Bolivia’s Best Kept Secret: Weight Loss

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I’m not sure why my Avianca airline meal tasted so good.

Even before my husband unwrapped his meal, I had already gobbled my airline meal and was hungrily eyeing his every bite. I admit that our 20-hour flight with multiple layovers was tiring, but I had never eaten my airline food so fast.

airline food

Aside from being very concerned about the health of my taste buds, I was also worried that I had begun to add those yummy vacation pounds well before it all began.

I firmly believe that 95% of adults in America spend most of their lives desperately trying to drop a pound or ten. While that might be true, lets face it; your vacation getaway is not the time or the place to lose it. After all, why pay for a ticket to a new destination and not experience the local food culture?

Finally, we reached our destination, La Paz Bolivia. As I lugged my carry on towards the exit door of the airplane, all I could think was, “I wonder if there are any airport eateries opened at this hour (2:00AM)”?

food eater cartoon

As I exited the comfort of the pressurized airplane and entered the high altitude atmosphere of La Paz Bolivia, the thin air hit me like an anvil. I felt too sick to stand and immediately sat down on the floor. As I crawled to keep up with the line I couldn’t believe how nauseous and dizzy I suddenly felt. Most of all my biting appetite had disappeared. “Here comes the altitude sickness”, I thought.

It took about a week for my altitude sickness to relatively subside. Although I was still taking medication for my awful headaches all the other symptoms more or less disappeared. The only symptoms that resided with me for the remainder of my 30-day stay in Bolivia were shortness of breath (when walking or climbing fast), and a lack of appetite.

As time went on I noticed that my clothing was getting looser, and my waist was getting smaller. It was a really strange sensation, especially since I wasn’t doing much exercise. I did notice that life at 12,000-14,000 feet above sea level had drastically diminished my appetite and had given me good reasons to avoid heavy meals at night.. It wasn’t until I actually had to go to the market and buy a belt to hold my pants up that I really became astonished about how fast my pounds were melting away.

cartoon waist line

There has been extensive research about how high altitude affects the human body. Although there is a lot that we don’t yet understand about this subject, we do know that there is a definite connection between high altitude and weight loss.

Since 1957 scientists have noted that animals drop pounds at high altitudes. Mountaineers climbing more than 12,000 feet above sea level are also known to lose many pounds over their expedition. Though the exertion of climbing largely contributes to their weight loss

In fact a group of overweight inactive people who spent a week at 8,700 feet above sea level, lost weight while eating as much as they wanted and not doing any exercise. What’s even more astonishing is that a month after they returned to sea level they managed to keep two-thirds of the weight off!

Statistically people who live at high altitudes have a lower obesity level. This is mostly due to the increased heart rate and production of Leptin and other appetite suppressing hormones. Additionally, the increased heart rate and increased general metabolism aid the body to quickly burn calories during and after their visit to their high altitude destination.

ontop of the world

Altitude affects everyone differently and it’s always wise to understand your own capabilities before pushing yourself beyond your limits. Studies have shown that obese individuals may have a greater severity of altitude sickness and/or heart attacks while at high altitude. I’d recommend checking with a qualified doctor before attempting to ascend more than 7000 feet above sea level.

La Paz Bolivia ranges in elevation from about 11,000-14,000 feet above sea level. If individuals can significantly drop pounds at just 8,700 feet above sea level, imagine what an extra 4,300 feet above sea level can do for your waistline? I have literally dropped 3 sizes! For the 95% of you that are desperately trying to lose those unwanted holiday pounds, I highly recommend spending some time in La Paz Bolivia (or anywhere greater than 12,000 feet above sea level). This is one of the few types of vacation that offers its visitors a great time as well as the time and place to buy a belt before losing your pants. 🙂

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Zoe Green

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