In October, I spent twenty-eight days in Spain, in the land of paella, tapas, cochinillio (roast suckling pig) and Jamon. Since I seriously committed to my fitness and wellness journey on July 28, 2013, I have lost 15 pounds. While it has been my dream to go to Spain, I worried a month away from the gym and indulging in Spanish food would mean gaining much weight. I LOVE Jamon Iberico. I figured I’d eat it while I can in Spain. But after a few days I feared I would return home to Manila looking like a Jamon myself. It didn’t help that a fellow food writer who had been to Spain recently said, “It would be impossible not to put on weight.” Resigned to gaining weight, I even negotiated with God in prayer, “Lord, please don’t let it be more than 10 pounds.” So the next day after I landed back in Manila, I anxiously stepped on the weighing scale. To my surprise, it revealed only one pound of weight gained. Even better, when friends even gym buddies, saw me after the trip to Spain they asked, “What did you do? You lost weight.” When I looked at the mirror, my clothes fit better and I looked slimmer. I felt great. I answered, “I went on a paella diet in Spain!”
Looking back at my 28 days in Spain, I realized fitness and wellness is already a lifestyle for me. I don’t go to gym just to lose weight, but to be healthy and feel great. So even without access to a gym or access to a kitchen all the time, I still made healthy choices in Spain.
Here are my tips to stay fit when you travel:
- Continue to exercise. No gym, no problem! In my hotel room or airbnb rental, I would do yoga and pilates exercises, plus ankle strengthening exercises.
- No weights, no problem. Buy those two 1 Liter or 1.5 Liter bottles of water. They make great replacements for dumbbells. (They also keep you hydrated).
- Walk, walk, walk… Five days before I left for Spain, I injured my left knee. But with intensive therapy, I managed to make it better for my trip. When I asked my doctor if I could exercise, he told me to walk. And, I did walk….a whole lot!
In San Sebastian, I walked, over 30 minutes each way from my hotel to the Congress I was attending. Not only did I save on taxi fare, I also enjoyed the walk by the beach.
Instead of taking bus tours, I opted to discover sections of Barcelona by foot. It was a great way to see the city, soak up the culture, and even make friends with the locals. In Granada, after exploring the Alhambra and lots of walking in the palace grounds, I continued walking to Alabaycin with my newfound Argentinean friends. We walked up and down the hilly terrain. Apart from my taxi ride to Alhambra in the morning, the rest of the day was by foot. I was dead tired by 5pm, but it was the perfect way to see Granada, take photos, and make memories.
- Get Lost! Even without making much effort, my fitbit recorded high numbers every single day. Even with google maps to help me get around, I still managed to get lost. The upside was engaging with the locals, as I often ask for directions and seeing more of the city.
- Go ahead indulge in Spanish Cuisine, but also make healthy choices when you can. Sure, I ate heaps of Tapas. Tapas are often served with bread or over bread. Bread in Spain is delicious. I didn’t forego desserts. But I also made sure I ate my five servings of fruit and vegetable. I think it was my 1th day in Spain, my body was craving oatmeal and almond milk for breakfast. So I gave my body this healthy breakfast staple for several days.
- Go to the market and buy fruits in season. Spain has amazing fruits and produce. They also have great markets like La Boqueria Mercat in Barcelona and Mercato San Miguel in Madrid.
- Cook for yourself. I enjoyed having access to a kitchen in my airbnb rental allowing me to cook for myself for a few days. It is a good break from eating out all the time.
So go ahead indulge in the local cuisine when you travel. But also remember to make healthy choices. Continue to eat your fruits and veggies.
Most importantly, MOVE as much as you can when you travel. Walk as much as you can. After all, the whole point of travel is to see and experience the world. There is no better way to do that than to keep Johnny Walker’s advice “Keep Walking!”
And when all else fails, Spain has numerous amazing churches to visit. I was practically in one church almost every day. Pray that you don’t put on weight.
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