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How to balance working and skiing

Why am I so tired? Is it the red wine?

When we headed for the Aosta Valley in search of snow-based adventure, neither of us were what you’d call ‘active’. Our lovely dogs had both passed in recent years, and since then a daily walk seemed less necessary. We’d hike a bit, do the odd class, but spent a large amount of time slumped in front of the telly - especially in the darker winter months.

Interesting then that we thought we’d be able to ski every day during our stay! Our plan was to ski for two hours every morning in Pila, as that allowed us to start work at a reasonable UK time after getting out, then ski full days at the weekend in the other Aosta resorts. Of course we’d also be able to fit in a bit of sightseeing and eating out…

A weekend trip to sunny Courmeyeur

Reality bites

It will come as no surprise we were very tired, very quickly. The two hours skiing in the morning lasted for quite a while, but we had to add a two-hour afternoon snooze! The weekend skiing went ahead but with frustratingly short days. I skied badly and got cranky. Work was done rather slowly, and we weren’t seeing much of the gorgeous old town or picturesque valley.

It was someone on an internet forum that reminded me that it might be worth actually taking a day off sometimes, as we were clearly knackered. I think we’d assumed that because skiing was a hobby, it would just fit into our down time; we certainly hadn’t factored in the exhaustion our unfit bodies were feeling! It was time to find a bit more balance in our lives, and we instigated a weekend day off each week to be tourists or just chill out, and skied slightly less during the week. Immediately we had a little more energy to enjoy our surroundings and the skiing became more fun, less just ‘exercise’ (yuck, exercise!)

We also realised that eating cheese and ham, and drinking the excellent wines of the valley on a daily basis was probably not going to give us the energy we needed to tear up the pistes each morning. Sadly, we’d need some vegetables and fruit, just like we did in the UK.

A lesson for the future

Aosta was our first long trip and taught us a very important lesson – if you push yourself too hard, either with long work hours or by trying to fit too much in, you’ll miss out on the fun and interesting things that your home-for-now offers.

I think we’ve applied this to everywhere we’ve been since and learned to slow everything down. We take time out to relax, which gives us the head space to make plans and take note of what the area has to offer. For instance, if we had stuck to skiing every weekend, we never would have seen Bard fort or had the best cheesy polenta in Bard village that day. If we’d have stuck to skiing every day, we might have injured ourselves or at least lost the love for the snow and mountains. If our work had been affected by constant fatigue, we could have put our new lifestyle at risk before it had really begun.

The lesson can be applied to travel anywhere: forget the hustle sometimes and take your time doing things that are fun; don’t make your body or mind hurt by trying to cram something into every second of the day. In the end, we’ll remember that leisurely cheesy polenta more than the time we didn't really fancy skiing but went anyway.


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