How to Stay Fit While Traveling
This post contains affiliate links. Visit the Disclosure page for details.
LET’S GET REAL FOR A SEC ABOUT FITNESS GOALS WHILE TRAVELING.
I’ve set SMART goals for a longtime. That whole specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound framework. It’s worked for me. But only to an extent. And then, as I was starting Remote Year, I was challenged by my coach to set another goal. To spend the next year getting in the best shape of my life.
I hesitated at first. I mean I was going to be traveling the world. Did I really want to deprive myself of all the fun nights out? Great meals? Glasses of Argentinian Malbec? Definitely not. It didn’t seem like a realistic goal to make. But the more I thought about it, the more it felt like an incredible challenge. And the more I realized that I wanted it.
For me, physical strength equates to mental and emotional strength. So I set the goal. It didn’t feel particularly realistic and I had no idea HOW I was going to make it happen. But I kept reminding myself: “I am in the best shape of my life” (cuz affirmations and how you set them is so important! Read more here.)
When I arrived in Medellin, I started to realize that, after physically being stuck on a plateau for so long, my body was starting to respond. Suddenly, the size 6 jeans that had been my go-to for years were legit falling off. The jean shorts that had fit me a month earlier were baggy in all sorts of places. I had to borrow a belt from my roommate just so I could wear my pants. Then, I found the tape measure I brought with me to track my progress because #screwthescale and guess what!!!! I had lost a total of 3 inches in my waist and hips. NO FREAKING WONDER MY PANTS WERE FALLING OFF!!!
Fast forward 6+ more months to the end of my Remote Year journey. December 2018 and the moment when I started reflecting on my goal. And here’s the rub…
I may NOT have gotten into “the best shape of my life” this year. But I’m so damn proud of myself. For working out 4+ days a week the ENTIRE year. For sticking to my guns when it came to my nutrition, sleep, etc. For going the first 3 months of RY without drinking during the week. For ACTUALLY dropping pant sizes! Literally…I don’t have ANY of the jeans or shorts that I started the year with because they all got too BIG!
People will always tell you what is and isn’t possible. That it’s not the right time. And I heard that a LOT this year. “You can’t lose weight on Remote Year” they said. I disagree. 1000%. Cuz I did. And multiple others in my program did too!
So why am I sharing this?
Because too often this year I’ve heard people say, “You can’t lose weight or get in better shape while you travel…” and admittedly, it was disheartening AF. Especially because I went into this year with a goal to get into the best shape of my life. But, after over 9 months of round the world travel, let me just say that this statement is BULLSHIT. Because if that was the case, then why have 2 people in my community experienced double-digit weight loss? Why have I been losing inches all year so much so that it’s forced me to constantly update my wardrobe because my pants were legit falling off? It’s a good problem to have…for sure.
HERE ARE MY BIGGEST TIPS…
MAKE IT A PRIORITY.
How to make nutrition a priority…Make it the first thing you do when you land somewhere. On Remote Year, we’re spending a month in every single place. When I touch down in a new city, the first thing I do is find a grocery store and stock up my fridge with my staple foods. Because if you don’t have healthy, whole food accessible to you, you’re going to eat whatever you can find, whether it’s good for you or not. So, within the first 24 hours whenever we get to a new city/country, I have made a grocery list and hit a grocery store. It’s priority #1. Another way to make nutrition a priority is to decide how many times a day/week you’re going to eat out and what your “non-negotiables” are when it comes to your nutrition. For example, at the beginning of the year, I decided I wasn’t going to eat out more than once a day. Now? My rule is no more than 2x a week. I also prioritize having a carb-less dinner to emphasize eating veggies and protein over carbs. Lastly, you have to ask yourself if making the lifestyle change is more important to you than socializing, going out, etc. For me, it is, and I’ve had to say no to going out to eat nightly or going out to happy hour and I’ve chosen to say no to that because if the temptation is there, I’ll fall off track. So I remove the temptation and that’s one of the ways I’ve made that a priority for me.
How to make fitness a priority…In the same manner that I suggested that you prioritize finding a grocery store, when you arrive in a destination, make it a priority to figure out where you’re going to work out and how you’re going to workout. Are you going to go to a gym? Okay. Find the gym you want to go to and sign up. Are you going to work out at home? Okay. Decide when, how often, what time and what you’re going to do during your workout. That’s step 1 in making it a priority. I’m someone who has worked out at home for years
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it’s hard AF. It’s hard to motivate yourself to wake up early before a 6 AM bus ride or flight to get your workout in. It’s hard to stay in and cook when everyone else is out to dinner at one of the top 10 restaurants in the world. It’s hard to say no to happy hour, brunch, etc. But, sooner or later, you find that balance. You eat your dinner and go out with your friends anyway and have a side salad instead of a heavy, greasy Slavic meal. You save up all your cheat points for that burger, fries and beer with your besties. You make it happen – living the travel life and making healthy choices for you!
MAKE IT CONVENIENT.
How to make nutrition convenient… This plays into a little bit of what we talked about above. If you don’t have healthy, whole food accessible to you, you’re going to eat whatever you can find, whether it’s good for you or not. To make nutrition convenient, you have to have nutrient-dense foods around. Cut. Check. PERIOD. You can also make nutrition more convenient by essentially eating the same thing day in and day out. This may sound boring, but some of the healthiest people on the planet eat the same thing day in and day out. Yes, they like a lot of different foods, but the simplicity of having a repetitive diet of the foods they love just makes it all more convenient and takes all the guesswork out! Another way you can make nutrition even more convenient is to MEAL PREP. In our travels, we had full kitchens in the vast majority of places we went. So, I meal prepped as much as humanly possible. I’m not going to belabor this much more except to redirect you to some of the resources I’ve created in the past on this subject, including this exhaustive blog post, this YouTube video, and this book I published on Amazon.
How to make exercise convenient…Oh my gosh, do I have all the suggestions for this one! But, a big way for me to make exercise more convenient is to make it easy AF to workout. How can you do that? Workout at home! I love having Beachbody OnDemand because it gives me essentially a Netflix of fitness where I can stream workouts to my heart’s content. And you don’t even need equipment for a ton of them. I think there are so many reasons to workout at home, but one of the biggest reasons for me is convenience! No commute. No excuses. Another way to make things easier is to have equipment at the ready. Yes, I’m obsessed with my Empack and it’s allowed me to weightlift at home and while I travel, but you don’t need that! You can weight lift with water bottles, or simply bring a resistance band or some resistance loops! In fact, I detailed my entire travel fitness packing list here. Other ways? Pick a gym that’s close by! Because, even if it’s not the nicest gym around, if it’s close and your commute is short, you’re probably a lot more likely to get there! Or better yet, don’t worry about hitting a gym at all! Go to a park with a jungle gym! You’d be amazed at the kind of workout you can get just at a jungle gym in a park! Last, but not least, take 100% of the guesswork out of the process. Part of what makes exercise inconvenient is the little things like deciding what you’re going to wear, packing up your gym bag, or simply deciding what you’re going to do once you get to the gym to workout. So, take that guesswork away. Layout your clothes in advance. Fill up your water bottle in advance. Pack your bag with your change of clothes in advance! And, so freaking important, decide what you’re going to do in advance! And don’t just stop at saying “it’s leg day!”. Decide what exercises you’re going to do, for how many reps, for how many rounds, for how long. Say, I’m going to run 10 hill sprints for time. Say I’m going to do a circuit of 50 squats, 40 lunges, 30 thrusters, etc. JUST DECIDE AHEAD OF TIME!
MAKE IT A HABIT.
How to make nutrition a habit…We talked about all the ways in which you can make nutrition a priority and how you can make it more convenient. But a big thing for me is making it a habit. Making it a part of your routine. You may it a routine when, as I said above, you eat the same things day-in-and-day-out, but you also make it a habit when you eat the same things at the same times each day. This has changed for me a lot over the course of this year, but even when I make a change, I ultimately settle into a routine. I start my day with Bulletproof coffee, I don’t eat breakfast (which ends up being more like brunch) until after I workout at like 10 or 11am, and I don’t eat much else during the day until dinner that night at about 6 or 7pm. I’ve routinized what I eat and when I eat it. It just makes things simple. Same thing goes for grocery shopping and meal prepping. As I said above, my routine when I land is to find a grocery store ASAP and get food in my house. My routine after that is, typically, shopping and meal prepping on Sundays. I have to tweak this sometimes depending on cultural factors around when and if grocery stores are open, but even then, I adapt my routine and then stay consistent with it the whole month! So, even though it seems weird, you can make nutrition into a habit by creating routines.
How to make exercise a habit…Ermaghad. This is huge! And here are my big tips with this. Most importantly, just make it part of your daily routine. We’ve talked about the fact that I’m obsessed with the Miracle Morning. Well, one of the biggest reasons I’m obsessed is because it has made exercise a seamless part of my morning routine. I don’t have to question and wonder when during my day I’m going to fit in my exercise. I know! I highly suggest you do the same! Maybe you’re not a morning workout person…whatever you are though, I highly suggest you find a time of day that works for you and consistently exercise at that time! It might take some trial and error for you to find what time of day is best, but turning exercise into a habit is crucial and the easiest way to do that is to build it into a routine!
If you’re wanting to get in better shape, whether you’re traveling or not, and you’re NOT getting there…you, my friend, need to check yourself. Do your priorities truly represent the commitment you’re making? Because if the size of your goal doesn’t match the commitment you’re making…guess what? You’re probably not going to get what you say you want.
Losing weight or getting in better shape while you travel is possible. You might have to make sacrifices, but when DON’T you have to make sacrifices for what you want? This is NO different!