Repeat after me: I will NOT gain weight on vacation

Fitness is one of my favorite things. But my other favorite is traveling!

And in order to make sure that both my wallet and health stays in balance, I have to be smart. Talk about #firstworldproblems: complaining about the hardships of staying slim and trim whilst gallivanting the world. Could be worse right?

Nonetheless, being able to explore all edges of the world while avoiding exploring all edges of the bathroom scale is important to me. So how do we manage to strike a balance between tickling our fancies with cultural culinary delights, lazing around beautiful worldly destinations, and keeping our bodies and minds from going on vacation too?

Fitting in Fitness

I get grumpy if I haven’t worked out in awhile. Symptom of being a fitness freak, you could say. But I need my exercise-induced, mood-boosting neurotransmitters (endorphins!!) like a caffeine-addict needs their morning Starbucks run. So I’ve stockpiled some tips for fitting in fitness into your travel itinerary.

  1. Try a quick, high-intensity interval workout to wake you up before sight seeing. It’ll boost your mood before dealing with all the unexpected hassles that travel can sometimes bring, so you stay happy and healthy on your trip. Aim for anywhere between 10-30 minutes of intervals of 1 minute work, 1 minute rest with a circuit of exercises such as burpees, mountain climbers, squat jumps, jumping jacks, high knees, speed skaters, sprints, step-ups, etc. Pick 5 exercises and rotate them in a circuit, repeating until your allotted workout time has run out.
  2. Run around and take in the scenery. I know this may sound like a cop-out answer; anyone could’ve told you this. But what better way to multitask and see a new place then to put on your sneaks and hit the road? It’s like a mini unplanned road trip. Just keep running until you find somewhere you want to stop, then continue on your way until your too tired to run any longer! This is an especially great option if you’re worried about all the extra calories you’ll be consuming in elaborate desserts and intoxicating elixirs because cardio is probably the best option to offset that damage to your caloric intake.
  3. Walk. Again, obvious but let me explain why. Walking is the most chronic, loading (adding force to a movement) activity we do all day. Each step you take places 2-3 times your body weight in force on your body. Imagine if you take 10,000 steps a day. If you weigh 150 pounds, this could be 450 pounds multiplied by 10,000! That’s a lot of force – and a lot of energy being used to do this. And you know what that means: lots of calories being burned! Which is what we are after on vacation to rid ourselves of the indulgent foods we might give in to eating. So walk, walk, walk.
  4. Grab some resistance bands and tone that body. If you’re already being pretty precarious about your food choices and you’re not too concerned about keeping up with your cardio fitness (or if you’re extremely ambitious and are sticking to a full-time fitness routine of cardio and resistance training), these bands are a super cheap and easy option to bring with you wherever you go. Portable and easily used wherever – a hotel room, a park, etc. – these are great to maintain some muscle. Try rows (back), curls (biceps), push downs (triceps), punches (chest), wood chops (core), and more! Google and YouTube are great, free ways to explore different resistance band exercises.
Airplane food for the health & fitness freak, a la Mel Schneider.

Airplane food for the health & fitness freak, a la Mel Schneider.

Fit Foods On The Go

As for some basic advice on how to not starve yourself of enjoying the local foods of the area while still looking out for your body, here are some things to look for, and things to avoid. Try to steer clear of empty carbs and instead eat proteins and fats to keep you fuller for longer. For instance, you may be happy to hear that its actually not so terrible to order that artisan cheese and meat plate – because it’s way better than a big bowl of spaghetti. Along the same lines, a high-quality steak or burger (no I’m not talking about Burger King or Applebee’s) are better than loads of baguettes and French fries. But of course that’s why they call them guilty pleasures.

Another thing you can try is buy groceries (when possible) – especially during the day. Snacks like apples, yogurt, nuts, cheese, etc. are great to keep you going throughout your adventures. And it’s also great for another reason: if you are as healthy as can be during the day, you’ll feel freer to splurge on a nice dinner or dessert to taste the local culture. In fact, research shows that your willpower, like a muscle, gets tired after much use, and is likely to be the lowest at night time, when its been challenged all day with the temptations of the local culinary concoctions. So that mousse au chocolat you’ve been eyeing all day can finally hit your taste buds with much less guilt attached.

While none of this is rocket science, it helps to have it spelled out. Pat yourself on the back if you’ve taken similar advice before while on the go. This serves as a reminder to you that firstly, it is more than possible to stay healthy while traveling, and secondly, it isn’t that hard.

So before you go on your next trip and hopelessly convince yourself that your bound to gain all the weight you worked so hard to keep off at the gym, remind yourself that it ain’t that hard, and that you can do it.

Here’s to happy and healthy travels! This babe is takin’ her tush back to Aussieland…




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  • Reply July 8, 2013

    Ali Vitali

    Great tips! So logical — but usually easier said than done.

  • Reply July 12, 2013


    These are great tips! I often find myself in a similar situation. I think that it’s especially important to bring food for the actual travel itself. Options on airplanes and trains or in the airport or station are virtually never any good and always over priced. I get frustrated if I can’t find what I want to eat too so this keeps your mood up when other travel inconveniences strike!