Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A bit Spanish

I'm back, straight into an English "heatwave". I'm sorry, and I suppose it might be warmer down south, but it really isn't that warm. It's nice and pleasant, but I was surprised when I went out for my run this morning how chilly the air felt on my bare legs. God help us all if it was actually really hot...

Anyway, that's off topic. Strangely, today's post is as much about what I've done since I got home than what I did when I was away, suffice to say it was a fab holiday and a lovely break, but I didn't actually do that much. I just sat and relaxed on the seafront near my mum's house a lot of the time, but that was what I needed.

Admittedly, when I say seafront, I mean the specific part of it that has one of my favourite bars in the entire world on it, and I mean the part of that part of the sea front that consists of one of the seats outside said bar, but it still didn't involve walking much more than 100m from the front door...

When I come back, particularly if the weather's nice, I always seem suddenly inspired to try to incorporate a bit of Spanishness into my life. If I had to point to the one major difference between the Canarian lifestyle and the English one (other than being able to live your life in the knowledge that it will be sunny tomorrow), it would be the way people just live their lives in public spaces. Here on a nice sunny day, people go home and sit in the garden, or they go and sit in a beer garden. In Arinaga people go and sit on the sea front. Their houses and apartments don't even always have gardens (beyond a small terrace or patio), but they open the front door, they put some chairs on the pavement, or they go to the beach, or wander up and down. The word I'm thinking of is the Italian "passegiata", but the Canarians do it well too.

(As I found out to my cost on Sunday when I attempted to go for a run at about 7.30 or so. At precisely the time the entire town decided to go for their Sunday evening pre dinner walk up and down the front. I really had to work on my sidestep and suspect I ran far more than the three miles I was intended with the constant weaving in and out of groups of people).

You don't see that many people running over there. Maybe it's because I wasn't up early enough to catch the early morning runners, but what you do get is people going for a walk in the evening, once the heat of the day has gone, and just diving into the sea for a quick swim. Walking three miles and catching up on the gossip of the town seems a more civilised way in many respects to burn off 300 calories or so, rather than forcing yourself to run 3 miles because you don't get any other exercise for the rest of the day.

Anyway, today the weather was nice and I got out of work at 5. I had my iPod (oh how I love my new shiny video iPod...) and a good book in my bag, and no particular plans for the evening. So instead of going home and sitting in the garden I got off the bus at Tesco, grabbed some water, some olives and a single serving bottle of wine and walked to the park where I spent a blissful hour or so. I sat, I read, I drank and nibbled in a Spanish aperitif style. In total I must have walked somewhere between 2.5 and 3 miles, which by my reckoning just about burns off 100 calories or so of olives and 200 or so of wine, far more pleasurably than coming home and feeling like I couldn't eat or drink it. It satisfied that burning post-work desire to eat something, and has allowed me to postpone my main meal for the evening until it's a bit later (which in turn will hopefully eliminate the need for post meal snacking). I got to relax away from the house and the nagging feeling that I maybe should be doing some chores, and even though it was nowhere near as sociable as the Spanish version (where everyone seems to know everyone else), it still felt good to be reclaiming public space rather than hiding away in the garden.

Just a quick postscript, which I'll hopefully expand on at the weekend. While I was away I also had a bit of a body image revelation and started to see my body as it really is now. This was helped by a little sales shopping, the realisation that a Mango medium is not only my size but also closer to a 10 than a 12, and my purchase and subsequent wearing of a pair of really comfy trousers that were labelled, unequivocally, as a UK size 10. That sort of thing helps the body image no end!


Blogger Goal125 said...

Wow - your life sounds wonderful! Sounds like you had a great time in Spain - I'm envious! Well, I only found your blog within the last two weeks, and you are my new hero! I'm forever reading backposts and telling my husband about you! You have been a huge inspiration to me! I've started running as a result of your post - and although I've only gone twice so far and the scale hasn't budged in that short time, I FEEL skinnier! Oh - and I've gone vegetarian! I posted in your last section that I was a vegetarian a few years ago (I think I did anyway, I know I referred to your being a vegetarian), but reading your blog inspired me to "just do it", and I haven't had an asthma attack in a week!! (Was having them multiple times a day when eating meat...did take a week to stop having asthma, but still - isn't that incredible!?) All because of you! A complete and utter stranger who has inspired my life to change!

8:34 PM  
Blogger YP said...

Hi, sorry I'm not good at replying to my comments! My new found veggie-ness wasn't so much an intention to lose weight (I was about 5lb away from goal at the time), but more a feeling that I just seem to be more balanced and more likely to make good food choices if I'm off the meat. It's strange, but I find it easier to justify turning down a burger on the basis that it's meat than because it's fatty and not good for me. It's funny how the food you eat can affect your mood, but I'm finding that it really does, and that planning what I eat isn't just a case of controlling calories, but of feeling like I'm in charge and I'm getting the nutrients and flavours that I need to get though the day.

It's always humbling when someone you've never met says you've inspired them, and I can't get over how many times I've logged on here and felt a huge swell of pride at the fact that other people feel like I'm worth listening to or taking inspiration from. But still, my number one piece of advice would be to do what feels right for you. If being veggie helps your asthma, that's great and I hope it works for you, but I'm not sure that my plan would work for anyone but me, and feel free to adjust away!

9:09 PM  
Blogger Sushi Penguin said...

Sounds like you had a great vacation - isn't it awesome to just chill for a few days?
It's good to have you back. :) I like your approach to weight loss and life in general. :)

11:05 AM  

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