Fit in Flight


By Jess Goulart

Photo courtesy of Joseph Voves.

“Fitness is a state of mind,” your personal trainer tells you.

But let’s be honest, it’s really a state of body, and you–plus around 40 percent of Americans–rang in 2015 with shiny new exercise goals. That determined voice in your head says this year it’s finally time for the marathon! An hour a day at the gym! Taking up tennis! By 2016 you’ll be Rafael Nadal!

Then hangovers, taxes, work, birthdays, bread, etc–life happens and by May we’re patting ourselves on the back for five situps during Saturday morning cartoons.

Health and fitness coach Sarah Josey tells BTR “one of the keys to sticking with your initial goals is to get into a routine. Have it become a natural part of your day so that you don’t even have to think about it.”

Unfortunately, when we travel our routines are left to gather dust alongside the bathroom scale and low-carb cookbook. There is no way to predict your schedule and with the “vacation mindset” we readily permit ourselves decadence even though deep down we know holiday calories still count.

If you think you’re one of the few that will opt for salad over pasta while sitting on a villa balcony in Tuscany, good for you (you won’t though). For the rest of us, here’s some tricks from Josey and BTR’s Twenty-Something Traveler to fight weight-gain when you travel, for pleasure or business.

Work harder, not longer.

A study from Canada’s McMaster University found short, high intensity workouts two times a week are just as effective as longer, less intense workouts repeated daily. That means that you only have to find a half hour or so every few days to sweat and you’ll still be on track.

But how can you get a good workout in without a gym?

Use a home workout program.

All you need is the disc and a computer (or a program offered on YouTube). Programs like P90X or Insanity can be done in thirty minutes or less, and if you’re skeptical of their clout, we dare you to try “Insanity Max 30.”

Josey is currently coaching a group through it and says after the first session one of her members, an ex-soccer player, gasped that it was the hardest workout he’d ever had.

So there’s that.

“The best thing about a program is you can take it with you anywhere,” Josey says.

To increase the intensity, you can also…

Invest in resistance bands.

Ever tried to hide dumbbells in your carry on bag? Spoiler alert: it doesn’t work.

You could stow them in a checked suitcase, but the added weight will cost you more than they’re worth.

“I always travel with resistance bands, which fit easily into a suitcase,” Josey suggests, adding that working with dumbbells can be intimidating and the bands make a great introduction to some of the same movements.

If you honestly don’t think 30 minutes every few days is in the cards, don’t give up hope and order that fourth slice of cheesecake. First of all, three is plenty, and second you can still supplement your exercise needs when you…

Walk everywhere.

Amsterdam, Paris, London, Dublin, and any major European destination is easily walkable. Walking a city affords you with an intimate experience because you are immersed in your surroundings and moving through them slowly. It also cuts the extra cost of gas, which is anywhere from $6-$10 more per gallon in the EU (we know, gasp).

But more importantly, it burns around 60 calories per mile for a 120lb person (depending on gender and height). If that doesn’t seem like a lot, just think about how many calories you’ll burn driving your rental.

Zero. The answer is zero.

And while we’re on the subject of calories…

Do NOT eat at an airport.

Nothing. Not even if it says “organic homemade veggies picked this morning from a local farmers market.” Actually, that you could probably eat, but otherwise avoid all restaurants or stands because their food is chock full of preservatives and fat.

That cinnamon roll you love so much? 880 calories.

We eat at airports mostly out of boredom, so plan for the longest wait time possible (because it will inevitably happen) and bring something to stay busy. Also pack snacks from home, healthy ones that you really love so you’re not tempted.

Remember, you’re probably headed somewhere with truly amazing food. Save the splurge for when you’re there, and once you are…

You’re on vacation, indulge a little.

Just don’t go overboard. Megan, Helena, and Natasha, the three founders of the healthy living blog My Healthy Little World, tell BTR that living by the 80/20 rule will increase your chances of success when starting a new exercise or diet regime.

“80 percent of the time be good,” says Helena. “The other 20 percent of the time, do whatever you like. Reward yourself. That’s why they’re called guilty pleasures.”

When you’re traveling, we give you permission to go ahead and bump that up to 70/30. After all, you only live once.

Now get out there and see the world.

For more travel tips tune in to Twenty-Something Traveler every Monday on BTR.