March 31, 2014

An Explanation...and 30 Days of Ass Kicking

Well hello there, friends! It's been a long time hasn't it? I know things kind of ended abruptly back in October after we posted about our time in Vietnam. Maybe you're wondering why that is? I'll give you a bit of insight on that (though that's not the purpose of this post).

We got back to SF in September. It was wonderful to be home. I loved having my own bed to sleep in (even though it's lumpy and needs replacing). I went into serious nesting mode. We were painting walls and buying settees and hanging shelves. Reconnecting with friends was amazing. And I was excited about taking the next steps in my career. (Tom was, too.) So that kept us busy for a month or so and, within days of being home, our big trip felt like it happened in a distant memory. And then the newness of being home wore off, and suddenly writing or talking about the trip wasn't fun anymore. It hurt. I was sad that it was over. Like, really, really sad. I didn't want to talk about the trains in India, diving in Thailand, my birthday in Vietnam, our family in Australia, or our safari in Africa (neither of which you have heard about yet). I wanted to DO all of those things...again. I lost my mojo for the blog and for the stories left to tell. So I didn't write. I moped. And I guess, in some ways, I still am. I don't think this is a bad thing (and certainly not shocking). I think it's good because here I am, home for 6 months, and it's still something I think about all the time. That's a pretty good kick in the ass towards understanding what's important in life, isn't it? Tom and I are still figuring out what that means for us. We think it means that we should move towards a life with more balance (something we've been talking about for years). We love travel. It's kind of the 3rd character in our relationship. We aren't "us" without it. So why have we spent so much of our time with it absent from our lives? That's an answer and a balance we're still working to find, but I know we'll get to where we need to be.

Swains in Hoi An, Vietnam

In any case, I really do hope to get some more summaries on the blog about the rest of our trip. There's still SO much to tell you. An explanation of why Bangkok feels like a second home, pictures of our time with much-loved family in Australia, dive tales from Malaysia (and how it made us long for India), experiences with elephants and lions and rhinos, and even a great story about the time Tom drove our truck straight into a bridge in South Africa. And we want to tell you what we've been up to since we got home - what adjusting was like - and all that other stuff! Believe me, there's lots to tell. And I'm starting to get excited again to tell you all of it. So bear with me/us and we'll hopefully get there.

I'm mostly writing about something else today. While we were in Africa, Tom and I read a book called "It Starts With Food." Actually, I read it out loud while he drove the many, MANY hours between remote towns in Namibia. You've probably heard about the paleo lifestyle and this book is basically an explanation about why it's beneficial and encourages you to do a Whole30 - 30 days without grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol, white potatoes, and sugar. (No wheat/flour, beans, quinoa, rice, soy, milk, cheese, yogurt, honey, stevia, sugar, etc...) We immediately bought into it and decided that we had a rare opportunity when we got home (starting with nothing in our kitchen) to only buy food for our home that met these standards. We would still eat "unauthorized" foods when we were with friends or when we went out to eat. And we committed to doing a no-cheats, all-out Whole30 in January, 2014. We did all of those things and I have to say...we killed it. We're feeling great! Strong and healthy. Fewer stomach problems. Sleeping well. Improved mood, etc... We still eat according to the Whole30 standards about 80% of the time and are really selective about going off plan. Birthday cake? Worth it. M&Ms from a vending machine? No way.

That led us to realize that doing something religiously for 30 days really works for us. We had no intention of sticking to that diet plan forever, but 30 days gave us the discipline and the benefits, so now it's easy to justify our choices and it feels second nature. So what's next? Well, for all our healthy eating, we are in HORRIBLE shape. We do not exercise. Ever. My typical approach/plan for exercise is to do it once every 2-3 months when coerced into it by a friend. I like to agree to the most physically demanding workout I can find so that I can't walk or lift my arms above my head for the next week. And then I won't workout again for another 2-3 months until another friend peer pressures me into it. It's a great plan. (Except it's not a plan at all.)

For the month of April, we are committing to 30 DAYS OF EXERCISE!

This is what Fitness Steph looks like
We will exercise for at least 30 minutes every day in April. Our plan is to schedule something for every single day and then allow ourselves to replace up to two of those workouts each week with a long walk in our neighborhood. (This walk cannot be a leisurely stroll. It must involve sneakers and least for me.) We've signed up for an 8 week Iyengar yoga course every Tuesday night and would like to do at least one other Iyengar yoga class each week outside of the course. (Remember how much we loved our Iyengar Yoga course in Goa, India? We're hoping to get some of that back.) I'm making plans to run with friends. And I've signed up (and actually been to some classes) at FitMob, which is an awesomely cool fitness startup in SF. Lastly, a group of ambitious friends has recently started a Workout Club. Once every few weeks, one of us picks a new kind of workout and arranges for all of us to participate. We just had our first "meeting" and my friend (and Workout Club founder), Jen, chose SoulCycle, which is basically spin class on crack with some mushy feelings mixed in. It KICKED MY ASS. I, literally, can't walk without wincing and my default face right now is a grimace. (See above re: typical "workout plan.") Our next Workout Club meeting is at Dailey Method. Other than that, Tom and I will also do some videos, yoga, or simple exercises at home and we're planning on some more strenuous hikes on the weekends that will "count." So that's the plan.

Why am I telling you all of this after such a long break in communication? Accountability, folks. I am mostly motivated by public shaming. So feel free to ask me/us about our exercise plans for the day and to call us out if we're slacking.

"Striving to be our best selves" was one of our wedding vows. Travel, we realize is a part of that. And, certainly, so is being fit and healthy. So we're putting it out to the world (well, to you guys).

30 Days of Ass Kicking for the Swains!

To thank you for your support, here's a sneak peek of what's to come when I finally get my blog mojo back:

Dinner in Luang Prabang, Laos
Kayaking in Vang Vieng, Laos
Preparing for a dive on Moreton Island, Australia
Wild birds in Melbourne, Australia
Just a tiny glimpse of the awesome wildlife in Namibia


  1. Welome Back! Looking forward to hearing about the adventures had in Africa.

    1. Thanks Dustin & EmSue! Congratulations on your next adventure!

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