When vanlife starts to get the best of you… you reprioritize health
note: writing from Matt’s perspective
I’m professionally trained to forget about things that don’t hurt. In film, movies and video in general, you should only notice the audio if it’s bad. As long as you can hear every word of dialogue, the soundtrack isn’t too loud, and the bangs and crunches of every car crash keeps you in the moment, your audio is good enough to forget about. Just like my health; as long as all my limbs work well enough to take me up mountains and my eyes work well enough to see through my viewfinder and my ears work well enough to hear hungry wolves nearby, I tend to forget that keeping tabs on my health is important.
That’s why I’m thinking about it now. My health suddenly went to shit. All of a sudden I’m trapped in the confines of our epic, free campsite in southern Utah, hobbling around, wincing in pain every time I have to put a sock, shoe or toe ring on my left foot.
For the first two months of vanlife, I prioritized getting from place to place before it got too cold, taking more pictures than I can edit, and soaking in all the *new* around me.
It all finally came to a head for me when we decided to slow down enough to get a good workout in. We were hanging out in Las Vegas and had a few hours to spare. “Let’s hit the gym today!” Apparently, my body doesn’t consider sitting in the driver’s seat listening to Harry Potter audiobooks exercise… I pushed it too hard and strained my hip flexor. Now it hurts to walk, it hurts to sit, and it hurts being one mile away from the Gooseberry Mesa loop and not being able to jump on my bike and shred some trail.
Let’s talk about some dangers of vanlife.
Sedentary… sedentation… sedentarianism… (how the hell do you conjugate that?)
You can’t just sit in the driver’s seat for 8 hours a day. Setting a timer, stopping regularly to move and stretch, and doing something active every single day are crucial. The 4 years that I lived in San Francisco I rode my bike as my main commuter- that’s minimum 10 miles per day of bike time. On top of that, I averaged 4 days per week at the gym.
When you spend a lot of time on the road, you see a looootttt of In N’ Outs, Chipotles, and Chick-fil-a. It’d be easier to drive through the drive through (just kidding. our van is too tall) than to cook a meal. But you feel so much better if you don’t. One of our favorite go-to meals is the one-pan-wonder-meat-and-veggie dish (still working on a name.) It’s a cast iron skillet full of vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, peppers, brussels sprouts, etc) and then some sort of meat (sausage, steak, beef, chicken, etc). Nutritious and delicious. It’s also often times inconvenient to stop for an hour to cook. Worth it.
Being surrounded by friends whose opinions I generally cared about kept me on my game. I felt like I had people relying on me to be an example of discipline, health, and activity. Unfortunately, Megan loves me for me (so she says) and has literally never told me what to do. She’s my top choice as a romantic partner, but my last choice as an accountability partner.
I’m excited to reprioritize my health
I’m an extremist and good at learning from my blunders. I’m excited that I really internalized that I’ll die a small, young man if I keep up the way that I am. I’m excited to reprioritize my health. I’m excited to start every day with pushups, third world squats, and some self directed yoga. I’m excited to have my exterior, once again, be an accurate representation of my inner character. I’m excited to live to be one hundred years old.