By , September 17, 2011 4:22 pm

When we set out on this RTW trip, we wanted to travel light. And here we are, 74 days later, 44 pounds lighter in Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala.

44 pounds, you say? What happened to the 44 pounds? Well, we finally found a weigh scale here in Xela, so here’s the breakdown:
– 20 pounds of fat were lost by Mike
– 23 pounds of fat were lost by Ashley
– 1 digital camera-shaped pound was lost by both of us, thanks to a clever pickpocket at the Independence Fair here in Xela. Therefore, we have no pictures for this post… though we’re currently working to remedy that situation. Note: The only pictures we actually lost were the ones of the fair… everything else was backed up.

Now, it’s probably worth noting that our goal for this trip was not necessarily to lose weight. It was to live healthier, happier, and more active lives than we were before. The weight loss is just a happy side effect.

The Diet

Despite cake lady’s best efforts, we’ve been eating almost exclusively healthy, fresh, and local food. We cook about 2/3 of our meals and most of our ingredients come from local mercados, or markets. We don’t stock up on food, either. We prefer to buy fresh produce, bread, and tortillas the day we plan to eat them. We’ve been joking with each other about how we’ve practically become vegetarians… we only eat meat about 3 or 4 meals a week. Otherwise, it’s fresh vegetables, rice, beans, tortillas, pasta, and fruit for us. And Mike loves his cashews (even though they cost twice the price of meat). Despite the title of this section we are not actually on a diet… we still regularly indulge in banana bread, Texas BBQ, tacos, tostadas, and pretty much anything else that looks or smells good to us.

The Active Lifestyle

Our favourite way to get oriented in a new place is to go for a walk. We spend a lot of time each day just walking… to the market in the morning, to the bakery in the evening, to the museums, the parks, or really anywhere else we want to go. The only time we pay for public transit (taxis, buses, or tuk tuks) is if our safety would be in jeopardy, or if the distance is really just too far to go on foot (10k+).

We’re not just losing weight, either, we’re building muscle and developing our cardiovascular systems. For example, when we first got to San Pedro, we were ready to collapse at the school after carrying our backpacks up the hill. By the end of that first day, it was all I could do to lay in bed after all the hills and stairs (of the dozen hotels we checked out with rooms on the top floor). I honestly wasn’t sure if I could even climb the volcano, I felt so out of shape.

Six weeks later, we have climbed the Indian Nose (1800m) and the Volcan San Pedro (3020m), gone on kayaking excursions, and don’t even break a sweat climbing the hill to the market.

I have also started doing pilates most mornings and Mike practices karate now and again.

The Result

In general, we feel better, have more energy, and are enjoying life. Our clothes, which were on the tight side when we left, are way too big for us… wearing a belt is not optional anymore. In fact, I had to cut three inches off my belt just to make it a reasonable length. Currently, we are looking forward to climbing one or more of the volcanoes here in Xela… we might even have another camera by then to take some pictures :)

I guess it´s true, travel is good for the waist line.

12 Responses to “44 Pounds Lighter in Xela”

  1. Amy says:

    We each lost about 20 pounds on our trip too! I credited no longer having a sedentary lifestyle, less processed foods, and smaller portion sizes. All things we are trying to keep up on at home, but our portion sizes have already crept back up and we don’t walk nearly as much despite trying to be more active.

    Glad you guys are feeling healthy and having fun! Hope your clothes hold up – we both bought some new items because at some point it just gets uncomfortable.

    • Ashley Lenzen says:

      I forgot to mention the portion sizes… one of our keys to not overeating and keeping the budget down is to share meals in restaurants. We always share one meal, rather than ordering two. And there’s only been a couple of occasions where we haven’t both felt satisfied afterwards.

      As for the clothes… I think I’m going to have to bite the bullet and buy some new pants. My hiking pants are already at least two sizes too big and as you say, they’ve hit the uncomfortable point.

  2. Terry says:

    HOLA…. I am so envious of you two and your travels, and the weight you are losing is great, wish I could say the same, as your mother is feeding me too well….have fun at the festival and have a drink for us

    • Ashley Lenzen says:

      Thanks, Terry. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t missing mom’s home cooking.

      Of course we’ll have a drink for you, but it may be water :) We hardly drink alcohol anymore… partly because of budget and partly because we feel better without it. When we really feel like one, we’ll have a beer or a wine… but that’s about it.

  3. Lauren says:

    Wow, that’s insane! Congratulations guys! I’ve lost a small bit of weight since travelling too, but mainly because the food in Asia scares me!

    • Ashley Lenzen says:

      We’re obsessed with eating the street food here… although the chicken foot stew scared us away in San Pedro. Maybe it was from the street food, but I imagine my two bouts of traveler’s diarrhea contributed to the weight loss too…

  4. Jaime says:

    Ill have to be honest with yall in Central America I did NOT watch my diet at all and just ate whatever and somehow managed to loose 20 pounds as well. I think its because everything is healthier and fresher and greener. I would eat alot of pastries and candies and fat foods. I think maybe its cus you are also more active. I never cooked my meals…lol & still don’t. If you are in Xela if you go to the main plaza at night you can find cheap street food that is so good.

    • Ashley Lenzen says:

      Thanks for the tip, Jaime. We discovered the street food at the main plaza our first day here in Xela. When I’m not sick, street food is definitely my favourite food to eat.

      We’ve definitely eaten our share of fried chicken, fried street food, and pastries here. But between the walking and smaller portions (and less snacking between meals), we still feel great!

  5. Katie says:

    That’s fantastic! The same thing always happens to me when I travel — especially when I spent 2 months in Costa Rica sans car. It’s amazing what cutting processed foods from your diet and just walking from place to place can do to change your body.

    • Ashley Lenzen says:

      Thanks, Katie! Every trip we’ve been on in the past has also led to weight loss. I think I’m loving the energy boost and general feeling of being healthier more than than the weight loss.

  6. That’s awesome! Congrats, guys! I really don’t think we’ve lost any weight – gained some probably, lol. Too much fried food and potatoes!

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