This is a tough one. I was a reluctant gym bunny at home, meaning I dragged my ass to the gym about three times a week loving the results but hating the actual exercise. Some backpackers are lucky and they actually lose weight on the road. I think this probably depends on where you’re travelling i.e. it may be harder to keep the weight down in western countries and may be easier to lose weight in Asia. For me, travelling in Asia has caused my weight to go up and down like a yoyo. There was the wonderful one stone weight loss as a result of food posioning in Indonesia. Unfortunately I then allowed myself to eat every carb in sight. Now it’s all back on and as a result of a lack of gyms in hostels I feel I’m losing muscle tone. I want those big boys back, so I’ve been doing some research. I have to remind myself, there is no excuse, now I’m not working nine to five, technically I’ve got all the time in the day and night to get in shape. Here are my ten tips on keeping in shape whilst backpacking.
1) Many cities have ‘pay as you go’ gyms for cheap in Asia. You can check out offers on Groupon. Same goes for the use of public pools, these are often free or cheap and it’s a great way to burn a few calories.
2) Try and aim for 10,000 steps a day which you can monitor on your smart phone. Taking tours, and spending time in cities normally involves lots of walking so use this to your advantage.
3) Eat local food. This is both good for the budget and the waistline. Certainly Asian food lacks the majority of preservatives. Now is the time to go organic without even trying. Lots of Asian food is also gluten free.
4) Drink lots of water avoiding buying juices and cans of soda. This also helps the budget. I bring my own to restaurants.
4) Carry snacks. You can buy cheap fruit, vegetables and nuts on the road.
5) Try not to drink too much alcohol. If you do drink, go for light beers and stick to spirits with soda water.
6) The heat reduces the appetite anyways and on a backpackers budget, two main large meals such as brunch and dinner along with healthy snacks will keep your weight and budget down.
7) Try to cut out the fancy coffees as these have almost as many calories as a chocolate bar. This will save money daily. If you HAVE to have your morning latte, have one small one with skimmed milk and say goodbye to syrups. Even better start drinking Americanos.
8) If you can’t be arsed to get to a gym, you can download a HITT workout and workout in your hostel room, the corridor or outdoors. Try twenty five minutes, three times a week. You don’t need equipment, you can build muscle with bodyweight alone. I met a Dutch girl who was doing lunges and squats with her backpack. Consider yoga classes, which is huge in Asia.
9) Where possible weigh yourself every few weeks just so you’re not living in denial and take pictures of yourself as hard as that may be.
10) If you have one bad day, be good the next day.
I hope these tips help my fellow backpackers and remember, like at home, if you have one bad day, the next day can always be better.