Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Staying Fit as a Traveling Foodie

It is no secret: I am a foodie. When I travel to new countries, one of my favorite things to do is try the exciting and often strange new dishes each country has to offer. Food, to me, is something that truly represents a place and offers you so much insight into their culture. When I travel, eating is not just a break in between sightseeing but an experience just as important, if not more important, than the historical sights, cultural museums and city tours that make up one's vacation. 

Chocolate Fondue in Montpellier, France - November 2011

I love food, and I love travel, and unfortunately for me...my waistline has started to notice. I haven't gained an outrageous amount of weight, and no one has truly noticed but me, but it's definitely a heavy blow to one's confidence when your jeans are fitting snugger and your swim suit isn't quite as flattering as it had been a year ago.  But what can I do? I definitely don't plan to stop traveling any time soon, and I'm sorry...if I travel, I eat the local food. This really is non-negotiable for me!

Traditional Aebelskivvers in Odense, Denmark - December, 2011

Subsequently, it's occurred to me that I really need to come up with a way to find a balance. I cannot gain 5+ pounds on every trip I go on. I refuse to go up a size, I don't know if my insecure little soul could handle it! I've thought about it, done a little reading and come up with a plan of action. Of course, any additional advice would be greatly appreciated.

Mediterranean  Buffet in Comino, Malta  - May, 2012

Step One: Eat out only once per day, or even less. 

Buying breakfast and lunch (or any two meals of the day, mind you) will not only save you money, it can save you a ton of calories that are better spent on delicious local cuisine. Shopping for your food means you're in control of what's going into your mouth! 

Step Two: Ditch your Public Transportation Pass 

Don't use buses and trains to get around, and for goodness' sake do not take a taxi. Instead, opt to see the city you're visiting completely on foot. You'll save money, get a better view of the city and burn off calories with every step. This works best when you choose a hotel/hostel/couchsurfing host that lives within reasonable walking distance to most sights. 

Walking Through Barcelona, Spain - June 2012 
Step Three: Use the internet to bring fitness programs with you. 

I've been a big fan of loseit.com, an online web program that helps you track what you're eating and exercising. This tool helped me lose the ten or so pounds I'd gained over those pesky but delicious holiday months. I've also recently started utilizing Yogaglo, a website that connects user to live video streams of yoga classes. It's an affordable option perfect for people who are constantly on the go.

Step Four: Beware of beverages!

I'm always tempted to drink soda when I'm traveling...but these are calories I don't need. And for those of you thinking diet soda is like water...it's not, and the chemicals replacing sugar can actually be worse for you. If I'm in Greece, I want to spend my calories on souvlaki, moussaka and gyro pitas...not CocaCola! Opting for water will also keep you hydrated, and your body always works better when there's water in it. I don't drink alcohol, but I think it goes without saying that those who do should limit their booze intake while traveling if worried about their waistline. From the mouth of my old Cardio Kickboxing instructer: "You booze, you lose!" 

Step Five: Take "Local" food home with you! 

This may not be an option for everyone, but if you book a hotel or hostel with a working kitchen...why not cook your own traditional dishes? Find a local market to purchase your ingredients and look up a recipe (or better yet, have a local teach you!) Making your own food means you can edit recipes to make them lighter and healthier. The Paella we made (and split between five people) was delicious even though we halved the amount of salt and used whole grain rice. It was also much cheaper than if we'd gone out and ordered it at a restaurant!

Homecooked Paella and (Alcohol-Free) Sangria in our apartment in Barcelona, Spain

This is all I've come up with so far, and I'm really excited to start implementing these ideas into my travels to see if  I feel a noticeable difference! Do you have any tips for staying fit on the go? 


Natasha said...

We booked our tickets for Thailand today and decided to try eat healthy for the next two weeks before we leave. There are probably healthy options available, but I'd rather not worry about that while I'm on holiday. I think walking a lot will definitely help and I usually drink water only anyway. I'd love to do a cooking class while I'm there.

Jenna said...

I've often wondered how my waistline would survive if I constantly travelled for several months and didn't have access to a gym because, like you, I'm a huge foodie. There's no stopping me. I work out so that I can eat.

I like the ideas you've given! When I was on Semester at Sea in college I used to take morning jogs in some of the countries we'd stop in. It's also a great way to get to know/see a new city :)


kellyelizabeth said...

i would become so huge if I was a traveler foodie like you lol, but i would enjoy every minute of it! :)

kelly elizabeth

Brooke said...

Such great tips. I also like to remember that new cultures have delicious traditions of vegetables and fruits, as well as desserts. I try to make sure my sampling isn't just the sugary and fatty stuff. And as always, I love these pictures :)

Bailey@Lost&Found said...

I've been having the same problem lately. And, like you, I refuse to give up the experience of trying new things. When I'm home, I try to eat as much fresh fruits and veggies and often avoid the heavy carbs and fatty meats. This only works sometimes, LOL. I guess, the best thing is to walk as much as possible!

Mia said...

I definitely make similar rules when I travel, because I am a huge foodie! It also helps me to limit sweets and desserts to one thing a day. That way, I make sure I am actually spending my calories wisely.

I also try to hit up the hotel gym if I can. I've started running now, so I'll probably add that to the list :)

Mia said...

I definitely make similar rules when I travel, because I am a huge foodie! It also helps me to limit sweets and desserts to one thing a day. That way, I make sure I am actually spending my calories wisely.

I also try to hit up the hotel gym if I can. I've started running now, so I'll probably add that to the list :)

Madeline Grace said...

These are very similar to the rules I follow while I am traveling! & all of these food pictures look so yummy!

Jenni Austria Germany said...

step two has always been my go-to plan. it works for me (i think?)!

Kelsea @ Pink Wonderland said...

Great advice. I wholeheartedly agree that the best way to see a place (and stay fit) is to walk whenever possible.

Robyn said...

take your running gear! apart from on a safari-you can pretty much run anywhere and it is a great way to know your holiday destination.

Alex Butts said...

Your paella looks incredible! I love staying places with kitchens - always my favorite tip and so fun if you are traveling with a group.

Mimi Finerty said...

i LOVE food and i cant think of anything worse than giving it up. especially on holiday!! great tips to enjoy your food without expanding your waistline too much :)

jessicaelle said...

I usually end up going for a nice jog wherever I am - it's a great way to see beautiful scenery in the quiet hours of the morning :)

On my last trip though I was on a cruise and I could only run so much on their track without feeling like a hamster. So instead I made sure I doubled my veggie intake. And guess what? I ended up eating great food AND losing 5 lbs.

Maria said...

I love these ideas so much! I don't travel too much since I'm in school and working two jobs, but when I do go anywhere I'll keep these thoughts in my mind!

Jeanelle said...

I use the Nike Training Club app! I bust out the 15 min ab workout in the morning or before bed and every little bit counts during the summer :)

Don't give up the local food though, I agree - that's the BEST part!!!!

Sara Louise said...

I travel the same way you do... where I eat is just as important as the sights I'm seeing. I usually have a couple of restaurants booked before I even get to destination!
And yeah, since Europe became my home, I've definitely put on a few pounds so, I basically have given up soda (except for the occasional Orangina) and when I'm traveling, I always walk. Plus with all the walking, I usually end up spotting something I'd miss if I whizzed by on bus :)

Aspiring Kennedy said...

Food really is a critical part of travel. People say that you will remember the weather and what you ate most out of a trip. Safe to say that skimping on flavor and local flair is not an option. Your tip on walking instead of taking public transportation is really important. You burn calories plus get to see more of the city than you would have traveling underground!

Malou Morgan said...

Great post! Food is by far one of the most important aspects of travelling for me :) I think generally going for 'local' food joints (rather than more obvious, commercial restaurants) are nicer ways to enjoy honest meals and to keep track of what you're eating!


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