5 Essential Self-Care Travel Tips

If you’ve been following me for some time or have scrolled to the very (very)  bottom of my feed, you'll know how much I love to travel. I don't think there has been a period of being stagnant for more than three months. Family and friends always ask where we are heading next, and have become a "go-to" for travel advice. 

5 Essential Self-Care Travel Tips

Traveling is a lot of fun. And, even the stresses of plane travel are something I look forward to; It's all part of the process and the journey. Yes, it’s fun, and it’s purpose-driven, and yes, it can sometimes feel quite glamorous; but, jet-setting (and, I use this term loosely... as in air travel) whether it be for work or pleasure, comes with its own set of complexities.

The main issue is self-care. It’s easy to run yourself ragged, hopping from one place to another, sometimes feeling homesick, and other times just feeling sick -- tummy, head cold, you name it. Here are five tips I have picked up along the way that keep me feeling 100% when I’m traveling.


Wipe It Down

I'm a germophobe, and more so when I get on a plane. I always use some quick hand wipes or a travel-sized sanitizer spray to wipe it all down: that includes the little TV, the service tray, and all the buttons around your seat. Wipe it down...all of it! Let's not get started on the bathroom.

Lubricate Your Nose

To avoid getting sick on planes, place a dab of Neosporin on a cotton swab and coat the inside of your nostrils. Not only does it create a barrier for germs, but it also lubricates the skin in the nose. That’s important because when the skin cracks, germs can come in, so the coating of the Neosporin doubly protects you. Personally, I travel with a tube of Waxeline. 

Stay Hydrated

It may seem obvious, but staying hydrated is one of the easiest, simplest ways to stay regular and well when on the road or in the air. Sometimes it can be easy to forget to hydrate while on the go, so find a water bottle you like and make sure that it fits into your carry on. Most airports have water bottle filling stations past security, so fill up!

Pack Probiotics

Go pro, and I'm not talking about the little video camera. This is a tip I got from my mom. Always travel with a high strain probiotic, and hydrate like you’re dying of thirst – because even if you’re not, for your body – the thirst is real. This dynamic duo of probiotics and water will keep your gut health in check and honestly stave off jet lag if you’re traveling to another time zone or another country. And, if you didn't pack a probiotic, don't worry. Buy local plain yogurt, and this will help do the trick.

Let Your Tummy Keep Time

If you eat on the schedule of wherever you’ve landed, you won’t feel jet lagged. It’s your stomach that tells your brain when it’s feeling wonky. By simply eating a meal at the time the locals are when you land, you trick your brain a bit and stay much more on track, and much less cranky. Along with this is getting some sunshine as soon as you land (given that you arrive during the day.) It might be tempting to nap, but keeping awake until dark combined with eating at the local time will help jet leg drastically!
 

Woke Up Like This: The Sleep Styler Review

Seriously, guys, I woke up like this.

But, let me give credit where credit is due. 

Earlier this year I was watching Shark Tank and learned of this product this woman was pitching that sounded way too good to be true. 

I already sleep with my hair wet sometimes to get the wavy look (and to save a ton of time getting ready). Also, getting real curls with no heating tools? Doubtful. 

Well, let me just tell you, The Sleep Styler is one of my new favorite hair styling products. They are made from super absorbent yoga towel fabric that helps dry your hair fast. Applying them is easy. You simply add the rollers fast and styles your hair while you sleep. It's so easy to do!

Woke Up Like This The Sleep Styler Review

Well, I wanted to buy a set but they were on back order forever! When The Sleep Styler reached out, I was super excited to try them out. It is safe to say, I'm a believer!!

So how does it work?

You simply towel or air dry your hair until it's about 75-80% damp; section-off your hair and add the rollers by sectioning them off. Once your hair is dry, you'll have big, beautiful bouncy curls!

Yes, it's that easy!

Woke Up Like This The Sleep Styler Review

They were super quick to put in my hair before I went to bed and remove in the morning. They weren't that uncomfortable to sleep on thanks to the memory foam inside the rollers. I didn't have to apply any heat to my hair! No blow dryer, curling iron, or straightener. 

This post was in partnership with The Sleep Styler. As always, all opinions are true and my own.

Body Positivity AND SOCIAL MEDIA

Can we talk about body positivity for a sec?

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Last week I shared a very personal part of my life with you all, and I was so touched by the overwhelming messages and comments of support. The messages that flooded my inbox from others that have either been through the same or are going through something similar were mind blowing. For the first time, I feel like I'm not alone. I never expected this type of support. When I pressed the "publish" button, I just asked the universe to be kind and not to send negativity my way.

Want to know another little secret? I’d be lying if I said I could rock this sports bra message 100%.

It’s more like an 80% truth.

And, I’m not ashamed. 

When Square Organics reached out saying they wanted to send me a sports bra, I never in a billion years would I have imagined that they'd be sending me one that read in all caps: "YES, THEY'RE ORGANIC." When I opened the package, I couldn't stop laughing.

In my early 20's I decided to get a breast argumentation. It wasn't out of a whim. When I was much younger, growing up I had always wanted boobs. So, at 24 I got them. I went from a small B to a full C. Not a drastic difference or ridiculously huge. I did it for me and no one else to be slightly more proportioned. 

Do I regret this decision? Sometimes; Only, because they get in the way while I'm working out. Now looking back, if body positivity had been an open discussion, I don't think I would have gone through this change. I would have been able to learn to love me the way that I am and accept my body for what it is.  

This is why it is so important to not body shame people. It's important to have an open conversation about body positivity and accept people for who they are not what they look like. We must pave the way for the younger generations of females to let them know what they are beautiful the way that they are.

In the age of Instagram, it's difficult not compare ourselves to others, especially when it comes to how we look. But for all the insecurities social media can provoke, it has also given us a platform to be proud of our bodies no matter what our size is. The body-positive movement isn't about thin-shaming or encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle; it's about supporting everyone in their search for more self-esteem and self-confidence.

Instagram can be as encouraging or discouraging as you make it. If you only follow models and celebrities, you'll be bombarded with photoshopped images and unrealistic expectations every day. That's why you should mix a healthy dose of body positivity into your Instagram feed. Some of my favorites? @gofitjo, @MISSGEOBURKE, @healthyisthenewskinny, @movemeant, and @dulceida.

What are your favorite #bodypositive accounts to follow?


 Get 20% off your  SquareOrganics.com order with discount code "valeriefidan" on square bars or this sports bra!

My Health Journey: Learning To Live

Guys, I'm getting deep with you today. I have a secret to share with you.  It's taken about six months to publish this post, and I probably wouldn't have done it without the encouragement of my friend Jo (aka @GoFitJo) and a simple question of "why hide from your truth?" 

Portland, OR April 2015: Returning back to the U.S. a bit healthier at 110lb.

I am no longer going to hide my truth. Not with me, you, or anyone else.

My truth? It's a shocking confession you might not believe.

It's not to gain sympathy, but rather to share a part of me that I've kept secret for almost nearly 20 years from virtually everyone but a handful of people. Not even my parents knew until earlier this year.

It's been a little over two years since entering recovery for an eating disorder: bulimia nervosa.

Shockingly, this was my "normal" and something that had developed in middle school. It became my normal way of life. It would come and go in different phases of my life. And, it probably sounds ironic, because of this food-based health and wellness blog, right?

Two years ago my relationship with food was non-existent. Food was the enemy. It was not enjoyable; it was far from it. Social gatherings and even going out to dinner would cause a lot of stress and social anxiety. But my ED (eating disorder) was more than just about food. It was about control. Control that manifested in the many things I could not control: relationships, my environment, work, the feeling of belonging, happiness, the pressures of excelling in the crazy world of Silicon Valley. While I may not be a techie or some scrappy startup founder, when you grow up in the Bay Area where your peers are making an impact and innovating, the pressure is on. The pressure to succeed and be the best is intense. 

When I got married in August of 2010, I thought I had beat the odds and my bulimic past was in the past. Something that had been in and out of my life for so long was no longer there. I was thrilled. I was able to change and paint a new road for a healthy future. This shifted and changed in 2013 after a trip to Southeast Asia and Australia, it got noticeably worse and became a constant in my daily life. I cannot pin point what triggered the return. Stress? Owning a business at 20-something? Unhappiness? It's still unclear, and something I'm still working on, because this time instead of stopping "cold-turkey," I'm working with a therapist that specializes in eating disorder recovery.

Me (middle) in Costa Rica with friends in 2013 at my lowest weight
my story, my health journey ed recovery
The start of our travels in 2015 in NYC.

Top: Me (middle) in Costa Rica with friends in 2013 at my lowest weight; Bottom Left: Me (middle) in Costa Rica with friends in 2013 at my lowest weight; Bottom Right: At the start of our travels in 2014 in NYC; Bottom: October 2014 in Charleston, SC also at the start of our travels.

 

Recovery Is A Long Road

Recovery has been a long, hard, bumpy AF road. It's been a struggle on its own and mixed in with the various obstacles that life throws at you is even more difficult. At times it felt like scaling a mountain, and never being able to reach the summit. Through this journey, I've been learning a lot about myself and learning how to be compassionate with myself, and how to love myself.

I remember the moment that I stepped on the scale and it read 105lb. I thought I was seeing things. This was a significant number, because this was the number I had always wanted to see on the scale. I stepped off and then back on: 105lb. I couldn't believe it, partially because I thought I'd be happy once I reached this goal number and the girl looking back at me in the mirror was far from happy. I was "skinny-fat." I was thin, flabby and no muscle mass. Not what I thought 105lb would look like.

This was the morning before leaving on a trip to Costa Rica in 2013. My good friend whom I traveled with at one point made a comment along the lines of "you're skin and bones" I thought she was being insensitive and flat out mean. She wasn't. Even though her comment has a hint of malice, she was concerned but perhaps didn't know how to address what she was witnessing. 

I came back from Costa Rica 3lbs lighter. That day on the scale was eye-opening, 102lb the scale read. I couldn't believe I was 102lbs, yet I wasn't ready to get help. I was in some sort of denial that anything was wrong. I knew things were bad, but I didn't realize how bad. I would later discover the extremity to my deteriorating self on December 20, 2014. This is a day that I will never forget. That's the day I was rushed to the intensive care unit in Asheville, NC and almost died 2 months into our workcation 18-months of travel. Yes. Almost died. Sounds a bit dramatic but this is the truth. My electrolyte levels were dangerously low.  

For the first time in my life, I was fearful of dying. I thought I'd never see my parents, my brother, my family, my husband, my dogs... none of the people that mattered most in my life ever again.

The next day I thought about what had happened. Tears flooded my eyes thinking about what if I had died? That would be the most heartbreaking thing my parents could ever endure. How would my husband have handled it? And to put him in a position where he'd have to deliver such awful news to my parents? It was devastating.

Leaving ICU the following morning, I wasn't exactly in the clear and on the path to recovery just yet. I had to have the uncomfortable, embarrassing, sad conversation with my husband and come clean to him about what was going on. At this point, he obviously knew that was going on. I promised I'd get help, not because of him but because I wanted help. I needed help and I was ready to get help.

Left: 2014: Unhappy and unhealthy at 102lb and no muscle mass (aka "skinny fat."); Right: 2017: Much healthier, and building up lost muscle mass at 125lb. 

Left: 2014: Unhappy and unhealthy at 102lb and no muscle mass (aka "skinny fat."); Right: 2017: Much healthier, and building up lost muscle mass at 125lb. 

Progress Happens When You're Ready To Make Changes

I was in outpatient recovery for about a month before traveling back to Costa Rica for three months at the start of 2015. This might have been the riskiest move, but for me, it's what I needed. It was a twisted version of my favorite books by Elizabeth Gilbert, “Eat, Pray, Love.” Or, in my humble interpretation: eat everything, pray (yoga and meditate) often, and simply learn to love my life, every ounce of it.  

I needed to be somewhere away from everyday life. Away from the distraction and pressures of the Bay Area. Costa Rica was a time to reflect and focus on me. It was a time to fully focus on getting better. Plus, together with my therapist, we created a plan in case things took a turn for the worst or lack of progress being made. The plan was if things weren't getting better to fly back to the States and enter in-patient recovery. Gregg, my husband, was on board with this and was very supportive throughout the entire process, and continues to be supportive.

My outpatient recovery consisted of weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) sessions with my therapist over video chat. The sessions were emotional, tough and at most times uncomfortable. There were days that my therapist was the most annoying person ever because of the "digging deeper" questions and opening up about something that I had hidden for so long. Other times I found her to be the most insightful person, a guru of sorts.

During these three months, I made a ton of progress in my recovery. It was an elated feeling. I was proud of myself for being able to stay committed to better health. Now, I'm not going to say that there weren't any slip-up because there were and there have been. This is normal. It's a normal part of recovery. 

Through all of this, these last two years have brought many high's and low's. It hasn't been an easy road. Recovery has been a struggle, partially because every day is a battle. A fight to make the right choices, to not listen to the voice inside to binge and purge, to make decisions for better health. Good days feel like I'm on top of the world, and bad days are so bad I just want to hide and cry.

2017 and a much happier, healthier human.

2017 and a much happier, healthier human.

Admitting My Truth Has Been Tough

It's taken me this long to tell my parents because of the various family events that my mother has had to endure. Like the passing of her father in the Spring of 2015 and the passing of her mother exactly a year later. It was never the right time. I didn't want to add more worry to my mom as she mourned her dad and cared for her ailing mom, along with the various stresses of family dynamics that came along with this all. She had too much on her plate to worry about another huge issue. Her heart could not fit any more heartache.

This is something my therapist and I have disagreed on time and time again. And, to this day, we still don't see eye-to-eye on this.

She didn't understand the matters at hand. She didn't understand the dynamics with in my family. She didn't understand the stress that my mother was under. She didn't understand the family drama. The way that I saw it was that it would have been selfish of me to bring upon another worry to her. Plus, it wasn't like I was alone, I had the support of my husband.

Photo credit: Jenn Byrne Creative

Photo credit: Jenn Byrne Creative

Two years later here I am...

I'm learning to love me, flaws and all. Building back muscle mass that I had lost has been a challenge. Two years later I am still working hard at building it back up, and am now starting to notice a difference.

Emotionally and mentally, I have good days and bad days.  Bad days are filled with the negative thoughts, a deep depression, and anxiety; but I'm much stronger mentally to acknowledge these feelings and let them be without acting on them. The small stresses in life, the deep depression that comes in waves can be debilitating. I now know that it's how you pick yourself up that helps. Going outside, being in nature, yoga, or sometimes even a good cry to just let it all out helps.

I now see food as nourishment. It's the medicine your body needs to perform at its most optimal level. It's what keeps us healthy. I was able to fully understand this by studying up on nutrition though NASM's Fitness Nutrition Specialist certification program. (When I'm committed to something, I do it 110%. I wanted to know exactly how our bodies function, and why.)

One of the biggest challenges that I've been dealing with is the public opinion of those that are quick to judge. Those that have a hurtful opinion, that takes my medically diagnosed intolerances as a form of distorted eating. IT'S NOT! Egg, Gluten, Soy... These are actual intolerances that make me extremely ill. Trust me, if I could eat a loaf of bread, dunk sushi in soy sauce, and have a sunny side egg without getting sick, I would. There is nothing more that I want than to have a slice of pizza with ranch dressing. These intolerances make eating f'ing harder.

It's not fun.

So, don't judge. 

Don't judge my journey.

Don't judge others, because I'm sure your life isn't all rainbows and butterlies. 

So I leave you with this, to have compassion for others. You don't know their struggle, and the hardships they are dealing with. Life isn't always as rosy as it may seem. 

This is all part of the eat, pray, love journey. Being present. Being vulnerable. Learning to live. Learning to love. The act of celebrating and really truly enjoying your life and accepting who you are, flaws and all. This is my story on my journey for better health. It is part of my healing process, and part of recovery. It's a big chapter in my life, and one that I hope helps you to understand who I am a bit more. 

 

Join the conversation here.

A special thanks to my therapist, Allison Puryear; To Jo Encarnacion, Amanda Gist, and Ayten for giving me the courage and support to share my story.

Reflecting On Life & Dreaming Bigger

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I have found myself reflecting on life these past few weeks. Maybe this is a 30-something stage in life? As I've been reflecting, I've come to realize (and acknowledge) that my life is greater than I could have ever imagined. And that’s because it is. Even through all the imperfections, or the "I wish, coulda, woulda, done" moments, I wouldn't change anything about it. 

As a Pisces, I've always been a dreamer with my head in the clouds. I've never conformed to the norm, have always taken risks, pushed the limits, and followed my tenacious, curious spirit. 

And almost three years ago, I made a choice to live my life less stifled. To try not just to live; but to live so fully that, my adventures were bursting at the seams, my days felt purpose driven, and my heart felt full. This plan was accurately fulfilled as my husband, and I sold off most of our things, packed a suitcase and left San Francisco to travel the world. There was no plan, no end date. Would we return back to San Francisco? No clue.

Now I’ll admit that this is equal parts cliche and cheesy, but setting that aside for a sec what it meant to me was an intention being set to start fresh. To stop living life complacently and to start taking bigger risks, and to dream even bigger than I could have ever imagined. What happened since has been the most gratifying validation that saying “yes” can change the course of your life. Specifically saying “yes” to yourself.

In July of 2014 when we made the decision to travel, I never would have imagined that our decision to leave the comforts of home, and travel the world would take us to 18 months of continues travel, home-basing is amazing locales, and eventually would bring us to Portland, where we would plant roots and call home. Never would I have imagined that I'd start a new business in a new place, without a network and build connections and friends. 

I’ve never been one for vision boards and scrapbooking memories. I do, however, have a stack of books from The Power of Now and Be Here Now to The Sedona Method and even science-y ones like The Pale Blue Dot and Humankind that I skim or reread through now and then. There is something to be said for setting a goal and putting it out into the universe, so to speak.

I do believe that thoughts become things. My thoughts the past year have been: I miss my family, I see myself having a lifestyle website, I want to see more of the world, I need to find my purpose, I want to make an impact on my community, and I want to be happy--blissfully, fully, unapologetically happy. 

So, here we are half-way through the year. I've kept to my goals and have been working on them hard to fulfill them and maintain a strong bond with those back home in California. Keeping an open mind and saying "yes" to new experiences is something that I continue to do.

Join me in being a dreamer. Your life can be greater than you ever imagined. The most gratifying validation that saying "yes" can change the course of your life. Specifically saying "yes" to yourself.

What are you saying "yes" to today? Comment here!