Before I started travelling, I used to go to the gym, run or swim a minimum of three times a week and I used to practice the martial art of Jiu-Jitsu once a week. In short, I loved keeping fit! I even went so far as to qualify as a personal trainer. I had planned to start my own business in the fitness industry but that was before I started travelling. I couldn’t have both, so a choice had to be made.
Travel and the Body
When you travel almost all sense of routine goes out the window, from when you get up and go to bed to what and when you eat. It’s extremely difficult to keep up your old diet because you can’t always make food or even a drink for yourself. After some time this can get frustrating!
A lot of people gain or loose weight when they travel. This is down to change in diet, routine and activity level. For me, it was the latter. They say that in order to lose weight there is a simple method: eat less and move more. This you’ll do without trying. You’ll eat less because you’re constantly busy and on the go and you’ll move more walking around, sightseeing, hiking or exploring. You’ll sweat a lot more too which, of course, aids weight loss.
Whether you did or didn’t keep fit before you travelled, you’ll notice a difference in your physique pretty quickly. For those that gain weight, this will more than likely be down to having a “main meal” for breakfast, something like rice and vegetables. It’s how the locals do things and you’ll likely follow suit. I guarantee that the novelty of having a rice or noodle dish for breakfast will soon wear thin. Soon you’ll be craving something “normal”, whatever a normal breakfast may consist of for you!
Fitness on the Road
The same will happen with your fitness routine. If you didn’t have one before coming away, it won’t make much difference to you. But if you did, the lack of regular exercise will soon become frustrating. There will be no gym regularly available, no set time or space to workout and no proper equipment to use . You might not be in one place long enough to establish any form of routine.
Lynette is a dedicated Ashtanga yogi, practicing for 1.5 hours each morning. We always make space for her mat, even if we have to rearrange the hotel room furniture! If she can’t practice every day, she gets frustrated. I’m sure fellow yogis can relate to that!
Yoga is a great form of exercise, regardless of which style you practice. Plus it’s portable. All you need is space for a mat and your own body! I’ve never practiced yoga, although I have tried it with Lynette’s guidance and would like to get into it. But with no time for both of us to practice one after the other, I’ll have to find another outlet.
For more on yoga, check out: Yoga on the Road!
There are many other ways in which you can keep fit on the road. If you run and know your way around, go for a run. Even some light stretching can have a great psychological and physical effect. If you can fit a resistance band or skipping rope into your pack, take it with you; there are loads of effective workouts that you can do.
Workouts are a great start to the day. They get the blood flowing and help you to focus. Exercising in the morning also gives you some form of routine on the road, which means that whatever happens later in the day, one thing will have at least gone right! As for your cardiovascular fitness, walking around seeing sights, going up and down stairs and traipsing in and out of temples will take care of this one, no sweat (pardon the pun!)
Healthy Eating on the Road
Maintaining a balanced diet can be tricky on the road, especially with all the tasty street food available. Plus, in Asia at least, they love to make things sugary and sweet. You may find that your eating habits change a lot when travelling. Here’s a few tips to keep you on the straight and narrow:
Opt for good sources of protein. Obviously this depends on what’s available but most places will do something that you’re familiar with. Protein will keep you fuller for longer and help your muscles to recover faster.
During the Day
At lunch, go for something simple. Many nations eat little and often, so a small bowl of noodles with veggies is ideal. If you just fancy a snack, in most places fruit is easily obtainable. If you ask, they’ll often cut it up for you. Fruit is a good source of fibre and nutrients.
Always Stay Hydrated
A lot of countries get extremely hot during the day and you’ll soon feel the effects if you aren’t drinking enough water.
Again, this depends on where you are and what’s available. Rice and noodles are staples in many parts of the world, so getting your main carbohydrate fix from one of them is highly likely. You won’t know the portion size, so you’ll just have to order and hope for the best. Getting a good amount of vegetables is important too. If you order noodles or rice with veggies, ask to add egg or tofu. Both are good sources of protein and also make the meal taste a lot better.
Keeping fit on the road can be a challenge but, by being mindful and making it a part of your daily routine, it doesn’t have to be. You may not be able to do everything you would normally do if you’re used to exercising regularly, but doing a little is far better than doing nothing!