Oh the islands. Everyone dreams about tanning on a beach while drinking a piña colada when they are stuck in an office at a dead-end job or trapped indoors during a winter blizzard. The islands may seem like a perfect escape from reality and that in paradise nothing can go wrong. However, you are sorely mistaken if you think that you can get away with these five bad habits that I, and many other backpackers adopted while island hopping.
Too much sugar
One may think that when going to any island, people may adopt some poor habits such as drinking every night, smoking cigarettes or maybe even trying recreational drugs. However if you are like me, then it may be something else. I, Jacqueline Minnick, let my inner fat 9 year-old self take over and wreak havoc on my body by letting her eat Oreos and drink sugary drinks regardless of the time of day and what I had already eaten that day and when I say I ate Oreos, I mean I ate ALL the Oreos. There were days when I would wake up and think, “I should really get breakfast” and I would then go to the shop, buy Oreos and a fruit smoothie and inhale them on 2 minutes flat and I would do the SAME exact thing for brunch, lunch, dinner, snacks and forth meal. I was out of control and could not be stopped. In addition to this, I SAW what all the sugar was doing to my body and I knew that it was making me fat, slow and lazy, but I just kept thinking about how much time and money I saved living off of snacks, which brings me to my next bad habit.
Before I continue, just take my advice and and limit your intake of sugar for the sake of your health and sanity.
Not eating proper meals throughout the day
This habit definitely ties into the first one and I honestly feel like I had to go to rehab and be eased back into eating real food after leaving the islands. There is just something about being on a beach that made me want to eat things that I could have immediately and that I didn’t have to wait to be prepared for me. My logic was that I didn’t want to lose precious napping in the shade or floating in the ocean time, so I didn’t bother to sit at a table to wait for a meal also I was afraid of getting food poisoning. What better way to solve the problem? Eat Oreos. Big mistake. My body absolutely hated me when I was on all the islands I went to when I was in Cambodia. There where times when I would try to justify my diet by thinking, “Oh I drank 1.5 liters of water and ate a mango, so that means I can disregard the three rolls of Oreos and pancake I already ate.” Oh, and did I mention going through a period of eating purely sugar and no fibrous foods followed by trying to cut sugar out of your diet is like trying to give a meth addict a cigarette after rehab. It is just NOT the same! But I am proud to say that I am significantly better now and only crave sugar 92% of the time in my day.
As I said before, limit the sugar and eat real food if you want to maintain normal bodily functions during and after your vacation.
Not sticking to a routine
I know a lot of people go to the beach for the sole purpose of bumming around, getting massages, and forgetting about stress and work that they may have at home. While I love all of those things, I actually need a routine in my day, no matter where I am. I could have simply taken a piece of paper and made a “To Do” list, which would have consisted of: “Wake up, work out, write a blog post,” but no, I got lazy. As we speak now, I am struggling hard to get all of my information for the blog together and and deeply regretting the times when I found myself “bored” and had “nothing to do.” If I could smack Jacqueline from a month ago in the face, I would just push her off a cliff.
Don’t be like me and make sure you do what you need to do in your day, no matter how petty it may seem.
Being lazy (a.k.a. a beach bum)
This is related to my lack of goals in the day, but more specifically sticking to a workout routine. When I was working six days a week in Seoul, I would always hope and wish just to have an extra hour in my day so that I could have some more time to exercise or workout. And yet, now that I have all the time in the world, I still struggle to fix in a decent workout, which to me is unacceptable. There were times when I was horizontal for about 80% of my day and yet I still managed to talk myself out of doing 20 sit ups! It really ties into the fact that I always want to hang out with my friends and don’t want to miss out (FOMO alert).
In reality, you can take 45 minutes to an hour out your day to stick to your goals and I am learning to tell myself that more. You will feel happier knowing that you finished a workout that you were dreading to do to begin with, so just do it.
Not wearing shoes
Ok so something to keep in mind when going to ANY beach in Southeast Asia: this place is way dirtier than it looks so don’t be surprised when you cut your foot on a broken bottle and get an infection. I was a big fan of running on the beaches here and I really wish that I was smarter when I went out at night and wore proper shoes. Running on the beach isn’t easy, but neither is walking with a foot that has a swollen big toe that may be mistaken as gout. Be smart when you are on the beach at night and don’t make the same mistake I made twice. After getting my foot infected I was less motivated and found myself letting habits 1-4 just manifest themselves.
So watch where you step and don’t go wandering shoeless on the beach when it’s very dark at night.