Tonight is an early night for me! I woke up early this morning to find out if my Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup, and it was more than worth waking up for. I am sooooo excited that they won. I told anyone that I met today who spoke English about the Penguins winning the Cup, kind of like a proud mother. As much as I love being here, I was truly sad to miss all of the excitement. There is nothing like it! Unfortunately, I never fell back asleep this morning after hearing the news, so I have been exhausted all day.
Given that today was a relaxed, normal day, I wanted to take the opportunity to write this post. Before coming to Sicilia, I thought so much about how I would stay in shape despite the insane amount of carbohydrates that I would inevitably consume. Everyone that I knew who had been to Italia told me not to worry because they all lost weight here! I wasn’t sure that I believed that until I arrived and found myself walking 8 miles on some days (excluding exercise), and would be starving by meal time.
After almost one month here, I thought that this would be a good time to reflect upon what I have done to maintain my fitness and eating habits. One of the most important factors in my health and fitness experience is the food. The food is incredibly fresh, and it makes ALL the difference. If I ate this much bread at home, I would be a planet. However, the fresh and unprocessed ingredients leave me feeling far different than I do after eating bread in the United States. Also, the desserts contain considerably less sugar. They do taste sweet, but not nearly as sweet as in America. The food here does not have preservatives like everything in the United States, so it is easier for the body to digest, and less fat is stored from food.
The biggest challenge with the food here is portion control. Italians eat massive amounts of food, and are concerned about me when I do not eat ridiculous amounts with them. My family always says, “your stomach is so small!!!!!”. It truly isn’t, it is simply that the Italians have basically trained themselves to need much more food to be full. In order to maintain my “normal” diet, I make most of my plate protein and vegetables/fruits, and one small portion of carbohydrates. I try to only drink as much alcohol as I would at home, which is maybe 2 or 3 glasses of wine per week, or maybe 1 beer per week. I drink plenty of water, and fill up on fruit or a little bit of cheese whenever I can. The best part of being here is that dairy and bread does not make me sick like it does at home. I’m not sure why it is so different with the dairy, but I’m willing to guess that it’s because of the freshness.
I heavily considered purchasing a gym membership before coming to Sicilia, but I decided to challenge myself to stay fit from home, which I usually struggle with. There is a gym very close by that Elena offered to help me purchase a gym membership to, but it would take extra time out of her (that she really doesn’t have) to drop me off, and pick me up. In the past year, I have transitioned from lifting heavier weights to more light weight and pylometric workouts. I have found that I look bulky when I lift heavy weights, so the high intensity workouts with body weight or light weights works best for me. This workout style is great for traveling, and I combine it with resistance band workouts. Below is an example of a full body workout that I do at least twice a week here:
Set 1 – Body Weight (2X)
15 Burpees, 20 Squats, 15 Reverse Crunches, 10 Push-Ups, 20 Sumo Squats
Set 2 – Body Weight (2X)
15 Jump Squats, 10 Commandos, 15 Star Crunches, 20 Lunges
Set 3 – Resistance Bands (3X)
20 Bicep Curls, 20 Walking Squats, 20 Rows, 20 Leg Extensions
Stretch with yoga for 5 minutes
I workout 5-6 days per week here, just as I would at home! I workout different areas of my body each day, and do full body workouts on days when I don’t know what to do. If I don’t feel like an intense workout one day, I’ll take a long walk to explore different neighborhoods of Ragusa! When I do one of these workouts, I am exhausted and sweaty by the end! I find inspiration for my workouts from my favorite YouTube and Instagram fitness bloggers, such as Sarah’s Day. Her workout philosophy is what inspired me to change my workout style… check her out! I used to HATE pylometric styled workouts, but I realized how great they are for cardiovascular health, and how challenging they truly are. Don’t knock body weight workouts until you try one, and truly give it your all!