After 3 years of planning and saving and researching, my sister and I finally set off on our grand adventure to Europe. In the beginning this Europe trip was only supposed to be a few weeks long and was supposed to revolve around attending Tomorrowland Festival in Boom, Belgium. As with most things my sister and I plan though, it evolved into something much bigger than that.
We decided to make the trip 6 weeks, instead of 2. We added places like Iceland, Prague and Bratislava to our list of destinations we wanted to visit. The most unexpected change was how much wine we drank and how much we sampled thai, vietnamese and indian cuisine while disregarding all of the must-try foods in most cities. We also thought we would be getting up early and exploring most cities by jogging through them. Seeing the sights and breaking a sweat all in one. I believe I ran once in London, and once in Vienna, Austria.
Despite our lack of working out, we actually beat the odds and lost weight while travelling. We averaged between 25,000 and 40,000 steps a day. We ate amazing breakfasts made with amazing ingredients. Every egg we ate in Europe had an orange yolk! That is incredibly difficult to find in North America. The bread never left us bloated, and even their sweets came in smaller portions so when we indulged, it never came close to the amount we would have eaten back home. Enjoying quality dinners likely staved off any unnecessary vacation weight. We went with a good understanding of healthy vs. unhealthy food, but we approached every meal feeling less and less stressed about making choices based on that criteria.
You see, in Europe, there is less evidence of the fitness fads and diet crazes. Kombucha was nearly impossible to find, everyone ate white bread, deli meat and cheese for breakfast, and having drinks was a part of the culture. It was so nice to feel freed from the western pressures to eat gluten free, organic, locally sourced, free run, etc. etc. etc. and to just enjoy food. It wasn't obvious where the gyms were and most people had lovely figures and appeared healthy and happy.
Although I love going to the gym, and lifting weights is something I look forward to, I appreciate the perspective I gained from being in Europe for those 6 weeks. It reminded me that good quality food, even if it is bread, will always make you feel good. That exercising, although important for longterm health, does not need to consume our daily lives, it should simply be integrated and contribute to a well balanced and happy life. I lost some strength while I was there because I the only weight I lifted was my own and my backpack, but what I gained from this experience far outweighs the loss in physical strength.
Now that I am back in Canada and have access to large gym facilities I find that I am more relaxed about my fitness goals. I have my entire life ahead of me to be healthy. I make well-informed choices every day that contribute to a happy and healthy life, but I no longer stress about those choices. I had heard that a backpacking trip through Europe changes people, but I was not expecting that my outlook on fitness and health would be what changed! Best. 6. Weeks. Ever!
Riri's Discoveries blog documents Riri's most recent research, her travel adventures, and her personal fitness journey.