There is a reason everyone talks about poop on their holidays and that is because poop is a life altering phenomenon that needs to be closely monitored as your surroundings change. Spending year after year inhabiting new environmental regions with different climates, diseases and cultures, I have come to see my body react to a vast number of conditions, climates, foods and environmental pressures.
Looking at myself in the mirror the other day I could see how my body has been shaped from my travels and work in many diverse natural environments. My calfs bulge with strong muscles from years of walking in varied terrain for long hours every day. My hair is streaked with sun bleached strands from all the hours I spend outdoors in the sunshine. My feet are always calloused and dirty from walking outside barefoot and my arms are at least 5 shades darker than my belly. They say that what you look like is a combination of your genetics and your environment and I can see that as I look at the person staring back at me in the mirror, with freckles splattering my nose from years of being outside in the sunshine.
For women everywhere, daily struggles with body image are a problem that can do as much damage as ending lives across the globe. I feel like spending time in nature has allowed me to see past a number on the scales as I know where my muscle is and that it weighs three times as much as fat. I know how my body changes and slims down when I move to the tropics and face high content chilli diets, hot humid weather and dehydration and I know how my body feels sluggish in winter as I set into eating more and sleeping more mode. Most importantly though, I know how my legs are strong enough to carry me up mountains, across valleys and through forests. I know my immune system is strong enough to carry me through sub par drinking water and unhygienic environments. I also know that my brain has grown from the challenges I have faced and the constant learning has left me mentally stronger to tackle any emotional mountain I may face.
When I look in the mirror, I do not compare myself to models or other women I see in the media, however I look at myself and wonder how much further my body will take me on all my still awaited journeys and if it has the capacity to survive all the challenges I will put it through. I am so thankful for the ways the environment has shaped me and I am glad that it has made me realise that being adaptable and resilient is way better than being just plain old skinny.