It was in a Berlin H&M when I realized that the only dress that fit me was a whole 2 sizes larger than what I usually wore. It was in Prague when I took one look in the full length mirror (though it was totally a fat mirror) and swore off food for the rest of the trip. When did I become so unhealthy??
Before I set off on my journey, I honestly never thought staying healthy would be a problem. I mean, we walk miles a day (coming from SoCal… where it’s perfectly normal to drive one block to the grocery store or coffee shop, this is a huge lifestyle change for the better). Shouldn’t that be enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep the weight off??
Ummm… apparently not. It’s a sad day when you realize that you no longer have the metabolism you did in your early 20’s. You can’t stuff your face with cake and ice cream anymore, and know that they’ll be expelled the next time you, ahem, use the bathroom. Nope, instead, they all make themselves at home on your thighs and belly. And now I find myself having to make a conscious effort to stay healthy.
Long-term traveling is not a vacation, and thus staying healthy needs to be part of the lifestyle. When you’re vacationing for, let’s say, a week in Paris, you can eat all the baguette sandwiches and tarts you want, and then go home and recover from it. But when you’re in a different country every week for months on end, there is no binge period and recovery period. Everyday, you must choose to be healthy.
Here is what I do to keep the fatness at bay while on the road:
1. Stay hydrated
I’m trying to be better about this, but it’s so important to stay hydrated. Water is 0 calories, can curb appetite, keeps your skin soft and wrinkle-free, and helps everything to move smoothly inside. And it’s been proven that dehydration leads to headaches, massive crankiness, and fights.
Suggestion: we both travel with Sport Berkey bottles, which has a filter that basically removes all contaminates and makes any water safe to drink.
2. Practice Intermittent Fasting
I attribute this practice to the #1 reason of how I’ve maintained my weight/fat ratio over the last 2 years. Basically, it’s the concept of consuming all your calories within a certain number of hours (I aim for 8 hours), in order to get your body into fat-burning mode. In short – if you eat too frequently, your body is constantly only burning off sugar for energy. But if refrained from eating for 16 hours of the day, your body is forced to burn off fat after all the sugar has burned. Get it?
I usually accomplish this by skipping breakfast & eating lunch as my 1st meal of the day, and then eating an early-ish dinner. The rest of the time, drink plenty of water. I don’t wish to start a debate over the importance of breakfast, but if you want to learn more about it, you can read more here and here. I highly recommend these reads.
3. Maintain a work out schedule
I used to work out at least 3 times a week back in the States, but I stopped altogether when I started traveling. I thought that the sheer amount of walking would be enough. But it’s not. For me, strength/core training is the only surefire way to maintain the body.
Sooooo…. I actually travel with a yoga mat! I got the Manduka eKO Superlite Yoga Mat, which is very thin, foldable/rollable, and weighs in at a mere 2 lbs. Okay, that 2 lbs is actually quite a heavy addition to my carry-on and takes up more space than I’d like, but I think it’s worth it. I love it so much that I’m keeping the mat, and ditching the not-absolutely-necessary clothes and toiletries for our Southeast Asia trip. Priorities. :)
Now, all I need to get a good workout is my mat and YouTube. I choose to focus on yoga because it doesn’t bore me to death. I aim for at least 30 minutes a day, and mix it up between strength, cardio, and flexibility training. Here are my favorite channels/apps:
- Lesley Fightmaster – a good channel with full length Vinyasa yoga classes for all levels, and different areas of focus. This is my go-to for my everyday practice.
- Ali Kameova – this girl is crazy strong and has crazy endurance! All her videos will test you mentally and physically to the max. I use this when I need an intense cardio day or need to sweat.
- Yoga Studio app for iPhone/iPad- it costs a few bucks, but so worth it. It contains a lot of pre-constructed classes for all levels and different focus areas. You can also create your own classes. I love this for when I don’t have time to carefully pick a class.
I prefer working out in the morning in a fasted state, and then having lunch afterwards.
If yoga’s not your cup of tea, jogging is a FREE activity and all you need are running shoes. Or there are various body weight exercises requiring zero equipment. The options are endless so there’s no excuse!
4. Try to carve out some no-gluten days
I’m not too into the whole gluten-free diet thing (let’s face, it I love bread too much), but D does have a slight gluten intolerance, so (sometimes) I try not to rub bread in his face. And also, there’s no denying that too much gluten makes you feel like a blob. So we’ll try to have days where we eat no gluten (rice or potatoes are acceptable substitutes, but obviously not too much). If you want to be more hardcore, then try having no carb days!
5. Don’t forget the fruits and veggies
It can be hard to eat healthy while traveling because you’re constantly faced with so many delicious food options! Another downside is that if you’re on a budget, most cheap eats are incredibly unhealthy and carb-heavy. I know it’s entirely impossible to avoid food like that, so I think the more important thing is to seek out fruits and veggies to balance it out. Should you find a local market, stock up on some fresh produce.
This is our recent market haul when we were in Wroclaw. We ate the veggies raw, and made guacamole with bell pepper chips. It’s a very healthy snack or even can work as a meal!
6. And of course, be as active as possible
We walk everywhere… mainly because a lot of the times, I can’t figure out how to use the public transportation. But we’re all for it because then it’s FREE! Basically, if it takes less than an hour to walk somewhere, we’ll walk instead of trying to figure out which tram to take. And if your place is up a few flights of stairs, take the stairs instead of the elevator!
How do you stay healthy on the road? Do you have any more tips to add?