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Week 51 – Amsterdam – 64 kilos – October 7, 2012

Beautiful canals and bikes everywhere!

Goedemorgen from Holland! Last Sunday we left Hawaii and spent the next 2 days traveling to our new home in Amsterdam, landing here on Tuesday morning. We had two long flights, a long layover and a hiccup on this end getting into our apartment, but after an afternoon nap and dinner with a friend, we were pretty much on the European time zone by Wednesday. I’m not sure my stomach was in agreement with that, but my brain was doing OK.

Toasting our first night in town with our Dutch friend Frank!

I’m so surprised I didn’t gain any weight this week because all I did on the trip over was snack; I felt I was snacking or drinking coffee all the time. And of course I haven’t exercised once yet and I can really feel it. (It feels good that I am eager to get back out there in a routine!) Actually, I’m feeling like a fat person again… could be the tall, gorgeous Dutch women (this sure messed with my mind last year!) or it could be just that I am so much more aware of my body and what I’m capable of doing to it, good and bad!

So here we are in the land of kilos, grams, liters, kilometers, Celsius, the euro and a foreign language! I put my weight in kilos at the top because that’s the standard here and I need to get used to it (it converts to 141 lbs). It’s not a difficult conversion: take your weight in lbs. and divide it by 2.2. I’m thinking that a personal long-term goal for me would be 59 kilos or 132 lbs. I like the sound of being under 60 kilos, but also I am now seeing that indeed, I really should lose a little more weight and that seems like the right number.

Our front door is at the bottom of this long stairway!

Living here in Amsterdam gives me hope that I can keep my weight off and perhaps reach that new goal. We have no car; we walk a lot or take the tram. I’ll get a bike again, and if you’ve ever been in a typical Dutch home you know the stairways are all long and steep, so just walking in your front door you get a workout! I did check out a gym yesterday but at 78 euros a month (about $100) just to use the treadmill, I think I need to see what my other options are; still if that’s what I have to do, I will. I’m finally putting a priority on my health!


But living in a big city is healthy, at least for us. My husband and I are very comfortable with big cities; he’s lived in NYC, Chicago, and Seattle, I lived in San Francisco, and we have both lived in Honolulu. For 10 years we lived in a rural part of Hawaii, beautiful but we had to drive everywhere. We knew when we retired we wanted to be back in a big city because for us, it’s a healthier way to live. First, you walk organically — to go shopping, to run errands, to go to appointments — instead of “I’m going out for a walk…”.  This means you walk more, and usually faster because you have a mission, and it happens several times a day. Plus it’s easy to not “go for a walk“, not so easy not to run your errands and keep appointments.

Our kitchen is small, but nice. The refrigerator is the area at the end under the stainless steel oven! Not what we’re used to in the US!

Another difference about living a city life is the size of things. In Amsterdam, the refrigerators are about the size of a toaster, and the kitchens are the size of a small bathroom, so you can’t fit much in them! So, you shop almost daily and the size of the packages at the store are very small compared to the US. No Costco-size packages here! First, there’s no way you can carry that much when you walk, and second, there is nowhere to store it when you bring it home! A bag of pasta or a bag of flour is about the size of a bag of coffee! But everything is very fresh and there are stores, delis, fruit stands or outdoor markets with fresh fish, vegetables (and flowers!) within a block or two of where you live so it’s very convenient. It’s a different way of life, but one we think will keep us healthier in the long run.

I was getting so good at reading labels (finally!) in the US, and now I am completely baffled when I pick up a package in the store… I have no idea how many carbs, protein or calories are in things, let alone the ingredients! I have to have my computer nearby just to translate the directions on packages… and much of the produce is different, but I’ll eventually learn. It’s all a mix of excitement and education, and I’m up for the challenge. It would have been much easier to stay in Hawaii or to move to the mainland, but why not live a more interesting life if you can?

A very typical scene all over Amsterdam! One reason they stay so slim is that they bike or walk everywhere!

Well, the sky is blue today and although it’s a lot colder than Hawaii, we’ll venture out and explore more of the city. We’re living quite close to a large park called Vondelpark, so we may just go out and “take a walk!”


Tot de volgende keer… (until next time)


3 Responses
  • Joni
    October 7, 2012

    Hi – I had to be up early today for work. I got my cup of coffee and my computer to check mail. Your post is the first thing I read. You are a very interesting lady and I thank you for keeping up your blog! Amsterdam sounds lovely, and I can understand you choosing that location now. I looked at the pic of your stairway – wow! And was just wishing I could see more of your place when I scrolled down and got to see a pic of your kitchen! Certainly very different than here – the bigger the better… I like the idea of shopping often for fresh ingredients. Good luck in your new life! Joni

  • swizzly
    October 7, 2012

    It’s so funny, I never think of Dutch people as being so slim as you do — but maybe it’s cos the Swiss are so small themselves, also on the shorter side, that the Dutch look larger by comparison. I like the look of your place — is it new, or did you already have it before? Maybe some day we can meet up somewhere on this side of the ocean. Happy housewarming!

  • Kali
    October 7, 2012

    Hi Sharene,

    Congratulations on making your move! The European lifestyle is definitely geared toward health and buying what you need “just in time”. I found that I could easily survive with only the two large and two small suitcases I orginally brought (and one was full of books) for a year. It’s freeing not to have a lot of “stuff”. That being said, do enjoy fine art, high quality furnishings and high quality linens! We’ll have to connect sometime soon – maybe you can come over to Germany for a Christmas Market experience : ) Cheers, K

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