It's been a while since I've posted but I have good reasoning. I was on vacation. I went to Italy and it was wonderful. This post will be somewhat personal as I will reflect on my vacation but also how I saw Italy through the eyes of a health and wellness professional. My vacation inspired me to write this blog.
I usually try and go to Italy once a year or as often as possible. You may think that its excessive but my family lives there so I go to visit, not to mention I'm slightly in love with the country. In fact, I almost moved there. However, as I get older I start to pick up on things that I may not have noticed in the past and find myself having new appreciation for things I hadn't before for America and for Italy.
It was a little sad having to break up with the gym for 2 weeks knowing that my workouts would consist of cardio and body weighted exercises. I am pretty good at using the environment for exercise but boy did I miss my heavy weights. TRX made for a good friend along with resistance bands and staircases. I wasn't so scared about missing my workouts as I was the food. Don't get me wrong, I love me some good ole' Italian food but who wants to consume 99% carbohydrates in their everyday caloric intake? I mean I would if my body didn't resemble an allergic reaction to a blow fish. What? Yeah, carbs are the staple of Italian dishes.
Let me take a step back and say we spent our two weeks exploring Venice and Bologna and then Bisceglie where my family lives. They are beautiful cities that each have special and different qualities. Venice was filled with gondolas and people of all walks of life. Bologna, which also hosts a big university, was filled with a younger generation, lively nights and wonderful, delicious food. I'm pretty sure we walked about 30 miles a day if not more, so I wasn't too concerned about conserving energy. What I was in search for was the protein? I needed some chicken, fish, meat, SOMETHING! It blew my mind that this culture wakes up and eats something sweet and sugar heavy and then eats another heavy carb meal for lunch that consists of some sort of pasta and maybe a side of chicken or fish. The emphasis was always on the pasta. I get it. It's their pride and joy - PASTA! But what's a gym junkie to do when all she wants to do is protect her muscle mass and preserve all her hard work? I'll tell you.
Each year I get better and better at traveling. I almost had it this year. I took with me a box of quest bars, tuna packets, protein packets and some BCAA's. I thought I had it down but turns out I ran out of that stuff quickly. I had to go to the grocery store and ended up buying some fresh turkey, more tuna, some chicken and fresh veggies. It was probably the best decision ever even though my Nonna asked me if the tuna was for the cat....
I realized that most of the Italians who take naps during the day is because the carbohydrate intake. Their blood sugar is out of whack and they become sleepy because they didn't use that energy and therefore they need to nap. As soon as I went to the store and stocked up on some quality food I found myself having more and more energy during the day. Everyone would sleep and I'd be WIDE awake!! Hello workout time! Where there is a will there is a way. Now don't get me wrong, I did have a cheat meal a few times and did try a lot of their food. However, I came to the conclusion that I LOVE the way I eat in my day to day life. Protein and quality whole foods can make ALL the difference in your day. It was definitely something I took for granite.
Alright, enough knocking the protein quantity in Italy. I do want to mention some other things I observed. Every culture is different and to me, that is the most fascinating thing about traveling. Viewing the Italian culture vs. American culture through the eye of a fitness expert is just different. No better word than different. You see, in Italy they are constantly walking. They don't need to go to the gym because they are burning energy constantly throughout their day (something I miss). However, they lack muscular strength (from my observance). In America, we lack cardio and movement but for those who do go to the gym and exercise we typically seem to be stronger. The biggest difference I notice between the countries isn't within the people though, it's within the food. The quality of the food. I've said it millions of times but GMO's are banned in Italy and BOY does it make a difference. They only eat foods that are in season and everything is way smaller because it isn't genetically modified. Because things aren't modified the taste is completely different! I made a dish for my grandma that I usually make at home and it tasted 10x better in Italy. Same food, different quality.
My conclusion on my trip is this: Europe is such a BEAUTIFUL place and Italy will always be my favorite country there. I love the passion they have behind life and everything they do and that they care so much about the quality of their food, how it's handled and how its made. HOWEVER, I have learned to love many things about my lifestyle here in America. It's hard to eat fresh food here but it can be done. We have access to almost any type of food in the world and are a great melting pot that can learn from each culture that is brought into our country. While Italy emphasizes passion, America emphasizes strength. We are breed to do well and to succeed in what we do. We strive to do our best and push ourselves through many things. So what do I take away from this trip? Bring more protein powder to Italy next time. Just kidding.. kind of. I learned to keep pushing myself to become a better and stronger person through work, family and life. Not only that, but to have passion in EVERYTHING I do. Without passion life becomes stale.
Thanks for reading my not so ordinary blog post :)
In good health,
Cristina Walterman, owner of CW Physique, let's you in on fitness and nutrition tips, recipes, exercises and much more. With over 8 years of experience in the industry, she loves to inspire and motivate individuals. She always practices what she preaches and leads by example.