We’ve all been there: we work out and eat well in the months and weeks leading up to a vacation, but once that plane’s wheels are up, most of our well-intentioned plans to exercise on the beach evaporate like steam from a hot tub. And sometimes, that’s just fine – if the goal is really to veg out, give the body a break and indulge. But Joe and I have been working out pretty consistently for about a year and a half – and loving it – so we decided to stay fit during our time abroad by getting creative and using the tools available to us.
First things first: we don’t eat all our meals out. Fortunately, we’re settled in each place for at least a month, so it’s easy to stock up on some kitchen basics (spices, oil, rice, tuna, beans, etc) and pack the fridge with fresh fruits, veggies, eggs, seafood, meat and local cheeses from the plentiful markets that always seem to be nearby. I alternate meat and seafood dishes – both are cheap and abundant here – and stuff as many veggies into each dish as possible. Blogs/apps like Fit Men Cook (ok I’m a woman, but like the idea), the Recipes section from Food&Wine, even Pinterest (yikes! overwhelming!) provide great recipe ideas – I have files on my computer for “quick dinners,” “avocado dishes,” “healthy options” etc. Also, when you cook most of your meals at home, going out becomes a little more special and rewarding. And let’s be real – we’re not trying to deprive ourselves…we’re going for balance 🙂
**I do realize that many vacationers might not have a kitchen at their disposal (or the desire to cook at all while relaxing and being pampered!) – however, this is what works for us long-term.
But eating right while on the road is only half (ok no, more like 80%) of the battle. We had to carve out time in our (surprisingly busy) schedules to “get to the gym” – just like prioritizing exercise at home, we made the same choice here. Fortunately, many cities where we’re staying have outdoor gyms – a series of bars at different heights and sit-up benches which support a number of body weight moves. In the absence of these facilities – or for the sake of variety – other common pieces of furniture, trees, ledges, etc. can all be used to get in a great workout. We wake up, have a protein shake, work a little, then head out to sweat. Joe gets inspiration from a site called Calisthenics Academy (but also sometimes uses bodybuilding.com or others similar to it) and I riff off his workout plan.
Push-ups (no equipment needed, but a bench/low bar provides an easier option)
Dips (a bench, log or low ledge does the trick)
Squats (no equipment needed – and if you find a big rock, you can make them weighted)
Lunges (no equipment needed)
Burpees (no equipment needed)
Pull-ups or chin-ups (need a bar – Joe mostly does these, while I hang and retract my scapula – it’s a process; I had a dream recently in which I did several chin-ups, so I think I’m getting there!!)
Rows (we use some straps made by Joe’s friend Tadashi – they’re adjustable and can be looped over just about anything!)
Various other abdominal exercises (planks, bicycle crunches, alternating/regular v-ups, etc. – a mat is nice but not necessary)
Jumping jacks/high knees/butt kickers/running in place (no equipment needed)
Step-ups (just need a bench, low wall, log, chair…)
We also sprint two days a week – we run for about 30-45 seconds, rest for about 90 seconds, and alternate that pattern for a little over two miles.
Finally, we walk A LOT – usually over 5 miles a day and often closer to 8-9. Many stairs are often included. If our destination is under 30 minutes away, we’ll walk there, and sometimes we just walk for a couple hours exploring our cities and discovering wonderful new treasures. Added bonus – we track all of this great activity using our Apple watches. Yes, they’re totally worth it and wonderfully helpful – and highly motivating! Getting our 10,000 (+) steps every day has become a priority and I love it.
Keeping our butts in gear isn’t so hard – and it feels great, takes just a little time each day (hey, even 15 minutes is better than zero minutes!) and makes that margarita on the beach taste infinitely better knowing we “earned it” and all that jazz.