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What could you accomplish if you let go of excuses?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Well, my answer to this question this week is – 360 minutes of exercise in seven days, and 4 lbs lost. Not bad, eh?

I weighed in at 168.2 lbs on Sunday, April 7. I had finished a busy week with travel (meeting in Toronto April 1 - 3) and three baseball games (think hot dogs, popcorn and drinking). I had weighed 165.0 on April 1. I was NOT happy.

I got my butt to the gym at 10:45 that morning and did an hour of zumba (11 – 12), followed by an hour of yin yoga (12:15 – 1:15). Yin yoga involves holding deep stretches for long periods of time; I think we did a total of four poses that class. I started tracking my food again that day, too.

Monday, despite a headache, I got to interval box after work (5:30 – 6:30). I tracked my food and went a little over – a friend was celebrating 1 year of business at his pizza place, so I picked some up for dinner to support.

Tuesday, despite lady pains, I got to Crossfit bootcamp (7 – 8). I tracked my food.
Wednesday, I got to zumba. I also ate more than I should that day – we went out to celebrate a coworker’s promotion and got an appetizer and dessert. I didn’t track lunch, but I know I went over.

Thursday, I rested (whew.) and tracked.

Friday, despite a long and boring day, and the temptation to leave early (everyone started clearing out around 4 p.m.), I stuck around and went to bootcamp after work (5:30 – 6:30). I tracked everything up to and including dinner…but not the drinks or late-night sweet potato fries.

Saturday, I rested. And rested. Honestly, I slept in until about 10:30, and then napped from about 4 – 6. We went out for dinner that night with a gift card. I didn’t track.

Sunday, I went to the gym for my double-header again, and tracked. Felt damn good.

Stepped on the scale this morning, and saw 164.0. Four down from last Sunday. One down from April 1. I’m also down inches – 1.75 to be exact. I’ll be honest – I dreaded some of my workouts last week. I tried to talk myself out of them. I wanted to indulge in unhealthy foods. I had mental battles – and I did end up treating myself to a medium ice cream from Marble Slab following Saturday’s dinner. But I kept telling myself – no excuses. If I choose to attend or not attend an exercise class, I consciously had to make that choice. And that made all the difference. I may have dreaded some workouts, but I don’t regret a single one. And seeing the results of last week, I’m motivated to keep up the effort this week.

What are you going to accomplish this week? I challenge you to own your decisions – no excuses. If you are going to skip a workout, own it. If you are going to indulge, own it.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MTRACHEL 4/30/2013 9:15PM

    Thanks for this week's mantra..OWN IT. I'll use that for sure!

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AEGISHOT 4/30/2013 2:45PM


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SEEHOLZ 4/29/2013 5:35PM

    Way go to go- I hope you are still on your roll!!!

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DESYACV2 4/19/2013 12:15AM

    wow that's awesome emoticon so proud of you.

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JELLEN726 4/16/2013 8:57AM

    emoticon emoticon

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4EVERADONEGIRL 4/15/2013 4:34PM

    And THAT right there is what happens when you don't let excuses dictate what you do!! It sounds like it was a challenge, but so worth it!!

Keep at it, girlie!

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_TRIXIE_ 4/15/2013 2:13PM

    WAY TO GO!!! Way to kick your excuses to the curb!

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Feeling like my old self again

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

This is the second time it's happened - I get overwhelmingly busy near the end of the year, and have an absolutely insane first quarter. My sleep suffers, my nutrition suffers, my exercise suffers, and my stress level skyrockets. I've got a plan now to reduce this for end of 2013, but in the meantime, I'm finally getting back into my routine.

Since the weekend (including the weekend), I've tracked my food. I've tracked every morsel that's crossed my lips since Sunday morning. I went a little over on Sunday, but I've been in range since.

In the last three days, I've logged 240 fitness minutes.
120 on Sunday: a 60-minute zumba class, followed immediately by a 60-minute yoga class (yin).
60 on Monday: a 60-minute boxing class right after work
70 today: a 60-minute crossfit bootcamp in the evening.

Sunday felt good. Like, D@MN good. Stretching out for an hour after working up a sweat dancing was glorious. Monday's workout was kicked off with a headache, but I powered through it, and worked up an awesome sweat. And today, I worked from home from 11:30 on due to some lady discomfort, but felt well enough to make it to crossfit, which was amazing and awful all at the same time.

I feel back to my old self again. My fit, health-oriented self.

And it feels WONDERFUL.

A friend said something in our spark team recently (shout-out to _trixie_!) that really struck me, and got my butt to crossfit tonight. I'm paraphrasing, but basically she said, "what could you accomplish if you let go of excuses?"

I could have used my discomfort earlier today to justify skipping crossfit, but I would have regretted it. I made a conscious decision to not let excuses get in my way.

I could have decided that since I didn't pack a lunch Sunday or Monday night, I needed to buy something convenient for lunch on Monday and Tuesday. Instead, I packed lunches in the morning, and stuck with them.

So....what could YOU accomplish if you let go of excuses?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RUSSELLORAMA 4/13/2013 8:17PM

    Honestly, the answer is "damn near anything I can think of!" Great job, Mags!

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4EVERADONEGIRL 4/10/2013 10:48AM

    Way to go Mags!!! I know that Trix, although not trying to at all, called a lot of us girls out with that quote! And here I am in my head this morning thinking "man, I'm tired, I don't feel like doing any of this today, blah, blah, blah"...but then you remind me that those are all excuses.

Thanks for the reminder and thanks for sharing your enthusiasm...Lord knows I needed it this morning! :-)

Time to go track some food...

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MESEATURTLE 4/10/2013 4:16AM

    Its great u r getting back and feeling good!!!!way to go on going for class even when not up to it!!!!I know excatly what u mean as its getting back to exercise that is making me feel good too :)
what would /could u accomplish if u let go of excuses???? super one....definitely going to use this all day !!!!thanks!!

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Stressed about money and weight gain, I just realized how I've been eating my money...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Over the last year, three things have caused me considerable stress:

1. Money
2. Weight gain
3. Work

I don't know why it took until now to realize it, but these things are linked in a big way.
Forgive me if this is obvious for you - feel free to skip the rest of this blog - but I think it's important to acknowledge links and patterns.

Here's the thought process:
1. I have a great job, but it fluctuates from overwhelmingly busy to dead slow, depending on the time of year. In the first and last quarter, it's not unusual for me to work 10-hour days - 9-hour days consistently.
2. At the end of a long day, it's not unusual to dread cooking. It feels a heck of a lot easier to pick up dinner (even if it doesn't save time, because, let's face it, it takes the same amount of time to cook it)
4. I pick up dinner on the way home, and often it's a single serving meal (I.e no leftovers) - depending on whether it's just for me or for me and the man, that ranges from $15-40
5. No leftovers = no lunch to bring to work with me, so I pick something up, hurry back to the office and get back to work. That ranges from $5-15.
6. At the end of a long week, I want to relax all weekend, and, let's face it, there's a good chance I'm working at least a few hours on Sunday. I don't find time to get to the grocery store (and not motivated - I'm not cooking because I don't perceive that I have enough time, so it will just go to waste anyways, right?)
7. I don't have groceries at home, so I don't have breakfast food to make before leaving for work
8. I end up picking up a bagel/muffin on my way to work. That ranges from $1.50-7

What does this mean? 
- I need to work on my work-life balance
- I've been eating my money
- poor nutrition habits and stress on their own can cause weight gain....put them together and your odds are twice as bad
- I need to remember how much I enjoy home cooked meals - doing so will save my wallet AND my waistline

This month, my nutritional goal was to eat my own cooking more than other people's (the man not included). The first two weeks were pretty dismal, I won't lie. This week, however, something clicked.

I haven't bought breakfast this week. I bought a coffee at Tim Hortons on Monday partway through an hour drive en route to an off-site meeting (I needed to use their facilities), and a latte on Wednesday en route to work. I'm not going to lie, it was very tempting to just buy a muffin with the latte, but I overcame it before leaving home and made a smoothie.

I have not bought lunch all week. My meeting on Monday was over lunch, so I had the pizza provided. I stuck to two slices and skipped the wings and garlic bread. Tuesday I had a lunch and learn, but I stuck with half a turkey sandwich on whole wheat with salad.

I have eaten home-cooked dinners every night since (and including) Saturday. Not always the healthiest - Monday was tacos, tonight was pulled pork in BBQ sauce - but homemade, which was the goal.

In addition to all of this, I've made at least two brand-new recipes since January 1. A chicken recipe, and waffles.

How's it going? Well, on Thursday last week I saw 164 on the scale (granted, it was following a day that included all-you-can-eat sushi). I've weighed in every day since, not due to obsession, but to motivate myself to stay on track. This morning I saw 157.6. I'd say my waistline's happier. And I can guarantee my wallet is. Work's still stressful, but I'll keep working at it. In the meantime, st least I'm not letting an intense workload keep me from planning, grocery shopping, or cooking.

Funny how things can be related, huh?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SCHENPOSSIBLE 1/22/2013 10:11PM

    I can totally relate. I lost my job this summer and had to work my butt off just to maintain my bills. Although I was working my butt off, the weight was still packing on! I didn't have time in between working two jobs to cook so I ate on the go. It's a hard cycle because you have to work these long hours to make ends meet, and sometimes cooking and packing just ain't in the cards. I'm glad now that I do have the time to eat my cooking, because I do like that the best. Good luck with everything. It sure does help when you see results like you've had!

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PAMAZON 1/22/2013 5:09PM

    I went to a counselor about 15 years ago when I felt like I was dealing with a food addiction. He asked if I also struggled with finances. When I confirmed I did, he said that it was very typical that people with overeating issues also have trouble handling their finances properly. Lightbulb!

I think everyone's bank acct. is happier when they're not eating out a lot, and like you've seen, it makes the body happy too! Keep up the good work and embrace the leftovers. I make enough for the four of us to eat that meal two nights in a row. Makes my homecooking life so much more enjoyable! And if you make some yummy lunches it will make the work day a little more enjoyable too.

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4EVERADONEGIRL 1/22/2013 4:28PM

    So glad you had that epiphany! Sounds like it was a game-changer! Keep at it and your wallet and waistline will continue to thank you. :-)

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STARFISH619 1/22/2013 1:34PM

    It is very hard to strike a balance, but it is amazing how much better you feel when you do. I find it hard eating at home and end up eating a lot of single serving light, frozen meals. Not as good as homemade, but make sense for me, and in the end, cheaper than eating out.
Best of luck to you on finding yourself somewhere in the happy middle. :)

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PINK_NEVAEH22 1/18/2013 9:00AM

    Yes as ANJOYLA said, finding a balance is one of the toughest parts in a healthy lifestyle. It sure is for me. I am trying to study so I can get back to school, being a homemaker for a house of four, one being a 3 month old, one being a 5yr old and hubby. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, dishes, studying, working out, shopping, making sure I give enough attention to both children, enough attention to hubby, and trying to find a little me time to maybe log my food after a long day? Very crazy & stressful. This is why they say go through your schooling and have a good job before you have children, lol. But I wouldn't trade it for anything, I love them and had the timing been different, Jacob, would not be Jacob, and Aliviah, would not be Aliviah. So yes, balance is key but I think we also need to allow ourselves a little wiggle room. Sometimes I feel like I am running a marathon, trying to rush, rush, rush, to do dishes, the laundry, and clean the house while Aliviah is sleeping. Then I have to stop and feed her, change her, play with her, then rush again to shower, or cook myself something to eat, maybe even eat it while it's still hot,lol. Then I have to make sure I feed her right before I go to pick up my son or she starts screaming, then he starts trying to shout over her. Life is nuts!!! We just have to go with and learn to grow with it. I sometimes just have to throw my hands up and say the laundry is going to sit in that basket today, Or I don't have time to cook a big meals so I thaw out some cooked shrimp, heat it up, microwave some steamed veggies and make a salad. Done in less then 10 minutes. Sounds like you need more convenient foods around, that seems t be your big stressor, so start there! I already know you can do this and I think you do, you got this Mag's! emoticon

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SEEHOLZ 1/18/2013 5:48AM

    Boy can I relate on the stress! while I do make smoothies or protein shakes ( if I'm super late) for breakfast, I'm not good at bringing my own lunch. For me it's not a wallet issue, because we have this super cheap "healthy" vending machine- usually I'll grab a turkey on wheat etc for $1=$3, but the point is and I oftentimes stop to buy a banana - 50 c but I'm not consistent on bringing fruit etc. Sometimes I do grab a frozen dinner- so I think all my lunch choices aren't horrible, but definitely leave room for improvement. The issue for me is dinner- I don't cook very often - due to "lack of time"- so I oftentimes don't really eat a dinner, but rather snack..... like at 4pm, then when I get home and then maybe at 8pm. So my dinner might consist of bread, ham, egg whites or egg whites, bread, ham-LOL... 2 chips here, 1 tbs spoon of PB there etc. Basically, not a real dinner and where are the veggies?
I do cook on the week-ends, so that is at least something- but I don't always cook enough for leftover.

I think what you are doing is great- it's realistic and manageable and being aware is KEY!

Keep this up - it sure made me think about my own habits :-)

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SPIRALDOWN 1/17/2013 10:23PM

    lessons are always hard to learn...but when we do we learn them well...YOU CAN DO IT!

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ANJOYLA 1/17/2013 10:13PM

    I think on Spark everyone is dealing with balancing and I think it's great we have blogs and are able to share and encourage and learn from one another. Thank you for posting.

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New year, new Mags.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The last time I did this, I went from 182 lbs (when I finally stepped on a scale; I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been higher at some point) to 142 from March 2009 to June 2010. That time, I started out by keeping a food journal, getting to know my kitchen, and doing cardio – walking on the treadmill, and getting on the exercise bike. I dropped the first 24 lbs that way. Then I found SparkPeople. My goal was to reach 150 lbs – I dropped the last 8 lbs relatively quickly as I incorporated strength training and started tracking calories. I dropped another 8 over the course of 5 months to 142 lbs. During the entire period, I was working as a receptionist – set hours, low income, plenty of time for exercise and cooking.

I maintained at about 145 for just over a year. Then my life changed pretty drastically – for the better, but also for the busier. In addition to other things (became single, moved, etc.), I got a promotion – a permanent full-time job in marketing, where hours are no longer set, better money....and less time for exercise and cooking. During a very stressful summer and adjustment period – single in June 2011, started the new job July 1, moved mid-August, I gained about 8 lbs and got up to 150. Then, in December 2011, I met the man. Lots of wining and dining, more and more time spent together, and exercise took a back seat. Over the course of 2012, I gained 12 lbs.

Enter 2013. New year, new (or improved) Mags. I'm moving all of my stuff into storage on Saturday. I'm already living with the man, and we're both ready to get rid of some extra weight. My goal is to get down to 150 again this year.

I've been working in marketing for just over a year and a half. That's a year and a half of buying more and more premade (take out/restaurant) food, a year and a half of reduced exercise. A year and a half of long hours – Friday, I was at my desk from 7:45 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. I took 5 minutes to reheat my lunch and got back to work. I could take the attitude that this is how my life could be.

Or I could accept the challenge and make it work.

Game plan:

This month, my goal is to eat better. It’s been too easy to slip into the habit of grabbing a latte and a muffin on my way in to work; to run out and pick up lunch (sometimes it’s the only way I get away from my desk); to drag myself home after a long day and grab a pizza en route. I’m making slow progress in terms of eating better; making more of my meals. My goal this week is to eat maximum one breakfast, lunch and dinner out between now and Friday.

In the fall, I more or less managed to get to my boxing class on Mondays and zumba on Wednesdays. In December, due to illness, I worked out once. My eventual goal, which I’m working up to, is to go to boxing on Monday (60 minutes), yoga on Tuesday (90 minutes), zumba on Wednesday (60 minutes), run on Thursday (40 minutes), and a gym session (cardio + strength training, 90 minutes) on Saturday. A total of 340 minutes/week. Last week, I managed boxing and zumba. This week, I’ll get to yoga and zumba, as well as a gym session. In addition to my workouts, I’ve been doing a progressive plank and push-up challenge – 10 second plank, 1 push-up on January 1st, 20 seconds, 2 push-ups on January 2nd, and so on. Today, I did a 90 second + 50 second plank, and 14 push-ups.

Life’s still busy. This month has largely been dedicated to cleaning and packing; in February, it’ll largely be dedicated to travel (3 weeks in a row!), but I’ll make it work. It’s all about balance and prioritizing. And the fact that the man has similar goals makes things easier.

Time to make my health a priority again. Work is not the most important part of my life. I’ve got everything I need I just need to balance it all. I think I’m up for the challenge.

In fact, I know I am.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SUNSHINE084 1/15/2013 4:55PM

    Good plan, have you ever tried Zow wrk outs? You may like them. You tube zuzzana light.

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TEGOCHU 1/15/2013 4:34PM

    Sounds like you're ready to go! That's awesome that your boyfriend's in the same boat too, I'm sure that'll really help in terms of keeping each other motivated! I'm starting all over again too.. Lets get this done! :)

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PINK_NEVAEH22 1/15/2013 11:07AM

    I love your attitude and I know you can do it too!!!!! emoticon

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BROCOLIJOLI 1/15/2013 10:15AM

    Sounds like you have a good plan in place. You can do it!

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Italy, Part Two: Cinque Terre

Thursday, January 03, 2013

I’ll admit, I completely slacked on the Italy Part II blog…I can’t believe it took me four months to write and post it! Anyways without further delay, the rest of my trip recap:

Thursday morning we got up bright and early to finish packing and get our apartment tidy before returning the keys and hiking to the train station. Remember how we walked *everywhere* on our trip? We both had big hiking backpacks with daypacks strapped on them. We turned in our keys and started our hike – windy with a lot of uphill parts. We’d given ourselves plenty of time to ensure we wouldn’t get lost or miss our train; if we missed one we were in trouble, because I’d pre-purchased all of our tickets. We got to the train station almost an hour early, had a croissant and caffé (latte for me, Americano for the man), then boarded. We’d purchased first class tickets to Pisa, and shared a car with a couple from Australia and one from New Zealand. The three hour train ride went by relatively quickly, as we talked the whole time. In Pisa, we said goodbye.

We checked our luggage for a pittance (seriously, I think it was maybe 6 or 7 euros for both backpacks??) and got a map, then hit the sidewalk. We stopped by a café a block away from the train station, bought a couple sandwiches (I can still remember the mozzarella – sooooo good!) and Coca Cola Lights and headed for the Leaning Tower. We took a wrong turn when we trusted a street sign over the map, but quickly got back on track, and made it in just under 30 minutes.

How crazy is that lean??

We grabbed a spot in the shade of the tower and ate our lunch, laughing at all the tourists taking their cheesy photos pushing the tower over or holding it up, knowing full well that we’d be doing the exact same thing after we were done eating.

I wasn’t joking. Cheesy. Photo.

After wandering around for about an hour, we headed back to the station. We had a train to La Spezia (pronounced Spetcha) to catch after 3 hours in Pisa, and didn’t want to miss it…or we’d miss our connection to Vernazza in Cinque Terre. We made it back in plenty of time, so I got a gelato (God, I miss stracciatella gelato…mmmmmmmmm). Then we discovered our train was delayed, and a little bit of panic set in.

The train arrived in La Spezia about 25 minutes behind schedule, 5 minutes after the train to Vernazza was scheduled to depart. We had to print our official tickets at a machine in La Spezia although I’d already paid for them – luckily the ticket was actually valid for any train going to Vernazza that day. As our tickets were printing, the man looked at the schedule and realized that our train hadn’t departed yet. I’m not going to lie, as soon as he said that I started running, the man right on my heels. We got to the platform as the doors were closing, but a wonderful man held one open for us. We joked later that this was our “Amazing Race” day.

At the end of the “Amazing Race”, as the train’s pulling into Vernazza.

Cinque Terre (pronounced Cheenkway Terray) literally means “five towns”. There are five towns along the coast – Riomaggiore (“Riomaggioray”), Manarola, Corniglia (“Cornelia”), Vernazza and Monterosso. We stayed in Vernazza, in a tiny room overlooking the main square and the harbour. Stepping off the train was like stepping into a storybook. Vernazza is beautiful. We continued our tradition of eating every meal outside by enjoying the dish of the region that night – trofie al pesto. It’s a handmade pasta with very few ingredients (seriously, like flour, water and one other one I’m forgetting) that is rolled into a shape that resembles a small green bean, tossed in homemade pesto (the basil in this region is AMAZING). It was delicious. I’ve already found a recipe online and just need to find a day that I can make it. We crashed relatively early that night, since we had a big day ahead of us on Friday.

Friday we got started a little later than originally planned (around 10) but were relieved that the weather was once again cooperating with us. We had breakfast and headed to the train station to buy our Cinque Terre hiking and train pass – a two day pass, 10 euros per person per day. The guy at the train station wouldn’t sell me a two day pass; he told me that it was supposed to storm on Saturday and that the trails would be closed – Saturday was our hike to Monterosso, the beach town, where we planned to spend our afternoon! I bought the one-day passes (which were literally half the price of the two day passes), and we hit the trail to Corniglia.

Looking back at Vernazza

These trails are maintained, but they’re rough. They’re not paved, they’ve been smoothed out and the steps, etc., often have stones to make it easier, and there are (thank goodness) railings in (most) of the dangerous spots. Cinque Terre, while on the coast, is also located in a very mountainous (is that a word?) area. There is a LOT of steep uphill hiking. But the views are sooooo worth it.


We hiked through olive groves, past little terraces with grape vines and lemon trees and tomato plants. We saw a fair number of people, but the trails were by no means crowded, and everyone was very friendly. Despite the fact that we’d hear people approaching us talking English, everyone gave the same greeting, “Buon Giourno” (I apologize, I likely misspelt that). It wasn’t long before I stripped down to my bikini top, it was quite a workout!

Can you see the red face and sweat…and utter happiness?

My guidebook had instructed that it would take us around an hour and a half to get from Vernazza to Corniglia. We did it in an hour and a quarter. We promptly found a café and bought a drink and some focaccia with pesto and mozzarella on it…so good!

There was a mudslide in the fall of 2011 that took out the trail from Corniglia to Manarola, so we had to take the train for that leg of the journey. Fun fact #1: Corniglia is the only “Terre” that is not directly on the sea; it’s located on top of a hill overlooking the sea. Fun fact #2: this means that to get to the train station you need to go down over 300 steps. Bear this in mind if you go to Cinque Terre – if you take the train INTO Corniglia, you’ve got to climb those steps. Don’t say you haven’t been warned!

We got into Manarola just after noon. If you’ve ever looked at a book or a post card featuring Cinque Terre, this is the town pictured. See?


We hiked up the trail towards Corniglia out of Manarola to take in the stunning view, then went back into town to pick up a pizza (tomato sauce, mozzarella and pesto – notice a trend here?) and a drink, then headed back up the trail to enjoy the view while we ate. The man took a picture of his “happy place” (sorry I don’t have it here) – me, the *fresh* pesto pizza, and beer. After indulging our eyes and our taste buds, and resting our legs, we hit the trail again.

The trail between Manarola and Riomaggiore is the most finished and accessible. It’s called the Via del l’Amore. It’s honestly like a sidewalk in the most visually stunning place ever. There is a tradition on Via del l’Amore – you bring a lock and key with you and you put the lock somewhere along the trail, then throw your key into the Ligurian Sea. It’s meant to represent your love, which cannot be broken. The man laughed a little at me when I told him about this before our trip but I bought a cheap lock anyways and brought it with us. You should see all the locks. It’s insane. He stopped laughing when he saw them. We put our lock on the trail, then each threw a key in the sea. Afterwards, we realized that there were about half a dozen elderly people sitting on a couple benches watching us. Good thing we didn’t get all sappy and inappropriate!

Placing our lock on the Via del l’Amore.

By the time we got to Riomaggiore (about a 20-minute walk), we were pretty wiped. We didn’t explore much, but found a bar and had a drink or two looking over the waves, before catching the train back to Vernazza. It was very relaxing, and the man practiced his Italian (I did most of the communication on our trip) by ordering himself a beer and asking them what white wine they would recommend for me.

The buildings in Riomaggiore.

We hopped on the train, which was actually a couple minutes early, around 4:30….and promptly watched it go right by Vernazza. It appears that we didn’t actually catch OUR train, but a direct one to Monterosso (the fifth “Terre”). Luckily, 10 minutes after we arrived in Monterosso there was a train going to Vernazza, so we only got home about 20 minutes later than we expected to. We had a quick siesta, had a delicious dinner and my requisite gelato, and relaxed for the night.

Saturday, we woke up to (thank goodness!) sunny skies. We had our breakfast, bought our hiking and train pass, and hit the trail…or so we thought. We hit a dead end and had to head back to the square. The thing with these trails is that they’re not well marked – the trail to Monterosso literally starts with a narrow alleyway-like staircase out of the main square. Luckily, all of the trails are marked with a red line under a white line, so we found our way pretty quickly.
This hike was CHALLENGING. As we headed out of Vernazza, we were climbing stairs that had my knees at chest height. I have to admit that I pointed out a few “amazing photo opps” to the man just so I could catch my breath (although he had to, too).

Here’s one of those photo opps:

The views were totally worth all the work, though. I had read in the guidebook that travelers felt that this section of the trail was the most dangerous, and there were multiple occasions where we said to each other “THIS must be what they’re talking about….no, THIS must be.” There were parts of the trail that were less than 20” wide with mountain face on one side and air on the other – and people are coming from both directions! But as long as you’re careful, attentive and wearing good shoes (seriously, some people wore flip flops or strappy sandals!) you’re not in any danger. I thought the hike out of Vernazza was steep, but the last 30 minutes of our hike (an hour and 45 minutes total) was steep downhill between terraces and terraces of grape vines. It would have been brutal to climb them.

Approaching Monterosso

We reached Monterosso just after noon. We bought a couple beach towels and goggles – Monterosso is the most commercial “Terre”, definitely takes advantage of its beaches – and stopped at a restaurant on the beach for a light lunch. I had a mojito (my first non-wine alcoholic beverage of the trip) and a Caprese salad (LOVE Caprese salads) and the man had a Corona (first non-Italian beer of the trip) and prosciutto and melon. We were on the beach, had to have beachy drinks! After eating, we headed down to the beach and rented two loungers and an umbrella (Side note: there are a few free beaches in Italy, but they’re not as nice as the ones you pay for…and we did not want to get burnt!).

The view from our loungers

We swam in the Ligurian Sea twice and relaxed on our loungers for the afternoon. The water was gorgeous – not warm like bath water, but not a shock to the system, either. We talked about our trip and how we wished we could spend more time in Cinque Terre (and I asked for the umpteenth time, “What did we do to deserve this trip??”), and what we would do if we could stay longer. We headed back to Vernazza around 5 and had a siesta, waking up at 7 to discover that the forecast rain had arrived – and left – while we were asleep. Fun fact – we spent all day in swimwear and (sometimes) t-shirts; after the rain, we had to wear jeans and long-sleeved shirts. We still managed to eat outside under an umbrella for dinner, had our gelato and prepared for our travel back to Rome.

Sunday, we slept in a little, handed in our room key by 11, had some breakfast and picked up some souvenirs to bring home – olive oil, pesto, wine stoppers, etc. We caught a slightly early train to La Spezia (experience had me nervous we’d miss our connection to Rome) and said goodbye to the most magical place I’ve ever been. In La Spezia, our train to Rome was slightly late and we had a brief panic when it stopped and we discovered that we were in front of car #8 but had seats in #2…raced up and got on just before the train left. On the four hour train ride, my stress level, which was at an all-time low, climbed a bit as a family with two annoying young children bickered in Italian across the row.

We arrived in Rome around 4:30, strapped on our backpacks and made our way to the Spanish Steps. Our walk took 45 minutes and my stress level spiked – everyone was dawdling and took no notice of the fact that we were both wearing large and heavy hiking bags. We finally got to our hotel and the lady behind the desk didn’t speak English. Between sign language and my very bad Italian we checked in, and discovered that our third floor room was only accessible via the marble staircase. Fun fact: in Italy, the first floor is the North American second floor. It goes: ground floor, first floor (up one flight of stairs), second floor (up two flights of stairs). My legs were weeping after the amazing race on Thursday and our hikes Friday and Saturday. We were happily surprised when we went in our room, though, and discovered that we had a balcony! We cleaned ourselves up and headed out for dinner. We passed by the Spanish Steps, where a number of “rose men” were situated and trying to shove flowers at me, and ended up in Piazza del Popolo for dinner. We didn’t spend much time exploring that night; we were exhausted and had an early train to catch back to the airport on Monday morning. We returned to our hotel relatively early (after I got my last gelato, of course), packed and booked our train tickets.

While I wouldn’t return to Rome after Cinque Terre in the future, I don’t have a single regret from this trip. It was the trip of a lifetime. The man and I had an absolutely amazing experience, and fully intend on returning one day (and spending at least a week in Cinque Terre!). And with all the walking we did, despite the fact that I ate a LOT of gelato, pasta, pizza and focaccia, and drank at least two glasses of wine a day, I didn’t gain an ounce! Everyone should go to Italy, and I highly recommend checking out Cinque Terre if you do!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

STARFISH619 1/4/2013 11:21PM

    Thank you for sharing this! What an amazing adventure!

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SEEHOLZ 1/4/2013 9:40AM

    OMG, this is one amazing place! I had to read this blog and I soooo want to go there... I grew up in Germany, so I've been to Rome, Florence and some parts of the Tuscany, but never to those towns you mention and I alreayd know I'd be in heaven!

I need to read your part 1 vacation blog, but out of curiosity, how did you plan this trip out? Like where to go/stay etc..

Any tips would be appreciated.

If I can recommend a great trip to you, go to Croatia--- I think you would love it there!!!

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HEALTH-E-CLARE 1/3/2013 10:13PM

    That is such an amazing adventure. Thanks for sharing, and now you are making me want to head over there!

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CRISSA1669 1/3/2013 6:33PM

    Thank you so much for this and your part one blog. I will be spending 3.5 weeks in Europe, most of it in Italy, my son is stationed in Aviano close to Venice. I will be going to Rome so I really appreciated your pics and descriptions. Can't wait to enjoy the food and the gelato.

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JACKIE542 1/3/2013 5:00PM

    Great blog and beautiful pictures, thank you for sharing this. emoticon

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