Almost Fearless

The One Thing No One Really Says About Travel



It’s really hard to stay fit. At least for women. Or at least for women like me. Let’s dive into to some gross generalities here. Drew travels around India for three weeks and loses 15 pounds. I travel around India and gain 15 lbs mostly from the heavy curry dishes that I become addicted to, then I lose 15 lbs from dissentary, which I regain in Greece from the heavy foods I become addicted to.

Drew has basically stayed the same weight, maybe about twenty pounds lighter than when we started. I’ve slowly been gaining weight — at a clip of about 1 lb a month. I also had two kids, yes, but something about this lifestyle doesn’t agree with me.

Maybe it’s recipes like this.

In Thailand, the food is so delicious and so fresh, but there’s no such thing as a salad street vendor. They use oil and fat and fry everything, because most of them are much more active than me, a writer who’s either tied to her laptop writing, or editing photos, or tied to the bed with a nursing baby. In Beirut, they eat lots of veggies, of course, but also pate and cheese and breads and oh god the fresh baked goods. The number one ad I saw online when I was in Beirut was for weight loss. China? Forget it, I don’t really know when I’ve eaten more oil than our winter in Beijing last year.

Ooh street food!

I am hardly complaining. It was all delicious which is part of the problem really. How to you manage your weight on the road if you’re not blessed with a teenager’s metabolism and you’re traveling and this literally might be the only time in your life that you get to eat this thing, this horrifyingly decadent thing, whatever it happens to be?

This is the year I figure this out. How do you eat healthy and reasonably (read: let’s aim for JUST 2000 cal a day, shall we?) and maintain some kind of fitness program? How do you go jogging everyday when there’s no where safe to run? How do you eat healthy when you don’t have a kitchen? How do you count calories when you can’t even read the labels?

Last week, I was talking a bit about having the baby blues, with my now almost three month old, and I have been changing my diet and trying to get some activity in (I’m still healing from my c-section, so there’s some rebuilding there) but one thing I’ve noticed is that maybe I’m not even eating enough. I felt sleepy and sluggish then I drank a big mango / strawberry / oatmeal smoothie and I felt great. Renewed! Fortified!

Could half the problem just be the bad habits of travel? Not eating regular meals, skipping breakfast, not getting enough fruits and veggies and when I do eat, too many heavy dishes?

OMG tacos!

I know I can’t be the only one. My facebook, twitter and instagram feeds are filled with pictures of what other travelers are eating. Yeah it looks really good, but real human beings can’t eat like that every day, can they? And who is doing cardio in their hotel room or running through the rice paddies in Bali? I want to know.

Stay tuned, I want to talk about this more. But first, I want to hear from you… how do you stay fit on the road? Or do you? Have I just lost all cool points for even admitting this? I am seriously not 21 anymore, on so many levels.

Christine Gilbert

I’ve been dragging my husband around the world since 2008 always with the promise that, “Yes, Drew there will definitely be hammocks there.”



  • I’m still in the trip-planning stages, but I can totally imagine the dilemma when “this literally might be the only time in your life that you get to eat this thing, this horrifyingly decadent thing, whatever it happens to be”

    I adore eating… if it were a hobby that I could indulge in all the time just for the shear pleasure of enjoying all the delicious food in the world, and I wouldn’t gain so much weight that I’d suffer adverse effects on my health, I’d just eat with wild abandon ALL the time heehee

    So, how’s this for a master plan… I think I will try to stick with only eating if I’m hungry, and if I’m not hungry and faced with some “horrifyingly decadent thing,” I will TRY to only eat a little bit of it.

    Bahahahaha… as IF I’d succeed… let’s face it, I’d be scarfing down the whole thing and looking for a second helping… ok… need a better idea…

    How about this… I’d EAT that horribly decadent thing, and then eat disgustingly healthy the following day to make up for it calorie-wise…

    Oh, I don’t know… will be reading the comments to follow in the hopes of learning a trick or two that I’ll be able to use once we’re on the road! 🙂

  • In Southeast Asia, we would eat fresh fruit and yogurt for breakfast every morning and only get the smoothies without added sugar. It’s so cheap to get delicious fruit! When actively traveling, walking a lot and carrying a heavy backpack. Also lots of trips to the mountains for hiking or renting bicycles to explore. When I’m somewhere for a long time I try to find races to run and train for. Thailand was definitely a problem spot though, too much delicious food!

  • It’s not just you. I’ve gained 5 pounds since moving to Shanghai and it’s been a struggle to keep from gaining even more. I blame the family-style servings. When all the dishes are put in the middle of the table to share, it’s hard to keep track of how much you’re eating. Plus, dumplings. I just try to walk as much as possible, take the stairs, etc.

  • We feel your pain Christine! Coincidentally enough, we’re actually working on a brand new project that will hopefully be the answer to the issues you’re experiencing when it comes to health and fitness on the road. In the coming months, we’re going to be launching a site that is going to be offering health, nutrition, recipes, fitness (workouts) and inspiration for people on the move. I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop!

  • I totally know what you mean. The first summer I spent in France I gained 17 pounds! (And I was 19 years old!) I’ve spent the last year living in France and have actually lost 10 lbs., which I think is because I walk for about 2 hours a day and eat French-style portions and hardly any processed food. I also try to write down everything I eat so that I’m more accountable for what goes into my body.

  • Thank you for saying it! Seriously, it is a bug reasonw e want to move a bit slower so we can be a bit mre healthy. Cook more a home by having a nice kitchen and finding a way to exercise although admittedly I do not love to exercise. You see the people that bike or walk all the time and eat healthy because they LOVE it…that just isn;t everyone and I think I could do more but it is just plain harder!

  • I spent a month in Europe earlier this year. I ate lots of bread and sweets. (I found the world’s best brownies at a bakery near the Arc de Triomphe). Still, I lost 5 pounds. If I had eaten the way I do at home, I think I could have lost a lot more, which is saying a lot because I am menopause age and my weight does not fluctuate. So to lose 5 pounds was nothing short of a miracle. But of course, it wasn’t a miracle; it was walking. I spent my days walking, touring, seeing sites and museums, being lost (which incurred even more walking:) I walked for HOURS on end.
    Alas, the sedentary lifestyle recognizes no map lines. And working online is by nature sedentary even if one stands at the computer instead of sitting:) So whether I’m in France or the US, once I’m spending 8 hours a day at a computer working — well, as the previous commenter said, “it is just plain harder” to maintain an active lifestyle.

  • Ah! A subject near and dear to me 🙂
    Mikey does almost all of the cooking at home now and he does 100% of it when we travel. That means… the 50 lbs I’ve gained since being with him? It’s not all baby. It’s unquestionably due to the fact that he believe in the power of the BACON.
    Because my home life food is so fattening, going to Mexico/France (the only places we have really traveled in since we’ve been together) had me losing weight just because of the extra walking.
    I’m concerned now because I’m 40 and that metabolism isn’t getting faster! so I’m starting yoga with an emphasis on yoga I can do at home. The running thing I’m hoping for on the beach. I also do Tracy Anderson’s videos when I’m able to face her pain.
    But. I have a LOT of weight to lose. I mean, 50lbs to get me back to starting but I wasn’t ever a lithe, lean girlie machine, I mean ever.

  • Thanks So Much for addressing this topic! Husband & I discussing incessantly the last month and have only been gone 4 months! We actually brought clothes we thought we’d be SHRINKING into in our limited luggage space for 10 months from all the walking we’d be doing. Instead – we have set a new record for the # of times our “fat” clothes we departed the States in can be recycled.

    We are only just building our blog now, but between all the pictures of decadent regional alcohols, food specialties (maybe actual sites), we’ve thought about re-naming it “2 Fat F*s” or “Calories, Shmalories”. Friends previewing content have been complaining we’re not in enough pictures. You know why? Because to quote a 90’s Friends episode: Monica explains a camera adds 10 pounds in photos, and Chandler responds “How many cameras were ON you?!” Coupled with the fact we are wearing the exact same clothes in almost every photo over a 4-month span – well any shred of self-respect that we can protect must be a priority!

    That said – would I trade Kopfsalat [lettuce] for the HUGE smoked pig knuckle and pile of sauerkraut with 5 (smallish) altbiers I had last night for dinner? No way! Even a meal of healthy white asparagus comes dripping in delicious bernaise… (drool.)

    So up goes the white flag, (Sadly, if flags were towels, it would probably take 2 to make a nice summer skirt at this point..) You hit all the nails on the head and damnit, we’re travelling. So I’m not getting up at 7 AM to squeeze in 30 crunches before I walk 5 miles of sightseeing. Keep us posted on secrets you uncover! PLEASE

  • it’s may be no consolation, but this it’s a phase in yoru travel life. I am Italian and when I moved to the States in 1990 (you can figure out I am a lot older than you are) I gained 20 lb in 6 months. My friends back in Italy were horrified to see me like that. I had to starve for another 6 months to lose all that and that was not pleasant! When I traveled again to the US and many other countries I changed my ways to enjoy the many marvelous temptation. I still do it and I never gain wheight. 1. I can’t jog, but I walk, every day. 2. I order one high calories treat and them plenty food which is full of water, salad, soups, whatever is available. If you have the watery food before your high calory food you will not need to gorge. 3. I never skip a meal. If I do I’ll be ravenous next time and forget about my good intentions. 4. only desserts with meals, no sugar drinks. It works and you still manage to sample lots of yummy things!

  • I hear you! I do really eat all the things I’m posting, but I will say that the portion sizes in Southeast Asia or elsewhere are usually so much smaller than in North America, and I think that’s part of why I don’t put on weight. I usually lose weight in SEA and gain it back in North America when I visit. Eating 5 small meals a day seems to work well with what my body needs and also I am not a fan of sweets so I don’t eat dessert much when traveling. Those two together have worked well! I write about food so I am certainly not going to stop eating it 😉 I also have celiac disease (and have for a decade) so a long long time since I was able to eat bread.

    For working out, a 7-minute routine could be worthwhile? Been one I can stick to since it’s short.

  • When I travel, I tend to lose a couple of pounds. Granted that I do try to cram as much activity as I can within the short time that I am away.

    I notice that during the warmer weathers, I tend to eat less. I just don’t feel hungry. If anything, I just want to have a nice cup of hot fresh fruit juice.

    Like Thailand, Taiwan is known for street foods. If anything, it is much bigger in Taiwan. Because there is so much to choose from, I like to take a bite here and there. After having several bites from several vendors, I’m full. I try to be mindful of how much I eat. I don’t want to get full from one item! I want to try everything! Its just like fine-dinning. They give you a bite or two of about 10-15 dish. Before you know it, you are full.

    Also, I know that if I can’t eat it today, I can always have it tomorrow. Its not a lost cause.

    • I lose weight if I’m traveling hard, like sightseeing all day and running around, but that’s if I’m staying somewhere for a week or less. We tend to slow down quite a bit when we’re doing a month or more in a location.

  • I hear ya, sister! It is super challenging to travel and stay fit. And I have to say, I’ve done my fair share of running for exercise in cities abroad where I probably shouldn’t have. Try eating stuff without labels you can’t read — meaning, eat more fruits and veggies. Also, do something every day — really good exercises (prob better after C-section totally heals) would be a jump rope and then some body-weight tabata-style exercises (google Tabata, it’s a proven effective method). I would focus on moving more, eating more stuff that don’t have labels (fruits, veggies), and then indulge a bit when you want to. You can tell what’s bad for ya — the oily, the large portion, the too much fatty meat, the cheese… so just limit that stuff.

    But for reals, damn those men for it being so much easier for them!

  • We haven’t started traveling, but this is a concern of mine since exercise not only serves as a way to keep me from gaining weight, but also is a major mood stabilizer for me. I have a pinterest board ( where I’ve been collecting some workouts I can do without equipment. I also learned this new routine where you use a deck of cards–each suit represents a different exercise (burpees, split jump squats, sit ups and push ups; jokers are 25 regular squats). You go through the deck and do however many reps of the exercise. By the end, you’ve done 95 of each of the exercises (Ace counts for 11) and 50 squats. It does get your heart beating and it’s pretty simple to do in less than a half hour.

    I think no matter where you are, routine is key and making sure you set aside a bit of time for to take care of yourself every day–as it seems moms are worst at doing. You’ll figure it out.

  • We’re not full-time travelers, but even if we’re just gone for a month or so, the key for me is running most days (obviously not a good solution for you if you’re not cleared for exercise yet). I think pretty much everywhere I’ve been is pretty safe to run (but I’ve never been to Iraq or something). The only place that I thought didn’t feel safe was Turkey, and that was actually perfectly safe for me to run alone if it was cold out (the problem was when it was warm and I wanted to wear shorts and short-sleeves, in which case I was not comfortable being alone, so hubby would run with me). But in China, I ran like crazy and loved every second of it, it balanced out the oily food. And I followed that philosophy in Russia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brazil, Europe, Costa Rica, pretty much everywhere we’ve been. As for the indulgent, once-in-a-lifetime foods, our rule is to share. I certainly don’t need a whole plate of it, just a couple bites. I think the obesity rates in the US indicate that your problem isn’t unique to people who travel. The key for everyone is more activity and more healthy foods. Easier said than done, right?

    • You ran in China? You rock! The thing I’m worried about is either crazy traffic and no sidewalks, in Asia, where someone on a motorbike not looking could just run you over or bad streets with lots of potholes or loose concrete slabs over the sewage, which makes me nervous or street dogs, again, just freaks me out. So the places you listed, like Thailand, Indonesia, Costa Rica, there’s definitely places where you can run, but I found it was just too scary/daunting to try.

      • Don’t let fear stop you! Well, unless it’s fear of rupturing stitches or something based on doc’s orders!

        I usually run early (less people, less traffic, less disruption to the daily plan, less heat, less pollution), and so running in the street is easy enough. I think of my runs on travels as being some of the most memorable parts. Running the Great Wall was insane, and hard. Beijing seemed to have rain half the days I ran, but such great sites. Xi’an’s most interesting thing was about 100 schoolkids standing outside staring at me and I believed talking about me as I ran past. Chongqing’s hills were tough, and the pedestrian traffic started very early.

        Same as anyone in the US, you can come up with a million good excuses about why it’s hard for fitness to work for you and/or your schedule, but the bottom line is that if it’s a priority, you can find a way to make it work. I happen to think running is one of the easiest things because everyone seems to understand it, no real equipment is needed (besides shoes and a bra), it’s the most efficient bang for your buck in terms of time, and I enjoy it. But there’s got to be something that you can find among the suggestions in the comments. But only if you want to do it.

  • I fully understand where you are coming from! Thanks for the post. Because you want to experience as much of a new place as you can, it’s difficult to get the same lifestyle balance that you could have back home. Many times I have left home with good intentions (running shoes in my luggage) but rarely do they ever get used. Now I don’t even bother! Instead I try to be more realistic about what I’ll be doing. I find walking really helps. Instead of taking public transportation or taxis for short distances I try to walk. Getting a good night’s sleep is also very important for maintaining your weight. I also have some short workout videos on my laptop that only take about 15 minutes to complete. They’re more focused on doing strength exercises using your body weight. That really helps to burn extra calories.

  • My weight fluctuated a lot when I was living in Asia. I went from being very fit and running in a marathon and eating reasonably while in Japan to not running at all and gaining twenty pounds while traveling around Southeast Asia because, of course, I needed to EAT ALL THE THINGS. Sure, I walked a ton while I was traveling — but walking a few hours a day doesn’t really make up for the fact that I just ate ALL THE THINGS. Plus, I’ve found that weight training makes a big difference for me, but it’s not really possible to carry around free weights when you’re living out of backpack, you know?
    I was hoping moving to China and having a set routine would help. It definitely got me back into a regular workout mode, but not so much a reasonable eating mode because, again, I had to EAT ALL THE THINGS. And, yeah, people who say Chinese food is “sooo healthy” are definitely not eating the same Chinese food that I was eating.
    So I ended up returning home probably 40 pounds heavier than when I left. That’s a fun thing to explain when people are like, “Weren’t you just living in Asia? How’d you get so fat?”

  • If I’m visiting a warm climate, I usually eat less and spend most of my time outdoors. I just went to France and Scotland and both were cold with extremely heavy food (no veggies!) and I gained weight. I think I should stick to tropical climates. 🙂

  • Have you had your iron levels tested? Mine went down significantly during pregnancy. I was taking iron pills for 60 days postpartum to rebuild my reserves.
    Also, your comment, “How do you go jogging everyday when there’s no where safe to run?” totally hit home with me! I never knew how much I appreciated sidewalks and safe streets until I started traveling… Costa Rican roads are some of the worst that I’ve seen (potholes, traffic, and no sidewalks!)

  • SO true! My weight was up and down like crazy while I was traveling and I came home after 13 months about 10 pounds heavier than I left – and WAY out of shape. My eating habits were all over the place – made more difficult by the fact that I’m gluten intolerant. Travel days were the worst – rest stops and roadside shops where I was sold bread, bread, bread and Snickers. I couldn’t eat the bread, so I ate the Snickers. I probably averaged a Snickers a day. Not good!

    I thought I’d keep the weight off because I was moving so much, but walking 7-8 hours a day just wasn’t the same as the running and strength training and yoga that I would do at home. When I was staying in a hotel where I had space in my room, I had a little workout routine I would do, but there was rarely room if I stayed in a hostel or homestay.

    Even now that I’ve been back for months, I am still struggling to get back into shape – I feel like my metabolism and body have permanently changed/aged.

  • I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a very similar post (working title: Travel makes me a fat bastard) as I’ve put on nearly a stone since travelling full-time.

    I made a few changes recently to combat this and at the moment running 1-2 miles a day seems to be one of the best ways to stop the weight piling on while still pretty much eating what I want… Though I’m certainly not dropping much of it. Of course, I’ll have to change tack when I’m in a country that makes it difficult or unsafe for me to run. (In fact only place I haven’t run is in Lapland because… well it was Lapland) I have been researching pilates for this very reason. Of course, the obvious thing would be to just STOP EATING… but I’ve always thought being obvious is a little tasteless.

  • Christine! I agree that this is one of the main drawbacks of travel. I’ve often thought about this dilemma, while jogging in Nashville on a beautiful day….thinking about an upcoming 4 or 6 week trip to SE Asia or Africa. I get simultaneously excited and nervous about the food/health prospects. I LOVE food, and to me, it’s one of the highlights of traveling to a new place and experiencing a different culture. I never hold back while abroad, because I know the regret I’d harbor over not trying every culinary delight I can and fully enjoying the experience would far outweigh the guilt over gaining 5 to 10 pounds (which for most women takes way too much time and work to loose in my book). Also, I love exercising, but I realize that it’s next to impossible to go for a jog while staying in safari lodges where you can’t leave the gated compound (watch out for the lions, etc.) or find a gym in Thailand or Laos. About a year ago (pre-blog days), I thought about creating a series or column on exercise ideas while traveling to non-excercise-friendly countries. I’ve learned a lot of plyometric (body weight) exercise tricks that might be effective in a situation where you can’t run outside. While in South Africa, my sister and I would go for jogs, which is also a great way to explore a new place/city (sometimes you may have to ignore the fact that locals think you’re crazy for running in shorts and a tank on the streets). Food-wise, I’m at a total loss. 🙂 I’m not a wandering nomad, though, so for me, it’s a bit more sustainable to ignore the “diet” for 2, 4, or 6 week stints and recover afterwards (I TRY to have a no/low carb diet in my daily life, at least 5 days a week~ following Tim Ferriss’s 4 Hour Body helped me loose 30 pounds over the past year. This is impossible to do anywhere in Asia, and not too easy in Africa or Latin America, so I never even attempt it). I love that you’ve started this conversation! Men don’t seem to need (or want) to worry about these things, but for women who constantly travel, I think it is a real point of concern. I look forward to seeing how others weigh in! (haha, didn’t mean to use that pun, but I’m patting myself on the back right now).

  • Love this topic and a related one: When you travel a ton with your kids it can be easy to all of sudden realize that they eat out all the time too and are eating way more junk than you want them to, even if you all eat a very healthy diet at home. I’ve tried a few simple things lately, number one being that we all drink more water. That means fewer coffee drinks/milkshakes/cocktails for me and fewer “sweet drinks” as my kids call them for the boys who had gotten used to meals out = soda or juice, etc. To keep things simple, I drink only water from Monday to Thursday and allow myself more caloric beverages only on the weekends.

    We don’t tend to travel to places (yet) where it’s not safe to exercise, but I will say it gets easier generally to get more serious exercise when your kids get older. Mine now love to hike and bike and kayak and doing so is much simpler now that they are self-propelled. I try to have some portion of exercise on the road be incidental activities that we do as part of our trip. And much as I HATE doing them, I take ten minutes to do core strengthening exercises every day.

    Generally speaking, a mother of two who is over 40 just can’t eat whatever she wants with no consequences. I try to be easy on myself, exert a little portion control, and genuinely enjoy my food (because oh man, do I love food, especially sweets),

  • I am not small (average weight in USA 155), and every time I travel overseas for 3+ months, I lose weight. I eat what I want; I think the factor for me is exercise. When I travel I am constantly on the move, doing events, walking. In the USA, I have office work. Doesn’t matter what part of the world, I almost always drop 7 lbs. then upon return to the states I gain it back. However, I also don’t eat any more traveling, just the same 3 squares a day, of yummy local fare.

  • It is insanely frustrating how easily men lose weight! My husband immediately dropped weight when we moved to Korea, while I more or less stayed the same. I swear if he just thinks about exercise he loses weight–unfair!

  • Haha, I totally hear you! I’ve been lucky in my life so far that I have a very fast metabolism and can basically eat what I want. But moving to London and then turning 30 has really changed this. I’ve put on over a stone since I moved here and am quite worried about putting on much more when we start our RTW trip later this year. The only hope I have is that I’ll be so broke that I simply can’t afford to EAT ALL THE THINGS 🙂
    Will definitely follow your blog for more advice!

  • Traveling or staying at home, I gain weight because somewhere along the way, I lost all capacity to control portions or track my daily intake. I’ve lost and gained over the years, usually losing when depriving myself, only to gain again. I have returned to Weight Watchers (WW), so restrictive and tough to manage years ago, but so, so easy now. I am losing steadily and increasing my activity levels. Best of all, I’m enjoying both the foods and the exercise BUT my kitchen is a haven. Eating out increases the challenges exponentially. WW is online, and the tools there are user-friendly. I need meetings, but not everyone does. I’m not profiting in any way from endorsing WW, and I’m far from anyone’s idea of goal-weight, but the points system (zero for fruits and many, many vegetables, for example) is a great teacher, helping me make better choices. I wish you well on your emotional and weight-loss journey! I have fought with food most of my life, and food has taken home most of the trophies.

  • Workouts have always been the problem for me when I’m somewhere for awhile – once you’re kind of temporarily-living somewhere sightseeing slows down a ton, and you’re right, there’s not always a safe place to run outside…the absolute lifesaver for me is (and I know how cheesy this may sound) workout videos on my iPad. I need consistency in my workouts and that way I can have it no matter where I am. Jillian Michaels kicks my ass in less than 30 mins and that seems to make a big difference in my metabolism! Also, water, water, water all the time – I want to eat my fatty delicious street food on purpose, not because I mistook thirst for hunger.

    • Safe to run, isn’t the same as not-dangerous, right? I mean New York is safe, but would you want to run down the street in certain parts of the city? I don’t know, I wouldn’t want to battle crowds and traffic and all that. Or in cities where it’s less developed, there’s open sewer grates and unfinished construction not exactly the most conducive to running. I mean some people make it work, there’s one person in the comments above who ran through all kinds of things in China, but yeah when I said “safe” I meant safe to run and not trip over something, get hit by a car or followed by street dogs, which isn’t to say it’s unsafe to visit.

    • Having leased a home nearby in Sayulita and visited Bucerias several times during our stay, I understand why it is difficult to jog and run in the area. The highways, byways, and sidewalks are uneven. Only the most intrepid outdoorsman would run on those grounds. The beach is nicer for long walks and runs, but if you need to take your little ones while you exercise, you’ll need to invent something that won’t bog down in the sand, wet or dry. Finally, driving in that area in Mexico is a competitive sport like nothing found in the U.S. Passing in marked no-passing zones is commonplace, even uphill and on curves with no clear sight to be sure it’s safe. Speed signs appear to be merely suggestions; even during the rainy season, when roads are slick, drivers do not moderate their speed. And bus travel in huge, heavy buses is crucial to the lives of people in the area; those buses, like trains, can’t come to a stop quickly. Finally, many, many–most roads–have no shoulder so running, walking, and bicycling along those roads is to dare the devil to pay attention.

  • So true. I find that the longer I stay in one place, the easier it is to eat reasonably most of the time and treating myself/ exploring the local cuisine that may be less healthy. But when I’m on a short trip, it’s like I have to consume as much as possible.

  • When we were travelling we walked everywhere! I lost about 5 kilos and the husband lost about 10 kilos. We have been back to normal life for almost a year and my husband has gained the 10 kilos back! We really need to get back to travelling again!!

  • Why do you call it travel ? Right now you are _living_ in Mexico.
    You are expat or nomad, but you have a home and you cook. So you do not rely on vendor or restaurant to eat, and you are in control. Sorry to state it.

  • We are in the same boat as you! We put on loads of weight when we travelled for 18 months. It dies not help that we are foodies. Last winter we lived in Thailand & Burma and what really helped us what the 5:2 diet. Basically for 5 days a week you can eat anything! I mean anything. I was eating all those wonderful Thai dishes and swilling it down with bottles of Chang. Then on the 2 other days you fast so for women you can only have 500 calories. Men is 600. It sounds harder than it is. Basically we skipped lunch and ate well for breakfast and dinner. its the easiest diet we have done and it works!

    Good luck!

  • I think it is one of the most difficult parts of travelling. We are currently in Malaysia and the last time I got vegetables with my dinner was months ago. We try to eat a lot of fruit, we buy vegetables we can eat raw to get some vitamins and we try to not eat roti three times a day. But it’s hard when there is no other (not too expensive) option. And what about getting some exercise? We try to move as little as possible because of the insane heat. Which of course doesn’t help with staying fit. For the last three weeks we started doing the ‘You are your own gym’ exercises, you can do them in your hotel room (with the aircon on). We’ve been feeling a lot better about ourselves since we started working out again. We used to walk everywhere, run around the city, ride our bikes and cruise on our skateboards. But the weather in South-East Asia is just too hot to do a lot.

  • hey girl go easy on yourself you just recently gave birth 🙂

    I always gain weight in India too…

    Anyway hubby and I were recently talking about just this subject as he travels a lot for work and is trying to train for a bike race. This DC Rainmaker guy is all sorts of inspirational – if he can do it, maybe the rest of us can too.

  • Oh, this is my big issue while traveling. I am a world class glutton and have never been seen refusing food/homemade anything.
    I actually survived Asia not too badly, maybe because of the heavy backpack carrying, the heat and the many fruits and soups we enjoyed.
    The Middle East and Europe destroyed me. Half way through Finland I weighed more than what I did 9 months pregnant! I chose to avoid reflective surfaces instead of dieting. Who could do that in France, Spain and Italy?!

    The answer is simple – move more and eat less. That second part is my nemesis. Plus, the years piling up don’t help 😉

  • You say it, sister! I have heard on several occasions that men lose weight and women gain weight when traveling abroad, but I never thought it would really be true. An alternative consequence is losing muscle definition and become soft. In Chiang Mai, Thailand, there is almost a non-existent “gym culture” – only few lackluster gyms can be found, there are no safe running routes due to uneven sidewalks, unaware motorists, the overwhelming heat, stray dogs, etc as you have also experienced. And yes, it’s hard to get motivated to do calisthenics in your own home!

    It takes some motivation and time to do it, but something as simple as creating an online forum to meet two or three times a week – specifically for women in your same town- may help those pounds shed off. Running a designated safe route and doing calisthenics together, even if there are one or two participants each meeting, is worth it. Not to mention, it is an activity that costs nothing and an opportunity to meet new people. I think there are plenty of women out there who think the exacct same thing!

  • My husband and I traveled for six months from New York to the Caribbean on our sailboat and it was hard to stay fit when some islands didn’t even have paths to run on. I gained weight slowly while he lost weight quickly and then I realized that cooking on our boat resulted in splitting meals evenly between two of us. But it seems my husband needs more calories than I do, so we started splitting meals less evenly…1/3 for me to 2/3 for Ryan. It helped!

    Also, look into TRX (takes up space the size of a makeup bag and includes straps that can be used in a series of body-weight-resistance exercises, and comes with a book of workouts). We have one with us at all times and it’s been a fitness lifesaver, but it does require scheduling time in your day for a workout – 30-40 min can make a big difference. It also works better if you and your husband work out together to motivate each other.

    When traveling by land, all I need is my running shoes. I have yet to find a place unsafe to run around, and I’ve run in Russia, various countries in the Middle East, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, everywhere I’ve been in South America, and I run a lot where I am now in the Dominican Republic. My philosophy is, as long as you keep moving and don’t stop, by the time someone thinks of a way to bother you, you’re gone!

    But all in all, it starts with building fitness into your routine. If you start with 10 min of running every day then before you know it, you’ll start doing 20 min, then 30…then it will start to feel weird when you MISS a day. Before long, you’ll WANT to get out and sweating every day.

    And then all that wonderful food you’re eating will taste SO much more delicious. But you’ll also be burning off more of it.


    Tasha (Turf to Surf)

  • I try to lose weight before I travel, so that it doesn’t affect me so much if I gain a few pounds. But of course, maybe I dont travel as much as you!

  • And who is doing cardio in their hotel room or running through the rice paddies in Bali?

    Me. I try to exercise every day, even though I travel constantly. If I’m somewhere beautiful and quiet (IMO, Bali doesn’t count as either), I take the opportunity to run. I do yoga in my hotel room, squats push-ups, hand stands, and if I feel like I haven’t had a good work out recently I do an Insanity workout on my computer (short n sweet). I also take the opportunity to walk almost everywhere, and if I can I rent a bicycle to see the sites, like in my latest post.

    That said, I struggle to maintain some sort of schedule, and I’ve mostly thrown routine out the window. Too many late nights, too many bus days, bad nights of sleep, and scary new places for a woman traveling alone. To go running out here as a woman, you definitely need to develop a thick skin. But if I can do it, you can do it. I believe in you 🙂

  • I am so glad you wrote this! Thank you! I’ve been in the same boat for years now. My husband, who is just naturally slender, can just eat anything and splurging a bit when we travel doesn’t show on him at all. lucky pr**k! 🙂

    When I really started traveling years ago, I splurged as well, telling myself that “hey- I’m on vacation.”. But, slowly (after gaining about 8 pounds in one summer), I began to realize that it just wasn’t worth it. Now, I eat healthier when traveling than I do at home. It gives me more energy and I actually enjoy the trip a lot more when I eat light and healthy. Over time, I’ve just lost most of the cravings I used to have for fried foods, desserts, etc.

    Getting old kinda stinks!

  • Hi Christine,
    Have you tried yoga? I have been travelling round India and Asia for the last two years, so know that walking and running are sometimes just not an option. But yoga needs nothing but your own body and a quiet corner. Granted, it’s not hardcore cardio, but it would be ideal for you if you’re still recovering from a C section, and one of its major plus points is it really changes your relationship with your body. You become much more aware of how you are eating, how you are feeling, and how what you’re eating affects how you are feeling! I find the more yoga I do, the more I look after myself in every way, which means making healthier food choices at mealtimes.
    It will also help build core strength and muscle, meaning you’re able to burn those delicious treats more effectively when you do indulge!
    I have gone up and down over the last couple of years (for the same reasons as all the other travellers on here) especially in the foodie heaven that is India and Asia. But yoga has kept me feeling good about myself REGARDLESS of those extra few pounds, if you know what I mean? It helps cultivate a better relationship with your body and how you nourish it.
    Maybe you could get yourself a yoga teacher to come to your house and devise a program that would work for you? Would be fantastic practice for your Spanish too!
    Love the blog btw…I have followed you for many years, but this is my first comment 🙂

  • I’ve usually found it so hard to lose weight when travelling, however when I was recently in Spain it was so hot that I didn’t even fancy eating and lost a lot of weight. Already planning my next trip to Thailand so hopefully the same happens again 🙂

  • I have been known to do stretches and mini-workouts in bathrooms (as long as there isn’t a long line). But that’s when I’m driving a lot. You can do squats in a bathroom stall if you’re careful not to dip your clothes in the toilet.

  • I hear ALL THE TIME how Thai food is ‘so healthy’ and ‘light’ and ‘has so much more vegetables’ than at ‘home’….and I completely disagree. I definitely eat more sugar and oil in Thailand than I ever did at home and rarely eat straight, fresh vegetables…

  • We are going to Japan and staying there for a month. I am so scared! 🙂

    No, really. Those things they say that Japanese food is mega healthy and the waif Japanese people can prove that? Well, that’s because they are JAPANESE. They snack on rice balls and stay slim. They belong to a different gene pool – the pool I want to dive it but can’t!

    My husband eats a lot more than I do but has been on the same weight for 15 years (since we got together).

  • This si SUCH an issue, and I have a pretty good metabolism, but when I left Montreal on my solo trip in 2011 and started driving across the US for a RIDICULOUS amount of hours a day and stopping to eat at the most “local” greasy spoon I could find, I immediately gained 10 lbs….. Then I ended up in the Dominican Republic in a bikini.. ouch. Thankfully fruits and veggies are readily available here so I’m made up for it.
    I’m sorry I don’t have any real tips for you right now because I’m new to this fitness thing, but my boyfriend and I (who’s a personal trainer) will be hitting the road in less then a year and are dedicating a section of our blog solely to this issue.

    What I CAN say, coming from someone who’s never cared about her weight but now lives in a third world country and is trying to prepare for a round the world trip full of body testing adventure, is find a routine (or routines) that you can easily do in you average hotel room (this is where body weight training is really good) and be consistent with it. Do your hour same time every other day kind of thing and really push yourself. Then when you have te luxury of a nice beach you can jog on or a decent gym, use it!!

    Hope that helps!!

  • I know what you mean! I love my food so whenever I travel I like to try new foods which means it is a constant battle to keep the extra weight off.

  • How do you fund your travel, how long do you travel for? i.e. 3 weeks at a time every year or 3 months a year or have you take a year out? How do you travel with your children?
    Omg so many questions. I’m happy I found your page.

    Thank You

  • This is SO true! I can’t believe I missed this post! I was talking to my husband about this yesterday and I think, for us, it’s that we still have that ‘we’re on vacation’ feeling, even though we’ve been travelling for almost a year. A vacation is when you can say: “To hell with it!” for a couple of weeks, eat and drink what ever you like and then go back to a routine when you get home. We’ve been saying that for 10 months now and we’re not planning to go home anytime soon. Enough is enough! We’re now following a loose version of 4 Hour Body, which is surprisingly easy to do in Chiang Mai, and I’ve got a FitBit, which reminds me to do at least 10,000 steps a day. The cheat day on 4HB is a lifesaver and still lets us pig out on mango sticky rice once a week *drool. I hear it’s good for Mexican food too… We’ve also made an app (!) to help us track our weight, BMI and body measurements so we’re more mindful of what we’re doing and how the small changes we’re making are helping us lose weight and inches. I just wish someone was doing a health and fitness version of My Bilingual Summer, some friendly competition would be a great motivator!

  • I used to have quite a lot of overweight, was almost 290 lbs. Then I figured out that eating is an addiction just like smoking, drinking, coffee, sugar, etc. To cure the addiction I started to practise water fasting. The longest stints were 3 weeks without any food, just tap water. That helped to cure the addiction and now I can run, I feel much better and my weight is 100 lbs less.

  • I always gain 1 kg a week when I’m on vacation…unless I do my exercise every day. I recommend dancing, since it can be done in even small spaces and requires no equipment to lug around. And it’s so much fun, helps deal with travel stress!

  • Hi Christine. I’ve always valued your honest sharing. I love doing that too- just being real, raw, and perfectly open about all my flaws and beauties and all that I am. My story is very different than yours. When we left home for the nomadic life, the last thing I said to that mirror behind my front door was, “Next time I see you, I’ll be sexy!” for I was so sick of hiding my fat. Now, in our third year on the road, I’ve worked my ass off and have lost 30 pounds, exercised by jogging up and down the stairs or hallways of hostels if I didn’t feel safe outside, and tasting one or two bites of all that amazing street food but sticking to my salads and light eating. I adore food almost as much as writing, so it has been a lot of work to change my relationship with food. (I’m a huge emotional eater!j Slowly, I worked on eating with consciousness and still allow myself to go crazy on ribs and snickers bars, though I label myself a raw foodie. it’s not easy Christine. Not at all. But, I found that I can do anything I decide to do when I’m fully ready and focused. When I’m working hard on my blogs or an ebook or a product, I eat more and train less.When we’re moving a lot and I haven’t found the local veggie market, I eat more and train less. When things get shitty, I eat more and train less. But, and this is important, when the cosmic dusts settle, and I decide, and I focus, I, and you, can do anything. You’ve got a new baby (she’s gorgeous) and just moved to Mexico (settling in) and when the cosmic dust settles and you also decide, but fully decide, you’ll know what to do. You will. I write a lot about my entire process on the lesser known of my blogs, it’s the journey within. (The Nomadic Family is the well-known journey around the world). I write of being sexy and spiritual, 28 pounds later, and learning of rape through the massage table. If you’re open to a spiritual empowering sort of look at it- very emotionally-based, spiritual and very, very raw- you may find some inspiration you like there (on gabiklaf). Good luck dear Christine. You will do it when you are ready. In the meantime, enjoy your Cole and Stella and Mexico. Tons of love and respect to you, Gabi

  • I love staying fit, but I love travel even more. I can say I am super self motivated and train a lot when I am in my home country. But when it comes to travel almost all motivation is lost. I eat healthy (mostly) when I am away, however that just doesn’t cut it. So what I did was take off my shirt every day in-front of the mirror and ask myself, are you happy with this? And for the times I said no I had to do a quick work out that I designed. I did this each day until i could make it routine and schedule into each day. It is not easy though! far from it!

  • When you work it out, PLEASE let me know. We are just two months into our travels and even though I’m walking and sweating far more than I was before, the Italian pizza is really catching up with me! I’ve been finding it really hard not only to eat well on the road, but to not waste food. Moving around every week – two weeks is a bit hard so i’m looking forward to slowing down and maybe finding a routine and balance. Thanks for being honest and real in this post. It sure did ring true with me 🙂

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