5/14/13

Czech trip Day 4 and 5: Pribor


In 2004, I took a trip to the Philippines with a group of students at my University (Transylvania University in Lexington, KY – my hometown). We mostly stayed outside of Cebu for the reason for our trip was to serve others by helping to rebuild schools, bathrooms and to give school supplies. It was the best work-service trip for me for it really changed my life. No other trip has affected me like my trip to this third world country. Bucket showers, no running water, no electricity and food rationing.

When I came home from this trip, I really started to think about my own life. I remember crying when I went to a restaurant on our way home (in route home at Cheesecake factory in the airport) and saw so much food being wasted by people who were served large portions + a bread basket and were unable to finish a meal but yet, still had room for dessert. Thinking about how I would give anything to be able to properly nourish the children and individuals who appear to live such a happy and grateful life for what they have and what they are use to. I suppose that trip changed me because I do not feel comfortable with others serving me for I am not comfortable wasting food. I’d rather eat a little less than have too much food on my plate and have it thrown away. Karel knows this and he also knows my portions as I feel many of my food behaviors were first learned from observing others who have very little rather than from a dietetic textbook encouraging “calorie” control.

In Czech, I am reminded of my previous trip abroad as I have yet to read a food label, I do not know how much fat, calories, carbs, protein, sodium, etc is in the food I am eating and I am often served food. However, none of these things bother me as I am learning about a different lifestyle. Whereas in America, there is often little peace with food. We eat as if the food police are watching our every move and calories, carbs, fat, sodium and anything else with a number is on our mind. Of course, it is my job to know these things but I do not feel food facts should consume my life. Here in Czech, I find that the most appropriate word for our current eating style (in Europe for Karel and myself) is “energy”. We put in energy into our body and we expend it. We eat a meal, then we walk for a few miles….just like the locals, walking to and from work, to and from the grocery stores, to and from the parks to play, etc. Life isn’t about food reward or using food to numb emotions but instead, energy balance. Regardless of what you are eating, you expend energy after you consume energy. Sadly, many people in America would rather restrict food (often nourishing food) to “lose weight” rather than to properly energize the body and thus, move more. But as I mentioned before, the American lifestyle is not conducive to healthy living for it is much easier to drive 1-2 miles to the grocery store or walk down the hall to a vending machine than to walk to the grocery store or to take a break from working and enjoy a well-planned meal.

 

On Saturday afternoon, we drove ~3 hours to Karel’s brothers house in Pribor to visit his brother’s family (wife and 3 teenage kids). Although it was a bit cold and rainy out (~40-45degrees Fahrenheit), I couldn’t wait to spend time with Karel’s brother who is extremely active. They are not all athletes but they live a very active lifestyle. They take biking trips in the summer, both Karel’s brother and wife bike to work year round (A few miles down the road) and they bike to and from the grocery store. They have  a car but none of the kids need it for they all walk or take the bus. The kids (between the ages of 17-22) all cook for themselves – fresh food, nothing packaged – and drink tea and water, not sodas or energy drinks. They have a garden in the backyard  that is about to peak and they make jams, pickles, dried fruits, salads, soups and desserts from their selections of foods.

Sure, they are on the computer, they watch TV and they sit around…..so do Karel and I when we are at home. But their energy balance is a lot more beneficial for weight maintenance or even weight loss (without trying) as oppose to being in a positive energy balance for weight gain. Because it is natural to put on weight if you are not aware of your dietary and exercise choices, it is much harder to put on weight quickly in an active lifestyle as oppose to one that encourages large portions, easy snacking, little emphasis on meal time and real food and a sedentary lifestyle.

After a delicious lunch of homemade broccoli soup and vegetable patties we headed to
Štramberk which is a small town near Pribor, next to Kopřivnice. It was a long hike to the top of the hill where there was a cute festival going on and I couldn’t believe my eyes – I felt like I was in Disney World with all the cute timbered houses and cobblestone roads. The top of the hill is dominated by the Trúba castle tower. Stramberk is known for their “ears” which are from a tale that Barberians would eat the ears of others, thus Stramberk’s ears everywhere. I must say – as a 20-year vegetarian, those gingerbread like ears were the most delicious “body parts” I have ever eaten J Nearby there is the Šipka Cave where Neanderthal child bone remnants were found.

After our cold and rainy 3 hour walk/hike/visit to Stramberk, it was time to head back to the house to warm-up with a fire and enjoy dinner. I was tired from the day of activities which started with a quick 2 mile run with Karel (in the drizzling rain) so I headed to bed around 10pm as Karel stayed up with his brother for a little catching up.

On Sunday, Karel, his brother and nephew and I went for a rainy yet beautiful 3.75 mile run on the most amazing paved trails which Karel’s brother bikes on to and from work. It was great to get the blood flowing and to have some company for our morning run.

After a delicious breakfast, we stayed inside for the morning until the rain stopped and then had the most delicious lunch of tofu, rice and veggies prepared by Karel’s nice (who also enjoys tofu – actually 4 of us had the tofu creation and 4 others had goulash) and then we headed to a car museum all about Tetra - Tetra company

There was a special exhibit going on about Emil Zátopek who was a runner with an amazing repertoire.  Emil Zatopek

After spending much of the afternoon out, we headed back home to clean up (another cold/rainy day) and enjoy one last meal with the family. Karel’s niece prepared the meal again (whereas Karel’s nephew prepared the goulash) and it was chickpeas with veggies and couscous. So yummy!

We sat around, enjoyed a few small treats for dessert and it was such a great weekend with the family that we were sad to go to bed on Sun evening to head back to Znojmo on Monday.

I forgot to add, on our way to Karel’s brothers, we made a “fast food” stop at McDonald’s because Karel needed to prove to me that this wasn’t your normal McDonald’s….
 
.....pics to come soon.