Inca Trail Update: Day -346

It is September 15th, 2016 now. Rita and I have been working on our weight and walking ability for a month, and so far the results have been pretty encouraging. We started recording our exercise walks on August the 13th, and in the thirty-three days since then we have walked a total of 199 miles, and will break the 200 mile level when we walk after dinner tonight.

Let me stress as well that these are real miles, not those FB/BS (FitBit BullShit) miles. So we are not counting the number of steps we take to the bathroom, wandering around with the dog, shopping in malls, or any of the normal walking you do as part of being a living, mobile sack of protoplasm. We either use GPS to track our distances, or walk a pre-measured path to accumulate those “exercise miles”. We average about a three miles per hour pace, although usually our first mile is faster than that, and our last few are slower.

We missed only three days walking in those first thirty-three. Two of those missed days were because I foolishly let a blister develop on the bottom of my foot, and one because we took a day trip to Guayaquil (one of the reasons we went to Guayaquil was to buy hiking boots, so the blister thing doesn’t happen again). We’ve settled into a routine of walking at least three miles before breakfast, and three miles after dinner. Every third day or so, we will substitute a longer walk out to La Puntilla of anywhere from six to eight miles after breakfast for the morning walk.

It is interesting how quickly your body gets used to walking. We used to do a two mile loop once or twice a day. Now that walk seems like nothing at all. Two days ago we walked to Loberia and back, a six mile roundtrip, and felt like we used to feel after the two mile walks. It was no big deal to go ahead and walk our regular three miles after dinner that day. We have reached the point already that if we don’t walk, it feels weird.

This has given us a lot of confidence for the walking part of our Inca Trail trek. Except of course for the altitude, and the tragic number of stairs. To start preparing us for that, we’ve been walking up and down ten stories of stairs in our building a few times a week. We will start adding more stories, but not for a while. Right now, when we finish I walk around with my legs wobbling, making me look like Bambi on ice.

There has been success on the weight front as well, with Rita losing ten pounds in the past month, and me shedding seventeen and a half. The exercise has helped a lot of course, but we have also been eating smaller portions, and I’ve been preparing disgustingly healthy meals for us. This is another area where living in Ecuador is a big help. There are many different kinds of vegetables and fruit available cheaply and year round, you can get local meats that are steroid-free, and plenty of delicious and affordable fresh seafood.

After a few weeks, you get used to being hungry just about all the time. In fact, I’ve noticed that I’m only not-hungry three times a day – during the last half of each meal. About ten minutes after the dishes are clean, I’m looking forward to the next meal.

One thing that I am very pleased to find that I am not missing at all, is alcoholic beverages. They used to be a major source of calories for me. I had promised myself that when I finally dipped below the 250-pound threshold, out of the morbidly obese category and into the ranks of plain obesity, that I would celebrate with some rum. Or a lot of rum. But now that I’m within a few pounds of that goal, I no longer want to do that. Or more specifically, I want to keep losing weight more than I want to drink the rum.

That is something of a breakthrough for me, and I attribute it to the changed mental and emotional attitudes I’ve experienced since we set out on this project. We both feel better than we have for quite a while, we are enjoying our walking time together, and we are loving the changes we can feel in the way our clothes fit.

While we are still 346 days from the start of our hike to Machu Picchu, it looks to me like our personal journey to get to the journey is its own reward.

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  • Jo Alice Mospan says:

    well done. It is nice to feel that I am on this journey with you all.

    • Jim Santos says:

      Thanks Jo Alice! That post is actually an excerpt from a book I’m working on. It is more about the journey TO the journey, and will cover some personal issues involved as well.

  • Cheryl Weatherhead says:

    Congrats to both of you…your journey is inspiring! When we were in Cuenca in July, we did lots of walking…and really enjoyed it. I think that will be part of our daily routine as well…once we get back to Ecuador. Here in British Columbia, Canada, the weather is changing. The winds are picking up, temperatures starting to drop and winter is right around the corner. Some of the highways have had snow 🙁 Looking forward to those snow free days coming up in another year!!

    • Jim Santos says:

      Thanks for your comment. It is wonderful to be living here, with great walking weather almost all of the time. We just walked 7.6 miles today, it was cloudy and in the mid-70’s (F) – just perfect!

  • Scott Graham says:

    Jim, I think you’d find Gary Taubes’ books. He argues that the conventional wisdom (eat less and exercise more) often fails. Insulin and carbohydrate metabolism is the key.

    I’ve read a lot about nutrition and not many people are saying he is wrong. No one in fact that I’ve seen. Judge for yourself. Good Calories Bad Calories is very difficult reading but fantastic as he shows how scientific research is corrupted to reach a desired result. ‘Why we get fat and what we can do about it’ is easier but I liked the other better.

    Good luck on the weight loss (my wife is a yoga teacher and nutrition guru so she whipped me into shape a while back).

    Go O’s!

    • Jim Santos says:

      Thanks for the tip. As someone with type 2 diabetes, I did check with my doctor. As I’ve mentioned, one of the great things about living in Ecuador is the abundance of healthy whole foods, and to be able to easily and affordably have a variety and healthy diet.

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