6 Things I Learned from Cycling Across Spain


Ever ask yourself, "I don't know if I can handle this?"

It had been intense, 6-8 hours of biking everyday for two weeks from the Pyrenese mountains through the hilly terrain of the Galacian province. I had never biked more than one day in a row and yet here I was cycling my way across Spain. This was physically the hardest thing I had ever done. The roller coaster of emotions joined in, "Can I make it?, I can't do this anymore!, This is not a vacation!". I was unable to separate the physical from the emotional strain of this experience. I cried twice and threw my bike down once while I stomped off demanding a snack.


It had been years since I had been pushed to my limit and yet something in me wouldn't let me stop. Past experience has taught me that through periods of intense discomfort comes opportunities for self discovery, and to be honest with you, I tend to try and avoid opportunities that cause intense discomfort. 

When is the last time you have felt intense discomfort? Sometimes it’s self inflicted like running a marathon or cycling across Spain. Sometimes it’s not of our choosing like losing a job or the death of a loved one.

There were a few things I realized I was doing each day to help me manage the physical and emotional stress of this "adventure".


1. Sleep was my greatest ally.  I slept an average of 10 hours a day and awakened surprised each day at how rejuvenated I felt. Growth hormone secreted between 10pm-2am has the biggest effect on repairing cellular function allowing you to wake feeling well rested. Getting to bed closer to 10pm allows your body more recovery time from physical and emotional stress.


2. Exercise. Typically when I go on vacation I experience constipation at some point. This never happened on this trip so I have to believe the 6-8 hours of cycling every day had something to do with that. Our digestive system is one of the first system’s affected by emotional stress. Physical exercise, water, and fiber are helpful with keeping the body’s pathways of elimination moving. If your not exercising, a supportive colon product may include a blend of Organic Psyllium Husk (a bulking agent), Bentonite Clay (a yeast binder), and Senna Leaf (a gentle bowel stimulant). To learn more ways to support your digestive health, schedule a naturopathic consultation here!


3. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. Dark leafy green vegetables are high in magnesium and chlorophyll which help eliminate inflammation from the body. Colorful fruits and vegetables (red, yellow, orange, purple) have high anti-oxidants to help remedy the wear and tear of stress. I craved salads and kiwis like crazy. Gardens were everywhere in Spain. The typical salad served was a delicious homegrown Bibb lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and olives with olive oil and sea salt as the dressing. I also ate 2-4 kiwis everyday.


4. Qigong breathing. A breathing technique I utilized when physically fatigued. On your inhale, visualize all the pores on your body opening and breathing in oxygen into every cell, tissue and muscle of your body. As you exhale, feel your breath settle into your body as you relax any muscle that is overly tense. Repeat with each breath till the fatigue passes and you feel rejuvenated. For more on Qigong, click here.

5. Anti-inflammatory herbal support. The only supplement I traveled with was a blend of turmeric, bromelain, quercitin, and ginger which all have anti-inflammatory properties. Contact our office for more information regarding this product.


6. “This too shall pass”. On particularly strenuous climbs my boyfriend Ken would break the silence by saying “la gran adventura”. “The grand adventure” was our reminder that this “adventure” is temporary and everything is about perspective. I can choose to tell myself that this mountain is kicking my ass or I can tell myself that I eat mountains for breakfast. Its the same event yet the perspective you choose to take changes your feeling about the experience.

Are you looking for help with emotional and/or physical stress?Schedule a naturopathic consultation with us now. Don't live in Illinois? That's ok! Get great results with a 1 hour phone consultation for ways to manage physical and/or emotional stress. We design nutritional guidelines, herbal suggestions, mind/bodywork techniques that will help you through whatever stressful time you are experiencing.

What is Qigong? Schedule a 1 hour private Qigong session and experience for yourself.

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Meet Jennifer Stanley

Traditional Naturopath & Colon Hydrotherapist

Jennifer Stanley is a board certified Traditional Naturopath, Colon Hydrotherapist, and the founder of From Scratch Wellness, a natural medicine wellness center with two locations in the Chicago area. Jen works with people in her office and around the world (via telephone sessions) to help them overcome health and emotional obstacles using food as medicine.

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