Frequent or long trips away from home can wreak havoc on one’s body. Overdosing on new food, exposure to new germs – especially during air and rail travel, limited access to fitness facilities, and altered routines easily can lead to illness, weight gain, and falling out of shape.
When I travel, I try to follow a few principles to stay healthy and fit.
1 – Focus first on positive nutrition.
We all need to eat. So before I indulge, I try to make sure that I get enough fruit, vegetables, fiber, and protein each day. Ok, so this strategy can (and has for me) backfire if you’re in an area without potable water. Eating fresh produce can do more harm than good under those conditions – if you’ve ever had food poisoning, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Cooked veggies are a safer bet.
2- Plan for fit time. Yes, that includes vacation. Not every hotel, hostel or family/friend’s home has access to a gym, but no worries. With exception, you have options for exercise. I often do yoga in hotel rooms. If I have enough space (or a lackluster hotel gym), I download and adapt crossfit workouts for my time and space constraints. WODs (workouts of the day) often require little equipment and tend to run less than 20 minutes, perfect for busy schedules. Crossfit.com and others are great resources. If you have access to a terrible gym, chances are you may have more privacy – so YouTube a Zumba workout or yoga session; try circuit and interval training to fight the monotony of having 3 pieces of equipment at your disposal.
In safer cities, jogging and walking outdoors is easy means of medium to high impact exercise. Europe has no excuse, as most cities as towns are very walkable. Try walking instead of public transportation. While working in Germany, some of us frequently walked over two miles (3+ km.) at least one way to/from dinner, for example. You save money, learn a new environment, and maintain your girlish/boyish figure in the process. That’s a win-win!
3- Hold yourself accountable for limiting the “bad foods” and physical activity. Having a workout buddy is an accepted means of accountability, so why not do it away from home? Your significant other, friend, relative, or coworker might begrudgingly join you, but it’s for everyone’s own good. I also have participated in the eight-week Whole Life Challenge several times during longer trips to hold myself accountable for maintaining a healthy lifestyle while leaving some wiggle room to experience a place fully – to indulge a bit with and beverages. The WLC’s point system helps me shame myself into better behavior.
4 – Life is short; don’t go too hard on yourself. Personally, I am so fortunate/blessed to have the opportunity to travel near and far. I believe in living life to the fullest, part of which includes appreciating each and every trip – no matter how close or far from home my journey may take me. Depriving oneself of a place’s best and most representative foods and experiences is not something I consider to be healthy – physically and mentally.
For more on The Healthy Diplomat’s health and nutrition philosophies, check out our Healthy Diplomat page. The CD also encourages all you readers to share your own tips and tricks!