What sailing from NZ to Fiji taught me about health and wellbeing

I love a good adventure, and when my boyfriend decided we should get a sailboat and sail from New Zealand to Fiji, I figured; Why not! I started researching the journey, and discovered it's a very popular route and plenty of people do it each year. So! I did a few sailing lessons, and on June 22nd this year, we left the Bay of Islands and sailed to Savu Savu, Fiji. 

It may seem like an extreme adventure, but there were months of preparation behind it; the details of which aren't very thrilling unless you love hearing about tying knots, drilling and cleaning things. What is interesting though, is what I've learned about health and wellbeing thanks to this exciting adventure.

1. Sometimes you just need to take a leap

Thanks to social media, the ‘comparison trend’ is everywhere, making too many of us feel like we’re not quite whole.

The feeling of needing to do more or be more than we are stops so many of us from achieving exciting things. This need to have ‘more’ of something is everywhere, people may want:

  • More patience before they have children

  • More money before they pursue their dream job

  • More activewear before they go to the gym

As a physiotherapist I've heard every excuse to avoid rehab or activity, (including the one about active wear!) We're all guilty of making those little excuses without realising they hold us back.

The feeling that we don't have quite ENOUGH OF SOMETHING YET all comes down to confidence. It's the little voice in our head saying 'no, you can't do it...not yet.'

Sure, sailing the Pacific Ocean can be dangerous, but there are plenty of tools to help mitigate the risks. After researching and purchasing every safety tool we could need, learning as much as I could and passing our safety inspection, I felt ready. It was a huge leap to take for someone who had only done four sailing lessons, but I learned sometimes you've just got to give it a go. It was a great learning for me who loves every piece of information before I try something!

2. Eating fried, fatty foods is hard on your digestion

This is a no brainer, but I had never felt the truth of this statement until arriving in Fiji. During the passage from NZ, we ate rice, beans, cabbage, vegetables, pasta and freshly caught Skipjack and Yellowfin tuna. Essentially we ate whole, real foods which I thought I did already, but obviously not!

When we arrived into Fiji, the boat was wet through and we were craving a warm burger and chips. We waited a few days, then hit the Waitui marina to satisfy our craving.

The next day, we both felt sluggish and lazy, almost worse than the day we had arrived after very little sleep at sea. I was blown away with the difference in our energy levels.

Our bodies had become so accustomed to eating clean foods, fried fatty food was almost too much to manage.

I'm not saying fried foods are the enemy, but they do have a HUGE impact on energy and wellbeing. The occasional dumpling night or burger and chips is absolutely fine, but notice if you're injecting fried and fatty foods into your diet elsewhere. It could be making you lethargic without you realising. Learn more about how to eat better here.

3. Not sweating the small stuff is key to contentment

I found sailing from NZ to Fiji pretty tough and it wasn't because we were in 4km deep seas, soaked by waves on night watch or five days from the nearest shore. It was because myself and the two others on the boat were exceptionally tired. 

Extreme fatigue is the ultimate test. Science has proven after 19 hours without sleep, your mind functions at the same level as having a blood alcohol reading of 0.05, and after ten days at sea with broken, minimal sleep every night, balance, coordination, strength and decision making were all diminished. 

So! In this somewhat extreme environment, I learned that not sweating the small stuff made everyday easier, for everyone. 

The little things don't matter in the middle of the Pacific, but they also don't matter at home.

Choosing to let small things slide helped us arrive safely and happily in Fiji, and I have learned it will also help me achieve other goals with family and friends at home.

I've learned we all need to ask ourselves more often: "Does that really matter?" before jumping to say our piece.

Sailing from NZ was a tough and wonderful experience, and I’m so thrilled I was able to enjoy some wellness learnings along the way.

What is the biggest thing about wellbeing that you’ve learned through experience?

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