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Vacation outcomes

Jen581791

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After a long vacation in France, I’m happy to be back home. Just to cut to the chase, I weighed exactly the same today as I did the day I left, surprisingly (132).

What’s surprising about that is that I didn’t *lose* weight. I was on a walking vacation, walking each day from one town/village to the next, with my suitcase being transported by a service so it would magically arrive in my next destination before I even got there, thereby eliminating the need to carry a heavy backpack - very civilized. I walked a portion of the Camino de Santiago/Chemin de Saint Jacques pilgrimage route, which is a group of trails that have been used for many centuries by pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostella in Spain. This trip is exactly the kind of thing that I had in mind as a goal when I decided to do WLS. I walked 521,821 steps over 17 days - that’s about 250 miles(!), an average of about 31,000 steps per day. That’s around a half marathon every day for two and a half weeks. It’s not exactly mountain-type hiking, but it’s a lot of fairly long uphill/downhill stretches on sometimes extremely muddy trails, so pretty energy intense. I was walking about 6 hours per day. 

My Fitbit informed me that I was burning around 3000-3500 calories per day, which is 1200-1500 more than normal. I started by trying to eat mostly on-plan, just more, but after a few days, I was visibly losing weight (in a bad way), so I knew I had to ramp up my intake a lot, which meant one thing: carbs. I don’t want to turn this post into food-p0rn, so I’ll just say this: if they have it in France, I ate it. Lots of it. Apparently, this was an OK strategy, because the scale is on target today, although I was actually expecting losses. My body composition has changed a fair bit due to the increased exercise, though, so I’m smaller at the same weight, and a little scrawnier looking. I was thinking I’d be down 5 pounds or so. 

Eating was actually a pretty big challenge on this trip, partly because of the nature of the places I was staying. I was walking out in the countryside and staying in small BnB type places, but in France, those places include dinner, and are more of a family-style sort of thing. Picture me and my husband, sitting around the dining room table with a French couple and perhaps a few other guests (we were sometimes the only people, though). Full French 4 course dinner. Two to three hours at the table (on the plus side, my French has benefitted enormously from this intensive refresher course!). No idea what was coming out of the kitchen next. Yikes! It was a recipe for disaster on several occasions. France has a very strong food culture (obviously) and it was SOOOOO hard to try to politely eat enough to not be insulting while still not killing myself with food. I know, I know, I know: just say no. But that is NOT HAPPENING at a French chambre d’hôtes (BnB type thing). It’s not like a restaurant - it’s like being invited to dinner in someone’s home, where they’re showing off their culture to you via food.

So, some dinner strategies I used: warn the host that I’m tired from walking and won’t eat much (effectiveness rating: 2/5 - abandon after two attempts), push food around and play with it a lot, perhaps hiding it under garnishes and such (effectiveness rating: 3/5, continue to use throughout trip), warn the host that I have a tiny appetite and normally don’t eat much (effectiveness rating: 4/5, continue to use throughout trip), drink while eating (effectiveness rating: 5/5, would not have survived without this, now I really understand why it is so dangerous to do this). 

I also ate a lot of things that were new to my pouch on this trip. I have been a vegetarian for about 16 years, with the exception of fish in the past two years. I had not eaten any other meat at all since around 2002. I decided that between my WLS food issues and my vegetarian food issues, the easiest way for me to get the nutrients I needed without being a hugely boorish guest (and American, might I add, another strike against me, culinarily speaking) would be to just suck it up and eat meat. I was very proud of myself for doing that. It was not easy at times (duck andouille sausages? gag). This also set me up for some epic dinner fails. One dinner I had to get up and go puke TWICE. I know, what was I thinking? Eating after puking? Yeah, we were only on the second course by that time, though, with two more courses to go. I have it so strongly beaten into my head to be as polite as possible about food when I’m a guest (particularly in another culture) that I just cannot say no. Let’s just say that my hubs has developed a keen sense of what my face looks like when things are about to go sideways. Anyway, I managed to make it through, and the dinners were the worst thing about the trip - an odd thing to say about a trip to France. I mean, I had some really nice food, but the stress of trying to eat an acceptable amount of who-knew-what-was-coming-next made it really hard. 

Some things I learned: 

  • I don’t dump from sugar. This has now been very firmly established. 
  • I can drink a lot more alcohol than I thought (that stops today, though). 
  • I eat amazingly slowly, even compared to normal slow eaters. 
  • I can sometimes hide the fact that I eat strangely small amounts, but that depends a lot on the day and the type of food. Soup is fabulous for this. Refined carbs make it just about impossible.
  • The easiest things on my pouch are the worst things for my health, generally speaking (dessert is a cinch, frighteningly). 
  • Pasta and rice are just no-go zones for me. 
  • I really prefer to eat at home rather than in a restaurant.
  • A nice cup of herbal tea makes everything feel better.
  • Eating meat won’t kill me, but I’d still prefer not to. 
  • Duck andouille sausage tastes no better coming up than going down. 

Some non-food observations about my trip: 

It’s been maybe 5 years since I was last in France, and I was surprised to find that even in this short amount of time, the number of overweight French people has increased. When I was a teenager, there weren’t really any overweight French people - like nearly zero. Now, overweight people are pretty common to see, and there are even some obese people. That has got to be pretty hard to live with in a society that is much more toxic toward overweight people than the US is. 

My brain is obsessed with body size right now. I’m sure this is because it’s trying to work out its own self-image still, so it’s trying to figure out where I lie on the spectrum of sizes it sees, but it’s almost intrusive how much I think about it. “How about her? Is she bigger than me or smaller than me?” This is my brain all day long. And, honestly, it’s not very good at judging that - it’s still really working things out. I’m not looking forward to continuing this for a long time. It’s a very unkind and evaluative way of looking at other people. I’m sure I’ll get over it, but in the meantime, it’s on a constant loop in my head. 

I’m so fit right now! It’s awesome! I can power uphill for half an hour without stopping, and it’s enjoyable. I’m not out of breath. I can just keep going and going. Even at the end of a day of walking 14 or 15 miles, I feel fine walking around town to go sightseeing, climbing up things and down things and just being active. I’m so glad I was working hard at the gym before going - that helped a lot, I’m sure.

When I’m 70, I want to be like the 70 year old French people I met out walking. They are in fine shape to walk 15 miles a day for weeks, or even months for the ones who were going all the way from the middle of France to the tip of Spain. I think that must have a really positive impact on their whole life - just to be in good enough shape to do that at that age means that you’re a healthy person doing healthy things with your life. 

Some non-WLS observations about my trip:

Walking all day every day is a pretty zen way of spending a vacation. I’ve done this kind of walking vacation before, but only for 5-6 days. That’s about the point in this trip where I felt like I was really getting into the swing of things, so I’m glad it was longer this time. Would I want to keep going for the full 2-3 months to complete the whole trail, from beginning to end? Not sure. That’s a long time.

I’m just enough of an introvert that having dinner around the table with a new group of people I don’t know every evening is a bit much for me. That’s a whole lot of small talk. 

There’s a little pocket of SW France that has been my favorite for many years. Our trip took us through it, as well as some areas around it, and my opinion is reconfirmed: this is my favorite part of France. Fairytale villages and castles, beautiful rolling hills and forests. So pretty. 

And now without further ado, some vacation pix. 1671689511_ScreenShot2018-06-20at1_27_14PM.thumb.png.ace31b91d8ebee1e959a6ef08de6bf84.png743856822_ScreenShot2018-06-20at1_47_43PM.thumb.png.7bb097f1ef2ab172a1a5ddc0d800d904.png

 



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You are in super good shape to be able to walk that much, which is beyond impressive! Good job sticking to your maintenance weight range during your vacation. Sounds like you had a fantastic time, and I just love the pics. You look super happy :)

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43 minutes ago, Ladybugzzz86 said:

You are in super good shape to be able to walk that much, which is beyond impressive! Good job sticking to your maintenance weight range during your vacation. Sounds like you had a fantastic time, and I just love the pics. You look super happy :)

Thanks, I'm really working on getting in super good shape, for sure! I wasn't sure I was going to be up for it, but there's only one way to find out... :D 

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Way to go, Jen. You are a rockstar in my eyes lol. Makes me realize that if I do keep going at the gym, it will pay off in time :) Pushing through the pain might get me to France someday :D

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1 hour ago, Anita62 said:

Sounds like an amazing vacation!!! I have never heard of a walking vacation! You look beautiful and strong. 

Thanks, Anita! I'm feeling very strong :) It's a good feeling. 

Walking vacations are fairly popular in Europe, because they can be: it's densely populated enough to have small towns with places to stay and to eat when you need them. I think in North America, you'd have to call it hiking, carry 25 pounds of equipment on your back, and sleep in a tent! That also has its appeal, I guess, but it's a lot more hardcore.

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What a great post! Thanks for sharing your experiences, insights and pictures! I predict when you are 75 you will be like the 70 year old French people you met walking. I think you've found the right balance of enjoying life/food/drink and taking care of your health and pouch. I hope you stick around TT for a long time as you are and will be an inspiration to many!

Edited by Stephtay

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Agree with you about a lot of stuff, as usual. :-)

I can definitely imagine puking after eating meat. I haven't eaten any since about 1985 (!), with the exception of a couple years when I ate some fish. I really think I would hurl if I had to eat any. But it isn't always easy to refuse, I get that. And I don't imagine the French doing protein shakes, but: did you see any there? Just curious.

Agree with the body size obsession. I think that's part of the process. I don't "get" my own body size (yet?), and I scan others all the time. Also think "Get the surgery, dude/girlfriend!" a lot, lol.

Edited by Carina

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10 hours ago, Stephtay said:

What a great post! Thanks for sharing your experiences, insights and pictures! I predict when you are 75 you will be like the 70 year old French people you met walking. I think you've found the right balance of enjoying life/food/drink and taking care of your health and pouch. I hope you stick around TT for a long time as you are and will be an inspiration to many!

Thanks, Stephtay! I feel like I'm sorting out some sort of balance, and I'm definitely planning on sticking around here to keep my head in the game :) 

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10 hours ago, Carina said:

Agree with you about a lot of stuff, as usual. :-)

I can definitely imagine puking after eating meat. I haven't eaten any since about 1985 (!), with the exception of a couple years when I ate some fish. I really think I would hurl if I had to eat any. But it isn't always easy to refuse, I get that. And I don't imagine the French doing protein shakes, but: did you see any there? Just curious.

Agree with the body size obsession. I think that's part of the process. I don't "get" my own body size (yet?), and I scan others all the time. Also think "Get the surgery, dude/girlfriend!" a lot, lol.

Meat is just harder on the pouch, I think. A few things were like "Ew" but I was surprised to find that I wasn't grossed out by some kinds of meat, even after years without eating it. <-surprised? more like horrified. 

As for protein shakes, I'm sure you could find some, but I was in such tiny little villages that I didn't see any. I had my trusty Syntrax pouches along, so I wasn't in need and didn't go looking for it. I'm sure it's available in bigger cities.

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Let’s get the shallow bits out of the way. You are so beautiful. That photo of you sitting on the low wall is to die over. *heart eyes emoji* Congrats on your face. 

“When I’m 70, I want to be like the 70 year old French people I met out walking. They are in fine shape to walk 15 miles a day for weeks, or even months for the ones who were going all the way from the middle of France to the tip of Spain. I think that must have a really positive impact on their whole life - just to be in good enough shape to do that at that age means that you’re a healthy person doing healthy things with your life.”

I found this quote moving. So much so, that I sent my husband these words. My Bulgarian in law family definitely have this type of mentality. My MIL regularly goes for long walks (hikes really) in the mountains. We also have 70 yo+family that travel on foot for weeks at a time. I’ve never thought this type of life was attainable to someone like me. Reading your words made me realize that I can achieve this type of life and share new experiences with my family. You are a superstar! Thanks for being a great role model. Can I be like you when I grow up? Let’s temporarily forget that I’m older than you. :lol: 

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PS: I wholeheartedly agree about preferring to eat at home. Most of my social group is made up of immigrant families where love is sharing a beautifully crafted meal. I’m big on honoring hospitality and finding ways to graciously turn down food can be challenging.  

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@Jen581791 What a delightful post! Have wanted to walk the Camino / Chemin for decades and your descriptions had me, um, salivating! The picture of you just beaming away on the stone wall is great, and the countryside gorgeous. Congratulations on doing this and staying in Maintenance without losing or gaining. 

Your description of the meals at the stops is evocative: my wife and I were cycling in France the month before we got married, and I learned to explain that we were about to get married to our hosts - the food got dialed up several notches in terms of quality and more than a few bottles of Champagne were opened for us (Can't imagine eating that much though!). One hopes that the French will somehow continue with their love of food while staying healthy.

Too bad you and the duck sausage didn't agree more but one supposes that it would be tempting the wrath of the gods if everything was perfect. Important to have some kind of figurative fly in the soup.

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@Jen581791my cousin is starting the Camino de Santiago but I think you're in a lot better shape.  She's doing the whole 500 miles in 35 days or so...some beautiful country for sure! 

You are absolutely glowing with life and vitality, what a success story yours is!  Thank you for sharing!

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Love the pictures and the update! The food had to be stressful for sure - I got a very small taste of that on my vacation, but only one restaurant really noticed on pushed on whether I was satisfied with my food. Its got to be so much harder in the BnB type situation! I know what you mean too, about the politeness ingrained - so many people can throw me a quizzical look and a "why dont you just..." - but when you've been conditioned that way since you were an infant, it just doesnt work that way!

 

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17 hours ago, NerdyToothpick said:

*heart eyes emoji*

Right back at you. Thank you!!! <3

It’s great to hear that your Bulgarian side of the family is really active. Good positive peer pressure for you, too ;) Some families are and some aren’t, and that seems to have some correlation with health. 

You can absolutely be like me when you grow up. Which will be never. We will never grow up. My inner 12-year-old refuses to grow up. 

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16 hours ago, BurgundyBoy said:

What a delightful post! Have wanted to walk the Camino / Chemin for decades and your descriptions had me, um, salivating! The picture of you just beaming away on the stone wall is great, and the countryside gorgeous. Congratulations on doing this and staying in Maintenance without losing or gaining. 

Thanks! It was truly a great trip - nothing like a lot of walking, beautiful countryside, interesting companions, and good food/drink to make you feel like you’ve had a good vacay.   

If you’ve ever got a chunk of time, I’d highly recommend the Camino/Chemin. Lots of people do it after retiring - as sort of a launch into the rest of their lives. You could always save it for then :) 

Shame on you for abusing French romantic ideals to score champagne!!! 

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15 hours ago, msmarymac said:

my cousin is starting the Camino de Santiago but I think you're in a lot better shape

People of all shapes and sizes do it - it’s sort of a mantra on the trail that “Everyone walks their own Camino.” People are really nice to those who go slower or have shorter daily distances - there’s a lot of respect for those who aren’t in great shape, just for doing it. That said, she’ll get whipped into shape pretty quick just by doing it! 

If she’s doing 500 miles (wow) she’s probably doing the Spanish portion - apparently a fairly different experience, but also supposed to be great. I hope she has a great time.

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9 hours ago, delilas said:

why dont you just..."

Yes, much easier said than done. Especially when a beaming French person plonks down a dish they are particularly proud of and excitedly waits for your reaction. Food = cultural pride and personal connection for the French. I guess it’s all good since I didn’t suffer too many ill effects!!

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5 hours ago, Jen581791 said:

Thanks! It was truly a great trip - nothing like a lot of walking, beautiful countryside, interesting companions, and good food/drink to make you feel like you’ve had a good vacay.   

If you’ve ever got a chunk of time, I’d highly recommend the Camino/Chemin. Lots of people do it after retiring - as sort of a launch into the rest of their lives. You could always save it for then :) 

Shame on you for abusing French romantic ideals to score champagne!!! 

Um, was just participating in the cultural iconography. Would have been impolite not to live up to their imagery. Really, we swilled that Champagne just to be polite. :rolleyes:

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Beautiful pics, and a beautiful subject in them (and a very thin, fit one at that!)

Your vacation sounds wonderful but also exhausting...but really something to be proud of your awesome and fit self!!!

 

 

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2 hours ago, CheeringCJ said:

Beautiful pics, and a beautiful subject in them (and a very thin, fit one at that!)

Your vacation sounds wonderful but also exhausting...but really something to be proud of your awesome and fit self!!!

 

 

Thanks, CJ. It was an exhausting vacation, but in a good way. I didn’t feel exhausted at the end of it - more like energized. I do feel very pleased with my accomplishment :) 

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6 hours ago, Jen581791 said:

Thanks, CJ. It was an exhausting vacation, but in a good way. I didn’t feel exhausted at the end of it - more like energized. I do feel very pleased with my accomplishment :) 

It's a far cry from the typical "vacation" of laying on a deck chair of a huge cruise ship, napping because you ate too much at the breakfast buffet (which you really weren't hungry for since you just hit the midnight buffet the night before!). Oh well, at lunch you'll eat less you detwemine...so you have room for your six course dinner!!!   Well played, heatlhy vacationer, well played!

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