There’s no denying that a holiday is the best way to relax and gather your thoughts, but I didn’t expect to leave Mexico feeling how I did about certain situations, and I certainly didn’t expect to gain any sense of wisdom or perspective. What was different? Maybe it’s because we were away for longer than our usual seven-day stint, or maybe it was because we were in a new country embracing an entirely new culture. Maybe it was just because I was finally ready to realise certain things that I’ve previously ignored.

You don’t have to have the perfect diet

Ok, let’s start off with one that surprised me the most. I set off on my holiday with every intention to eat well 90% of the time, saving that remaining 10% for the odd cocktail, the odd cake at desert, or the odd pastry at breakfast. Who was I kidding? I ate like I was living my last days on earth – and then some – and didn’t give a damn. I didn’t feel on top of the world and spent most of my day a bit bloated, but do you know what, I wouldn’t change it. I ate pancakes at breakfast everyday (and that wasn’t all that was on my plate), I drank pina coladas and mudslides whenever I felt like it, and I ate a generous portion of lunch and dinner every single day, followed by dessert every time. I thought if I did this I’d leave two stone heavier regretting every second of it, but this surprised me. For the first time in holiday history, I left with near enough the same body I arrive with. And I know exactly why. I’ll save the details of this for another post because there’s a lot I can say on this topic, but just know that you don’t need to feel bad for indulging on holiday. Eat like a Queen and enjoy the freaking food, because you might never go back and experience that cuisine again. I sure as hell wasn’t going to leave Mexico without trying their tacos and margaritas.

You don’t have to workout

Similarly, I went away with three sets of gym clothes and even some resistance bands wedged in my (extremely over packed) suitcase. I intended to workout every two days, as I normally would at home. Did I? Of course I didn’t. I did one twenty-minute hotel room HIIT workout, one twenty-five minute weights/HIIT session in the world’s smallest hotel gym, and I went for a fifteen-minute run. Apart from that, I did nothing. It was too bloody hot. Even at 7am when the sun was just rising, it was too hot to move, let alone throw yourself into a set of burpees or squat jumps. I could have made it work, but I was on holiday. Did I want to get up earlier than 6am? Absolutely not! Instead I spent a lot of time walking and swimming as often as possible, which for me was a good enough compromise.

You don’t have to stick to a plan

I always go on holiday with the same ‘plan’ in mind. Get up at 6am to reserve a sunbed by the pool (the bane of my life), go and eat breakfast, spend a day in the sun, go in just before 6pm to get showered, moisturised and dolled up, eat dinner, and then sit around drinking while watching the semi-interesting hotel entertainment. I do this because it’s what I’m used to, and sometimes, I don’t know what else to do. We did this some of the time, but other times we chose to explore the beaches or the other hotels, one day we ditched the pool and got a dodgy little bus into another town to see a more hidden part of Riviera Maya, and one evening we even said “sod it, let’s get room service and watch a movie”. Waste of an evening? Maybe, but we had twelve of them so I wasn’t too worried. I felt ill, Darryl and I were both shattered, I couldn’t face covering myself in yet another layer of bug spray and the thought of cramming my Mexican food baby belly into a little dress for a few hours wasn’t an idea I was on board with. What a revelation.

You don’t have to portray perfection

Let’s be real, if it’s a perfectly toned, stretch-mark and blemish free, deeply tanned beach goddess you’re looking for, I am not that girl. On holiday in the past this would have terrified me, but this time was different. First of all I wore bikinis that had more skin on show than ever before. Yeah I have stretch marks and cellulite, but I squatted endlessly for nine months to build more of a booty so I’m damn well not going to cover it up. I also look less lean and quite bloated in my photos from all the food, but for once I felt somewhat proud of my body knowing that I’d worked hard to get to where I was. It doesn’t end there either. I didn’t wash my hair that often because I couldn’t be bothered, I had a load of spots from constantly smothering sun cream on my face, I had sunburn and a patchy tan, and all of my gorgeous gel nails melted off in the sheer heat of the Mexican sun. I always look at these ‘Insta girls’ and see perfection, but truth be told I don’t even know how real they are. If it is genuine, good for them, but I’m not going to spend every minute of my holiday panicking about looking ‘imperfect’. I went out with frizzy, sandy hair, I wore minimal makeup and I embraced every imperfection that surface along the way. It’s liberating, let me tell you.

You don’t have to do everything on your bucket list

Nobody gets ‘fear of missing out’ on holiday quite like I do. It’s great to explore and make the most of your time in a new place, but I actually get stressed if I don’t visit everywhere on my bucket list, which totally goes against he point of relaxing. There were a ton of places we didn’t get to see in Mexico which made me get that dreaded FOMO, but we were only there for less than two weeks, so I was never going to see everything I wanted to. I guess I’m worried I’ll never go back and so I’m passing up a good opportunity, but ultimately life’s too short to panic about something like that. New mantra: If I can go, great. If I can’t, maybe another time. It’s not as if I’m just sat at home ignoring our beautiful world, is it?

Not every photo op is a must

Ugh, I swear photo ops will be the death of me. I wish I was carefree with blog photography, but I’m just not. Every nice tree, every cute beach, every stunning sunset, every new outfit – I had to have a picture (or twenty). Why? For my blog? For Instagram? For myself to look back on one day? All of those reasons, I guess. We came home with over 3,000 photos between us. I love having photos, but I definitely got a bit snap-happy, and part of me wishes I’d just put the camera down and soaked up my surroundings a little more. It’s not exactly fun for Darryl either when I’m constantly saying “oh just take a pic of me here please” or “oh my god hurry up we need to go and get outfit shots before the sun sets”. Forget Bridezilla, more Blogzilla. How do these pro bloggers do it?

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I learned a lot on holiday. I learned I have more self-love than I’ve ever had before, I learned that I don’t need to try and be perfect and worthy of a bunch of likes on Instagram, and I learned that I’m allowed to enjoy myself without my blogging hat on sometimes. What a breath of fresh air.

Wearing a H&M Bikini & Quay Sunglasses from TK Maxx

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