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Anyone do either a thru-hike or "pilgrimage" after surgery?



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Just curious, have any of you done a thru-hike or pilgrimage after bariatric surgery? In particular, has anyone done the Camino de Santiago after bariatric surgery? How was it? How did you handle eating? Did you gain/lose/maintain weight? Insights you can share?

I had surgery Sept 4th. I am losing weight at a nice pace. I have just reached a BMI under 30. I am walking 6 miles a day now (still easy walking, but at a brisk pace). I am just beginning to do Yoga/Pilates again (when I can get my daughter to dance in time for me to get to class). And I have just booked a flight to Paris/back from Barcelona... but in between I am planning on doing the Camino de Santiago (French Way) from St Jean Pied de Port! I am super excited. I am planning to up my fitness routine steadily until I leave. I am already buying any gear I don't have and trying to figure out how to keep weight down in my backpack. Buying smaller clothes will sure help that! Hopefully I am a Medium by then if not smaller. Anyhow, any tips on what you did to get you through a thru-hike?

This is my first thru-hike. I have always wanted to do one, but I am using this as more motivation to keep going on my weight loss and getting fit. I selected this one because I don't have to carry my tent and all my food for many days at a time, and I SHOULD have an actual bed to sleep in every night. Anyhow, excitied, nervous, and really not sure how I will be handling food by then. I am doing better with hydrating now. I am eating small meals without problems. I have never gotten sick from anything I ate or overeating.

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Did my first triathlon last month, doing a 50 mile bike race next month, and planning a rim-to-rim hike (in one day) of the Grand Canyon next year! This new like is awesome beyond words!

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9 minutes ago, AZhiker said:

Did my first triathlon last month, doing a 50 mile bike race next month, and planning a rim-to-rim hike (in one day) of the Grand Canyon next year! This new like is awesome beyond words!

Yes, Rim to Rim is one of my goals! I am going to Spain at the end of May, so I will be 8 1/2 months post op.

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Physical goals are so fun and important, too! My whole family has done the Canyon many times - but not me. I am soooo looking forward to this! Am working on segments of the AZ trail, and lots of stairs to build up for it. Our trip will most likely be next Oct when the north rim opens.

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Nice! I am going to be doing some of the AZ trail for my training as well! Mostly south of Tucson.

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The Camino is on my bucket list. I am also planning to walk Hadrian's Wall, dividing England and Scotland. My son goes to college up there and we hope to do it together in 2021.

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1 hour ago, HappyHikerGal said:

The Camino is on my bucket list. I am also planning to walk Hadrian's Wall, dividing England and Scotland. My son goes to college up there and we hope to do it together in 2021.

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I have always wanted to see/walk Hadrian's Wall. What an awesome adventure. I am so jealous!

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The Camino is on my bucket list. I am also planning to walk Hadrian's Wall, dividing England and Scotland. My son goes to college up there and we hope to do it together in 2021.

Sent from my Pixel 2 using BariatricPal mobile app


I will have to check that one out for another trip!


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Just bumping this thread again to see if anyone else has already completed a post-bariatric surgery thru hike or long distance pilgrimage? Would like to know how you handled nutrition along the way. Especially if you completed the Camino de Santiago in Spain. But experience with long distant (many day) hike would do. I am now 4 1/2 months post op. Below my doctors goal weight. Not far from a "normal" BMI. I will be leaving in late May, just over 9 months post op.

I am trying to figure out how to stay hydrated, how to get enough Protein, how others did with carbs (need to increase for the hike, but don't want to have to withdraw afterwards and am afraid it will be hard to go back to my non-hiking bariatric diet). I have tried asking some questions on Camino forums, but the average hiker just doesn't understand the challenges that many people face if they have medical issues that affect their diet/nutrition/hydration health. For example, a question about "Are you able to buy electrolytes along the Camino" gets responses like "there are Water fountains everywhere, just drink more water". Um, yeah. I would love to do that. But I am still lucky to get 60 ounces in. What I need to know is if I can easily buy electrolyte supplements along the route. If yes, I am good. If not, I need to come up with a plan for hydration. Or someone else asked questions about Vitamins and people replied "Just eat fruits and vegetables, vitamins are a waste of money". Um yeah... doesn't work for those with Vitamin deficiencies. This person, like me, needs very specific vitamin supplements to maintain her level of health. While we can find a normal mulit... we may not be able to find the right dosing of each vitamin for our needs. And heck... I even talked to my nutritionist about my nutritional concerns for the hike and she tried telling me "just bring all the mulit-vitamins, calcium chews, and individual packets of Protein Powder and electrolytes with you for the entire trip". Um... sure... that would work for a normal travel situation. But I am packing a backpack with my clothes, bedding, hygiene essentials plus medications, first aid, and other necessary supplies. I will be carrying that bag on m y back for at least 7 hours a day, every day, for up to 7 weeks straight. Yeah.... can't pack enough for the entire trip. She at least understood when I put it that way to her.... but those who have hiked the Camino before and don't have my medical issues just don't know how to reply in a manner that is actually helpful to me. And US thru hikers send themselves care packages to local post offices along the path... but since I would be mailing things from the US, I risk packages getting stuck in customs and not arriving as scheduled and thus I might have to move on without dietary essentials.

Anyhow.... if anyone has experience they can share, i would love to know how you dealt with some of these issues. Or if there were other challenges you faced because you are a bariatric patient.

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I have never heard of those places but I’m interested in getting back into running. Years and tears ago I was training for a half marathon when I broke my foot. Now that I’ve had surgery and and going “the other way” I’d like to try again.

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On 01/14/2020 at 20:00, momof3_angels said:



Just bumping this thread again to see if anyone else has already completed a post-bariatric surgery thru hike or long distance pilgrimage? Would like to know how you handled nutrition along the way. Especially if you completed the Camino de Santiago in Spain. But experience with long distant (many day) hike would do. I am now 4 1/2 months post op. Below my doctors goal weight. Not far from a "normal" BMI. I will be leaving in late May, just over 9 months post op.




I am trying to figure out how to stay hydrated, how to get enough Protein, how others did with carbs (need to increase for the hike, but don't want to have to withdraw afterwards and am afraid it will be hard to go back to my non-hiking bariatric diet). I have tried asking some questions on Camino forums, but the average hiker just doesn't understand the challenges that many people face if they have medical issues that affect their diet/nutrition/hydration health. For example, a question about "Are you able to buy electrolytes along the Camino" gets responses like "there are Water fountains everywhere, just drink more water". Um, yeah. I would love to do that. But I am still lucky to get 60 ounces in. What I need to know is if I can easily buy electrolyte supplements along the route. If yes, I am good. If not, I need to come up with a plan for hydration. Or someone else asked questions about Vitamins and people replied "Just eat fruits and vegetables, Vitamins are a waste of money". Um yeah... doesn't work for those with Vitamin deficiencies. This person, like me, needs very specific Vitamin supplements to maintain her level of health. While we can find a normal mulit... we may not be able to find the right dosing of each vitamin for our needs. And heck... I even talked to my nutritionist about my nutritional concerns for the hike and she tried telling me "just bring all the mulit-vitamins, calcium chews, and individual packets of Protein Powder and electrolytes with you for the entire trip". Um... sure... that would work for a normal travel situation. But I am packing a backpack with my clothes, bedding, hygiene essentials plus medications, first aid, and other necessary supplies. I will be carrying that bag on m y back for at least 7 hours a day, every day, for up to 7 weeks straight. Yeah.... can't pack enough for the entire trip. She at least understood when I put it that way to her.... but those who have hiked the Camino before and don't have my medical issues just don't know how to reply in a manner that is actually helpful to me. And US thru hikers send themselves care packages to local post offices along the path... but since I would be mailing things from the US, I risk packages getting stuck in customs and not arriving as scheduled and thus I might have to move on without dietary essentials.




Anyhow.... if anyone has experience they can share, i would love to know how you dealt with some of these issues. Or if there were other challenges you faced because you are a bariatric patient.


I believe there are services that will transport your luggage between stops for you. Maybe you could look into the cost of that? That way you can bring what you need for the full trip but only carry what you need for the day in your backpack.

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1 minute ago, elsie77 said:

I believe there are services that will transport your luggage between stops for you. Maybe you could look into the cost of that? That way you can bring what you need for the full trip but only carry what you need for the day in your backpack.

Thanks. Yes, there are. But I am trying to avoid that. The problem with doing that is if you send your bag ahead, you need to know exactly how far you will be walking that day. I might pick a town 25km ahead. But... if I get hurt or need to stop early, I wouldn't have the flexibility to do that because my supplies are 25km ahead. I really want to be able to listen to my body and walk further on days I feel good and stop earlier on days that I need to stop earlier. Also, while it isn't expensive, the costs will add up if I have to do it daily. And if I bring everything I truly need, then I have to add hold luggage to all my flights, which adds even more cost and I risk my bag getting lost with things I really need. I prefer to carry-on only. Still... haven't ruled it out as an option!

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On 10/29/2019 at 1:13 PM, momof3_angels said:

Just curious, have any of you done a thru-hike or pilgrimage after bariatric surgery? In particular, has anyone done the Camino de Santiago after bariatric surgery? How was it? How did you handle eating? Did you gain/lose/maintain weight? Insights you can share?

I had surgery Sept 4th. I am losing weight at a nice pace. I have just reached a BMI under 30. I am walking 6 miles a day now (still easy walking, but at a brisk pace). I am just beginning to do Yoga/Pilates again (when I can get my daughter to dance in time for me to get to class). And I have just booked a flight to Paris/back from Barcelona... but in between I am planning on doing the Camino de Santiago (French Way) from St Jean Pied de Port! I am super excited. I am planning to up my fitness routine steadily until I leave. I am already buying any gear I don't have and trying to figure out how to keep weight down in my backpack. Buying smaller clothes will sure help that! Hopefully I am a Medium by then if not smaller. Anyhow, any tips on what you did to get you through a thru-hike?

This is my first thru-hike. I have always wanted to do one, but I am using this as more motivation to keep going on my weight loss and getting fit. I selected this one because I don't have to carry my tent and all my food for many days at a time, and I SHOULD have an actual bed to sleep in every night. Anyhow, excitied, nervous, and really not sure how I will be handling food by then. I am doing better with hydrating now. I am eating small meals without problems. I have never gotten sick from anything I ate or overeating.

This June, I'm walking the Camino from St. Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. I estimate the walk will take about 30 to 35 days, walking between 23 and 27 kilometers (14 to 16 miles) per day. At that time, I'll be ca. 9 months our from surgery, so have been planning meticulously to ensure proper food and hydration.

There are plenty of places to stop and eat along the way, and if, like me, you're travelling with a group, you'll be able to eat off of their plates if they order the pilgrim's specials. Otherwise, small dishes (tapas) are available at virtually every establishment. You can get Water and cheap food and Snacks all along the way. I've spent a lot of time in Spain and chicken dishes feature heavily, so if you eat animal Protein then you'll be fine. As you near the sea toward the end of the Camino, seafood is also available everywhere. If you’re staying in albergues (hostels), most of them serve Breakfast, and many serve communal evening meals. Most albergues have kitchens for guest use, so pilgrims can buy groceries and do a lot of their own cooking along the way, if desired.

Even as a whole foods plant-based eater, I'll be able to manage nicely on the journey with bean dishes, vegetables, nuts, fruits, etc.. I'll carry snacks such as nuts, seeds, and pea Protein Powder and bars with me. My main concern is hydration, so I'll be wearing a hydration pack and carrying electrolyte powder at all times.

I'm not concerned about bag weight. I've opted for a 20 litre bag with a waterproof cover, and filled it'll be no more than 5% of my (estimated) body weight at that time. Be super strict with your pack weight - this is crucial on any hike, but especially on the Camino. I'll be wearing well-cushioned broken in trainers, not hiking boots. In the pack will be sunglasses, a small and an extra large microfibre sports towel, a lightweight thin waterproof jacket and trousers, a light poncho, a wide brim foldable hat, 2 t-shirts, 1 long sleeve tee, 2 pairs thin light shorts, 2 pairs thin light trousers, 1 pair light flip-flops, and 8 pairs super high quality double-layered walking socks, 6 pairs 100% cotton ankle socks, 1 bra, 4 pairs underwear. I'll wash each night - the type of fabrics the clothes are made of will dry in an hour, or two at most.

60 SPF sunscreen, toothpaste, travel toothbrush, earplugs, soap leaves for washing clothes each night plus 4 clothespins, Lush Shampoo bar. Phone, charger, solar-powered portable charger kit, adaptor, earphones, a few Ziploc bags, 2-3 drybags in different sizes, Vitamins, massage ball/roller.

Not taking a sleeping bag as the weather will be warm enough in June for a silk sleeping bag liner only, even outside. You're going to need a small portable first aid kit. You will get blisters and you will need to carry a foot care kit: Compeeds, moleskin tape, band aids, talcum powder, small scissors, petroleum jelly (to rub on sore areas before putting on socks), needles and thread (pierce blisters all the way through with a needle and leave a length of the thread in it to prevent refilling).

You are going to lose a lot of weight on the Camino! Have a wonderful trip, and if you go before me, please post tips afterwards!

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11 hours ago, PollyEster said:

This June, I'm walking the Camino from St. Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. I estimate the walk will take about 30 to 35 days, walking between 23 and 27 kilometers (14 to 16 miles) per day. At that time, I'll be ca. 9 months our from surgery, so have been planning meticulously to ensure proper food and hydration.

We are going to be very similar in our trips. I am leaving May 23rd (walking beginning May 25), and will be 8 1/2 months post op when I hike. I too will be doing SJPDP to Santiago, plus I will then hike to Muxia then Finisterre. I am HOPING to do the Frances route in 32 days (including a stop in Orisson to break up day 1 - uphill is my biggest challenge). I will then walk to Muxia in 3 days and 1 more to Finisterre. If all goes well, that will also give me time to take some buses/trains to Portugal, southern Spain, and back to Barcelona. But if I walk slower, I do have the time to finish my hike before returning to the states. I too have been meticulously planning for months! I was thinking about doing a trip like this all last year, but after my surgery I told my husband that I AM doing it... THIS SUMMER! He was worried about me doing it so soon after surgery, but I think this is the perfect time to do it. Incentive to get in shape, reward for all my hard work, wrapped into 1 fun summer advanture! I made reservations for lodging for the first week only, then will get off stages and stay in municipal albergues as much as possible. I knew it was best to reserve St Jean to Pamplona, but wound up reserving until Sansol. This will allow me to ease into the walking knowing I have lodging every night even if I walk slower than planned. I am not worried about the distances the first week, I walk further now.

Weight: I am already down to 146 lbs, so only 11 pounds to my ultimate goal of 135 lbs, Dr's goal was 160, so I reached that milestone a while ago! If I don't hit my goal before the trip, I am certain I will during the trip.

I am not travelling with a group, just my teenage daughter, although I am sure I will find a camino family along the way. With my daughter, she will share a little food, but she eats way more than me with high physical activity.

I am a still LITTLE concerned about food, but moreso about staying hydrated. I can barely get my 64 oz of Water in per day and know I will need to drink more while walking. It isn't the access to food or water I worry about, it is my ability to drink enough water or eat what is available. I do plan to buy Snacks and carry them with me. I am thinking dinner will be a mix of pilgrim meals (so my daughter and I can partake in the communal dinners) and making my own dinner (because I know I can't eat a whole pilgrim meal). Or I will just order a meal a la carte if I can. I just talked to 1 person who had gastric surgery many years ago... and that person said they were able to request half pilgrim meals quite often. I will try that too. It looks like most albergues that serve Breakfast, serve carbs for breakfast. Instead, I will look for the Spanish Tortillas or other egg dishes along the way. I will also buy hard boiled eggs when I can. I am told the grocery stores sell them already cooked quite often. For lunch, I will buy meats and cheeses and such in the markets and carry them with me. I may look for mexican corn tortillas to make sandwiches (they sell them in the larger towns).

I finally decided against carrying supplements. They just add too much to my pack weight. I will bring my multi-vitamins (enough for at least every other day if not for the entire trip), but not my Calcium (too big and bulky). If I need electrolytes I will just drink the Aquarius drinks. Don't want the extra sugar, but it won't matter since I will be hiking so much anyway. And I will also forgo the Protein Powder. Also too heavy.

Pack: I decided to go with a 30L. I am going end of May through June... but I get cold easily. And since surgery and rapid weight loss... I get A LOT COLDER than I ever remember getting in the past. I will seriously be fine temp wise one minute, then teeth literally chattering while my whole body shivers the next. And I live in Southern Arizona... it isn't that cold out. And I do this just as much indoors as I do outdoors. With that... I finally decided I need to bring my down puffer jacket, silk sleeping bag liner, and the lightest down sleeping bag I can find. If I find I don't need the puffer or sleeping bags I will mail them home. I do intend to pack as light as I can. Right now both our packs are at 14 pounds, but I will be paring them back some more. Unfortunately I have to bring my mini cpap machine, so that is adding to the base weight of my pack.

Yes, my first aid kit is packed, as are my medications and bathing/hygiene supplies/towel. My clothing list is similar to yours except I will have a lightweight rain jacket and no rain pants. I may get a disposable poncho if there will be a bad rain day in the forecast, or just wear shorts those days to avoid wet pants. I also will wear trail runners... I found that the Alta Lone Peaks are perfect because they allow my toes plenty of room, even after walking 18 miles in a day. I will also bring Teva sandals because they are lightweight and can be used to hike in and showers. I decided on injinji toe socks for liners (will bring 3 pairs), 2 pairs of a merino wool sock (injinji or darn tough... haven't decided which to bring yet), and 1 pair of a double layer wrightsocks (Camino themed). 4 underwear, 2 bras, etc. I will hike in a pair of lightweight convertible pants, and bring 1 pair of leggings and 1 pair of workout style shorts I can hike. Shirts: 1 long sleeve sun shirt, 2 T's, 1 tank, and maybe 1 slightly warmer long sleeve for layering. Of course I have a hat, and my prescription glasses are also sunglasses when outside in the sun. I doubt that is my entire packing list, but you get the gist. I too will wash laundry daily.

Still debating whether or not I want poles. I will do carry-on only, do would have to buy when I get to St Jean. I don't know... I like poles on hills but hate them on flat... and do NOT want to carry them on my pack! lol. Might buy 1 pair and split them as needed with my daughter, she doesn't like to use 2 anyway.

Have you done a thru hike before?

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Yes, I’ve hiked both the Great Divide Trail and the West Coast Trail in Canada, the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand, and the Via Francigena in France and Italy. Of course, I had a full-size stomach on those journeys.

Do you plan on carrying Water bottles, or will you be using a hydration pack? Water isn’t light, so I’m still trying to determine how much I’ll need to carry between refills before buying a pack specifically for this hike. I am fairly athletic and have a pack that I currently use on long cycling trips, but at 2 litres it might be too heavy (4.4lbs) for me to carry on foot.

I use a bariatric-specific Multi-Vitamin that is complete including Iron, so will only need to carry 35 of those in addition to 70 calcium citrate mini-tabs purchased specifically for this trip (800 mg of calcium citrate plus 800 IU of Vitamin D3 per tab, brand is “Rainbow Light”).

I see a WLS nutritionist who is also an expert in bariathlete nutrition, and as I move closer to the departure date, I’ll be asking her for Camino-specific advice. I would be happy to post her suggestions here, though keep in mind they will be specific to plant-based whole foods eaters.

Edited by PollyEster

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