Friday, May 31, 2013

Making the Changes Last, Part One: Keeping the Buns at Bay

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.!  I still drink two glasses of wine each and every day (the cheaper the better).  I also eat chocolate whenever I wantI 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.


Patty Moak said...

Trish, thank you for this. When I came home last October, I was sure i would walk every day and exercise at least 3x'week. That worked for a couple weeks. Then the "post-Camino Blues" set in and hasn't really left. I"m now planning and training for my next Camino in May 2014. At my age, I don't want to put it off for too long. Good luck and keep writing. You are an inspiration to many, I would bet...Patty

sagalouts said...

Go girl, IToo struggle with post Camino thoughts, keeping what I gained and holding on to it

Trekker Dog said...

Congratulations on your post-Camino lifestyle! Too bad your dog can't keep up. I hike with 2 border collies - they always have more energy than me. I'm worried about the day they get too old though and we'll have to leave one at home & think about a dog walker to stop in.
I know you were considering Iceland for your next adventure. We are going there this summer. Cicerone just published a brand new book on Iceland hiking trails, including some multi-day ones.

Patricia Ellis Herr, Alexandra Herr, and Sage Herr said...

Hi Patricia,

It's difficult to keep up the exercise...there aren't enough hours in the day and my sleeping hours are sacrificed. Hope to remedy that somehow. Must learn to juggle better. I'm getting the exercise I want/need, but now I'm sleeping less.

Congrats on your upcoming Camino! Nothing beats the post-Camino blues better than going back on the actual Camino. :)


Patricia Ellis Herr, Alexandra Herr, and Sage Herr said...

Sagalouts, I think we all struggle. Real life is not the Camino. The Camino teaches us lessons and gives us wisdom, but the challenge is learning how to apply those lessons and wisdom to everyday, off-trail living.

I was feeling all positive and zen-like a week after we returned from Spain...but then this woman in the grocery store snapped at me for trying to (gently) move past her in the aisle. In a flash, my zen evaporated and anger took its place...I hadn't felt that kind of negative emotion since before we took our journey. My old, impatient self popped up and tried to bite that woman's head off. Had to shove that old self back down so my new, improved self could navigate the situation.

I'll write more about that in a different post. :)

Patricia Ellis Herr, Alexandra Herr, and Sage Herr said...

Hi Trekker Dog,

My border terrier is energetic and loves to do ten-fifteen mile hikes...anything beyond that, however, is too much. I can now personally do 15+, and I want to push myself into doing 20+...but that's too many miles for my little fuzzy hiking companion, lol. He makes it obvious when he feels he's finished for the day. Thankfully, he's easy to carry and small. Carrying him is never a problem.

Are you blogging about your upcoming Iceland trip? I'm going to peruse your site this evening and find out. :) Have a great time. Looking forward to reading about it...may contact you afterward to ask you a billion questions, if that's okay with you.

Trekker Dog said...

I will post hikes after we do them in August. We are only doing day hikes (5-10 miles), not multi-day hikes. My partner hurt his back this year, so we are very slowly trying to build up mileage without it causing him back pain. But if you are going, I recommend the Cicerone book, because it has more multi-day hikes than I came across online. And sure, feel free to ask questions after I go.

Patricia Ellis Herr, Alexandra Herr, and Sage Herr said...

Many thanks, Trekker Dog!