Is It Possible To Lose Weight While Traveling?

It never occurred to me that I could lose weight while traveling. In my case, it was over 35 pounds in the space of a few weeks, and I didn’t even notice.

I wouldn’t have noticed at all, if it weren’t for the scale at one of my house sits in Brussels, Belgium. I’d recently grabbed new clothes; smaller ones, but I didn’t know this as I went from North American sizing to European sizing. I just assumed it was the same, that I’d stretched out some of my pants through constant wear, and continued forward with my travels.

I couldn’t deny it though when I got back to Brussels. When I’d left a month earlier, almost to the day, I was 35 pounds heavier. How on earth did this happen?!

I sat and thought about it for a few days. I reviewed my eating habits, my exercise routine, my day-to-day activities. I talked to a few friends I’d met on the road. One American in Paris told me he thought he’d have abs for the first time in his life after moving for school. Yet, both our diets were more luscious, decadent, and definitely higher calorie than anything either of us ate at home. I’d gotten into the habit of getting a fresh pain au chocolat from a random viennoiserie every morning as my breakfast, after not one, but two Frenchmen delighted me with this practice at different times in the month. They were both very, very skinny.

So I thought about my meals. Yes, they were rich: cheese and wine before or after dinner, croissant for breakfast, usually a French-style hamburger (very different than back home!) for lunch. They also took much longer than in Canada; a lunch meal with the aforementioned American in Paris took us over two hours to complete, and a dinner date went well into the four-hour range. I didn’t notice the lackadaisical attitudes towards time and food – if anything, it showed me that I needed to eat the best, enjoy the best, and share it with the best. So I did.

Truth is, I ate a lot of really amazing food in France. I remember more of my meals there than I do from the other six months of traveling through Europe combined. I also ate a lot less in France. Oftentimes, I’d skip lunch, forgetting completely. I just wasn’t hungry. Plus, if I ate any sort of grain, it was usually in the morning and by itself. I easily had four hours between meals.

When I look at my exercise habits while in France, they also explain a lot. While I never “went to workout” during my travels, I did walk a ridiculous amount. 10 kilometers was a low day for me, and a lot of it was via stairs. In fact, every single house sit and AirBnB that I stayed in had stairs. The American in Paris had seven flights to get to his apartment. I, five. Elevators were rare, and if you did use them (such as the one at Montmartre) you were immediately labeled as a tourist. Mind you, most people assumed I was a tourist just due to my size; I never once saw a French person anywhere near my weight and height, and had men constantly talking to me about it (in a good way – that’s another blog post though).

It sounds so simple – and it really is. I lost 35 pounds in a month while roaming through France because I ate really, really well, and moved my body a tremendous amount.

Interestingly, when I got back to Canada, I almost instantly gained the weight back. There wasn’t any way for me to eat in the same fashion, and I was quite ill for about two weeks until I got re-acclimatized to the additives in our food here.

I should note: when I took the challenge to get healthy and lose all of my excess weight for good, I immediately stripped out all foods that had a label on them. The difference in my face in a week stunned me, and just reinforced how and why I lost so much, so fast.

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