Tanya Koob of "Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies" recently posted a fun review of my memoir, Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure. Thanks for the lovely write-up, Tanya -- glad you enjoyed Up!
Making the Changes Last
The girls and I returned from Spain a month ago. On May 2, the day after we removed our shells from our packs, I posted my Ten Truths of el Camino de Santiago.
The Camino changed me, no doubt. Those truths resonate with me each and every day. However, it's not enough to allow feelings to bounce freely around one's psyche; one must put forth effort to transform those truths into actions. During our first week home, I realized it would take a lot of effort on my part to hold my truths close and make the recent positive changes permanent. My outlook on life, the way I live each and every day, and my level of physical fitness all require constant and thoughtful maintenance if I am to prevent lapsing into old and unhealthy patterns.
I'll therefore post weekly updates on my efforts to stay true to my inner peregrina. I hope these posts will resonate not only with past and current long-distance trekkers, but with everyone who strives to better themselves.
Today's subject -- Physical Fitness: Keeping the Buns at Bay
Today's post will regard physical fitness. Staying fit on the Camino wasn't a problem. Walking 10-20 miles each and every day does wonders for the body and mind; getting from Point A to Point B is all that's required -- no gym membership, daily weighing, or calorie-counting needed.
Actions Required for Maintenance
One of the challenges of a post-Camino lifestyle is to maintain an advanced level of fitness. Like most of us, I have a fulltime and challenging job (homeschooling) and therefore don't have the time to walk 10-20 miles each and every day. However, I've been able to squeeze in two 10-mile hikes and five 60-minutes exercise sessions a week. There have been times when that exercise seemed ridiculous (midnight sessions of Wii's "Just Dance," five-mile roadwalks in the pouring rain, etc.), but I feel good about having made fitness a priority. The girls do their own sixty-minute exercise sessions (they take karate twice a week, they go swimming once a week, we hike together once a week, etc.).
Healthy eating goes hand-in-hand with exercise. I am not talking organic-everything, no alcohol, whole grains only, etc. That would be terribly boring and no fun whatsoever. I am talking balanced, homemade meals. Few, if any, prepackaged, chemically-laden foods. Locally-grown fruits and vegetables. Bread made from the local bakery. And...wine! I still drink two glasses of wine each and every day (the cheaper the better). I also eat chocolate whenever I want. I emphatically DO NOT count calories.
So far, I'm the same weight and shape as I was when I first returned from the Camino. The kids look and feel great too. I think the daily exercise is key -- it's affected our appetites. We rarely want to eat anything our bodies aren't truly hungry for. There is no binging-on-chocolate-because-it's-there. Instead, we eat the chocolate only when we truly desire something sugary...and we usually only want a tiny bit of it.
Pros of Maintenance
- We feel strong and healthy.
- Our stamina has increased (we can hike longer and tougher trails, and we can hike them quickly).
- It's nice to be able to fit into smaller-sized clothes (for me...the girls are, of course, growing).
- My daily outlook is almost always positive (exercise is a mood booster).
Cons of Maintenance
- A commitment to daily exercise means grabbing those sixty minutes whenever I can. I therefore sometimes find myself doing Wii in the middle of the night or walking a busy highway while my kids are in their karate class. In other words, fitting in the exercise sometimes means working out in less-than-optimal conditions.
- My dog can no longer keep up with me. This means I now need to carry him the last few miles down the mountain, limit my choice of trails, or board him when I hike. I've done all three during the past four weeks.
The pros obviously outweigh the cons, so I'll continue fitting in the exercise however I'm able. I can dodge highway traffic and I can walk in the pouring rain...I would like to eliminate the midnight Wii sessions, though. Sleep is important...and I'm not getting enough of it...but that's a topic for another post.
Coming soon -- a Terrifying 25 trip report (we're hiking tomorrow), a review of ParaVival's paracord survival bracelet, and more news on our next long-distance fundraising hike.