This blog has been pending for so long. I started writing it when we were in Namibia. That is way back in August 2018. Prompted by my weight gain and un-budgeted purchases. I was in a shop fitting a new trouser and one glance at the girl in the mirror and I did not like her one single bit. I titled the blog “The girl in the Mirror” but as it is now, I will deviate from that tittle and just cover tips on healthy living on the road because I don’t want to get all emotional here. Having contributed wholly to how that girl looked and acknowledging that I don’t like it, it’s my responsibility to make corrections and amends.
Have you been struggling with managing a healthy regime as you travel?
Don’t worry, I got you. In 2016 I was a size 10. I met my husband in January 2016 and throughout the year I maintained my size 10. However, from 2017, I started gaining weight at an alarming speed. We both actually did and we called it “relationship weight” which perfectly justified our situation and helped us not feel as guilty. We must admit that we contributed to this with some of our bad habits like frequently enjoying Gin & Tonic and being loyal to fast foods.
Who’s that girl?
Fast forward, my weight continued to soar like a balloon. I was willing to shop for new clothes instead of dropping my Gin & Tonic, poor eating habits and embracing a healthy lifestyle. Well, we had a toxic relationship and I had all the excuses why nothing or no-one can break this relationship. Our diet on the road has not been the best either and sometimes it’s just not possible to get a healthy meal.
It’s February 2019, 7 months, 13 countries and a few more kilos on me which has cost me some money for a new dress and 2 pairs of jeans which were never on my budget, at least not this early. I felt fabulous when I was a size 10 and great at size 12 and always worked hard to remain in these range but I have now gone way out of my preference. This is my wake up call. I cannot afford buying clothes at this rate and it is not healthy for me to continue with this lifestyle. My body has been screaming – CHANGE!!!!
Lessons from my unhealthy lifestyle:
A BALANCING ACT
The right food, right quantities of alcohol (if you must), a healthy exercise routine, good water intake, enough sleep and good mental health will turn your life into an enjoyable happy one. So here is what we have learned and the changes we have incorporated to help us travel healthy.
When traveling for a long time, a healthy diet can be hard to maintain unlike when life is running on a smooth schedule. Not having a kitchen or being able to shop and carry healthy foods has left us with the option of eating in restaurants and fast foods. Even when we stay in an Airbnb, it is still hard to find all the ingredients, tools and time to prepare healthy meals. The temptations on the restaurant menus is one that requires serious self discipline. Being able to order soup, vegetable or fruit salads from a menu that has options like burgers, fries, steak and sweet deserts is not easy.
We are traveling using motorcycles and after 300 or more kilometers of riding in the sun, dust or rain can be very tiring accelerating our hunger and appetite to another level. By the time we are sitting down for a meal, we are only thinking one thing – FILLING FOOD. This means that we go for high calories food and large portions.
We are now more cautious with what we eat as our option for food still remains mainly restaurants. Less of carbs, fried foods and pastries and snacking on healthy snacks like dates and fruits while on the road to manage hunger and appetite has really helped in having a healthy diet. When we get to a restaurant, we are able to order less quantities and low calorie foods.
There is something about being away from home or work and alcohol. The truth is you will drink more while on vacation than when at home. May be because on vacation your responsibilities and schedule starts with having fun and ends with having fun. No tasks with tight deadline or long working hours. After all, the vacation is to get you away from work and should be fun. Right?
This vacation happiness habit can actually result to drinking quite a bit. In addition to the large portions of high calories food, you will be downing quite some sugar with alcohol.
An occasional glass of wine will leave you feeling much better, happier and sleep way better and wake up more relaxed for more adventures. Just like us. Now we know.
Back at home you may be able to do gym, jogging, yoga, cycling, hiking, trekking or whatever your exercise routine is regularly. However, on the road or while traveling, it is more difficult to be on a regular exercise regime. You either have no access to the gym, equipments or time. We are not gym fanatics and did not exercise much back at home. We are therefore not cultured for exercise. Overtime we have noticed how much our bodies need some exercising and stretching. When riding, we are seated in one position with legs folded at the knees, rounded shoulders and arms stretched out with elbows pushed out. At the end of the day, this posture can leave our muscles aching and body very tired. This alone calls for exercises to stretch the body, relax the muscles and avoid injuries. We ride almost daily doing an average of 300 plus kilometers.
Our pit stops now include stretching in addition to resting and water breaks. On the days we are not riding, we do walking and hiking and have a target of a minimum of 10,000 steps each. Our fitness has improved and we now do much more than 10,000 steps, our joints and muscles feel much better too.
Water is an extremely important part of the body. It is recommended that one takes a minimum of 2 liters daily. When riding, we wear heavy jackets and therefore always hotter than everyone else regardless of the weather. This means that we are thirsty more often. We each have a 2 ltrs camel bag that is filled with water every morning before we start riding and should we need more along the way especially on the extremely hot days, we are able to refill at petrol stations.
Most people will only share the good side of travel and always make it look like such an easy and only FUN affair. The truth is, travel is quite a lot of work and not always as fun as portrayed. Depending on your nature of travel and length, travel can leave you more strained and stressed both physically and mentally. Whether you are flying, taking a bus or using independent vehicle for travel, there is a lot of planning, logistics, packing, moving luggage, ensuring flights are not missed, accommodation is booked, your equipments, vehicles (for those using independent vehicles for travel – cars/motorbikes/cruise ship) are in good shape and all these can drain you off your energy.
How you spend your time, who you spend it with and what you do is also very important in ensuring you maintain a good mental health as you travel. For example not resting enough between long trips can contribute to mental stress. It is important to plan and provide time for resting, reading a book or watching a movie as well as a budget for things like a massage, whatever works best for you during your travel. Most people will miss this in planning and budgeting for their trips and eventually get back from a trip more tired and stressed than relaxed.
Our schedule, includes days for resting. On such days we do not ride and sometimes we have no other activities scheduled. There are days that we ride long distances for a couple of days consecutively and this can leave us in a burn out state. I like to write, edit a video, or do nothing at all while Dos loves to watch a movie. We also take time and do what we enjoy separately and makes for a really good “me time”. As a couple traveling together spending 24/7/365 time together, It really helps in how we relate and keeps our relationship healthy too.
The fact that travel does not pay in monetary value but instead can drain your bank account is another reason to watch what you do and how you spend your money as that can be another cause for stress.
Sleep is as important when you are traveling as it is when you are working. It is easy to sleep for adequate time when working but stay out all night long on days when traveling or vacationing. To maintain a healthy sleeping pattern while traveling, be flexible in your plan to be able to sleep early or longer if need be.
Arriving early at our next destination before dark helps us settle in our accommodation in good time, get a shower, find food and be able to get to bed early. On days we are not riding, we can stay up longer and sleep in the following morning. We use a combination of accommodation from camping, backpackers, Airbnb and motels. For a good sleep, a good bed, if camping, good camping gear and a comfortable place is important. Avoid areas that are noisy like near pubs or bus stop as this will interfere with sleep. When traveling it is important that your whole body is in good health.
A healthy lifestyle is not just about the body and brain getting the energy you need to think, being physically active, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight or lowering the risk of diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. It is a lifestyle that is necessary for your day to day life, travels and vacations too.
I hope this article helps you pick a healthy practice during your travels. As much as I am a biker, the article is for all travelers regardless of your mode of travel. If we want to travel more, we must take care of our health first.
As I conclude this article, I can’t help to think about mom’s and dads who travel with children as well. It is not easy vacationing with little ones. They are a bunch of energy, sometimes getting sick and injuries which can be quite tiring for the parents and making it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle or have fun during travel. To Moms and Dads, I hope this one helps you too.
For a woman who practices a healthy lifestyle, everyone in her household is likely to do the same too.