Recently we were lucky enough to escape our daily routine and go on a cruise. This was a last minute kind of vacation — go online, find something reasonable on a date we could escape and click “Book”. Not only did we really need a vacation, we also really needed to live differently on this vacation. We needed to find opportunities to be out of our comfort zones and stick with it. We needed to spend the week being in the moment. We needed to allow ourselves time to just be — no schedule, no expectations, no checklist, no bucket list hanging around our necks pulling us down.
Our first step was to disconnect from all media. Yes, that’s right, we put our phones into permanent airplane mode, refused to buy the ship’s internet package, and refrained from turning on the television in our cabin. We took a vacation the old fashioned way — no contact with home, no emails, messages, social media, news or work. If there was any kind of emergency, we informed family that they could call the ship. We were going to live this vacation in the moment. We were going to enjoy being on those lounge chairs and encapsulate the moment in our old fashioned memory banks. Living each moment deeply and purely for ourselves was our goal. No pictures, no postings, no selfies.
I cannot even begin to tell you what this meant in terms of both physical and mental well being. I literally forgot everything I was worried about. I slept well and soundly. I was focused on the here and now. I was no longer like one of Pavlov’s dogs responding to every little beep, bell and ping. I was not worrying about things I cannot change from the past or looking into the future with anxiety about how things will turn out years down the road. I was light and free and present. When folks spoke to me, I fully listened. I was able to become engaged in conversations without worrying about time or other things to do.
Our daily concerns became watching the ocean, reading the waves, breathing deeply or becoming so engrossed in a book that time didn’t exist. No schedule, no worries, no distractions. Full vacation. We stayed up late going to comedy shows, ate dinner at 8:30 pm every night, took long walks on the decks, enjoyed deep conversations and became comfortable sitting together in silence.
Our second step was to not worry about shore excursions. We would do what felt right in the moment. Now for folks like us, who plan everything, this is hard. At the last minute we decided on one excursion — a catamaran ride and snorkeling. At the other ports, we just found a bus/taxi and went exploring. Again, no agenda, no checklist, no bucket list weighing us down. We did not feel the need to run around and “see” everything that someone decided we must “see”. We took in the sights and sounds and people on our own terms. Simply enjoying a local beer on a veranda in a nondescript bar before getting back on the ship was enough. We didn’t need to follow the crowds to all the shops. We didn’t feel any need to shop. Again we encapsulated each moment in our individual memories, deeply connecting to the moment.
Releasing yourself from the expectations of others (friends, family, travel guides and media) is important for truly having a vacation. And perhaps it is an important key for living well. When I spend my time worrying about whether I am meeting other’s expectations, am I, in fact, missing the actual moments of my life?
Our third step was to find ways to be uncomfortable. For me, that was overcoming my fear of snorkeling. I am not a strong swimmer, and even the thought of snorkeling scared me. But I was determined to enjoy the excursion and participate in the snorkeling. I even told myself that I would not spend time “in anticipation” of something new. When thoughts of snorkeling came into my head the day before, I let the thoughts go. On the day of the excursion, I focused on the here and now. I let the day unfold naturally and in it’s own time enjoying the catamaran ride to the reef, chatting with new people and not worrying about the next steps. For a “planner” like me, this is hard. Learning to let go of “anticipation of next steps” is critical and life changing.
When it came time to get in the water, I followed directions from the crew, told my husband to go and enjoy himself, and focused on learning what I needed to learn in my way. In the past I might have stayed on the boat as some folks did, intimidated by anxiety or self doubt. But not this time. I got in the water, swam out to an area and put my face in the water looking for fish. Yes, I did swallow quite a bit of salt water as I got used to breathing through a snorkel, but I stuck with it. Beneath me was an incredible world of color and grace and beauty that I would not have seen if I had stayed on the boat. Trusting that I was safe in the universe and that all life loved and supported me at that moment was what flooded over me.
You may wonder what all of this has to do with health coaching and with losing weight? On this cruise vacation, my stress levels were reduced, my sleep improved, I was present and in the moment, and I lost weight. Losing weight, finding health and balance is more than the food you put on your plate. When your lifestyle shifts to embrace health and balance from the inside out, weight loss becomes a natural side effect. There are a number on factors that contribute to this, and in my next blog I will share my thoughts on vacations, cruising and weight loss.
Until next time, feel free to share your thoughts and your experiences with truly disconnecting and living in the moment.
In Health and Balance,