Staying Fit and Healthy While Traveling
We have a questionably sane relative who loves to tell us… “Eating is a pain. I hate taking the time to do it.”
Yes, despite massive internal struggles, we still have a relationship with that person. Even so, we don’t understand people who don’t like food. And don’t even get me started on people who don’t like cheese (dietary restrictions aside). Take, for example, the woman we met recently who couldn’t stand the thought of putting a couple of strings on her chili. “Yuck, none for me,” she said. We both looked at her like she was from another planet as we painstakingly piled perfect mountains of cheddar atop our bowls.
Lately, we’ve been trying to keep things in balance because – as we’ve been saying – the travel dominos have started to fall. We’ve begun a string of travel that, interspersed with everything else in life, will have us on the move for a good chunk of time.
Whenever we’re in this mode, our minds turn to fitness and health. We know:
1) We have to keep up our exercise regimen no matter where we are.
2) We have to eat reasonably decently no matter where we are.
Or we will be huge, unhealthy and unhappy – none of which sound sound like appealing characteristics.
Every so often we’ll do a bootcamp-y sort of thing, but – for the most part – extreme tactics aren’t for us. We just know that paying some level of attention to nutrition and fitness is critical. It’s all about balance. Because we work on our own, comprehensive healthcare is prohibitively expensive. We only have coverage in the event that all hell breaks loose, so we have to be mindful of our day-to-day habits in order to stay as healthy as possible.
Nothing demonstrates the importance of mindful nutrition more than the time we did a month long vegan experiment. Before starting the experiment, we both had very good “total cholesterol” readings in the mid-100s. After just a month of being 100% vegan, that number dropped to the low 100s for both of us. Incredible. There was only one problem. During those 30 days, we had both turned into raging grumps (to put it gently).
We need our cheese.
We keep an eye on our “core” metrics – cholesterol, blood pressure, pulse, body fat, glucose, etc. and try not to get too worked up if those are in a decent range. We don’t have too many hard and fast rules around exercise and food, but we do try to stick to some basic parameters that we can adhere to whether or not we’re on the road. In addition to the biggies – exercising nearly every day and sticking to a mostly vegetarian diet – we try to avoid too many calories from liquids (juice, soda) and we build our at-home meal plans around some core vegan items – stir fry, burritos – that help to “offset” those times when we have meat, which usually happens only on the road, or too many desserts.
Lately, too, we’ve incorporated some little things that have made a surprisingly significant difference.
-An exercise in restraint…We try to avoid eating within two hours of bedtime.
-An exercise in portion control… We try to refrain from eating right out of the bag (chips!).
-An exercise in patience… We try to keep from eating while on the go.
On the fitness front… running is our go-to exercise at home, and it’s usually a great option on the road. This is a shot from a couple of weeks ago in Morocco. It can be difficult when staying in the center of a busy city, like Marrakech, but it’s usually a fantastic way to scope out a new destination and to pinpoint how it moves. The biggest challenge with running, really, is that it can create a bit of a packing dilemma when you’re heading to a cold weather destination. Oh, and you can get lost. Like we did in Marrakech.
We love it when we are able to stay at a place with some kind of fitness room or access to a local gym. If we have some space or are renting an apartment, Insanity workouts are a fantastic alternative. Have you heard of the Insanity videos? They’re a great – usually high intensity – option if you’ve got some space on the road. We got turned on to Insanity by a hardcore couple who worked on a cruise ship. As employees, they’d use the fitness room during off hours, so we’d join them from time to time. It kicked our butts at first but is now a regular part of our fitness plan.
Currently, we’re in Croatia where we’re having some of the most scenic runs in the history of our travels (and some of the best pizza in the history of our travels!). Watch for photos in future posts.
What about you. How do you stay fit and healthy while traveling?