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Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPoWalk day 29: Nauen to Staaken (Berlin)

Distance: 22,5 km

Speed: 5,2 kmph

Time: 4h20m

Soundtrack: Berlin by Briskeby (for obvious reasons… )

So, I am in Berlin! I am still on the very outskirts and still have a final 17 km to go tomorrow to reach Berlin HBH and my final destination for this journey, but whatever happens now I can officially say I walked to Berlin.

I was a little concerned that I’d miss the sign, as I did when I crossed the border into Germany, while chasing paths through the pouring rain – but lo and behold, there it was:

A few more steps and I was officially there. I had to stifle a giddy, heady, almost mad laughter that started bubbling up in me. On the surface of it this project is kind of insane. Just another madcap idea I had. The difference being this time I actually followed through.

Many thoughts on the project, my experiences and what made me actually do it this time are yet to come. Once the dust has settled. Once I’ve taken my final walk (you know, for now, not for ever – that sounded a bit dark just there). Once I’ve had some time to rest, reflect and regroup.

As predicted there was pretty heavy rain today as well, but it didn’t bother me nearly as much as the previous two days. Today I walked with a kind of lightness, a joy (though yes the wet feet were icky) and a sense of absolute certainty that it would all be OK.

Even though I am in Berlin and even though I’ve walked more or less exactly the distance (635 km) I set out to when I first planned this project, I feel it’s still important to walk the last 17 tomorrow. And not only because my man should be waiting for me at the train station roughly when I arrive (though that does add to the feeling of anticlimax I’d experience if I were to say take the bus). Only then will I feel completely finished and like I have closure. Like I truly did the thing.

It’s supposed to be 11 mm of rain and winds of 40 kmph. But do you know what I say to that? COME AT ME, BRO!

(I’m probably going to want to eat those words come morning time, but just let me have this one, will you? I like just walked 635 km, mmmkay?)

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Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPoWalk day 21: Ehra to Neuferchau

Distance: 23 km

Speed: 4,6 kmph

Time: 5h3m

Soundtrack: Symphony No 9 by Ludwig van Beethoven

Ladies and gentlemen, today was a walk in the park!

Not literally, it was still 23 km and took me through some fields, some woods, along some roads, etc., before I reached my destination. But, it was EASY.

I was saying to people yesterday that the distance doesn’t really matter because at some point the legs are all just too long and the last part sucks regardless. I’d like to amend that statement… It’s true, to an extent. But knowing I have 23 km instead of almost 10 km more definitely helps keep me motivated. There’s a myriad of other factors at play too – like weather, scenery, and mood, but distance matters too.

Today was warm and sunny (a bit too much almost without my cap), I walked through the woods a good bit, and I felt calm and present with little to no anxiety. And for the second day in a row, all the paths were where they’re supposed to be.

Another thing that definitely helps is having fewer blisters. I only have one big fat one left now, that’s been invading territory left and right like a greedy little dictator on the inside of my heel. But this morning I put a Compeed bandaid over it, and it’s honestly a world of difference from generic store brand ones. I’m not being paid to say this (but Compeed if you’re reading this, feel free to contact me for an endorsement ;-), it’s just fact. I won’t say it’s pain free but it is SO MUCH BETTER.

And… I don’t think I could have had today without yesterday. There’s been this anxiety that’s been building up that I have had to try and control a little bit in order to be able to go on at all, but I think maybe the dam needed to burst. It was like a cleansing, a katharsis, and today I woke up and was ready to move on. So yesterday was hard, but perhaps necessary.

I’m not saying it’s all sunshine and rainbows from hereon out, and I have two slightly longer days ahead of me again now, but I definitely feel much more optimistic. And I am once again comforted by the fact that my last 6 days are all under 25 km.

And guys, it’s day 21, meaning I’m over 2/3rds of the way there. Two days ago I saw my first road sign for Berlin. 9 more days, one of which is rest, and 6 of which are less than 25 km. I can totally do this!

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Body Positivity Walk 2019 Mental health and BoPo articles

Intermezzo: Intuitive Eating on the road

I wrote something about this on my previous rest day, but WordPress decided it was a good idea to delete the whole text, and frankly I haven’t had time or energy since to write a new version.

In the meantime I’m 5 days further in, so I also have 5 days more experience. 😉

I’m sitting here in my cosy quarters in Celle, looking at the rain falling against the window and enjoying the comforts of inside. Like heating, plumbing, comfy seats and shelter from the weather. It’s funny the things you take for granted when you don’t spend most of the day outside and on your feet.

So, intuitive eating is something I’ve been practicing and preaching for a while now – I was nevertheless curious to see how this journey would affect it and how I would feel both mentally and physically about what I’ve been eating.

Not surprisingly, I’ve been very hungry, and my body seems happy as long as it is getting enough food. I do probably have at least a slight energy deficit most days, but have generally felt both satisfied and nourished by my meals.

When I started out I was bracing myself for a lot of junk food and cheese sandwiches. On the latter front I was pretty spot on. I’ve been packing lunches from hotel breakfasts or similar almost every day, and cheese sandwiches are then one of the easiest things to take with me that are both vegetarian and relatively filling. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t crave a bit more variety, but peanut butter is not the staple food in Germany that it is in the Netherlands. Sometimes I throw a Nutella sandwich in the mix for those sweet cravings. And mostly I have an apple with me. And my stash of nuts and dried fruit.

Dinners have been very mixed – from the leftover slice of bread, chunk of cheese and tomato I had a few days ago when I was too tired to leave my room, to the culinary feast I had at an Italian restaurant last night. And there have been a couple of (delicious) pizzas.

I have not had a single salad since I started walking. That being said I do try to take care to get some vegetables with my meals and put for instance cucumber, tomato and pepper fruit on my sandwiches. Overall I’m probably eating a bit less veg than I would normally, but at the end of a long day of walking I just do not want a salad. If it’s on the side of a burger or some fish, that’s OK, but by itself, absolutely not. I crave warm, rich, comforting foods.

How am I feeling, physically and mentally about my food choices? Pretty good. If anything I would say that with this walk I am learning to eat even more intuitively and judge my choices less. Simply because the hunger is clear, the need is clear, the signals I am getting from my body about what it wants are unambiguous, and I just listen.

Normally in life we have a lot of interference in our relationship with food. From what others think of our choices, what we read and hear from so-called experts to what we can afford and what meets our moral and ethical standards, and so much more.

But the walking washes away all the bullshit and everything that is not important*, until only the essence is left. I feel every part of myself, physically and emotionally. I just am.

I am human. I need food, I need rest, I need shelter, I need movement, I need love and compassion. And when I tune in to these needs, respect them and meet them, I am OK. I am more than OK. I am whole.

*I don’t mean to imply that it’s wrong or indeed bullshit to make food choices based on morals, ethics, money, health, comfort etc., but what I mean to say is that it can be quite useful to get back to the basics of what food is, and just listen to what the body wants and what feels good and learn from that. Which is how I believe intuitive eating should start.