I like to think of myself as a healthy person. I’m not overweight, I stay in shape, I like the gym, and I eat right. Or, at least, I like to think I do all of those things.
The truth is, long-term travel can be quite an unhealthy activity. Long days, longer nights, little sleep, very little exercise, a fair bit of alcohol, and unhealthy food.
It’s not to say that if you’re a long-term traveler, you’re going to be unhealthy. No. I know some people who do a daily run, push-ups, and eat nothing but healthy meals every day. But it’s a lot of work to keep it up on the road, because there are a lot more distractions to get in the way. Long nights at the pub make doing your morning run tougher. Doing push-ups in a huge dorm is a bit socially awkward. And when you travel on a budget, eating super healthy meals all the time can be taxing on your budget.
Then throw in some laziness, and you have a recipe for some heavy-duty wear and tear on your body.
Which is why I think I’m getting fat.
I’m not at the point where I need to buy two seats on an airplane but I can definitely tell I’m gaining weight. And not the good muscle weight but the bad, trans-fat, French-fried kind.
Back home, I’m a gym junkie. I work out about five times a week, I eat healthy, and I cook most of my own meals. I love staying in shape and feeling good.
But on the road? Forget about it. I eat lots of fatty hamburgers, French fries, and pasta and drink too many sodas. The last time I did push-ups? Ummm, I can’t remember. I can’t remember the last time I got a good night’s sleep either, which is thanks to a combination of dorm rooms, uncomfortable beds, and an overactive mind. I drink too often (it is always someone’s first or last night at a hostel). I need more salad in my life. I should also eat more fruits and vegetables.
I’ve always prided myself on healthy living, but on the road, I seem to check my views at the airport and only once in a while give them faint lip service. But after looking at my growing stomach, I’m going to start being healthy. Not tomorrow, but today.
I’m going to do a number of things to stay healthy:
If you have a bag, you have a gym. As my friend put it, if you have a bag, you have a work out. You can use the weight of your bag like a barbell. You can lift it to do a bicep curl, lift it over your head for a shoulder workout, bench press it, do dead lifts. It’s a perfect, all-purpose weight.
Push-ups. I’m going to do push-ups every other day in order to keep my upper body strong and my stamina up. They’re a quick and easy way to stay in shape. I did some today. I won’t embarrass myself by telling you how few I could do.
Daily juice. Traveling can be a bit taxing on the body. It can wear you down. Since I don’t have vitamins with me, I’m going to up my juice intake to make sure I’m getting a good daily dose of the nutrients my body needs.
Moderate drinking. I’m cutting back on how often I drink alcohol. I’m old. My body doesn’t recover like it did when I was 20, and I don’t like sleeping through most of my days. It’s hard to be that guy who says, “I’m staying in” when all your friends are going out and they want you to join, but I’m going to have to be that guy more often. (Added bonus: I’ll save a ton of money too!)
Sleep. I’m going to try to restore my sleep pattern. Eight hours a night, not staying up till dawn so often, and trying to get to sleep at a normal time. I had a great sleep a few nights ago, and I felt like a new person. I want that feeling more.
Eat healthy. Enough burgers, fries, and pizza. Time to eat more salads, lean meats, rice, vegetables—overall, just more healthy food. It’s easy when you travel to get the quick, cheap meal in order save money. But while that’s a great way to keep costs down, it’s also a great way to keep your waistline up, as cheap food isn’t usually healthy food. This is the biggest change I’m going to make.
Alone time. I think I need more quiet alone time to recharge my batteries. Travel can be a very stimulating experience, and there are always people to meet and places to go. But sometimes, you just need to decompress and have some relaxing alone time. I don’t really do enough of that. I probably haven’t had some me time since I was in Norway. Next week, I’m heading to Sofia to stay with a friend for a week and just recuperate.
I always tell people when it comes to traveling that the more excuses you make, the less likely it will be that you actually go. Yet here I am, making excuses about trying to stay healthy.
So today I’m going to stop making excuses. Enough is enough. Time to start being healthy again. I like that lifestyle so much more than the one I have now.