I lost about 8kgs, about 18 lbs, over a four week period. So yes I did lose a lot of weight on the Camino. However losing weight was never one of my intentions for walking. I did not set out on the Camino to lose weight and I must admit that it never entered into my mind at any time while I was there.
Losing the weight was simply the result of walking as I ate pretty much anything I wanted, including ice cream every day – well it was hot.
I had manged while on the Camino de Santiago, to forget about how I looked. Most of the time I was dirty and smelly, this is what comes from walking 20-30 kms every day and wearing the same clothes over and over again, even though I washed them every day. After a few days I managed to stop caring about how I appeared to other people. Now that was great and very welcome, a real freedom.
Why the Weight Dropped Off
In my day to day life I spend about 10 hours a day sitting in front of a computer – this is not much different from many people. My daily exercise routine amounts to getting a walk for between 30 and 60 minutes, likely not enough. In fact recently I have read articles comparing this amount of sitting to the new cancer of the western world. That article should shock all us computer geeks.
So for between 4 and 5 weeks I walked about 25km each day – very different from my normal life style. I did not have a fridge to hand filled with anything that I wanted at that moment, essentially the larder was empty. Walking that amount naturally uses up energy. The other huge change was TV. Never on the Camino did I watch a TV. At home I try to watch only a little TV, however I do get into the habit during the winter of watching about two hours each night – I have come to regard this as my switch off period. My head stops working and I leave work behind. However I notice a big difference between TV watching and reading, while reading I never munch away on snacks – but while watching the television I can eat without really noticing it. So that one really answers itself…
My Mental Health
Not looking after myself whether by socializing, eating good foods or having enough exercise outside does affect my mental health. By nurture or nature I have a grumpy disposition and I am prone to stress. I know I have the power to change this – however when having to get work out the door other things get abandoned – and the first to go always seems to be the very good stuff. So it is much easier to throw something in the microwave or put off seeing friends or spending time with family or exercising. Again I answer my own questions.
After each Camino my habits had changed for a while and then slowly the older not so good habits came back. I think I could well be the type of person that could do with walking for a month every year.
While on the Camino I ate breakfast, lunch, and diner. That was about it, (and a few ice creams). I spent a lot of time everyday with other people – talking and listening as was needed. And as for helping people – here I sit staring at one of my three screens just getting on with work – the contrast is stark, in my daily life my help of others amounts donating to Kiva or some other other cause – my help is at arms length and doesn’t involve my time only money.
I did not set out in this post to talk about what is wrong with my life, but writing leads where it does. What about you? Did you lose weight on the Camino, have better habits after the Camino, or notice any changes in your thought about life in general?