Staying Fit in Europe
Our honeymoon was nothing short of amazing. It was both the first trip to Europe for Jessica and I and our expectations couldn’t have been higher. We knew we’d be eating everything in sight, drinking a bunch, and making the most of each experience the priority through each part of the trip. With all that said, I figured getting a regular amount of exercise during the next 2.5 weeks would be a challenge. But to my surprise, Not only did I manage to workout at least 5 times a week, I also experienced new types of fitness I’ve never seen before LITERALLY!
Let’s go over some of the challenges we all face when traveling for an extended period of time. First, the issue of space. I had 2 carry-on luggages to bring 2.5 weeks of clothes. My solution? I chose Versatile bottoms like running shorts with microfiber tops to pair with my Adidas Ultraboosts. My plan was to use my adidas boosts for all workouts and any extended walking/hiking. I highly recommend investing in a pair of these or fancier running shoes that can be worn for more casual/everyday occasions.
So during the trip I ran out of workout clothes often. Anyone who knows me knows that I sweat a lot so I couldn’t really keep these clothes in my suitcase when we traveled to a new destination. So I had to figure out the best way to wash my clothes in a foreign country. Now most hotels offer laundry service, but unless you have a lot of cash burn, I recommend doing it yourself. At one point I tried washing my clothes using shower soap and hot water. Without a great place to dry or significant amounts of time and energy dedicated to hand washing my stinky clothes, I recommend finding a self service laundry mat. Yes, they do exist overseas..well at least in Spain, Italy, and Greece, and I imagine every other European Country.
The biggest challenge of course was the food. Jessica and I talked about enjoying anything and everything this trip had to offer. I did NOT hold back. From my trip to the M&M Store in Times Square to the last meal we had at the Philadelphia airport (A Geno’s Cheesesteak) I let my stomach take the lead. Late night Tapas in Madrid, Gnocchi chased by white wine in Rome, Pistachio Pizza in Sorrento, Baklava in Santorini..My stomach was in heaven.
I would love to tell you that I came back home without gaining any weight and maintained all my strength. But I can’t. I did gain weight, a few pounds which in looking back isn’t too bad considering it seemed I nearly always had a piece of baklava in my hands. Going into this trip, I gave myself permission to enjoy this trip differently, allowing myself to put Jessica and our honeymoon first ahead of anything else. I told myself that after the trip, returning to my normal lifestyle would address the weight gain and to worry about it later. This is a once in a lifetime experience and I wanted to be present for every single moment.
Besides, traveling often provides ways to keep the weight off naturally. In Europe, it seems like everyone walks at least several miles a day. We averaged 12000 steps per day until we were lounging poolside in Santorini. We also took our time getting ready for the day, usually skipping breakfast in the process. I like to think we practiced a form of intermittent fasting, but really this was us just taking a few hours to sleep off the wine from the night before.
I found that running was pretty easy to do in Europe. I wasn’t alone in running around the city center of Madrid or the walking trails of Santorini. Madrid is especially great for running since the Park de El Retiro is within a few miles of most hotels. Think a smaller version of Central Park with an outdoor gym/calisthenics area that is super popular. I was never alone doing enough pull ups, dips, or monkey bars to burn off the churros from the night before.
We were also fortunate to chose hotels with actual exercise facilities. Some were better than others, but at least we had a dedicated space for fitness when we had the time. Getting use to the Kilograms vs Pounds was a challenge, but after that I didn’t find too many differences in weight training compared to home..until Santorini.
“We have a TechnoGym!” The hotel manager exclaimed when I asked him about the workout facilities. “What’s a TechnoGym?” I asked myself. Apparently it’s all the rage overseas, or at least for the Santorini Hotel where we stayed. This machine is like your typical two armed cable machine, but with dedicated handles for a bottom, top, and horizontal movements, you can pretty much work any major muscle group. I had a lot of fun with this machine, and the video instructions that were playing on loop. I love me some good old fashioned workout videos.
Our honeymoon was amazing, and when I came back my fitness was right where it was before I left. I know this because I put it to the test in the Everydays People Combine just 4 days after coming back home. But I’ll recap that event on the next post. For now, my biggest takeaway is that life is too short to focus on exercise or dieting everyday all the time. Part of a life well lived is exploring new experiences with the ones you love. Jessica and I definitely accomplished that and I couldn’t be happier.