I just got back from a holiday in Italy where I proudly indulged in a whole salami and cheese pizza, a six course dinner, and tons of wine! It was amazing, it was wonderful and it all went straight to my bum!
Have you ever wondered how Italians stay so thin? Yeah, me too. There are lot of blog posts dedicated to this topic (check out my favorite by Beth at Mozzarella Diaries “10 Reasons Why Italian Stay So Thin”) so I won’t touch on that today. Rather than dwell on this unchangeable fact, I’d like to share with you some my personal tips that help me stay fit while in the land of pasta, pizza, gelato and thousands of other delicious temptations!
How to Stay Fit in Italy: 8 Tips for Staying Healthy While Still Enjoying La Bella Vita
1. Save pasta for lunch time
Being in Italy, it’s impossible to not eat pasta! Pasta carbonara, tagliatelle al ragù, and gramigna alla salsiccia are just a few of my favorites! Although I don’t eat pasta everyday (although many Italians do), when I do decide to have it, I eat it at lunch time. I learned this trick from Italians. They say eating pasta at lunch time gives your body time to burn off all those carbohydrates the rest of the day. Dinner is usually reserved for lighter meals, such a meat and vegetables or a salad.
2. Eat whole foods
Italians generally find processed foods pretty strange. Walking into an Italian supermarket for the first time was shocking: there was only one tiny shelf dedicated to snack foods such as potato chips, pretzels, and peanuts. It’s really hard to go wrong when shopping for food in Italy, because most of the things available are whole and processed very little. I hardly ever have junk food in my diet, which I guess makes up for all the cheese and salami I enjoy at aperitivo time. So when in Italy, avoid the small junk food aisle altogether and snack healthily.
3. Savor the wine, don’t gulp it
Italian wine is awesome, don’t get me wrong! It’s also cheap and readily available in large quantities so be wary of how much wine you indulge in while in Italy. Enjoy a glass with your meal but if you’re trying to stay fit, don’t overindulge on the empty calories too often.
4. At-home workouts
Whether you’re just travelling in Italy or living here permanently, I find at-home workouts extremely useful! Italian gyms are usually expensive and of low quality (really sweaty, overcrowded, and full of “peacockers”), so I much prefer to workout for free in the comfort of my own home. I’m a huge fan of Kelly and Daniel from www.FitnessBlender.com – they have a wide range of at home workout videos (many of them requiring no equipment) and they are all free!
5. Invest in some workout equipment
On the same note, I do have a few items that help me to stay fit at home. This includes a workout mat
(for doing yoga and other Fitness Blender workouts) and a set of dumbells from Decathalon (although bottles of wine or cans of tomato sauce work well too).
6. Find a parco near you
Almost every Italian city has a park. Find it and make it a priority to go there every week. I personally love exploring the parks and gardens in Bologna, and although I can’t run anymore (bad knee), I enjoy walking in them just to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and to breathe some fresh air.
6. Walk walk walk!
One good thing about living in Italy is that I don’t have a car. I could take the bus, but most of the things that I need are in walking vicinity so I usually end up walking just about everywhere and I certainly abide by the weekend passeggiata, followed by people watching in the city.
7. Get a bicycle
Another way I get a lot of exercise is through biking. I love my bike – not just because I can avoid waiting for the bus all the time – but because there is nothing more joyous than feeling the wind blow through your hair as you whizz on down a small alleyway! It’s a great form of exercise and it gets me where I need to be in no time!
8. Never deprive yourself
One final tip?! Never deprive yourself! Food is meant to be enjoyed, especially Italian food made in Italy! Don’t be afriad to indulge in a whole pizza every once and while, as long as you eat healthy the majority of the time and get lots of exercise.