Weight Loss Support - Observations made during vacation in Europe




berryblondeboys
08-14-2012, 12:03 PM
Every day this week on my blog I'm going to write about my observations of my stay in Europe. I've been several times before, but this time I made more observations of my own behaviors as well as others around me.

I will post them here. Updating this first thread every day. or you can just click on my blog, but I thought all of you food watchers would be interested.

Of course, these are my observations and my biases and not some scientific study, but I think it will be interesting. It was for me anyway!

Here is Day One: My observations on how food affects me

During our stay, we stayed one day in Zagreb, 7 days in Biograd, 10 days on Mljet, and 6 days in Dubrovnik. We also spent about 3 days in travel - two on the plane and one on a bus. All of these places, save Zagreb, were on the sea in dry climates in Croatia. Primary diet is meat, potatoes and bread. Very little green and bread is a huge staple.

In Biograd we stayed in an apartment where we could cook. In the morning we got bread and cheese for breakfast. For lunch we made a salad of tomatoes and green peppers and cheese (served with bread) and for dinner we either went out or made a meal at home of meat, eggs and the same type of salad. But... we also ate a few cookies and ice cream in the evening, every evening - mmmm gelato!

Then we went to Mljet. ARGH!!! At this place, we had an apartment within the National Park of Mljet. We were 1.5 miles from the little village and we were in a single residence. For breakfasts we opted to have our own - we walked into the village 4 times during the 10 days to buy juice, cheese, cookies, milk and other little things for breakfast and snacks. 3 times during our stay a vegetable guy came to the house and we bought stuff for lunches and fruit for snacks. And every day the bakery guy came to the house and we bought bread and pastries for snacks and breakfast. For dinners, we ate at the home of the family and she prepared a meal - family style. This was tough as we only had what she gave us and most nights it wasn't enough for the 4 of us (little guy pretty much didn't eat with us) and if it was, it wasn't tasty. This meant, of course, a lot more snacking before and after dinner to get enough food.

During these ten days, we had almost no greens as none were available. We had super over cooked zucchini a couple times during dinner, but otherwise it was tomatoes. We filled up on potatoes, bread, pastries and butter cookies basically.

Then we went to Dubrovnik. We had breakfast at home (same bread and cheese and fruit breakfasts). Then we packed rolls and pastries and cheese for lunches on the go and then had dinner out every night. Most days we got an ice cream midday and always, more butter cookies for snacking when there was nothing else.

There was really no easy way to avoid eating a lot of carbs on this trip - without major refrigeration issues or meat overload. I get a lot of protein at home, but from nuts primarily - not a big option there. I ate more bread in those 26 days than I have all together in 20 months. Probably triple the amount of bread as I have basically gone without bread except for a party here and there for 20 months. And cookies and pastries? I haven't had those much either. Ice cream? Lots of carbs.

All the while, I enjoyed the flavors, but I watched my waistline expand. I hold so much glycogen when I eat carbs. My gut expands a couple inches quickly. All my shorts were beginning to feel tight. Not in the hips, but in the waist.

Then, my face started to break out. I haven't had pimple problems since I switched to a lower carb diet. My face went from a fairly even skin with 'normal' amount of oil, to an oily mess with pimples popping up everywhere like I was a teenager again. Who knew it would be carbs that did that to me?

Then, my digestion. When I eat a lower carb diet, I only need to go poo every 3-5 days. I am not constipated. Definition of constipation is not how frequently you go, but how difficult it is to go when you go. When I eat higher carb, I go daily and I go a LOT. It's like the carbs mostly don't get absorbed and pass through my system quickly. When I eat lower carb, I process things more - kind of like a breastfed baby that is past the newborn phase and before the food stage where they may only poo once or twice a week.

So, what I've learned is that I don't handle carbs well - that's grains basically. Some might call it gluten intolerance with the new fad, but it's not just the flour... as rice and sugars and oats also affect me the same way. It's the simple carbs period. My body just sees all of it as junk food.

When I eat a high protein and high fat diet with limitations on carbs, I feel good and my body feels and looks good. So, back to lower carb I go. Since back I've eaten NO bread (on day 3 now) and have turned back to almonds and peanuts for protein as well as yogurt. For fats, again, less on meat and cheese and more on nuts and avocado and olive oil.

I eat carbs, please NO ONE think I'm doing some fad diet of eating just fatty meats. I'm not. For breakfast the last two days I hate cantaloupe with yogurt a bit of oatmeal (yes grains, but not much). For second breakfast I ate a peanut protein bar. For lunch I ate an apple with cinnamon with 3 tablespoons of peanut butter. For a snack I ate a handful of almonds and sunflower kernels. For dinner I ate tomato, orange pepper and romaine lettuce salad with olive oil and vinegar and had a pork cutlet and for a snack, a small square of dark chocolate. For the day I had 1500 calories with 55 net carbs. It's not a bacon diet! Though, yum bacon!

Day 2 Observation: How Europeans Look Today

I've been to Croatia several times - 1995, 1998, 2002 and 2006 and now in 2012. We were at the beach in 1998, 2002 and now in 2012. So, it's been 10 years since I've been to a European beach.

The last times I went, I felt humongous (and well, I was - as the last time I went I was 275 pounds!), but it was more extreme than it would be in the United States. In the US you would find other heavy people out and about. In Croatia? None except for older people, and even then, they weren't HUGE.

So, I was surprised this time. While, in general, they were still thinner as a whole than Americans, it wasn't by a heck of a lot. Croatians are getting fatter too! And it's easy to see/evaluate at the beach as people are nearly naked. The only one pieces on the entire beach were typically Americans - and in Biograd that meant only me! In other stops, again, only bikinis, even the Americans. I'm way too 'ruined' from weight gain and loss to ever be able to don a bikini without cosmetic surgery. It became obvious that at least for NOW the travelers and Europeans hadn't done the weight gain and loss like I had- in middle age, especially.

In our first beach stop, Biograd, it's a touristy area, but not from other areas of the world - mostly it's a Croatian destination point for Croatians who want to get to the sea. It's not so far from major cities, easily connected by good highways and not as well known to outsiders. So, I wasn't seeing fat Germans, Italians, Americans, etc. These were Croats - and since I was on the beach with them, I could hear they were Croats.

Interestingly, more men had weight problems than women. I saw very, very few men over the age of 30 without some added fluff and even younger men were often 'fluffy'.

Single women, women before kids were more likely to be trim, but most moms in Biograd were a bit fluffy. Again, surprising. And still many younger women looked a bit too jiggly as well. And then kids - lots of chubby kids. Not as many in the US, but the last time I went, I didn't see any chubby children. Now the beach was full of them. Even if the parents were slim, their kids were not. It was shocking, actually, that I was about average on the beach. In previous trips I still would have been one of the biggest. Things are changing!

Then we went to Mljet. Mljet is an island, so it's not as easy to get too, it's more expensive, and it's known as a popular destination for tourists from other nations as well. While there, there were people from all over the place - Europe, the Americas and some Asian, though mostly Americans, Brits, Australians and Germans if they weren't Croatians. This island has a large national park and is good for swimming, hiking and biking. The Body Mass Index on this island was much lower. More fit tourists came here to not just laze on the beach, but to do things - to be active. The couple of times we went to a public beach, I was definitely one of the biggest - and one of the most unfit, but not as much as I would have been in years past. Basically, I became more aware of the more work I need to do and that my loose skin is more noticeable than I care to admit. I will see people around me here in the US that are jiggly, or have loose skin, but the people at this beach were trim and fit and probably have been their entire lives. What it wanted me to do was not hide but to reevaluate where I wanted to be for an end goal for fitness and weight. I'm pushing for 155 again and for sure a 25% body fat or lower. We'll see as I get closer. Right now, with time off for vacation, injury and gardening/walking instead of the gym, I've softened up!

Last stop was Dubrovnik. A world destination stop. People were from all over the world. We heard languages from all over the world and again, the BMI went up. We saw thin people - gorgeous people and quite heavy people - and not just Americans - Finnish, Germans, Italians, Croatians, French, Americans, Australians, etc. The only non-heavy people I saw were the few from Asia - India and Japan. The world is changing! We are getting fat as soon as we modernize!

I'll talk more on fitness tomorrow, but it's sad, really to see young, dating people out in the evening and so many of them with a bit of flab. To see kids with flab. This didn't used to be this way and it's changing very quickly.

3rd Vacation Observation - Who is Traveling and their fitness levels

Traveling is expensive for everyone. When you go on vacation, especially vacation outside of your country, you are seeing only those others who can afford to travel great distances. Those you will see typically in major destination spots in Europe are the young backpackers, the locals who avoid airfare at least and oftentimes know friends of friends to get cheaper accommodations and then the older set who have raised their kids and are now traveling abroad seeing all the places they planned to see - most often, it appears this older set travel in group tours. The smallest segment of travelers you will see are families from abroad and it's obvious why - it's just cost prohibitive for many families to be forking over for 4-5 tickets! for airfare.

All of this is to say - who you see traveling is a biased sample. It's cutting out the lower socio-economic tiers, especially for the families and older populations from abroad. And, studies have shown, it's the more affluent that tend to be the most fit. Why? Because they have more time and money to spend on fitness. Pretty hard to stay fit or to even care about fitness if you are working 75 hours a week and raising a family, right? It makes sense. So, in my observations, I already know that what I'm seeing for travelers is already a biased sampling of the middle class and up only, and, therefore, they are more fit than the general population too.

In our traveling, among foreigners we saw a lot and I mean a lot of young people - college age or twenty-somethings - before kids, those who could afford to take a summer off. Many of them were backpackers going from spot to spot. Many slept in tents or stayed in youth hostels. Most traveled for the summer or at the minimum 4 weeks. Many traveled by themselves, but many traveled in groups of friends. This is the most economical way to travel as you cut your lodging expense down to about zero and with using trains and ferries between spots, you can get to a lot of destinations fairly cheaply. Most didn't stay in the same spot for more than a few days before moving on to another destination spot.

The family with kids and 30s/40s-somethings can't do hostels and backpacking it is difficult. Most stay in either hotels or vacation rentals. The savvy travelers and the more fit of that group will rent apartments for one third to one quarter the cost of a hotel stay. Families tend to stay in one spot - not changing their central location, but will take various local day trips. Depending on where they are from, they may stay for 2-4 weeks.

Then there is the older set who are traveling on their own. These are the people you will see most often in a tour group. Some travel by ship, like on a cruise. Some fly in and then travel on a tour bus city to city. Most of the time these groups only stay 1-2 days in a city. Sometimes they have free time in whatever city they are traveling too. Some have paid for tours for everything and of course, a mix of both. These groups either stay in hotels together or on their cruise ship. Everything was organized for them. All they had to do was pay for it, select which tours/events they wanted to do in addition, pay for those and then show up. All the rest was taken care of for them.

The fitness level tends to follow along with the type of traveler. The young backpackers? They are fit and thin and usually very good looking (why is that?). It makes sense as younger people tend to be thinner overall, but I think the type of person who would choose to travel by backpack, sleeping in tents or hostels is not the typical person. It's the self-selected group that tends to be more adventurous and more fit/outgoing in the first place. The idea of carrying a heavy pack and sleeping on the hard pack doesn't daunt the fit traveler. It sounds like fun. To an unfit young person? No way.

Next in line for fitness were those who rented apartments. They were willing to walk a bit more. Willing to do a bit more 'leg-work' literally with planning their trip and dealing with slight inconveniences as living in an apartment means going to a market to get food for breakfasts or going out to eat every morning - needing to walk there either way, unlike in a hotel.

Next in line for the fit - getting less fit, are those who booked in hotels. Why arethey less fit? Because hotels typically do more for you and the less fit are more likely to be willing to pay for the extra amenities like shuttling you to and from airport. Plus most hotels are close to all the local action which means less walking which also appears to the more unfit. The more fit traveler won't find those conviences worth the price, the unfit will.

Lastly, are the most unfit travelers who tend to be those who take cruises and tour groups. Now, these are generalizations, not that every person who travels on cruises and travel in tour groups are unfit, but... it fits the majority. This group of travelers want it all planned out for them and want all the conveniences. This also tends to be the oldest set of travelers.

So, that's what I observed. Younger were more fit and chose ways of travel that required more fitness. Older travelers were less fit and traveled in a way easier for the unfit.

What I didn't see in any of the three places we traveling to were truly older people. My mother in law was with us. She turned 77 during our trip and this trip was very, very difficult for her and it's probably the last time she'll do that kind of trip. From now on when she goes, she'll probably go visit a couple friends and stay put - not exploring different areas, but swimming at a local spot and resting at a single residence - a comfortable one.

Many of our day trips my mother in law was the oldest by at least 15 years. Rarely did I see anyone over the age of 60, especially foreign travelers and the ones I did see were very fit seniors.

In Dubrovnik there were a lot of tours going through from around the world. Every day there was a different cruise ship in the bay. They were in and out of that historic city which I felt deserved a two week stay - not a one day stay.

On the day that we walked the walls, without my mother in law as she knew she couldn't handle all the stairs, we gave ourselves two hours to walk the 1.5 miles. We climbed every little stairway, taking it all in. It was hot, but it wasn't strenuous, really. During those 2 hours, several tours passed us by. The average age of the tour groups was about 50 and most were pudgy. No one was over the age of 60 and they looked like they were about to pass out. The tours stopped at each little fortress for people to go up and take a look, but no one in the groups stopped to go up the 20 to 30 stairs to get the best views. I heard a couple times people basically saying they just wanted to get down as soon as possible. They were barely able to do what they were doing physically, taxing themselves to their limits. The kids and young people on the walls? Going up and down with ease - no problems.

That same evening we took the tour of the walls in Dubrovnik, an older couple of about 70 passed us. They had shocking white hair on tanned, fit bodies. They were strolling down the street hand in hand, looking fabulous. I saw this same couple the next day coming back from an excursion to a little island with walking/hiking that we had also taken. They looked good, not frazzled and worn out.

I compared and contrasted that to my 77 year old mother in law who sat in the house the day we walked the walls because the walls were too strenuous and the air too hot. And while she went on the day trip with us, she skipped walking up to the mausoleum above the city to avoid the stairs (there were 187 of them). Just going up and down the 47 stairs to our apartment was almost too much for her.

I compared this fit older couple to the 50-somethings on the walls of Dubrovnik who were gasping for air with the steps they were taking.

I compared it to all the people I saw around me and saw the key.

Being fit is the key to living a good, long life. It didn't matter if you were thin or not. My mother in law was very thin her whole life. At 77 she has a bit of extra weight on her, but she's not fat. She's just very unfit and has been most of her life. Of all the people I saw traveling, it wasn't their size that made them tired and worn out (though that was part of it, as fit people don't tend to be very heavy), it was their fitness level. It even affected how they traveled - costing more to travel as an unfit person than a fit one.

The age of the travelers were skewed so young because there are so few fit enough older people to do that kind of traveling. I looked and realized that if I didn't maintain my fitness (and keep working at being more fit), I wouldn't want to travel like that either - or even be able to. I realized that 18 months ago, I wouldn't have been able to climb on those walls, or climb that mountain.

I also know that I will be 53 when my youngest child graduates from high school. 57 (my husband 60) when my younger son graduates from college. I want to have an active life after the kids leave the nest! I want to travel with my husband, seeing all the places that I've dreamed about seeing. We can't afford to go to all those places as a family - heck it took us 6 years to get to Croatia this time! But if I don't take care of myself, I won't be able to do all the things I want to do and see all the things I want to see.

The only older travelers I saw (those over 60) outside of sitting on a beach, were the fit. If that isn't an eye opener, I don't know what is. Don't we all dream of traveling when our kids grow up and we can afford it? Well, for most of us, we get too fat and lazy to do it and the best we can do is a cruise that drives us by sites, basically. Sorry, that is not traveling to the fullest. You miss so much.

All that did for me was to make me realize how extremely important it is to stay fit. To **** with staying skinny. Skinny means so little. What good is skinny fat at age 70? Fitness is the key to enjoying a fuller, older life.

******
Adding this, it's from a conversation below, but it contributes quite a bit to this train of thought:

I think it's easy to get caught up in the "skinny is all that matters" mindset, especially when you are younger, pre-menopausal. Usually, at younger ages, if you are thinner, you are able to do most every thing. You can garden, go bike riding, hike, etc. You may get tired and may not like it, but your body can handle it. It's more difficult for a heavier younger person because of the burden of the extra weight.

But, after awhile - I'll pick 50 as a random number, age starts doing a number on you, even if you are thinner. That gardening seems like so much work. Those stairs seem so steep. Before you know it, you are couch potato and the blood pressure is going up, cholesterol, etc and perhaps a few extra pounds because what little activity you 'used to do' you no longer do. By the time you get to retirement, you are just worn out - thin or slightly pudgy. Worn out from being inactive. Your fitter counterparts can literally run circles around you now and look WAY better. Seems in old age, skinny fat is just that, skinny FAT. Your skin looks worse, and there's like no muscle tone. It's all mush. The fit - sure, their skin might be wrinkly, but there is still a nice body under there!

4th Observation from vacation: How we treat our bodies

This vacation was a seaside vacation. I've detailed before how the first part of the trip was in a town with mostly local tourists from Croatia and the remaining two spots were tourists from all over - Croatia, other European countries, USA, Australia and some Asia.

Everywhere people were going to the beach during the day, strolling, drinking, eating ice cream and listening to music in the city at night.

Most day trips to other islands involved some sightseeing, but always time to cool off on the rocky beaches.

Everyone goes to the beach - all ages and sizes. Babies, young children, teens, 20s on up to 70s. Most men wear speedos or tighter boxer style shorts (with some wearing American board style swim shorts), all women of all ages and sizes wear bikinis, kids under 4 or so go naked.

When we were in Biograd, the people would head to the beach in the morning and spend the entire day there. In Mljet and Dubrovnik, tourists did hikes, bike rides, tours in between bouts at the beach for cooling down, but basically were in the sun all day long.

These tourists and locals were brown and I mean brown. Either that, or they were fried red over their brown tan. Even at the end of our vacation when we had been outside for many hours every day, we were still so white - tan for us, but white compared to everyone else. Part of it was that we are extremely fair, but we are also very careful with the sun. Most of these people on the beach? Not so much.

The entire week we were in Biograd, only our family had rashguards to protect us from the midday sun. I'm also guessing we were one of the few who used strong sunscreen. People were brown or red. Lots and lots of sunburns. When we were on Mljet I still didn't see any tourists with rashguards even though there were more foreign travelers. Only when we got to Dubrovnik did I see any other families using rashguards and only on little toddlers and they were American. Only two families out of thousands used rash guards. In the United States at the pools midday? 10-15% of kids will be in rashguards, those under 2 to 3 years old, about 50%.

That was during the day - the big skin bake. Hadn't any of them heard of the dangers of too much sun? Or was a good tan worth the risk? Was a tan a status symbol? Like, "Look, I have enough money to go to the sea and bake myself all day while you had to stay back and work?" I have no idea why they do it. Frying themselves in the sun, but everyone we saw was super tan from serious time out in the sun.

In the evenings, everyone came into town - had dinner, had drinks, strolled. I get shocked every time I come to Croatia at the number of smokers of all ages. I swear it's near 100%, but my husband says that's not true, just that it seems like a lot because I'm not used to seeing it in public in the US, but it is a shockingly high number of smokers of all ages even he will admit smoking is a big problem. One of our last nights there, a German group sat down next to us. A very good looking, very fit, athletic group of 3 couples. I thought to myself, "These are athletes, I bet they don't smoke." Yet, within a couple minutes of sitting down, they all lit up.

Again, I was shocked, don't they all know how bad smoking is for them? Why are so many people smoking cigarettes?

And, of course, I've touch already on the increasing obesity problem.

Here I was on vacation and I was just shocked at: 1. the number of increasingly heavy young people. 2. the super tan, ignoring all warnings about sunburns. and 3. the heavy smoking. All things we all know are bad for us. We all know that right?

Then why do we do these things? I'm not just picking on these tourists and locals - I'm guilty too, obviously. Hello - I used to weigh 275 pounds! I knew that was bad for me! I like diet soda - I know that's bad for me. Stuff like that. Why do we persist in doing things we know shorten our lives and diminish the quality of our lives? I just don't get our human tendency to self-destruct.


5th and last Observation from Vacation - European Sizing versus US Sizing

I didn't go shopping while in Croatia for a variety of reasons. One, I don't have any clothing needs right now as I've been at a pretty stable weight for a long time. Two, we were in tourist towns, even if my wardrobe still needed something, I didn't want to pay jacked up prices when I know I could get the same things for far less elsewhere and three, I didn't want to see that I might be too big for the store's sizes.

In the US I've gotten used to being able to wear a size 10. I can wear a 10 anywhere that sells clothes that appeal to me. There might be some teeny bopper stores that I would be too big for, but those clothes don't appeal to me and probably never would have.

I know, however, that this size 10 is a size 14 or even a 16 from not that long ago. Remember, I have a size 16 skirt in my closet that fits me perfectly from 1995. A size 14 is like top of the line for regular sizes - or at least used to be, in a lot of stores. But have European designers adapted to the larger customers as I see Europeans getting chubbier too? I don't know. I was too afraid to look and my husband would have killed me for looking on vacation - wasting time shopping.

What I do know is that my mother in law got a t-shirt for a gift from a friend. The T-shirt would fit me or her. It looks like an American size Medium. It says XL. I know if I were to order a dress or shirt from the UK that I need to order a different size.

This goes in line with her getting kid's clothes in the past too. Sizes run smaller than they do here. Now I wish I would have tried on a pair of pants or a dress while there just to see, but too late now. And who needs to feel crushed on vacation when realizing I'm too big for a regular department store? Maybe next time when I feel I'm at my best weight and fitness level I can get to. Then how could I feel bad?

Of course, this now has me wondering if the difference in sizes has always been that way or if it's a recent change with American's vanity sizing? A trend, I'm reading which will continue as it's profitable. Women like feeling smaller and smaller numbers make you feel smaller than you are. I wonder how long this trick will work?


SerenityDiva
08-14-2012, 12:30 PM
I personally think it's great that you know what affects you and how, makes things more manageable. It's also interesting to read how people eat in different places.

gailr42
08-14-2012, 02:44 PM
Is there a reason for no greens? Culture, Economy, drought?

It's been a while, but it seems to me that when I was in Western Europe, the food was quite good. I think we had salads. I know there were lots of little shops where you could buy fruit and vegetables.

Aside from the food, did you have a wonderful trip?


berryblondeboys
08-14-2012, 02:50 PM
I think it was where we were. We were in tourist areas - Biograd and then Dubrovnik. The second place was an island - a very DRY island. Greens would have to be transported in which makes them cost prohibitive.

In restaurants, you get a dab of veggies and mostly potatoes and meat. Other times we've visited Croatia it was the same.

You can FIND (in bigger cities) more greens, but less common during vacation months and places.

Arctic Mama
08-14-2012, 11:52 PM
I've found much the same. You just have to do what works for your body, and if an excess of grains isn't it, so be it!

berryblondeboys
08-15-2012, 10:38 AM
Added day 2 of observations in the original post.

SerenityDiva
08-15-2012, 01:07 PM
Added day 2 of observations in the original post.

I've heard the same things from people traveling abroad. They used to say you could tell Americans and Canadians by the weight, now it's just the shoes (apparently we wear comfortable shoes?).

Justwant2Bhealthy
08-15-2012, 05:48 PM
Interesting ... you'd think that in almost any town/city, there would be people who grew gardens. It did probably have to do with where you were, but you'd think that some of the smaller cafes would have had veggie soup; and that there would be veggies available from/at the local markets. I am also surprised that your husband's family didn't know where you could get more foods that you liked.

I am not surprised to hear that people are getting heavier in Europe; have heard this elsewhere too. We have friends that spent a lot of time in India who said the food was atrocious; they just had to come home (they all lost weight while there). Not surprised the Japanese are still slim either -- they eat mostly veggies and fish; and tourists say it's hard to find enuff to eat there.

When I was in my late teens, I went to Mexico (in a less modernized area). We couldn't find many places to eat and it almost seemed scarce. We only found one restaurant besides the one in the hotel we stayed in. Food in the open markets made us gag. So, I was there for 9 days and lost 9 lbs, but hey, I felt great although a bit hungry. I was so greatful for all our blessings when I got back home; it was a real eye opener for sure ... :D

guacamole
08-15-2012, 07:29 PM
Welcome home, Melissa! What a fantastic post. I have been watching quite a few BBC documentaries about obesity. Although the focus was on the UK, it was stated many times that European countries in general are having rising rates of obesity due to adopting American-style diets. I do think that your perspective has changed somewhat, in that since you have lost weight, people are naturally going to look heavier to you as you get smaller. However, I feel the same way as you do when I see overweight children or young single folks. I feel sad for them somehow, because this is the time in their lives when it is easiest to be active and their metabolisms are working at full speed. If they are jiggly at 18, what will they look like at 35?

I look forward to reading your other observations - please keep copying them here on 3fc!

mirax3
08-15-2012, 07:41 PM
Very interesting read! I have traveled a lot throughout Europe and the Middle East/North Africa and have noticed the same trend in the increasing size of pretty much everyone (including children, as you mentioned). It's rather alarming, seeing as I used to feel so uncomfortable in places like France or even Turkey where all of the women were so tiny. I think a lot of it has to do with the Americanization of their traditional diet as guacamole said, since even 30 years ago "junk" food was not as readily available in most parts of the world. It's all very alarming!

Hope you had a great time during your travels!

berryblondeboys
08-15-2012, 08:54 PM
Very interesting read! I have traveled a lot throughout Europe and the Middle East/North Africa and have noticed the same trend in the increasing size of pretty much everyone (including children, as you mentioned). It's rather alarming, seeing as I used to feel so uncomfortable in places like France or even Turkey where all of the women were so tiny. I think a lot of it has to do with the Americanization of their traditional diet as guacamole said, since even 30 years ago "junk" food was not as readily available in most parts of the world. It's all very alarming!

Hope you had a great time during your travels!

And they walk less. I think this is the bigger culprit. They didn't have shopping malls and big shopping areas you drove to. You walked and took the tram - daily to get food, to get to work, etc. Now everyone has cars and they drive everywhere. That lack of movement, on top of more food makes a big impact, quickly.

berryblondeboys
08-16-2012, 01:22 PM
Ok, a very long Day 3 observation has been made - added to the original post (can also be read on my blog if you prefer).

guacamole
08-16-2012, 02:25 PM
This is such a wonderful post! You really broke down the fitness levels of the different types of travelers well. This really shows me how important fitness really is - I think many of us, myself included, get caught up in the weight loss aspect and don't focus enough on fitness. I've just started working on fitness this summer, but your post has motivated me to keep going and place more emphasis on exercise.

SerenityDiva
08-16-2012, 02:42 PM
Wow about the fitness levels. Unfortunately my mom's side does fit all those generalizations as does most of my dad's and all of my inlaws. I think one of the reasons I am SO dedicated (aside from being in pain from the weight) was because I didn't want us to retire and then have to sit at home or be close to a medical center at all time due to health issues. I do realize aging happens, but heck what good is a retirement if you just sit around the house all the time? Boring if you ask me. I want to travel. I don't like tour groups generally, so hopefully I will be a walker even then :)

berryblondeboys
08-16-2012, 03:13 PM
This is such a wonderful post! You really broke down the fitness levels of the different types of travelers well. This really shows me how important fitness really is - I think many of us, myself included, get caught up in the weight loss aspect and don't focus enough on fitness. I've just started working on fitness this summer, but your post has motivated me to keep going and place more emphasis on exercise.

I think it's easy to get caught up in the "skinny is all that matters" mindset, especially when you are younger, pre-menopause because, usually, at younger ages, if you are thinner, you are able to do most every thing. You can garden, go bike riding, hike, etc. You may get tired and may not like it, but your body can handle it. It's more difficult for a heavier younger person because of the burden of the extra weight.

But, after awhile - I'll pick 50 as a random number, age starts doing a number on you, even if you are thinner. That gardening seems like so much work. Those stairs seem so steep. Before you know it, you are couch potato and the blood pressure is going up, cholesterol, etc and perhaps a few extra pounds because what little activity you 'used to do' you no longer do. By the time you get to retirement, you are just worn out - thin or slightly pudgy. Worn out from being inactive. Your fitter counterparts can literally run circles around you now and look WAY better. Seems in old age, skinny fat is just that, skinny FAT. Your skin looks worse, and there's like no muscle tone. It's all mush. The fit - sure, their skin might be wrinkly, but there is still a nice body under there!

berryblondeboys
08-16-2012, 03:15 PM
Wow about the fitness levels. Unfortunately my mom's side does fit all those generalizations as does most of my dad's and all of my inlaws. I think one of the reasons I am SO dedicated (aside from being in pain from the weight) was because I didn't want us to retire and then have to sit at home or be close to a medical center at all time due to health issues. I do realize aging happens, but heck what good is a retirement if you just sit around the house all the time? Boring if you ask me. I want to travel. I don't like tour groups generally, so hopefully I will be a walker even then :)

These are super generalizations, of course, but I really paid close attention and was shocked really and could see what path I wanted to take, for sure!

SerenityDiva
08-16-2012, 03:25 PM
LOL I know they are super generalizations, but for *me* it keeps me focused (really seeing my future as my mom or my stepmom--which is basically unhealthy and immobile versus healthy and mobile) keeps me going.

berryblondeboys
08-16-2012, 03:28 PM
LOL I know they are super generalizations, but for *me* it keeps me focused (really seeing my future as my mom or my stepmom--which is basically unhealthy and immobile versus healthy and mobile) keeps me going.

Me too. Though it took beginning to experience the "bad stuff" to really get my act together! Fortunately, I got it together before any permanent damage was done to my health. If loose skin is the biggest price I pay, I was lucky.

SerenityDiva
08-16-2012, 03:50 PM
I hope that's my only price too. Right now I have plantar fasciitis, but my myofascial spasms and pain have improved I'd say 80% and I'm LESS than half there. I do credit yoga for it BUT diet too because I think, no I know, sugar causes me to get icky feeling and I also know the extra weight made things VERY difficult. It was pathetic to watch my first few months to a year of serious working out...probably should have put it on America's Funniest :D

I'm just praying the days of taking my daughter to the mall and being worn out for 2-3 days after stay behind me. We want to go to Disney the year after next and I'm hoping I won't be the one "too tired" to walk...right now that'd be DH ;)

VermontMom
08-16-2012, 04:20 PM
Very very interesting post, I read it all and was impressed with your observations, Melissa! Agree 100% with your findings...fitness is what will allow us to enjoy an active life well into our 70's, I hope! :D

gailr42
08-16-2012, 05:46 PM
I am going to be 70 in a couple of weeks. About five years ago I lost weight and got into pretty good physical shape, but soon tired of the routine. I have done this lots of times, unfortunately, and it has always been easy to get back in shape and loose weight. This time it is not so easy. I was shocked that I couldn't get back up to a decent speed and distance of walking with in a few days. I always could before. So, take heed of what Melissa says.

Before I started trying to loose weight and get in shape, I went on vacation with one of my sons and his family. We did a lot of walking and I was deeply embarrassed and ashamed that I couldn't keep up with them. In some places where there were stairs down to the beach, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get back up the stairs from weakness or that I might have a heart attack. It was very sad.

So, do not think that you are invincible like I did. I am feeling much better now that I have improved my diet and started exercising again. Even though I have only lost about 20 lbs, I think I would not have to be afraid of those stairs, now. I may not be as fast as the younger folks, but I believe I could do it.

Traveling while obese really made me think about what kind of future I was facing. So, thanks, Melissa for the interesting post. You provide inspiration for all of us.

kelleyb
08-16-2012, 06:10 PM
I am 42 and have lived in Sweden for most of my adult life. I have traveled Europe since I was 20 and YES, people are more overweight in Europe than ever before. Here, the fast food scene is taking over by storm. People still walk and bike a lot, but less than before. Another thing that is very common now is SODA/POP.

berryblondeboys
08-17-2012, 02:15 PM
Just added the 4th observation from vacation in the original post on page one.

SerenityDiva
08-17-2012, 03:46 PM
Interesting about the tanning and smoking as I've noticed similar things when I moved FROM California (where you'd think people would be tanning) TO the South. I was raised on sun screen for the most part and my parents were/are very judgemental about smoking (that would be a sin in my family of origin). I never did it and amazingly apparently had no friends that really did, so it wasn't an issue. I have a lot of opinions on both matters, but I'll shut up.:D

krampus
08-17-2012, 05:58 PM
"Vices are fun" probably explains why people do short-term unhealthy things in pursuit of leisure. It tastes good now. I like being high. Smoking is fun over drinks. I want everyone to know I went to the beach when I go into work on Monday.

TripSwitch
08-17-2012, 08:00 PM
That's why I love Europe... People enjoy life.... They go on holiday, they eat, they drink, they smoke, they sun bathe, they go topless... They live their lives the way they want to and have a good time... Who are we to judge? I mean why should we care? Is it because we feel we know what's best?

Or is it perhaps because we lack a sense of control in our own lives that we seek to remedy by being overly ridged and dogmatic with our own diets and exercise regimes and whatever else in order to achieve some imagined ideal of a "healthy lifestyle"?

People are like mirrors... When we see something in them we don't like... We have to ask ourselves what is it that we don't like in ourselves...

guacamole
08-17-2012, 08:57 PM
I think we judge others based on our own experience and knowledge. For those of us who have been obese, it's hard to watch other populations adopting the same eating patterns and results that got us into trouble. Same thing if you or a loved one developed skin cancer from sun exposure, lung cancer from smoking, or liver disease from too much alcohol. We don't want to repeat those mistakes or see others repeat them.

What would be really interesting is to also hear about a foreigner's observations on American behavior. I wonder if there are some standard health dos and donts that are common in Europe or elsewhere that we are unaware of or don't follow in America?

berryblondeboys
08-18-2012, 09:20 AM
Last of my observations added to the first post.

sontaikle
08-18-2012, 09:46 AM
I'm such a people watcher too, so it's interesting reading your new observations. I'm on the last day of my own short vacation right now, and noticed the variety of body types out here. last time I was in Europe I did the same thing, but that was four years ago: it's interesting to see the weight creep hitting them too.

On my vacation, as is the American way we are surrounded by crap food. I've reigned myself in well, but it seems that white flour just isn't my cup of tea anymore. Actually except for some whole wheat stuff here and there I just don't eat bread anymore either. I just felt bloated yesterday evening and have to attribute it the pizza hut I had Thursday and the gyro (and thus the pita bread) I had yesterday. Otherwise it's been all good stuff because at least all of these places serve grilled chicken salads and I brought eggs for the mornings.

There are quite a lot of super fit looking people here (all around my age) but it's the jersey shore. I guess that's to be expected.

ICUwishing
08-18-2012, 10:28 AM
Melissa, thanks for making time to post all this. It's very enlightening!

losermom
08-18-2012, 11:28 AM
Thank you Melissa for the fascinating post!
LOL I know they are super generalizations, but for *me* it keeps me focused (really seeing my future as my mom or my stepmom--which is basically unhealthy and immobile versus healthy and mobile) keeps me going.
Agreed! Since I've lost weight and upped my fitness, it's made my awareness of my mom and mil's lack of fitness. We took my mom to DC a couple of years ago and she tired so easily. She's probably 30 lbs overweight but I was shocked at her lack of fitness. It made me sad too, because that's not how I want to live my life. Luckily, exercise for me comes fairly easily, minding my food is the tricky part of the equation. At 49, I'm getting to the age where it's becoming very apparent who's taking care of themselves and who's struggling. I prefer to be in the latter group.
Me too. Though it took beginning to experience the "bad stuff" to really get my act together! Fortunately, I got it together before any permanent damage was done to my health. If loose skin is the biggest price I pay, I was lucky.
Me too! Loose skin--smoose skin! Who cares! We still look better than most of our peers in a bathing suit. I COULD wear a bikini but only with a high cut bottom to reign my jiggly lower belly bits, from having 2 9+ lb babies. I'm on the fence about whether I will. I'm going with a girlfriend to FL in October which will entail flata@@ing on the beach daily. She says that I should wear the bikini because, in her words, "you look better than most of the people at the beach anyway". I did order some new swimsuits online, including a bikini top, but will decide whether to return it after DD25 checks it out on me.

That's why I love Europe... People enjoy life.... They go on holiday, they eat, they drink, they smoke, they sun bathe, they go topless... They live their lives the way they want to and have a good time... Who are we to judge? I mean why should we care? Is it because we feel we know what's best?

As I age, finding pleasure is becoming more and more important to me and what we find pleasure in is not always good us. I don't smoke (yuck) so that's not an issue, but I do, and will most likely, overtan and drink too much. Don't judge! I work and pay my bills. I need to blow off some steam once and awhile.:dizzy:

losermom
08-18-2012, 11:35 AM
I forgot to add this. I work at a midsize midwestern university. And just this last fall I noticed more young people, mostly women, that are probably in the very obese category (300+). I usually see a few of these students every fall, but last fall there were many more than I had noticed in previous years (I've worked there 12 years now.). It just made my heart hurt for these young people! I know how painful it is to live life in a too heavy body--I did it for 25+ years. And coming to college for the first time is when you want to live it up, meet new people, explore new relationships, both platonic and romantic. I just feel so sad for these kids knowing how judged they feel by their peers. Appearances are so important at that age...

sagebrush
08-18-2012, 11:17 PM
I really enjoyed reading your observations! My husband and I have talked a lot about being fit and healthy when we are older. We have big plans for when our chicks leave the nest and I don't want to find myself weak and tired and unable enjoy the traveling we've dreamed about.