It’s a struggle. Let’s be honest – whether you’re traveling or at home, cultivating and sticking to a healthy routine is a challenging!
I’ve spent years of my life just traveling like a nomad – from living on a ship for 4 months sailing through 17 countries, to working in an intense and fast paced job that had me traveling 11 months of the year, I’ve been through all kinds of challenges with regards to my health.
From poor body image to lack of care, gaining weight and then losing it, I’ve finally arrived at a balance with my health. And I’m not a perfect person by any means. I love food, I love going to great restaurants, and I love lazy days in.
Personally, whilst traveling, I find it all the more difficult to control my eating and exercise when I’m adapting to a new place. From FOMO (fear of missing out) on the hottest local restaurants to adjusting to the time differences, finding a gym to taking out time from exploring to devote to exercise is both hard and sometimes feels like an annoying sacrifice.
That said, I’ve come to realize that caring for one’s health is of paramount importance.
A few years ago I used to think that being fit was about looking my best and reducing excess chubbiness, however after years of a lifestyle change and healthy routine I’ve now come to realize that taking care of oneself goes so much deeper than just looking good.
The way your body feels on a day when you’ve moved it adequately and fed it nourishing wholesome foods is incredible – personally, I think that I even perform better at work, my mind feels sharper and I’m generally much less sluggish and able to pack in a number of things. It’s definitely worth sticking to a few rules that work!
Here are some of my rules, tips and tricks to maintain myself while on the road
1 – Make a Plan to Exercise NO MATTER WHAT
Exercise no matter what and find creative and enjoyable ways to do it. I think that exercise should be a part of every person’s life.
I’m usually good about my workout routine, however while traveling when I sometimes have no access to the gyms I usually snap on my headphones and go for a jog outside.
It can actually be an incredible way to absorb your new settings and see a city. I use the Nike plus app to track my distance, speed, calories burnt, etc. and I find that even a short 20 minute run does wonders in changing how I feel about my day!
If you don’t like running or don’t feel like it, or are in a city where it is to cold to be running outside, get creative and try some home workouts! There are so many available on the Internet, in magazines and through apps and yoga, for example, is a great form of getting in a stretching and stimulating your circulation from a hotel room or small space.
All you need is a towel, a mat and some determination! I also sometimes do a quick 25-30 minute cross fit style workout combining burpees, jumping jacks, squats, mountain climbers, sit ups and a few planks thrown in on a nonstop loop. It’s a fantastic way to smash out a high intensity workout without needing gym equipment, and it takes so little time that it really doesn’t detract from your time to explore the city.
2 – Fruits & Veggies
Make fruits and vegetables the base of your eating, especially in restaurants and learn to naturally make healthy swaps.
If that isn’t possible, try to sneak in vegetables as much as you can because they are high in fiber, keep you full and make you feel light and well. While you don’t have to be that person that orders salad all the time, you can easily request extra grilled vegetables in your pasta, top your pizza with them or swap in a side salad instead of fries.
While I love indulging in rich foods, I try and eat fresh produce most of the time, and have re-programmed myself to think of vegetables as the base of my meal, and everything else is an “add on” or “side”.
That way, you’re still getting nutrients in even while indulging and enjoying.
3 – Walk
Walk wherever you can. I’ve discovered that one of the best ways to see a city is by exploring it on your own two feet! I not only love walking blocks on blocks (particularly at the moment in New York), but also visiting a local park or garden if I’m not in a walkable city.
This keeps your circulation and metabolism going, you don’t feel bored and it’s a great way to both exercise and explore!
4 – But FIRST Let’s Work Out
Finish off your workout first thing in the morning.
This is a tough one. It’s hard to condition yourself to create this habit, especially if you are not a morning person. But studies have shown that you are much more likely to skip your workout if you leave it for later in the day – I think its better to do a 20 minute workout in the morning, than tell yourself you’ll do a full hour later in the evening.
Plus, you give yourself a metabolic boost, get it out of the way and start your day on a great note. This way, you’re more likely to opt for a healthier breakfast and consequently stay motivated to have an overall healthy day.
5 – Get Loco or Local…
Enjoy trying local produce: I’ve grown to really, truly love the feeling of trying out the fresh local produce of a place.
For example, I was recently in San Francisco for a month and loved consuming California avocados.
While studying in Rome, I love going to the local markets in the piazzas and purchasing fresh vegetables and fruits; while in Far East Asia I love eating dragon fruit and raw papaya or mango salad in Thailand.
In general, I try and stay as natural as possible by eating local and seasonal produce, grocery shopping and cooking frequently and often. While this may be hard on a vacation, you can easily stock up on some fresh fruit and snack on these instead of packaged and processed unhealthy foods. This applies for road trip snacks too – fruit instead of chips, sparkling water instead of colas.
The small steps add up!
6 – Relax
Take out the time to relax. Travel can be exhausting, and rest and relaxation are as much a part of being healthy as are eating well and exercising. On most nights I hop into bed early, and if I’ve had a late night I overcompensate with a nap the next day after work, or sleep in on weekends. Also, bubble baths. ☺
Don’t forget the balance…
Lastly, I think it’s most important to strike a balance between being disciplined and being kind to yourself.
Let go of the idea of perfection. Nobody eats perfectly all the time – it’s ok to slip up here and there, or skip a workout you had planned. As long as you generally remain active, make a genuine and honest effort to eat clean and strike a balance between your food groups while enjoying life and the beauty of this world, you’ll be just fine!
Enjoy the journey…
Travel blogger; lived in 9 cities, been to 58 countries, works in international media