Riddle me this. Why is it that men seem to lose weight travelling and women seem to pack it on?
I’d love to know the answer to this, so please let me know in the comments below if you have any theories. My current theory revolves around my problem with putting everything that looks delicious into my pie hole.
In any case, I know I put on weight after South America. Even with the day job of hiking in Patagonia, completing the Inca Trail in Peru and sweating all my calories out in Cuba, I still gained extra kilos over the 8 months.
It wasn’t like this in Europe where I lost weight after our 3-month whirlwind adventure.
So what was different this time? How could I hope to trim down if we were to be travelling for 2 years?
Therein lies my first problem. Hope. Weight cannot be willed away. My positive mind and outlook is a powerful ally, but it’s not a magic wand materialising unicorns?
However, it’s not all loose t-shirts and elasticated fat pants failure from here on…
Losing weight while travelling has not been straightforward nor fast, but I have learned it is possible.
As I mark this milestone for myself, I thought I’d write down what I have been doing consistently to move towards a healthier, more energetic me. Like the world needs more Suzy Science, but hey ho! These are my thoughts on how to lose weight travelling.
It sounds so obvious given that you are in a new country ready to explore. The likelihood is that you will be on your feet walking from sight to sight. This is true, but for when it may be too hot to walk around and tuk-tuks are too cheap to say no to, or you are pressed for time, then find another way to get moving.
What to change? Bring your workout gear. If you have it, then you will use it.
I ‘m grateful I have my hiking gear that can tackle most mountains and can be worked into most outfits, so I don’t look like a complete dag when exploring cities. I met so many travellers who avoided the Asian summer heat waking up at 6am and going for a run. They would always come back with stories about what was happening on the streets at that time. If running ain’t your thing then maybe a game of football, cricket, bocce or paper plane throwing is on the cards with the local kids.
Drinking: Curb your enthusiasm (or in my case en-Suzy-asm)
If anyone has met Rich and me, you will know that we first learn how to say cheers in the new country we are in, then we suss out the beverage options. Some people carry a swiss army knife. We carried a corkscrew.
What to change? Every night does not have to be celebrated like it’s the eve of the millennium (remember Y2K? That was epic!) Now this was (and is) a hard one for me. Drinking is such a part of how I relax, recap on the day and to be honest it’s how I meet people when travelling. I aim (operative word here) for 4 out of 7 alcohol-free days. Sounds like a normal thing for most people, but when every night is like the weekend and the hostel is full of beer and buzz, then it’s a hard one to stay on top of. For me, it wasn’t just the drinking, but the awful eating choices I made the following day. I now aim to seek out new fruit slushie combinations and even found an alcohol-free sangria recipe for dry July.
Food for thought
A big part of travelling for us is discovering new produce, flavours and dishes. We travel to eat.
We took a detour to go to San Sebastian just for the pintxos. Just saying.
What to change? This is where an app like My Fitness Pal has been surprisingly helpful. Everyone says how healthy many of the Asian continent cuisines can be, but when I’m tucking into paté-filled Banh Mis and delicious thick curries on a regular basis, then it becomes a hip problem.
I try and not get obsessed about calorie counts, but found I had no idea about how much food (and in turn energy) I was consuming, but not utilising. I’m not a complete dunce and can tell you that KFC is not a great food choice, but how about a steaming bowl of noodle soup? Nourishing, yes, but do I need the bucket sized helping of rice noodles? Probably not.
No gym, no drama
Waking up at 6am for a jog isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s definitely not mine (and it may not be advisable if you are staying somewhere a little sketchy). So what else can you do?
What to change? Hit Pintrest for a 30-day fitness challenge. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated or time-consuming. Ideally compact enough to complete in your room. Sure you might look like the weird one in the hostel, but it’s a conversation starter that’s for sure.
I started a couple of plank and ab challenges in Latin America and now embarking on a 12-week toning workout which takes no more than 15 minutes. I’m starting to find leg muscles I never knew I have! I also am a big fan of rooftops or airbnb apartments for rolling out my yoga mat. We bought our mats in Thailand and they have travelled with us for all 12 months of Asia. We may not use them daily, but when the moment strikes us, we have them.
Having worked in events management for over 15 years, I find that I’m driven by a level of instant gratification. To keep my eye on the prize, I need to trick myself to get there. Whether it’s to encourage myself to opt for no-alcohol week or get up and do that Monday morning workout. I need a reason other than it’s good for me.
What to change? Treat yourself to a massage, a haircut, a new outfit or donate the money you would have spent to a worthy cause. Whatever I choose, it’s a chance to acknowledge my hard work. Others may not see the changes, but if I know I have been true to myself, then I’ll shine a light on it.
I’m putting this in again because it’s the one area I have most enjoyed learning about. We enjoy staying in hostels with great kitchen facilities and AirBnB apartments because sometimes we want to veg out with food we crave or enjoy experimenting with new ingredients.
What to change? Go exploring and find the local fruit and veg market or supermarket. There is always one around. I find them super interesting and also a great way to meet people from the area. I generally find myself engaging in a game of charades with the veggie stall owners on what everything is and how to cook it.
Be kind to yourself
Now all this push yourself nonsense doesn’t work for me. I won’t be appearing on any weight loss blog with the heading “lose 20kg in 2 months” or something ridiculous. For me that’s the best thing about travelling is that I get to be who I want to be. Every Single Day. Some days I’ll be the Suzy who wants to chat with beer in hand, other days I’ll be the yoga mat carrying Suzy and on rare occasions, I’ll employ some Suzy Science to make a pineapple upside down cake in a frypan.
Today’s Suzy was brought to you with loads of green tea and a room with a view 🙂
Don’t forget to PIN ME for later.