As any of you who have been following me on Instagram will know, I’m currently on holiday in Bali. It’s a trip which I feel very fortunate to be able to make as modern life seems somehow tougher for everyone these days. I want to start this post by saying how fortunate I feel I am to have done an amazing BBC cookery series and have a first cook book to my name – just to get that in before I talk about the tougher stuff!
Leading up to this break, my mind was working overtime and I needed to get away from everything. I don’t deal with stress very well (I don’t think many do) and my anxiety was going into overdrive. I had a lot going on and if I’m honest I though my mind was going to POP. It got so bad I had to pull over in my van as I was losing the plot; tears, the works, with Lemmy (my dog) looking at me daft, sat in the seat next to me. The littlest of things were getting to me and I was snapping at people who are close to me. My fiancé and my parents could see it in me too.
The Heavy Stuff
My problem is that I find it very hard to switch off and I always have to do something. I constantly have ants in my pants and I very rarely rest. This is because if I have too much time on my hands I start overthinking things, and believe me that’s dangerous in my mind so I find if I keep myself busy, I haven’t got time to think. I am my own worst enemy if I’m honest.
Not everyone will know my story, but I have suffered from depression, and I came off my Sertraline antidepressant medication just over six months ago. I went cold turkey (something that you shouldn’t do apparently, but you know I never follow the rules!) and all of a sudden I had a lot of energy again. That medication helped me over a year ago when I went to a dark place, but I found the tablets were no longer helping me but they were actually doing the opposite. I was always tired and finding it hard to get out of bed, and more importantly it was putting me off training, which is the one thing that puts me into that happy zone.
When I get home I start seeing my new CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) therapist in the hope she can change my attitude to how I look at and approach things. I’m really looking forward to working with her.
Drop the Pressure
Anyway all that built-up pressure eased straight away as I left Heathrow airport, and I could feel the weight come off my shoulders. I landed in Bali, felt the heat and the sun on my face and I was in my happy place.
I’ve been eating the best food, chilling with my fiancé and hanging around with the most humble of people who forever greet you with a smile. Some of them have fuck-all yet are still smiling, and that says a lot to me. I sat with a local called Adi on the beach one evening, and I spoke to him about island life and what happened during the earthquake and how they survived the aftermath. It got heavy, and he literally drove me to tears.
Waking up every morning and getting back into my training regime has done heaps for my mental health. Running as the sun rises on beaches with my endorphins kicking off whilst watching the locals waking up and starting their days and getting back to a healthy brekkie puts a huge smile on my face. Doing yoga (something I started doing at home) followed by an hour’s massage is another plus point and a great way of switching off. Then there’s watching the sunset in the evening with a beer, swimming in the sea while looking at the colourful fish life going on beneath me – just magic. I actually swam from Gili Meno island and on to Gili Terawgan with the help of my new local friend who has a boat Alqui Boy. I’m very glad he was with me as I would have ended up in the Indian Ocean due to the current (laughter).
This place has an endless choice of plant-based restaurants and cafes and I want to visit them all, but I have a funny feeling that I may have to live here for a year to fit them all in. Not a bad idea! I really hope we eventually get to this point back home in the UK, being able to walk down the street and choose from multiple independent plant-based restaurants. I can’t wait for breakfast, lunch and dinner on a daily basis and to pick up the menu and get a great choice of food. If the human body could eat 24/7 all I’d do is eat over here. If anyone’s planning a holiday I highly recommend this place, especially if you’re vegan. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
So what have I learnt whilst being here?? A lot, put it that way. They are big on organic fruit and veg, and believe me you can taste the difference. They use bamboo for straws and they’re big on recycling plastics – I’ve seen many a wall built with disused bottles. The country really supports their people and businesses too, though the money has too many zeros! The place is steeped in culture and tradition and the people work so hard and have a built in self-sufficiency that I think we could really learn from. Though they need to start wearing helmets on their mopeds! The coconut tree is the rock’n’roll of the plant world here for its many uses. From the fibre to the bark to the husk and of course the coconut flesh and milk, not one bit is wasted!
The Brutal Deca & a Few Life Changes
I came here to rest my mind and that’s what I’ve done. It seems life is so hectic for everyone, it’s only when those daily pressures are removed if and when you get a holiday that you can get a bit of perspective on what is right and wrong in your life. I came here to start my training and I’ve done that too. I have my biggest challenge to date coming up at the end of July called the Brutal Continuous Deca which consists of a 24 mile swim, 1120 mile bike ride and ending with a 262 mile run, all to be finished within 350 hours. I’ve not done nearly enough training for it, but it feels good to know I’ve started and I look forward to continuing when I get home.
On that note, when I get home I have a few things I’m going to change. Since the book and TV show have come out I’ve had a lot of anti-vegan trolls so I’ve cut back a fair bit apart from on Instagram. I’ve stopped posting on my personal page just to give myself a break from it, so if anyone is wondering why I haven’t posted then that’s the reason, but you can see what I’m up to via the @dirtyvegantv page. Reading endless hate because I’ve chosen a plant-based lifestyle (without preaching but educating) isn’t good for my mental health. No one should have to read such stuff. On the plus side, I’ve had some very positive messages too for which I thank those of you for writing – I try my best to reply to most but apologies if not. On the whole it’s been wonderful to see how many people are looking at shifting their diet more towards being plant-based; it really does feel like we are at the beginning of an incredible change.
Anyway, enough of the negative. For me finding happiness is simple; it’s exercise morning and night, doing yoga, surrounding yourself with people you love and trust, oh and eating a healthy plant-based diet.
I have a lot of work to do when I get back, and my year’s looking very busy. I can’t wait to see some of you at the events I’m attending (check out our events page for details) and I look forward to announcing what we have coming up. I’m now surrounded by a great team of people looking after all things Dirty Vegan and there is a huge amount in the pipeline. Let me end by saying 2019 is the year of the DIRTY VEGAN………lets ‘ave it.
I can’t wait to see Lemmy!
Peas and Broccoli