How I Lost Weight Eating POUNDS of Pasta + Pizza and Not Exercising

I’m not so strong in the self-discipline department so naturally when I left for Italy a couple of weeks ago my intention was to completely let go. No deliberate exercise. No restrictions on what I could eat or ninja tricks for eating less while on vacation.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s experience in “Eat Pray Love” had me convinced that after 10 days of being overfed pasta, pizza, bread, etc. they would have to roll me onto the plane in order to get home.

I’m not joking when I say overfed. I even wrote down what we ate – take a look at this sample day at Peter’s aunt’s house:

Well what do you know, it turns out I lost three pounds while on the Pasta, Pizza, + Gelato Diet. So Eat Pray Suck It, Elizabeth Gilbert!

I also didn’t feel as full after eating huge meals.  This plate of gnocchi? Ate all of it. Surprisingly, I felt light that afternoon as if I had eaten a crisp salad.

At home, even a third of that portion would have left me in a food coma all day.

So what was different?

First, we kept moving all day.

No, there was no intentional, self-torturing exercise to balance out the pasta. But I was on my feet a lot. Walking.  Taking stairs.  Uphill.  Very slowly, but still moving.

Second, we had no place to be. At each meal I was simply present with my food. Not constantly stressing about where we were going next, how many emails piled up in my inbox while I was eating lunch, what’s happening on Facebook, or how “fattening” the food was.

I was just THERE. Enjoying time with good company. Slowly. Trust me, Italians aren’t exactly known for their sense of urgency.

When you eat when you’re relaxed, you digest your food more efficiently and fire up your metabolism. When you remain relaxed after your meal, you give your body a chance to direct all its energy to breaking down and metabolize your food.

Yes, relaxation is a weight loss strategy.

And third…ok, I lied. There was one tiny ninja eating trick I used while on vacation.  But I’ll share it with you in my next post, so stay tuned for Part II!

So how about you? When you allow yourself to indulge and stop stressing about what you eat, do you lose weight or gain?  Do you ever allow yourself to stop stressing about food?  Leave a comment below.

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*P.S. Despite my comment I actually really enjoyed the book and movie – who doesn’t want to watch a montage of people eating pasta?  I think anyone who complains that she was “too whiny” is just bitter that nobody paid them to travel to Italy, India, and Indonesia and write about it.


  • jean says:

    Heather~This is so true. Whenever I’m on vaca…like NYC, I eat a ton at my favorite restaurants, drink vino but because I’m walking SO much, and am so grateful to be in one of my favorite cities (relaxed) I usually lose weight as well.

    Can’t wait for Part II!

    • Heather says:

      Thanks for sharing, Jean! I feel silly considering “walking” exercise – but anytime I’m in a big city it absolutely works to balance out all the good food!

  • Love it! I do this when I travel home to NM and there is delicious Mexican food everywhere! Plus we do a lot of hiking when I’m home vs just sitting around so it works out nicely. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed yourself! xo

  • ivana says:

    As usual, great posts. i spent 40 days back home in Uruguay and I eat bread, meat, and everything in between. I walked a lot, to the bus stop, to the bakery, the grocery store, I walked! and i came back feeling great and to my surprise lost few pounds. conclusion = while living in the USA, I should eat more,walk more and stress less. hard to create the balance however because here I work more!

  • Karie Hill says:

    It’s SO hard for me to actually sit and relax and truly enjoy my meal. I am always eating standing up against the island in my kitchen or at my desk. Thanks to you, I chew better and have stopped gulping down 4 glasses of water during my meals, but I really want to get better at taking my time. This post has given me motivation to do it. So glad you shared. All your posts are so helpful.

    • Heather says:

      Thanks Karie! I know it’s tough to prioritize yourself without feeling guilty for not working more, but even taking 15 minutes to yourself will make you SO much more productive.

  • Jessica says:

    This is why I love being 1/4 Italian… while our daily lives are a grind living in NY – we know how to relax!

    And eat!

    Vacation = no schedule, food anytime you like, rest, and fun day trips! Love it and as a solopreneur one of my goals is to incorporate this part of my heritage more into my daily life.

    Thanks for sharing – now i think I’m going to order a pizza at 4:00 on a saturday and see what comes up next.

    • Heather says:

      Mmm, pizza. Absolutely we know how to relax – I’d love to hear how you incorporate this into your daily life.

  • Cher Shives says:

    This is awesome!!Sounds impossible but this is real…Thanks for the inspiration…

  • Lisa McGowan says:


    I love your newsletters, I never know what you will come up with next.

    This is so refreshing to hear….if only more of our lives could be spent enjoying our surroundings, our family and our food.

    Thanks for a great tip.



  • Jessica says:

    Very interesting point mentioned in this article that after a meal, one should relax in order to loose weight.

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