Did You Lose Weight on the Camino?

leslie in albergueI 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?


Posted in FAQs
11 comments on “Did You Lose Weight on the Camino?
  1. Cathy says:

    Here’s a story which might interest you regarding weight.

    I walked in March/April 2010, have just got home. It was a fabulous experience – I went on my own, met up with a bunch of others walking on their own. One pilgrim was trying to lose weight so once a week we would stop in at a farmacia and get his height and weight checked. We all celebrated his successes. Another friend was desperately trying to not lose weight, so we weighed him in too. I didn’t really care about my weight, but my pre-camino and post-camino weight were only 1 kilo different! They say you lose fat and gain muscle, so don’t go by the scales too much, it’s about how you feel.

    I have to say I think the most under-rated element of the camino is that it doesn’t matter what you look like, how many days it’s been since you washed your clothes (or your hair), people just accept you for who you are. At home I wear make up (only a bit, I’m no fashionista) and straighten my hair everyday – no such luxuries on the camino!!! It is unreal to think I have a bunch of friends who have never seen me with straight hair…..

  2. Tavish Colquhoun says:

    I walked from SJPP to Santiago from September 6th to October 5th this year (2013). I started out at 6’2″ 220 pounds and finished 20 pounds lighter. My waist went from a 38 to 36. I am very pleased, but now working to keep the weight off. I am 74 years old, and felt so good after three weeks on the Camino that I found myself jogging frequently during the last week – from Sarria. I have a slight touch of Asperger’s syndrome that keeps me living somewhat hermit like. My Aspy was diminished quite a bit during the first weeks of my walk, but returned as I approached the end. When I reached Santiago I was very unsocial and found myself actively avoiding people. I absolutely loved walking the Meseta due to the solitude. Here at home I live up in the mountains on 55 private wooded acres, surrounded by thousands of acres of forest and have very little contact with other people. Almost a hermit, but not quite. I was married to a wonderful woman from 1980 to 2003. Sadly she died suddenly from Cancer within six weeks of complaining of stomach pains.

    Yes, I lost weight, but I’m not sure I gained anything else from my pilgrimage.

    • Hello Tavish, what courage you have. I hope you stay fit enough and will maybe return. I, too, have wondered why I did a camino, but later all has become clear for me.
      I love walking in solitude, too,

  3. michael says:

    From SJPdP to Finestera – lost 28 pounds in 5 weeks and gain for my lifetime much I can’t count and it keeps coming!

  4. Patrick says:

    Another excellent post, Leslie.

    Yes, I too, lost weight on the Camino. I walked from SJPP to Finisterre in the spring of 2012. I never felt better, physically and emotionally, than during those final days on the Camino.

    I try to make walking a part of my daily routine, but have not been entirely successful. Temptations are everywhere. The weight has crept back.

    Thanks for sharing your personal insights. There are lots of blogs about preparing for the Camino and blogs written while walking it. But I haven’t come across very many articles written afterwards that describe the post-walk experience.

    The Way lives on in each of us. And we are often alone with those thoughts, unable to communicate them to others around us. Your insights resonate with me, and probably with many others. Gracias.

    Buen camino.

  5. Judy Rubin says:

    Only walked two weeks on the camino, Astorga to Finisterre, yet I did lose weight, I think about 8 pounds. I also have a drive to find the best pastries wherever I go. So that being said, I ate lots of yummy pastries and tortillas (I’m a vegetarian) and still lost weight. Takes a lot of calories to carry your body that many miles for that many days in a row. FELT strong and GREAT at the end, physically and mentally! Buen Camino.

  6. Suzanne says:

    “…I haven’t come across very many articles written afterwards that describe the post-walk experience..”
    I thought this was an important comment, clearly pilgrims are affected by their Camino, but how to retain that when one comes home?
    After my first Cursillo (three day spiritual retreat), more than a decade ago, I was on cloud nine… but every day life started seeping in!! But staying involved with Cursillo helps to keep it at bay (a little!)
    I retire next year (August 2015), and am hoping to walk from SJPP to Santiago in the September. So once again, I will be trying to retain the spirit of the Camino once I return home.
    It could be interesting to have a thread on ‘post-walk experience’ – although maybe there already is, and I’ve just not seen it yet.
    Suzanne :-)

    • Leslie says:

      Yes, there is not much written on post walk experience. I will start a thread on the forum. Most of the talk there is question people ask before going on the Camino.

  7. josetrevino says:

    Amigo,,there is definitely a change you you get back to Life at home,,, Post camino exp is a reality,, I want to go back,, my son and I walked from burgos to Santiago..keep up the good work

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