I have always liked being active and staying healthy. When I lived in America, I went to the gym six days a week in the winter and alternated gym days with running outside in the summer. I loved competing against myself for running times, pushing myself in high intensity cardio workouts, and lifting heavy weights to define my muscles and keep my metabolism high. My exercise routine wasn’t unhealthy. I didn’t feel that I obsessed over calories burned and if I needed to reschedule a workout, it wasn’t a problem for me. I liked to fit in time to exercise so that I could keep my anxiety under control and my mind clear. I liked the way my muscles looked and I felt sexy in my workout clothes at the gym but, like many women, I often felt insecure about my body in regular clothes.

I left America with my new husband in September of 2015 in search of adventure. I was anxious about how I would stay in shape and maintain my health while I was on the road. Little did I know that the change would alter my entire body image for the better.

I felt sexy in my workout clothes at the gym but, like many women, I often felt insecure about my body in regular clothes. Starting to travel changed everything!

I brought a small backpack filled with winter clothes but I made space for one running outfit and shoes. I carved time out in the mornings when I could run through a city before it awoke. I saw cities in ways I never would have seen otherwise. I smelled baking bread, watched stooped shopkeepers sweep the night’s refuse from their doorsteps, and felt the sun rise on my cheeks in over 15 cities’ horizons. For muscle building, I lugged my embarrassing, turtle-shaped pack up endless flights of stairs and squatted over every seatless toilet in Italy. In this way, I kept my sanity during the stress of long-term travel.

After 3 months traveling in Europe and the last 6 months living in Istanbul, I find that my body has streamlined, losing the bulk from my formerly favored muscles but maintaining strength from walking everywhere and climbing Istanbul’s incessant hills. I haven’t owned a full-length mirror in 10 months and I don’t have the wardrobe choices I once had. I haven’t stood in front of a mirror, changing outfits, and critiquing myself in almost a year. I run two or three days per week. I eat vegetables and homemade food now and I take full enjoyment in the healthy fats (think every vegetable drenched in olive oil).

I have more important things to think about, see, and do than I had during my static life in America. Concerning myself with my weight, the shape of my stomach, and how much food I’m eating are low on my list of priorities nowadays. My clothes fit better and when I feel bloated I just wear something flowy and that’s the last I think about it.

Travel has positively changed my life in a million different ways, but I think that the way it changed my body image has been the most important. The heavy weight, literally and figuratively, of body image pressures has lifted and now I can focus on more meaningful things like how many different shades of blue the Bosphorus contains.

I felt sexy in my workout clothes at the gym but, like many women, I often felt insecure about my body in regular clothes. Starting to travel changed everything!

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This is a guest post by Rebecca Picard.

I felt sexy in my workout clothes at the gym but, like many women, I often felt insecure about my body in regular clothes. Starting to travel changed everything!Rebecca is an eternal wanderluster originally from the Midwest. She currently lives in Istanbul but she’s deep in the process of moving to California (!) for a Master’s program. She is still running despite unbearable morning humidity and still ingesting olive oil by the gallons. You can follow her on Instagram @rebapicard or find more of her travel insights at theeuroad.com.