Posted in camino de santiago, Christian living, the way, Uncategorized, walking

Camino – How to Get There

In my previous blog I spoke on how to prepare to walk the Camino. In this blog I would like to share on how we actually got there.

As I have said it was a process of preparation over a 2 year process. Losing weight, gaining better health, studying, reading, and of course training by walking regularly were all a part of that process.

I checked on many sites to see what the cost would most likely be to walk the Camino as well as cost of food and accommodation.  We were living back in Australia at the time so an airfare to Europe was a great cost.

  1. So the first thing to consider is when will you undertake walking the Way?

As we don’t like crowds, we decided that either spring or autumn would be our preference to walk. Due to time constraints we settled on autumn. I am an autumn girl and love the colours of fall so this was really great for me.

Weather in Northwest Spain in October is usually warm but not hot, we found this to be so with some cooler days and nights. Generally it was pleasant. You can expect some rain (unless you travel with Paul – more on that later).   Galacia is Spain’s wettest region and on average,  rains 18 days out of 31 in October.  Santiago de Compostela averages between 64 degrees and average lows 55 degrees.

We found these temperatures to be pretty accurate with some fog in certain areas. Some times there were light showers as we headed out in the morning but by mid morning it would fine up to become sunny. Paul had a special anointing and was spoiled with the weather. He prayed because he hates wet feet and started believing for fine weather. Almost immediately the sun came out and stayed for nearly 3 weeks! We really only had a few days of heavier, uncomfortable rainfalls early on – hence the prayers. This is not normal, particularly in Galacia! So be prepared with wet gear and good weatherproof shoes!

The wind and changeable weather on the Pyrenees can not be underestimated and you need to be prepared for that.

We also liked that there was fewer people on the Camino. One issue starting mid autumn was the amount of albergues that were closed or closing for the season. Spring also has the same but reversed with some not being open yet for the start of the season. Winter there are even fewer albergues  open so a lot of research and preparation needs to be done! Summer has its own challenges with so many vying for a bed for the night and space on the walk.

2. You’ve chosen the season, now where are you going to start the walk?

Most choose the Frances Camino which starts most commonly from St Jean Pied de Port. We chose to warm up by walking two days from Bayonne. There are many other points of starting and ways to traverse, France and Spain. It is purely up to you which direction you start from and which way you head. We actually met a couple walking the Camino backwards, starting at Santiago and walking back to St Jean! We chose the most common route to begin with but who knows where we will go next time!

Some of our friends flew or trained it from Barcelona. It really depends on where you are coming from and where you want to start from.

3. You’ve chosen the season and the route, now how much is it going to cost?

The average day:

  1. AIRFARES – Of course this depends on where you are starting from. We flew from Sydney to Paris. From Paris we took a train trip down to Bayonne in the South of France where we actually walked two days to the jump off point of St Jean Pied De Port. From Santiago De Compostella, after having spoken to some people on the Way we decided to self-drive through Portugal and then across to Barcelona where we flew back to Paris. These are all costs that need to be allowed for.
  2. HOTELS – We slept mostly in the Albergues, the hostels that you will find in nearly every town you come to.  At that time of year and in 2015 the fees were about Euro 10-15 per bed per night. I see that some are saying currently it has risen to nearly Euro 30 per night We paid more for the odd hotel stay but rarely more than Euro Euro 30- 35 per night. We wanted to experience being with others but did enjoy the alone nights as well. Some paid much more when they arrived in Santiago staying in an up market hotel to celebrate their completion. On reflection I would do that too next time.  Because we hadn’t pre-booked we had to take what we could get. Summer would be much worse! It is up to you what you choose to pay but I would suggest getting more up to date costs before you head off. Some chose to camp along the Way too but I would be considering what you need to carry to do that!

3. FOOD – We set ourselves a 30 Euro a day budget each, but probably would be closer to 35 Euro per day. We found the Pilgrim meals, a three course meal most towns offer, for 13-15 Euro were fine and economical. We often bought lunch, cheese, bread or other foods, from the little food places or markets along the way. Sometimes we ate at a restaurant but they were fairly inexpensive. Tapas bars are a great way to eat economically too.  It’s your choice on your budget.

4. INCIDENTALS – We probably allowed 10 Euro per day for these including pharmacy items, but I would suggest shopping at larger stores as some of these were very expensive particularly when dealing in Euros.  Mostly I brought medicines and other items from Australia but you must consider the weight factor of carrying as opposed to buying along the Way.

All up our total budget for the two of us was 4000 Euros exclusive of return air fares to Australia and doesn’t include the cost of setting up your kit or travel insurance. This did include our train fare, hire car and flights to Paris to fly home and we had some cash left over. I would have preferred to train it back to Paris but we left the run too late and from an overnight fare costing 100 or so Euros, booking on the day of travel would have cost over 500 Euros – each! So we booked a cheap air fare and flew to Paris for lunch before our flight that night back to Australia. I could then say, “My husband flew me to Paris for lunch!”

These are suggestions and there are a lot of sites with up to date information which I again suggest you read. Some of the forums give great information but ultimately half the adventure and fun of the Camino journey is working it out as you go along!

Bein Camino!

Until next time

Blessings Narelle

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Walking the Camino – How to Prepare

The Camino de Santiago is an 800 km or 500 mile walk through France and Spain. It is a pilgrimage walk that has been around for thousands of years that has many trails originating around Europe. It was said that you could step outside your door and begin the pilgrimage from anywhere in Europe. During the time of occupation by the Ottomans in Jerusalem the Way of St James became a safer pilgrimage and acceptable in the eyes of the church for pilgrimage absolution.

St James was supposedly buried there after having floated there from Jerusalem on a ruder-less boat. I don’t know about that. There are many beliefs surrounding the pilgrimage that many believe or don’t believe but there is one binding factor with nearly all pilgrims who we encountered or spoke to had one thing in common: the sense of being called to walk The Way!

Many including myself when they find out about the Camino Way have a strong sense that not only would they like to do the long walk but there is a strong feeling of “having” to do the walk.

For me it started after I watched the movie, “The Way”, written and directed by Emilio Esteves and starring his father Martin Sheen.  It is the story of a father who completes the trek after his son dies on the Way getting caught in bad weather: something that is a common occurrence as seen by the memorial headstones dotted along the pathways.

Once I saw the film I knew I had to do it. But at the time I was pretty much chair bound with illness and pain. However, within a couple of years I set the date to make the journey.

It was 2 years down the track, the year we celebrated 40 years of marriage and Paul turned 60. Also, it would give me time to gain my health back, while starting to train for the walk.

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In training in the Philippines. Early hours of the morning because past sun rise, the heat was too much.

One of the first thing I did was buy a pair of comfy training shoes. They were light, a size larger then I needed (to help with blisters), and didn’t confine my feet and cause pain. The first pair of shoes that didn’t cause me pain!

I walked in rain, in the cold, the heat, the day, the dark, by myself, and with others. The time rolled by as the miles did.

So here are some of the preparations myself and Paul underwent to prepare for the Camino.

  1. Set a date – Setting a date  brings the goal into focus and plans will begin to take shape.
  2. Train – Set up a training program and stick to it. I tried to do at least 6-8 kilometers a day more on others in any kind of weather, wet, cold, hot, everything except for thunderstorms – They were a no go!  I would also recommend stretches to build strength. The one I didn’t do enough of was to door more hill climbs.
  3. Carry a pack – The more I started to walk I would add weights to a pack to increase my ability to carry a pack. I even used coral rock in the Philippines to get used to the added weight.
  4. Study – Increase your knowledge of the paths you will follow. Understanding the terrain and what is ahead in terms of weather, and accommodation. Also understanding how diet and water affects walking.
  5. Purchase the correct equipment –

       –  Pack – We changed Paul’s pack right at the end. It has to have a waist band to                 take the weight and not pull on the shoulders.

–  Rainwear  – A good rain coat is important. We will probably go with the Atalaa next time. Our ponchos were ok but not great. They needed to be longer although they were light weight – always a consideration. The Atalaa people seemed to just cruise by unscathed by the weather on themselves or their packs.

Footwear – Of course it goes without saying – correct footwear is a must. I was told to go a size bigger and it worked. Two pairs of socks fill the gaps. Duct tape is a must. Prevents blistering!

Underwear. We opted mainly for bamboo socks and jocks. I would hope for a better fitting pair next time that dried quicker. Also undergarments that wick moisture away from your body too.

 – Poles – this is not last for any reason but they definitely were our definite bring along. Some did walk without them – good luck to them. I would never think of it! They were invaluable. Spring loaded were good but not particularly necessary. We didn’t go very expensive due to financial constraints and it really didn’t seem to make a difference, except the tips do wear out after 40 days of pounding. They can be purchased along the way.

6. Stay the course – There may be  road blocks or at least detours so persevere. Keep focused. Don’t give up!

 

 

 

Posted in camino de santiago, Christian living, energy, health and wellness, Life, Night shade Allergies, Uncategorized, walking, weight loss

Weight Loss Confusion!

Watching someone try to lose weight rapidly and discover the “journey” of weight loss and awareness of calories etc, has reminded me of just how consuming the whole concept of weight loss can be.

In 2012 when one of my daughters was encouraged to go on a Paleo diet for urgent health reasons, we both emptied our cupboards and cleansed! I also remember the absolute shock I felt as I discovered for years I had been looking at charts rather than the ingredients on products – sugars, salts, fats etc as compared to what was actually in the product. The shock stayed with me for months as I navigated the labyrinth of labels and what I thought were healthy alternatives only to discover they were laden literally with “poisons.”

I also remember the confusion of what is “healthy” and what diet is best etc. etc.

Here are 5 keys I have learned to help people maneuver  the “diet” world.

  1. Dieting sucks – lifestyle change has to be your mindset.

A “diet” insinuates a limited time span; a beginning and an end. Dietary changes have to be a life time mentality – unending. There may need to be a period of getting back on track or staying on track which requires a kick start but then you have to always be conscious of what you are putting in your mouth and why!

2.  Mindset is priority – Why do you overeat?

There is a whole psychology around overeating and I don’t intend to get in to it here as there are many reasons why people overeat: sadness, grief, rebellion, laziness, low self-esteem, comfort and the list continues. The benefit of a “time-frame” or health scare  can push us on-wards to changing our mindset to want to change our negative life habits permanently. That is only a kick start though and you have to realize this has to be a life style change – otherwise that weight will come back and stick like glue!

3.  Find what works for you – Find what will keep you motivated.

For me doing life in a gym or pool is never going to keep me motivated. Fresh air, meeting people, walking a dog, finding new paths, these are motivating and invigorating. Finding foods that work for me without making me feel I am missing out also helps keep me motivated. High allergies or intolerance from night shade plants, cause me some issues and can become frustrating but I have discovered that I love feeling well so not feeling well for the sake of a few mouthfuls is a high motivating factor! I really recommend initially working with a health professional to ensure there are no underlying issues and then find what will keep you motivated and interested in food control.

4.  Moderation – How much and what to eat!

There is so much confusion in terms of, “eat this – don’t eat that”. For example, eat eggs; don’t eat eggs. Eat butter; Don’t eat butter. Eat meat; Don’t eat meat. The lists go on. I believe God gave us everything to enjoy! It’s the over indulgence that is the issue for most western cultures. Limit the sugar, salt and fat products and you will see a change too.

So long as you use more then you put in you can keep the weight down. My husband, Paul has no issues with this one and really doesn’t understand my struggles  because he is constantly on the go and utilizes all he consumes. I on the other hand am more sedentary and have to work hard to do the same. My last few kilos I need to lose and have struggled with, mean I have to increase my burning and decrease my intake even more.

5. No Excuses

I can make all the excuses for why I am obese – too tired, too sick, too old, too much work but my health has to remain the utmost priority as it affects every area of my life. There is no excuse to maintain unhealthy life-style habits.

So these are 5 keys I have discovered over the past years of food issues and I will explore them more fully as I continue my journey of lifestyle habit changes.

Until next time – keep persevering. You don’t stop if you don’t stop!

Blessings Narelle

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Making it to the top of the ridge, following the thousands of pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago or the Way who have passed this way before: a far cry from the couch potato of yesteryear! Determine today to follow the lead of those who have walked the paths of life style change!

 

Posted in camino de santiago, Christian living, health and wellness, Life, Night shade Allergies, Uncategorized

Swollen joints, legs and ankles.

This blog is so exciting for me to write. The last few years of swollen joints, legs and ankles is over…I continue to dance for joy..or rather walk for joy!!

I remember the days when as a young girl I was called “lucky legs”: Lucky they didn’t snap off as they were so skinny. My knees were bony (I love the fact I am starting to find them again!). My calves were so tight from playing sports every day of the week: As I got older my calves got to the stage where they just wobbled each time I walked and spread when I sat!

As a teenager I used to lay down on my back, my stomach would sink inwards and ribs were exposed..Ribs I still have ribs?

What wasn’t tied down was heading south! Can your underarms be so big that your arms can’t sit down comfortably?  Don’t even start me on my tuck-shop lady arms..sorry to all you wonderful ladies out there who do a fantastic job…You get the picture!

We can joke about the look of being overweight but the trouble is our health suffers. Enough was enough.

My ankles were painful and debilitating. My knees were swelling and for no apparent reason. This put pressure on my back as I shuffled around lopsided. As well my heart would beat out of control whenever I maneuvered steps or our back yard. Walking brought pain, swelling and tears.

The beginning of my healing was finding out I had an allergy to nightshade plants.

With the swelling and pain going I started walking: small distances at first but increasing all the time. I received prayer at our church when Pastor Craig Sparrow called for people who had ankle issues to come for prayer. I believe through the name of Jesus we can be healed. I was able to start walking almost immediately without pain. The next week he asked for those with knee issues. I hobbled out  the front again. My knees had almost folded on me that morning, were swollen to almost double the size and I could barely walk down to the front of the church for prayer. I accepted the healing and was able to maneuver the steps more easily on the way back.

I believe in miracle healing and I also believe in the process of healing. I also believe in being responsible with our health as well. I believe I have a very practical God who gives us wisdom when we ask Him – for any situation. During a time of prayer and fasting I read a scripture:

Hebrews 12:12-13 So then, brace up and reinvigorate and set right your slackened and weakened and drooping hands and strengthen your feeble and palsied and tottering knees, Cut through and make firm, and plain and smooth, straight paths for your feet (yes make them safe and upright and happy paths that go in the right direction), so that the lame and halting limbs may not be put out of joint, but rather may be cured.

I loved how it said make happy paths and strengthen the knees so the limbs may not be put out of joint and will be cured.

I figured there might be specific exercises for knees that would strengthen and invigorate feeble tottering knees. http://www.knee-pain-explained.com/ was the beginning.

I did them each morning before getting out of bed and a couple more times during the day. I modified exercises, particularly ones lying on your stomach and bringing the leg towards your back. I found supporting the legs together and gently as I brought them toward my back meant there was no pain.

I was careful to ensure there was little or no pain. I needed to experience positive feelings while exercising. For so long my mind associated exercise with pain.

Below are some of the steps I took in increasing my strength and health.

(This is where I put up a disclaimer. I am not a qualified health professional. I am just someone who has suffered with long term illness and issues and am sharing what has worked for me. I have also been under various health professionals and checked with them. I encourage you to do the same. However, I also found that I am the one responsible for my health. They don’t care nearly as much as I do about my health. So find what works for you and do it, sensibly.)

  1. Waited on God

 Isaiah 40: 29 -31

He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength (causing it to multiply and making it to abound) Even youths shall faint and be weary, and (selected) young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; But those who wait for the Lord (who expect, look for, and hope in Him) shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up (close to God) as eagles (mount up to the sun); they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.

This became my “mantra” or confession.

  1. Kept my goal in mind

During the really hard times I found a goal – to walk the Camino Santiago De Compostella – The Way, an 800 km walk through France and Spain. Many said choose another goal but this kept me going. Your goals should be enough to stretch and motivate you. What is your goal? It should be bigger than just losing a few kilos. We are talking about healthy living here.

  1. Started on the knee strengthening exercises.

 I found them at  http://www.knee-pain-explained.com/  Taking them slowly and carefully, understanding my limitations.

  1. Started to loose kilos.

 Those extra kilos meant heavy lifting and unwanted pressure on the knee joints and ankles. Next time you are at the hardware store try to lift a bag of cement. That is 20 kilos or approx. 40lbs. That is nearly how much I lost last year. It was a slow tedious process. Find what works for you to enable that to happen. I used Isagenix to finally kick-start and still maintain the weight loss 3 years later!

  1. Used comfrey to aid in healing.

I had seen healing and was getting better but still had swelling in the ankle for no apparent reason.  One morning while praying about it I remembered Paul’s mum, Doris’s remedy for rapid healing of bones. She practiced a lot of homeopath remedies and spoke highly of Comfrey. I had it growing profusely in my garden. I had twisted my ankle many years before and it was the start of my down fall releasing a clot into my leg. Since that time I kept having significant pain and swelling in that ankle and leg. There was an extremely tender spot on the inside of my ankle that continued to be a trouble spot. X-rays failed to show any hairline fractures but it was definitely sore to touch. After researching and consulting with my naturopath I started to drink a tea of one comfrey leaf only over a period of 3 days and then stopped. I repeated that for a few weeks. I also applied a poultice regularly over the tender spot and around the ankle and knees. The results were rapid and amazing. I could now drill the spot on the foot with my finger without pain. I recommend this page for more information and consulting with a naturopath regarding taking it but I cannot recommend this little herb enough for anti-inflammatory and healing properties. . There is a warning here though about ingesting the tea. So proceed with caution. However, do remember that any drug, herbal or pharmaceutical in overdose amount can be detrimental to your health. http://www.herbalremediesinfo.com/COMFREY.html 

  1. Found what exercises I loved and worked for me.

I don’t know how many dollars I wasted on gym membership. I was happy for a while stuck inside 4 walls with 20 other women going around in circles but it really didn’t motivate me for long. Paul and I bought matching bikes and I had other equipment at home that had been idle for a while. I have found a menu of different exercise routines work best for me.

Find a menu of exercises that work for you and keep you interested. This is my menu.

 I make use of what is around me.

I use the toilet. You may laugh but this was one of the exercises I did to strengthen my knees. Squatting up and down building up to 40 times each time you use the toilet. Exercise doesn’t have to be expensive but has to be enough to keep you interested and time convenient.  Oh and a well-working bowel is also a great way to stay healthy…just saying.

I walk.  I went to my local council and found maps of local tracks around my area. I couldn’t believe there were so many. It opened up a new dimension to the area where I lived – they were my happy paths! I was able to bring my family, grandchildren, husband, dog and even my elderly adopted grandmother on tracks I never knew existed.

I rode. Some days while my knees were still strengthening I rode my bike especially on longer distances. I took g’baies with me on their bikes and Paul added the cart to take the younger ones who loved the outing.

I swim. Here in the Philippines I do some swimming and water resistance training when I can. I can spend 2 hours in the water just working out as it is very easy on the legs.

I stretch. You certainly discover areas of your body that you didn’t realize you had and it works to strengthen those core muscles.

  1. Bought the correct, comfortable clothing.

 My biggest problem has always been footwear. I have always had ill-fitting or uncomfortable shoes. I nearly cried last year when I decided I wouldn’t settle for anything except completely pain free comfort. I went to a great shop  Pure Performance for those in Newcastle and they helped me choose. Find shoe shop owners who care!

They let me wear the shoes for 15-20 mins until I found a pair that fit like a glove and didn’t hurt anywhere. I have only had one blister in all the time I have worn them – a lot of kilometres – and that was due to having soft wet feet from being wet for days.

I wear comfortable clothes not necessarily expensive gym clothing.

  1. Kept enlarging myself.

Keep building into your exercise challenges: Increase distances, weights, times, duration etc. You will be amazed as I am at how much further, faster, longer you can go.

  1. Measured – sensibly.

My app measures many things on my walks including steps, calories etc. I weigh myself pretty regularly. However, I don’t allow myself to be discouraged or euphoric with my results. It is nice to see the times go up and weight come down but that is not always the best indicator. There are days when I just don’t do well; I am tired; overeaten; haven’t had any significant walk times –  But I keep going!

  1. Didn’t give up. I stuck to the plan.

There were challenging days but I refused to fall backwards. I wasn’t hard on myself if I faltered in lack of exercise or diet slips, I just refocused and stayed determined not to give up. It’s easy sometimes when we make a plan to get distracted by life and other things. I know what I want I have set my heart and mind toward it!

I hope this has encourages you and I guess the precursor to all of these exercises, tips etc is to START. You will not achieve anything unless you start. For me it has been a little bit challenging walking here in the Philippines..two typhoons in as many months, and two major tropical storms in the last few weeks. But I will keep surging on..The Camino awaits!

This was fun although long read remembering the many happy paths. I am still walking finding new paths. Not as often as I want but I am still using a menu to maintain a healthy life style – just adjusted to current places and situations..I am in the States now just coming out of winter..

Have fun!

Until Next time

Blessing Narelle

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Posted in camino de santiago, Christian living, health and wellness, Life, Night shade Allergies, travel, Uncategorized

Night shade allergies!

Just sitting in one of my favourite writing places chatting to a guy sailing up the east coast of the US. He was amazed as I recounted my healing in 2014. I just found this old blog which recounts some of this story. Talking about it always makes me feel like skipping…with joy. 

2014 was an amazing year for me. I know so many people were glad to see the end of it and there were definitely some tragic times of grief and loss but for me personally it was a year of breakthrough. Yesterday I read about a John Mellor healing crusade in Scotland that saw a woman healed of chronic fatigue and long term unexplained issues who have since gone on to run marathons etc. I so feel their joy and excitement and feel the same.

For nearly 6 years my body has been going through major health challenges. I had so many challenging health experiences, mini stroke, thyroid issues, head trauma, shingles, not to mention chronic fatigue. Weight kept piling on due to inactivity and the thyroid issues. This created issues for my legs with swelling, pain in joints and incredible feet pain from plantifasitis. I felt like a broken down machine. Nothing seemed to work. Doctors, naturopath, massage, osteopaths, chiropractors all had moderate success for periods of times but then my body would fail me again. I refused to go down the path of anti-inflammatory pills. I had seen the effect of long term use of anti-inflammatory on my mother and didn’t want to even begin that path.

There were a couple of scary periods where I literally felt so down that permanent sleep seemed a good option. They were scary times for Paul as well because I just couldn’t seem to get myself up out of that place and it was such a foreign place for me. There were “normal” periods but then the depression would hit again as my body let me down again. Prayer was hard, reading harder.

Then 2013 after desperately seeking help from doctors I demanded tests which came back with many markers out of normal range but not enough to “cause concern”. No concern for the doctor maybe, but I hurt. I seemed to have a constant low grade fever and the fatigue was debilitating. It was concerning me. And then..I visited my naturopath with the same results and in the course of conversation she came back with, “Maybe you are intolerant to “nightshade” plants.”

What are they you may ask as did I? Potatoes, capsicum, tomatoes, eggplant, chilies all belong to that family. Well wouldn’t you know it? All of the above were my favourites except potato and I ate them nearly every meal! Sweet potato doesn’t seem to have the same affect. I thought the loss of the others would be hard. However, the benefits to my body were almost instantaneous. Within days I started to feel better. I began to notice that when I did introduce them back in to my diet I felt the effects, especially potato, literally within minutes. It seems to be more of an allergy than just intolerance. It has become such an issue that when I forgot and added chilies to a homemade cracker mix my lips swelled to “Jolie” proportions within a few hours. After two days of tomato paste included in meals I was eating, I could barely walk up three steps without help.

So now I avoid them all together. I hope that as my body comes back into alignment the allergy will normalize but I will wait to test that for a while yet. I am enjoying the feeling of health.

There is a lot of controversy over nightshades but elimination is really a great way to test the results. Night shade intolerance is controversial among mainstream health professionals, but really in the grand scheme of things you are the one who is most interested in your own health and need to take responsibility for it. To eliminate is really not going to cost you anything and might in fact reveal a lot. This may not be your issue for chronic fatigue and joint pain but it might just be a good place to start.

I now walk at least every other day anywhere from 6-12 km and even do the odd “jalk” (jog walk) in there. This was only the beginning though of my return to health. There was a long way to go. It was an amazing healing process.

As 2015 begins I start this year in amazing health and wellness and love the feeling and freedom it brings. I pray the same for you.

Health and wellness to you in 2015!

Love that now two years later I have walked thousands of kilometers!!!  (add skip right here)

God is sooooo Good..!! 

Blessings until next time. 

Narelle

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Camino De Santiago Walk of 543 miles 820 Kilometers!