It’s hard enough for me to maintain my weight when I’m at home surrounded by tons of resources, but it’s nigh on impossible for me to focus on my health when I travel because all I want to do is eat everything in sight. Forget about the “freshmen fifteen”. When I’m traveling, it’s more like the “two-week twenty”! Back when I was a sweet young heifer, I could eat whatever I wanted on a trip and still lose weight. The calories never seemed to stick. Well, those days are long gone. It’s harder than ever for me to stay healthy while traveling. And there’s no way I’m going to hit the gym when there are so many places to go and things to see.
At home, my current health regiment includes Pilates, Barre, and Orangetheory twice a week, and an occasional spin class. I can’t believe how much I have to sweat just to maintain my current weight. Ouch! No way I can keep it real while traveling without a little extra activity to counter balance the extra calories that seem to fly into my mouth. Since I’m not carving time out of my sightseeing schedule to work out at a gym, I’ve come up with a few stealthy ways to interject healthy habits into my daily routine while traveling. After all, no one wants to do the traveler’s walk of shame – you leave wearing jeans, you come back wearing sweat pants. And, yes, I’ve totally done that before.
One of the biggest joys of traveling is getting to eat new and unusual foods. Victuals are one of the defining elements of any culture. A country’s cuisine can be an expression of love, community, celebration and hardships overcome. So how can you say no to nattō, nay to muay, pass on haggis or left swipe Vegemite? For reals, “I cain’t say no” when there’s food involved.
So how does one stay fit during vacay without going to a gym? Here are a few of my stealth-health strategies:
- Inclement weather notwithstanding, if my destination is less than 3 miles away, I’ll walk instead of taking the bus or train. I also take as many walking tours as possible. Many cities offer free ones that really let you get into the heart of a city. There’s nothing wrong with a hop on, hop off bus, but if you want to meet locals, you gotta be among them.
- Go ahead and be a jackass or mule. Helping your friends out with their luggage can help you work off the wine calories and keep your arms looking toned. I often offer to carry things in my backpack for people when I go hiking to increase the intensity.
- If there aren’t too many people around, throw in some high knees. This keeps your heart rate up, and your bum looking tight. You only have to do it a few seconds at a time every few minutes or so to get that extra cardio kick.
- Take the stairs every chance you get. From the second I get dropped off at the airport, I start taking the stairs everywhere. I take the stairs to my hotel room if it’s on the 5th story or lower. If there are stairs and an escalator close to each other, I race the people on the escalator. Booyah!
- If no one is in the hallway, I do walking lunges from the stairwell/elevator to my room. Yeah, it looks pretty goofy, and the peeps monitoring the security cameras are probably laughing their asses off, but the burn is worth it!
- Eat everything…in moderation. Here’s where traveling with others is a real boon. Splitting entrees or ordering dishes family style is an excellent way to try a variety of foods without having to eat a large amount of any one thing.
- Do mini-workouts every day. I usually do a couple of variations of push-ups, squats, and jumping jacks each day. If I’m super short on time, I’ll do modified burpees with full push-ups and jump squats. That’ll get your heart racing. My mini-workouts are typically only 5 minutes long or less.
- Choose active excursions. I enjoy zip lining, hiking, horseback riding, snorkeling and anything with the word downhill in it. I’m usually having so much fun, I don’t even realize how intense of a workout I’m getting until I look at my Fitbit. Or until I try to walk the next day.
- Swim, swim, swim! No matter how cold the water is, I always swim when I can. Swimming combines cardio with a full body workout. I usually do a combination of laps and resistance training. Also, I get to skip a tedious shower if I get a swim in. Woot! #savetheearth
- Leave that jacket at home. Many of you have heard me talk about brown/back fat. It’s the fat that gets activated when you are cold. Researchers found that you can burn up to 15% more calories in a day by getting your brown fat to work for you, so shiver away!
There you have it. You know all my stealthy stay-in-shape-during-vacay secrets. Please share some of yours now.