April 20, 2015

Take My Picture Here! Things I Love About Traveling Fitter and Smaller

Guest Post by Genie

Yep, travel is a recurring theme here at Cranky Fitness lately! Crabby has been off gallivanting around the globe and has just returned in a predictably comatose state, muttering incoherent curses as she contemplates the ceiling-high pile of stinky laundry and the prospect of imminent cross-county relocation.  But be assured she will be back soon to bore you with tales and photos.  

So here are some more thoughts on travel from one of our favorite guest posters, Genie. (Check out her previous posts here and here and here). Since Crabby has never been heroic enough to shed large numbers of pounds herself, she was quite intrigued about the before-and-after-weight-loss perspective on travel.  So please welcome Genie back again to Cranky Fitness!--Crabby 

We love to travel. It’s sometimes all I can think about. We’ve learned how to travel cheaply while staying safe and having an amazing time. In the past, I’ve been a “trooper” dealing with a lot of difficulties to travel as a really heavy and out of shape woman. The trip to Rome and the surrounding region in 2011 was particularly rough and may have been in the back of my mind when I decided to get healthy. This past holiday we went back to Rome and then on to Bologna to base ourselves in the Emilia Romagna for 17 days. It was glorious. Oh, the art, the architecture, and Yes! The food!!!

This trip was different. As I’ve said before, I’ll never be “skinny,” but being fitter and smaller while traveling made a world of difference. I kept noticing things that were different about traveling as a fitter me that made this trip much easier and more enjoyable. Navigating my everyday life is assuredly easier, but this journey was a revelation on why I need to maintain all this. The adventure was no longer about figuring out how I was going to manage things without letting on that it was really hard to get up those unbelievably steep steps because there was a statue we wanted to see at the top. Or any of the other unmentionable things that I was too ashamed to tell The Husband about. Like my sensitive, really attuned to me partner didn’t notice?! But I tried to hide things. This trip was a joyous adventure focused on pacing ourselves for maximum enjoyment and loving every minute of it.

And have I mentioned the food yet? I will.

The first thing I noticed was that I fit much better into airplane seats. As airlines insist on dehumanizing this experience completely by making seats and leg space smaller and smaller, traveling in coach will never again be comfortable. But this time it was a lot better. My rear end didn’t spill into The Husband’s space creeping under the arm rest crowding him more than he was already crowded. My tray table came all the way down! You can’t imagine my excitement about this unless you have ever had to balance a cup of water on your belly while trying to eat airline food in an already cramped space. This after the flight attendant simply handed you the tray because he couldn’t find a place to safely put it because the tray table wasn’t level. This time I had room for the tray of the substance they refer to as food, my water and my e-reader—all on the tray. Which folded all the way down! I felt as if I had regained my dignity.

I fit into Italian bus and train seats quite nicely, thank you. It was a revelation to sit next to a European without squishing them knowing damn well they were thinking, “Ah! These fat Americans!” I know this because last trip when I tried to squeeze myself in, I heard someone mutter, in Italian, “Fat American.” I speak enough Italian by now to parse that phrase out. My butt slid right into the molded plastic seats of the buses and trams in Rome this time. I just smiled and didn't hesitate to sit next to anyone I pleased.

European restaurants are often really small. They are frequently in historic buildings that simply don’t have the interior space of our eateries. On previous trips, I've had some embarrassing situations where I couldn’t navigate around the tables to get to the seats or get out once the waiter had moved the table for me to sit down to eat. This time—No problem! I swear to you, the first night in Rome, tears streamed down my cheeks when I easily slipped into a corner table through the crowded area with ease. We went back to favorite spot where I had some significant difficulty before. This was an important moment in fitness! Blame the emotion on jet lag, if you like, but I don’t think that was it.

This is the spot of “the moment”!
This place is very small but every maneuver was a triumph this time.

And, yes, the food. All the glorious Italian food I could handle. We were walking for hours a day; I knew I would go home and get right back on the lifestyle wagon. So, this time, I didn’t even think about not eating everything I wanted to. Yes, bring me the pasta, please! And the tiramisu! And the prosciutto and cheese plate! And, can we have pastry and coffee again this afternoon? And can we find that gelato place again tomorrow? Will you be angry if I tell you I actually came home three pounds lighter? And I swear I don’t think those lovely Italians have ever heard of whole wheat pasta, the gods bless them!

After all that great food and wine, sometimes, when you travel, you find yourself in bathroom situations that aren’t quite up to “home standards.” In the past, this could be a problem of monumental proportions. This time, when I found myself looking at a metal circled hole in the ground, I thought, “Well, that’s what my glutes and quads are for, right?” No problem. Last trip, and I never told The Husband this, there was one time I held it so long I was in mega amounts of discomfort. I just couldn’t squat that day. I was already in too much pain and I just couldn’t do it. I don’t remember how long I held it, but it was not a good day.

There were lots of times when I realized I wasn’t in nearly as much pain because my oversized body wasn’t putting as much pressure on my poor feet and “Yes, I can keep walking, if you want to, sweetheart.” But, honestly, one of the delightful parts of traveling fitter and smaller was not running from The Husband’s camera. There are some pictures of me from this trip that I willingly posed for. I actually said a few times, “Ooohh, please take my picture here!” I think he was stunned the first time. I’ve spent many years hiding from cameras. I still don’t love them, but I don’t hate them either. And this time I know I was there. I have proof.

Take my picture here, Sweetheart! 
Arches and Pride in Ostia Antica

And do you want to know just how shallow this over-40-year-old woman can be? I loved being able to travel in cute clothes! I packed my bag with a few dresses that rolled up, fleece lined leggings, a skirt and thick sweater and a pair of black leather, waterproof boots. Yep, I looked pretty good this time. At least The Husband thought so (the writer smiles here). I was warm, comfortable (I am not a jeans kind of girl. I’ve just never liked them), and I felt good about my travel ready body.

Take my picture at the top of the stairs! Yes, the steep ones! And when can we go again?


  1. LOVED this post! Thank you! These are the hopes I have for myself when I embark on an overseas trip again one day. :)

  2. And by the way, I really wish Genie would have her own blog! :)

    1. Hope is where it all starts, Amy G! Planning a trip or planning a fitness journey--it all starts with hope :)

      I wish Genie had time for her own blog--I'll let you know if I ever do! Thank you for the kind words.

  3. Excellent! Another great reason to have a fit lifestyle, to be able to travel and enjoy it thoroughly!

    1. Yep, messymimi, much more this way than the other way!
      Thank you for reading.

  4. Something I think about more and more as the years go by - being fit so that I can go and do things! I will never be any kind of impressive athlete, but I want to enjoy traveling and I want to have the energy and stamina for those days of walking, walking, walking.

    Glad you had such a great time! :)

    1. Thanks, JavaChick--we had an amazing time! I'll never run a marathon myself but a travel day marathon? Bring it on!
      As the years march relentlessly on, I think about this too and I hope I last a little while longer because of all the changes.
      And all those days in between are much easier too.

  5. I feel like one of the most liberating things about traveling in better shape is the extra mental space to actually enjoy and experience this new location. I don't have a constant tape playing in the back of my head, worrying about how I'll look in pictures and how much farther I can walk and will I stand out and will I fit, etc etc. All of that noise in our heads can really distract from the amazing adventure in front of us when we travel, and I love the freedom.

    1. OMIGOSH!! You are so right, Kyley!! I wish I'd thought of it that way. In fact, there is much more room in my head on all days for so much more! You're right about the trip--I spent so much more time thinking about everything else--it was amazing. I don't miss that tape at all.

    it makes packing far easier :-)

    1. Indeed, it does!
      When I can't travel, I read about it so I can travel vicariously myself :)

  7. Thanks for sharing this, Genie! Love how everything was much easier and so much more enjoyable for you!

  8. My friend is so awesome! I have seen the victories and am still amazed at her insight in her writing. The struggle is real and so is the success. Looking forward to more posts and a future trip!


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