Hello friends, and welcome to this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter.
Did you notice that in June you did NOT receive a Joyinmovement newsletter? It was only the second time in all the years I’ve been writing them that I missed a month. I know some of you noticed because I received emails asking, “Shelli, are you OK?” Well friends, I was more than OK, I was in Italy!
You might recall that last summer after my trip to Vancouver, Canada, I publicly declared to you that while I have done very little traveling in my life, I felt the time was ripe for more overseas adventures! One of the tricks and tools you can use to accomplish goals is to tell people, have them hold you accountable, but more importantly, keep your word! So, being a woman of my word, off to Italy for this year’s adventure.
There were many Joyinmovement principles that we talk about in each newsletter that really came alive for me during my trip. I’d like to share them with you and show you some photos.
While my primary movement activities these days are swimming and golfing, when given the chance I really enjoy a beautiful hike. This hike, high above the Amalfi coast, was a five hour journey through olive groves, lemon groves, grape fields and beautiful scenery. It was UP and DOWN and up and down again with steps, steps and more steps. No people at all, except for a shepherd and his sheep and gargantuan mutts pretending to be border collies!
At the B&B’s we stayed at, this was a typical Italian breakfast. Always a fresh fruit bowl and yogurt, accompanied by a sweet roll. What’s missing of course is my cappuccino, which was being made as I took this photo. Breakfast was a sit down affair and you were meant to stay a while and enjoy the start to the day. What a pleasure!
It’s very important, no matter where you are, to eat what’s available locally and what’s in season. This was very easy to do in Italy. Everywhere I went the Italian cuisine was different based on the region and time of year. Here in a Naples restaurant, is a Tutti di Mare plate filled with delicious fish. While in Rome I also had incredible in-season mussels.
Caprese salad with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil. If you like tomatoes, Italy is the place. In general, the produce and fruit were delicious and plentiful from farmer’s markets.
HATS off to the pleasure of pasta. I never knew there were so many kinds of pasta and so many ways to enjoy it. Again, this varied by region and so while in the north of Italy I sampled pesto, in Rome it was carbonara.
Are there any other Nutella lovers out there? OK, so a serving size of 2 tablespoons only has 3 grams of protein, who’s counting in Italy? The country is NUTS for Nutella. I saw it everywhere and it was offered in so many different ways, I stopped counting. My favorite was Nutella e Yogurt gelato!
Speaking of gelato, besides the Italian national pastimes of drinking espresso, walking, and eating pizza, I’d say eating gelato was right up there. So many flavors of gelato, so little time. I found a few organic gelaterias and my favorite flavor turned out to be pistachio. When pistachio is made with REAL nuts and none of that weird green coloring is used, it’s delicious.
Speaking of pizza, no matter what toppings you like on your pizza, there’s a slice waiting for you!
Stefano turned out to be my favorite pizza artist! And although I sampled many kinds of pizza, one of my favorite sandwiches (which I don’t have a photo of) turned out to be filled with anchovies and butter! Yes, I do have an adventurous palette but try it sometime and let me know what you think.
Did I mention Italy is filled with steps? Everywhere you go you’ll encounter steps, and plenty of them. You’ll walk mile after mile on cobblestone streets as well. Here’s where a big Joyinmovement principle comes in.
We talk a lot about GPP: General Physical Preparedness. While it’s OK to be a sport specific athlete, I feel it’s more essential, and will serve you better, to be a well rounded athletic person with great mobility, strong, functional muscles, and wonderful endurance. That’s how I would describe myself and I’m hoping many of you would be able to say the same about yourself.
While in Italy I wore my pedometer every day. It’s fun! Not including Rome, I averaged 7.6 miles of walking a day. In Rome, which is a fabulous city and great for walking, I averaged 11.5 miles a day! Yes, that’s correct. And as I mentioned, that includes plenty of steps and hills. It felt great to be in that kind of GPP shape. Got hills, bring em’ on. Got cobblestone streets, my ankle mobility drills and having healthy functional feet saved the day. Steps? My good technique both going up and down steps saved my knees and quads. See what I mean? While maybe you could get “in shape” for a physically vigorous trip in a few weeks time, I want to be in this kind of shape ALL the time. Then if anyone says, “Hey Shelli, I’ve got a ticket to go hiking in the Alps, wanna come?” I can reply, “Heck yeah!”
Every hill and all those steps was usually rewarded with a beautiful view! This is Florence.
While my own personal day pack was much smaller, and traveling light was my mantra, I thought this backpack displayed at a luggage store was symbolic of traveling with too much baggage. I carried a luggage/pack that weighed 25 pounds and that was it. No pulling wheeled luggage over cobblestone streets.
Always time for an espresso break; espresso con panna (fresh homemade whipped cream).
Again, eating what’s fresh and local is the way to go. Here’s some mozzarella di bufala; the real thing. Very delicious and always served with some side dishes like olives, tomatoes, or eggplant, and of course homemade bread.
Tartufo from Tre Scallini in Rome. When you eat desserts here are my rules: go for the best, share it and take a photo!
Let’s turn back to the Joyinmovement lessons I learned before I close this month’s newsletter.
1. Stay fit and healthy all year long. I saw VERY few Italians who wore exercise clothes. I also saw very few Italians who were overly fat. What I did observe is that they are out walking all the time, so movement and walking is simply a big part of their everyday lives. After dinner they take a passeggiata (walk) and as I’ve mentioned before, walking after a meal is great for digestion. How many of us walk after each meal? Every park I went to all over Italy was filled with strolling people of all ages. It was wonderful to see. Integrate your movement life into your daily activities in as many ways as you possibly can.
2. The whole food culture in Italy was absolutely fascinating for me to observe and experience. Meals were eaten very slowly. Dinner every night took at least two hours. In restaurants food is served slowly and enjoyed leisurely.
Besides drinking wine with meals (it is Italy after all), everyone drinks a ton of water. On the streets and in the parks there were many public drinking fountains where you could drink or fill up a water bottle with potable water. I loved this. And with every meal, big bottles of water are consumed. I rarely saw an Italian person drinking soda with meals.
There’s a popular expression, “less is more”. While I understand what people who say this mean by it, I don’t think I agree. What’s more useful is to ask yourself, “Is less enough?” This was my biggest take away lesson from my time spent in Italy. Let me see if I can explain why.
Italians love life and live it in a BIG way, but it’s also very much a place where less is enough.
Using coffee as an example, I never saw big mugs of coffee or take-out 20 ounce cups. An espresso, or cappuccino, is less and enough. So are the small sweet treats that come with your coffee. No giant jumbo sizes of anything. While I ate my share of gelato, the local people ordered the small size and so did I. Guess what? It was plenty. Cars are smaller than in the U.S. and I found my rental Fiat to be more than enough car for me. In so many ways I found that I was eating smaller portions and felt great. If it wasn’t enough, there was always more available, right? While on one level my examples may seem trivial, asking the question is less enough really had a profound effect on me.
Upon returning home I have continued to ask this question in more meaningful ways about my life and the choices I make each and every day. I find myself in a more moderate zone and at peace in a way that surprises me. I’d be very interested in hearing if and when you’ve worked with the “is less enough” question and what benefits it has brought to your life.
So thank you for sharing in my Italian journey. Italy is certainly a place that will inspire Joyinmovement, joy in eating and joy in laughing along with the Italian people.
Until next month, think independently and keep finding new and fun ways to find Joyinmovement!