07/09/2015 05:12 EDT | Updated 07/09/2016 05:59 EDT

Travel Should Be the Motivation to Live a Healthy Life

Shutterstock / Dudarev Mikhail

My best friend had a daughter four years ago. That same year at Halloween I noticed how "revealing" costumes had become, especially in the female demographic. Then Instagram took over the online word, and what ever infected Halloween took over my fitness industry.

Male and Female fitness models can wear just about nothing and hashtag it #gains or #fitfam and it seems to be ok. Don't even get me started on this Justin Bieber photo. Fitness, health, and wellness are about the energy, the memories, the excitement for life. It's about travel, adventure, and making the most out of life.

My dream is to see people get healthy, and live their life full of energy. Not just go to the gym, but really start to understand our bodies need to move. We shut down when we don't. I'm also a firm believer that a part of our mental health comes from getting out and exploring. We need challenges, we need to learn, and we need to mix the mental and physical regularly. We need to do it all safely, and with sensitivity. I'm talking about real travel. Brand new adventures, cultures and people.

I read the story of Danielle and Lindsey Petersen, the Saskatchewan brother and sister who were deported from Malaysia for indecent acts on a sacred mountain.

I wanted to be furious with them. How could the portray Canada like that.

The two were among a group of tourists who stripped off their clothes at Mount Kinabalu on May 30. A short time later, an earthquake in the area killed 18 people. Local residents said the disrespectful actions of the foreigners offended the mountain gods and they were to blame.

The Petersens were among four people who were arrested and fined $1,800 each. It almost went a lot worse for the siblings.

I wanted to be mad, but I couldn't be, the story could have easily been me. Not presently, but I think back to being 18 to 24, a decade ago. Would I have succumb to peer pressure? The answer is probably yes. I mean, I'd like to think I would have been smart enough to behave with respect, but I doubt it.

There are two reasons I really started putting travel and adventure into my message when I started wellness consulting.

1. Twenty to 30-year-olds in the workplace were all talking about needing adventure. Then they spend their vacations in bars, just in different countries. We hit the workforce and we stop expanding our mental boarders. We get trapped.

2. People need inspiration to be healthy. Obviously the fitness models and magazines aren't doing it. I truly believe that the offer to awaken ones soul with exploration, and the discovery of new cultures and the experience of immersion in something brand new will get people to live healthy. To truly LIVE for the moment. Nothing inspires me to go out and be active like the thought of climbing Machu Picchu in South America.

So what went wrong with the Petersens? Of course this is just my opinion, but I've seen it with some of the young athletes I've seen travel, including one young hockey team who traveled to Japan. One of the athletes was jailed, his father had to fly to pick him up. His action would have been rude in North America, in Japan, he was jailed.

What went wrong is a lack of sensitivity. We are surrounded by our own culture in North America, we forget that it is different when we get on a plane. I experienced this first hand on a trip I took with Contiki Tours to Thailand a year ago. Had our tour leader not started the trip with the basics of the culture "the do's and don'ts" of the world around me, I'm not sure I would have enjoyed the trip as much. I dropped the ball a few times on small things. I put my feet up on a small magazine table in a hotel lobby, that's more than impolite in that culture. As soon as I saw the look on a workers face, I apologized. Our interactions with Monk's at the temples went smooth, we were briefed before hand on culture and interactions.

My trip, experience and memories are better for it. I'll never travel any other way to a completely different culture from my own. It was also an amazing, eye opening experience. I truly am better for it.

Parents, if you think your child could use a new perspective, or if you want to go out and see the world do it with a tour group the first time. The Travel Corporation completed a survey and the stats are the results are nice to see.

Canadian Survey Stats: Compiled January 2015: 471 travellers age 18 to 35-years-old

Respondents ranked the following as their number one priority for their next holiday:

  • 33 per cent prioritize "cultural experiences and seeing the highlights"
  • 16 per cent want an active trip with lots of adventure
  • 14 per cent want local experiences

Only seven percent included *"epic party nights" and one per cent want to "relax and do almost nothing"

Other key findings:

79 per cent don't mind waking up early because they want to see more

69 per cent called a "perfect night" one with a local dinner, great wine and a show

International Survey Stats: Compiled January 2015: 4,303 travellers age 18-35-years-old

  • 30 per cent ranked "cultural experiences and seeing the highlights"
  • 15 per cent want an active trip with lots of adventure
  • 13 per cent want local experiences
  • 10 per cent play it by ear
  • eight per cent want "epic party nights"

When I found this study, I wanted to share it because it inspired me. So many are talking about gaining life experience. It was wonderful to see.

We have so much freedom and ability to explore in North America. That should be the vehicle we use for change in our health system. Six packs, nice bums, and toned thighs don't make memories. No one on their death bed will ever look back and wish they did more squats.

Go and travel, use that as the motivation to live healthy. Go walk, do yoga, hike, bike, and if you like it... head to the gym and build some muscles. What ever you do, just make sure you do it because you love it, it makes you smile, and it makes you healthy.

Then join me as we light up our Instagram accounts with memories, I'll say it again, I don't mind admiring someones body, but I much prefer wild animals, sunsets, and ocean views.

Let's take back health and fitness.


Exercise Benefits that are Better than Weight Loss