I lost about 8kgs, around 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 reasons 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, I ate pretty much anything I wanted, including ice cream every day – well it was hot!
I managed, on the Camino Frances, to forget about how I looked. Most of the time I was dirty and smelly, which comes from walking 20-30 km every day and wearing the same clothes over and over again day after day, even though I washed them every day.
After a few days, I managed to stop caring about how I appeared to other people. That was a great relief and very welcome, 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 – not much different from many people. My daily exercise routine amounts to walking between 30 and 60 minutes each day, 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 lifestyle. 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 an hour each night – I have come to regard this as my switch off period. My head stops, has a rest, 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…
Walking and Mental Health (Exercise in General)
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, I am prone to stress, and in the past depression.
I know I have the power to change this – however when I have to get work out the door other things are abandoned – and the first to go is always the very good stuff – my health. It is much easier to throw something in the microwave, put off seeing friends, or spend 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 the Camino de Santiago for a month every year.
While on the Camino I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That was about it, (and a few ice creams). I spent a lot of time every day with other people – talking and listening.
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 cause – my help is at arm’s 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 you better habits after the Camino, or notice any changes in your thoughts about life in general?
I love hiking, backpacking, and camping. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.