends with my body. And to this day we still have the occasional fight, but mostly we work as the perfect team that we are: body, mind and spirit. 

So what do you get if you combine the lifelong wish of doing a travel-related project, the need to do meaningful work, and the desire to spread the body positivity message? Well, you get a crazy-ass idea falling into your head one morning in May while out for a run… Or as I now like to call it:

Body positivity walk 2019

My goal is to walk from Amsterdam to Berlin during the month of September. I anticipate that it will take me the entire month (I have a tentative route mapped out), including 5 rest days during the journey.

The goal of my journey is twofold:

  1. I want to spend some time with my body, appreciating what it can do, how it can move – just being. It’s a form of meditation and of showing love. Both the metaphorical and literal journey have strong transformational powers, and by moving our bodies mindfully and joyfully we can start to heal the mind and body divide. 
  2. I want to start a movement (pun intended) around being kind to ourselves and others. Accepting our bodies as they are, and even appreciating them and what they can do. I want us all to be talking and thinking about self love and body acceptance for everyone.

Be a part of it

This project works better the more people are a part of it, so if anything of what I’ve said speaks to you, I encourage you to contribute to this project in any way you can. There are 4 ways in which you can do this:

  1. First and most importantly you can help me spread the word to even more people. Anyone you think might be interested. Friends. Family. Friends of friends. Colleagues. Enemies. Strangers on the street. 
  2. Come walk with me. I don’t anticipate that people will be able to take the time out of their lives to come and walk the entire route with me, but if you can come and join me for a few kilometres here or there that would be great. We’ll walk and talk and spread the word that every body can move (at least a little bit) and is worthy of love and respect. Your weight, age or any other physical attributes are irrelevant. If you’re wheelchair bound you can also come along for a little bit. At least in the Netherlands it’s pretty flat and we have bike paths everywhere. 
  3. Offer a place to stay. As free camping is not allowed in the Netherlands or Germany I’ve decided that the most practical solution (and also safest) is to find places such as B&Bs to sleep along the way. However in an effort to save costs and to meet and engage with people I’m also looking for people along the route who are willing to host me for a night or two for free. What I can offer in return is publicity for your accommodation if you are listed on a holiday rental site, or alternatively I can offer a free “introduction to energy tapping”-session. 

In addition to these more tangible ways in which you can be a part of the journey, I am also planning to post regular updates here on the blog, and maybe even do some vlogging on my YouTube channel (I’m a YouTube noob, so we’ll see how that goes), and post some pictures/impressions to Instagram (@thobopo)  – so you can follow the journey virtually as well.

I hope to see you and hear from you. Together we can make a positive change and create a kinder and more compassionate world. Are you with me?