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How to stay in shape and healthy while traveling

How to stay in shape and healthy while traveling
Make exercise part of who you are

Staying on shape while traveling is no easy feat. During trips, you will usually eat out and try the local foods that you’re at. Luckily, nowadays we have more options with the help of Airbnb, where you can find a cheaper place to stay and cook your healthy meals. But with traveling, your energy will be consumed in exploring tourist places in a short period and will be too tired to trek to the local supermarket, navigate a maze of foreign ingredients, and then go lug it all back to cook in the hostel kitchen. In the end, settling in less healthy food will be your final option.

As a child, I can still clearly remember admiring the statuesque figures of Victoria’s Secret Angels and on how do they maintain their figures despite frequent travels while resisting temptations of the sumptuous foods prepared on their dinner tables.      

To lessen your worries the next time you step on your weighing scale, these following procedures will help you keep your body in shape while enjoying the touristy spots and its delicacies that you have been longing to experience.

5 Travel Exercises without equipment

1. The 20-Minute Hotel Room Workout

How to stay in shape and healthy while traveling

Set a 15-minute alarm and you’ll be surprised how many workouts you can do.

  • Bodyweight squats: 20 reps.
  • Inclined push-ups: 15 reps (feet on the floor, hands on the edge of bed or desk).
  • One-arm luggage rows: 10 reps (each arm, using your suitcase as your weight is a good option)
  • Reverse crunches: 10 reps.

2. The Starter bodyweight workout

You don’t have to go to the gym to perform this type of workout and you may run this through this circuit thrice. If a gallon of milk is unavailable at your hotel room, you may opt to use anything that has the same weight as a jar of milk or you may settle with your luggage bag or backpack.

  • Bodyweight squats: 20 reps.
  • Push-ups: 10 reps.
  • Walking lunges: 10 reps each leg.
  • Dumbbell rows (using your luggage/laptop bag as a weight): 10 reps each arm
  • Plank: 15 seconds.
  • Jumping jacks: 30 reps.

3. The Playground workout

How to stay in shape while traveling

There is always a nearby playground or park wherever you’re at that you can work out.

  • Alternating step-ups: 20 reps (10 each leg).
  • Elevated push-ups: 10 reps.
  • Swing rows: 10 reps.
  • Assisted Lunges: 8 reps each leg.
  • Bent leg reverse crunches 10 reps.

4. Advanced Bodyweight exercises circuit

How to stay in shape while traveling

If the Beginner is too easy for you to perform, let’s take your workout a step harder.

  • One-legged squats: 10 each side (This is extremely difficult, try this when your body is in good enough condition)
  • Bodyweight squats: 20 reps.
  • Walking lunges: 20 reps. (10 each leg)
  • Jump step-ups: 20 reps. (10 each leg)
  • Pull-ups: 10 reps (or inverted bodyweight rows)
  • Dips (between two chairs): 10 reps
  • Chin-ups: 10 reps (this might be hard to do in a hotel room, try the inverted bodyweight instead)
  • Push-ups: 10 reps.
  • Plank: 30 seconds

5. The Angry Birds Workout

This is a Nerdy-typed of fitness.

  1. Bodyweight squats: 30 reps.
  2. Push-ups: 20 reps (or 40 knee push-ups).
  3. One arm rows: 30 reps (each arm).
  4. Planks: 60 seconds.

You may also want to read: A Beginner’s Bodyweight Workout: Burn Fat, Build Muscles

Healthy Eating While Traveling

How to stay in shape while traveling
I can personally tell you that eating healthy while traveling is no easy feat

Here are ways that can help you eat the right kind of food while on a trip:

1. Skip a meal purposely. Missing breakfast means you can slightly increase your lunch intake and grab an extra drink on dinner and still be able to maintain the daily calorie expenditure

2. Prepare for unhealthy meals. Eating mac and cheese along with steak for dinner plus sweet potato fries, a sweet treat and alcohol shots is a feeling of heaven for someone either when you are on a vacation or having a celebration.    

Before consuming unhealthy meals, purposely under eat for lunch. I usually take protein and veggies for lunch so that overeating for dinner would be possible for me. Be aware that if you always eat heavily, you will be soon packing tons of weight. This is one of my go-to options so I can eat big meals free of guilt and without seeing the scale budge.

3. Never eat 2 bad meals in a row. I have a “never two in row” rule. Eating a bad lunch should be followed by a healthy dinner. If you are planning to eat dinner from fast food, then breakfast the next day should be healthy.

Every decision counts likewise in meal consumption. Any decision where you are slightly healthier than you would is a win situation.

Additional strategies to keep you eating healthy:

1. Secure a refrigerator from your hotel. Fill it with healthy snacks like fruits, vegetables, and deli meat. It will provide you much-needed nutrients until you can find a healthy meal.

2. Travel with a cooler. No refrigerator, no problem! By bringing a cooler, you can easily store and increase the lifespan of your foods longer than usual. 

3. Carry non-perishable snacks. There are dry foods that are available in the market that won’t spoil anytime soon. Snacks like nuts and beef jerky can be stored and taken anywhere with fewer worries that it will spoil any time of the day.  Eating a beef jerky is a healthy option than getting yourself a pizza at a bus station or airport terminals.

4. Focus on protein and fiber-rich foods. When choosing which food to eat, make sure that it is packed with protein and fiber. It will help to keep you full and won’t be tempted to eat unhealthy snacks in-between meals.

Hard-boiled eggs, deli meat, jerky, and nuts are good examples of protein-rich foods and can be easily found at convenience stores. While fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables will also complete the recommended food group.

5. All is not lost if you order fast food. Coaches commonly believe that the moment you buy food from fast food is the moment you decide you lost your battle of being healthy. You made a bad decision by even stepping in. Might as well order anything you want because you already lost.

This is partially untrue. Because whatever you decide to eat will make the difference, not where you got it from.

What are some healthy fast food options for you?

These are foods that can be found on your average airport terminals.

1. Breakfast:

Location: Starbucks

  • Sous Vide Egg Bites, Bacon and Gruyere: A good source of protein and can be paired with black coffee.

Calories: 310

Protein: 19g

Net Carbs: 9g

Fat: 22g

Location: Dunkin’ Donuts

  • Sausage Egg and Cheese Bagel (no bagel): Sausage, eggs, and cheeses are a breakfast staple, they good sources of protein.

Calories: 370

Protein: 16g

Net Carbs: 3g

Fat: 33g

2. Lunch

Location: Mc Donald’s

  • Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad (Use the Balsamic Vinaigrette): It’s mostly greens, grilled chicken and a little bacon. Your salad comes in under 400 calories without customizing it.

Calories: 320

Protein: 42g

Net Carbs: 6g

Fat: 14g

Location: Subway

  • Oven Roasted Chicken. Get one with lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, onion, green peppers, cucumbers, olives, oil and vinegar that will act as a dressing. You may also add bacon and guacamole to increase if you wish to increase your calorie intake. Your nutrition info will look like this if you ordered as above:

Calories: 490

Protein: 24g

Net Carbs: 11g

Fat: 35.5g

3. Dinner

Location: Boston Market

  • Three-piece Dark: It has lots of protein, a decent amount of fat and carb-free.

Calories: 300

Protein: 37g

Net carbs: 1g

Fat: 16g

  • Green Beans: Keep it simple

Calories: 90

Protein: 1g

Net carbs: 4g

Fat: 5g

  • Fresh steamed vegetables: Following the “simple” strategy

Calories: 60

Protein: 2g

Net carbs: 4g

Fat: 3.5g

Location: Chipotle

  • Salad Bowl (with Carnitas): order with Fajita vegetables, fresh tomato salsa, Sour cream, cheese, and guacamole.

Calories: 710

Protein: 34g

Net Carbs: 12

Fat: 51g

The mentioned foods from various fast food establishments will give you an idea of what to order to help you stick to your healthy diet.

How to eat Healthy Continental Breakfast?

Most hotel rooms come with free continental breakfast, it is better to take advantage of it and load yourself more of these foods:

  • Egg
  • Sausage
  • Bacon
  • Fruit
  • Toast

But don’t mistakenly consume these:

  • Juice – This is mostly high in calories and sugar. Skip this one and eat a whole Orange fruit instead.
  • Pancakes/Waffles – Don’t eat these unless you are practicing good portion control. It is designed to have high calories and sugar, especially with maple syrup poured on top. A toast is a good alternative for this one.
  • Cereal – This is often packed with full of carbs, calories, and sugar which is unhealthy.

How to make staying fit a priority on the road?

Try to plan your workout schedule beforehand

By structuring your environment and proper scheduling, you can make it happen.

  1. Add it to your calendar
  2. Set up a text or alarm reminder
  3. Plan your schedule around it
  4. Have your coach or friend remind you
  5. Research for the nearest gym or park

How to overcome Jet Lag?

Modifying your behaviour can help your body cope and overcome jet lag

1. Sleep. When you are sleep deprived you don’t have the energy to exercise, and you’ll get hungrier. This is the time that your brain sends signals for more energy, which means more calories.

2. Exercise. Jet lag is the phenomenon of traveling from one time zone to another but still stuck in the former time.

Studies have shown that a good workout can help you change your circadian rhythm, which helps you adjust to the local time.

3. Stay properly hydrated. Air travel makes you dehydrated. Its air is environmentally controlled, with lower moisture compared to what you can experience on the ground and the pressure on the cabin itself causes you to expel water, feeling tired and hungry. So make sure you drink more water while you’re on your plane seat.

Despite the demanding schedule, many people are still able to keep themselves healthy while traveling.

Here are a few final tips while you travel:

1. Day of the travel. Pack healthy snacks in your bag.

2. Going out for dinner with folks. Search for a restaurant online, scan their menu, spot and remember your dinner so you already have something to order when you are already there.

3. Traveling with family. Tell them that you are aiming for a healthy meal and you’d like their support.

4. Going out with friends. When you have no better choice but to eat fried foods and drink tons of alcohol, compensate by being extra diligent days before and after the big day.


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