Ever wonder why when you travel in Europe you can eat whatever you want, you feel great, and don’t gain weight? It is the walking! Yes, we tend to eat more intuitively on vacation, spend more on eating, and often have more convenient access to fresh food in destinations like Europe, but 90 percent of how good you feel is a product of tripling your step count, especially all that walking after meals.
Most Americans do not realize how sedentary we are. Even if you wanted to replicate your European step count at home, most of our cities are not built for walking. Plus, we spend most of our days chained to a desk working.
I can also attest that when you are not on vacation and are sedentary in Europe (like spending all day sitting in the archive of Florence) you feel the same as you do in the US. And, sadly, there is no magic in Europe. You will gain weight if you eat nothing but pastries and pasta and don’t walk.
When it comes to health and weight management, a lot of emphasis is placed on what you eat, specifically restricting what and how much you eat. Study after study, however, has shown that diets don’t work long term. I have experienced this my entire life. My brain wants more food than 1500 calories and when I restrict it for too long, eventually it overtakes me. While my appetite would have allowed me to survive tough farm work in the 17th century, in 21st century America it just means I struggle with persistent food noise.
Enter my experiences abroad. Instead of focusing on limiting what I ate, I let myself eat what I wanted. I was satiated. And because of all the walking, I was using all of those calories. After putting on some weight during the pandemic, I decided it was time to replicate this at home. Instead of focusing on energy in, I was going to change my energy out.
This Tiktok explains this concept so well.
In February of 2022, I bought a walking pad. I knew I didn’t have 4 hours a day to walk outside, but I definitely had that time at my desk.
I have been walking and working (with some longish breaks for travel) for over a year now. I have slowly lost fat, improved my posture (making my shoulder and neck pain disappear), and increased my energy, focus, and work productivity. I am sleeping better, my resting heart rate is lower, and even my digestion has improved.
My daily walking average for the past year is 8.4 miles or 20,000 steps. After more than a year, I can easily walk 13 miles in one day. Please note, you will need to work up to this.
In addition to all of these health benefits, it has also helped heal my relationship with food and exercise. While I still strive to eat a healthy diet, I no longer feel the need to deny myself. I will eat a cookie if I want a cookie. I have even started having a small dessert every night. I can eat out and enjoy drinks with friends without counting calories or feeling guilty. After a long day of work, I no longer guilt myself if I am too tired to work out… because I already have! Working out is no longer something I dread or beat myself up about.
Overall, my walking pad and standing desk are two of the best investments I have ever made!
I have linked my walking pad and desk below, as well as everything I use for my set up. Happy walking!