I have always been trying to be in some kind of shape (and preferably not an “apple” one). I am into sports since a very young age and I have tried different programs, ways of training and etc. It is pretty easy to follow a diet plan and train when you have your routine and you can schedule your work outs and meals. But when you hit the road, move to another country or take part in one of the youth programs and exchanges things get a little bit tricky.
First of all, probably your body is more or less stressed because of the change of weather, altitude, cuisine, new atmosphere, new people, new place, new dynamic, new job and all this feelings connected with the popular one of “being out of your comfort zone”.
Second of all, probably you are in a country with an amazing cuisine and there is something new to taste every day and you know that at some point you will leave this country and you will miss this crazy deliciousness. So you have an excuse to eat more and save some food for home. But unfortunately the food is saved on your b*tt and belly.
Third of all, you may be in a country where most of the people are chubby or fat and it is considered normal there. So this makes you feel like a super model. Plus the portions in the restaurants there may be bigger, the food packages in the stores as well, and what is more they may put more sugar and fats in their products. For example some states of America (I have a personal experience with Montana) , some parts of Turkey,some countries in South America (where man are dying for big hips and juicy rear end) and others. So you are having the food time of your life and then it all comes to an end when you see your friends and family facial expressions when they welcome you at the airport.
And the most common one – you just do not have any time (or at least this is what you think). You are part of a Work and Travel program where you work style is “job around the clock”, you party like crazy and you are trying to survive with a tiny amount of money so you can play it big when you go back to your country or pay for education, or help to your family. So you eat cheap food most of time which probably means fast food. And you do not see any chance to fit a work out in your busy schedule because you are exhausted and there is too much fun going on around so you prefer to sweat on the dance floor instead in the gym (which you should pay for as well).
Been there, done that (done it all). Actually the first summer when me and my friend were about to go to Montana, USA, I read all the information I could find in the web concerning my body and America in one sentence. Why? Because almost every second girl that was coming back after 3-4 months in the Land of liberty was paying for an “extra luggage” being stored on her body. And I am not talking about 2-3kg. I am talking about 10-12kg. sometimes. So my Google’search was something like these:
Gaining weight in America/ fat in America/ work and travel getting fat/ american diet/ why people in America are fat….
I did not get almost any insights. Only girls crying that they have been thin all their lives and at some point they went to spend the summer in America and now they look like fluffy donuts. So I said to my friend whatever we do, we should not gain weight during our work and travel program. Long story short we did not. We were excercising almost every day and we were trying to eat almost anything after the first 2 weeks. Because the first two we ate the world, the American one I mean. When I am mentioning my friend (her name is Ivelina) I should say that she went to Provincetown, USA this summer again and not only that she did not gain any weight but she came back looking like a super model with more than pounds less. If you wonder how and wonder why…here her secret is!
In this post I want to share what has worked for me during my journeys. First, I started packing a jumping rope and a resistance band in my suitcase. Wherever I go I can jump rope everywhere in the world for 10-15min. per day and this is a great exercise. The resistance band is a great tool as well and can be used everywhere for working your legs and arms muscles. Both of them do not weigh much neither they will take any place in your suitcase and what is more they are cheap. When I came in America this summer the first thing I bought were weights (8pounds) because these you can not fly with, except if they are not the only thing you have in your suitcase.
Second I found this amazing and effective program 2 years ago, which requires almost no equipment, just 28min. per work out and can be done in a hotel room or a backyard. It is pretty challenging, though. I am talking about the BBG guide by Kayla Itsines, an Australian trainer. She has her training guides, as well as a nutrition one and now you can even download an application for your phone which tracks all of your training. I have a long relationship with these guides and we definitely have had our ups and downs. I love them, but I still think they are a little bit overpriced since they are not personalized – 70$. There is a huge international community out there of girls following the guides and if you follow them on Instagram it is an additional motivation and an exchange of tips and tricks. If you have any questions about the guides feel free to ask me as well.
Another trainer that I follow is Rumi. She has done a lot of work out videos and they are easy to do everywhere as well and do not require much equipment. The thing I love about her is that she has divided the work outs for different levels of body strength so you can find what is suitable for you. What is more she can make your own personal training and food plan and be your mentor through the journey to a better you which comes to a reasonable price – 83$. I have not tried this option yet, but my friend who works as a cabin crew did and when I met her in New York before 2 months she looked incredible. So I am pretty sure I will give it a try soon. Rumi shares her clients’ transformation stories on her page and they look more than motivational.
Third, I started using my time in the gym or working out listening to audio books, studying a new language, talking with friends or family on the phone or just relaxing with some nice music. This way I can optimise my time. So I am shooting two rabbits with one bullet. For example now while I am working out for a half an hour every day, I am listening to Spanish lessons thanks to the Denver library and their audio books catalogue.
What is more, while travelling you have a lot of opportunities to move. The least you are walking most of the time sightseeing, you can rent a bike almost everywhere, you can go for a quick run, you can go dancing and experince night life or you can put your handphones on and dance in your room as well (for me it is very refreshing). You can go hiking or skiing if you are in a mountain resort or swimming,surfing and paddle boarding if you are near the sea or the ocean. I also started taking dancing lessons 2 weeks ago which is a very good option for a cardio work out.
So in conclusion of course I still have my good times and my bad times in this constant journey to the fittest me. But I have found out that the most important think is to be persistent and to love yourself. Because as banal as it sounds there is a big difference when you act from love and because you love your body and want to take care of it and when you act from hate and because you do not like yourself.
I recently read I very nice post from one of the BBG’ girls. In a nutshell she says she found out that her formula for a fitness success if to focus on one thing at a time and to be very persistent about it. So she had struggles with her diet plan but she focused on training every day for 30min. no matter how bad she eats, how tires she is or how poorly she does the excercises. Then at some point she gained strength, became fitter and better and her whole mind set changed. She did not crave unhealthy food so much anymore and working out was part of her everyday life as brushing her teeth is. So this is what I am doing as well at this point of my life. Since I am still on the road, I am working out almost every day, I am swimming, I went skiing the other day and I am taking the dog out for long walks every day. I think life is too short to be freaking out for every other calorie or to carry all your meals in a box. I would still enjoy trying new cuisines and have nice dinners in international restaurants. There is no way going to Zante and not trying the Lamb Kleftiko (the most delicios thing I have tried so far), being in Portugal and missing the porto wine and “pasteis de Belem”, the pizza in Italy, America’ best pies and so on…
I just remembered eating more than enough of this pies so I am hitting the gym now and would be happy to hear any other tips and tricks from all the travellers out there 😉