In case it wasn’t clear when I mentioned that I travel with high heels, lip gloss and a straightening iron, I like to look pretty. And while some people can be overweight and pretty, I’m not one of them. For me to feel good about how I look I need to be in decent shape and relatively well-nourished, and it can be hard to maintain a health and fitness regime when you’re on the road. So how can you keep the body you want while you’re on the road? For me, it comes down to The Rule of Four.
Each day I allow myself four “points”. One point for pizza (because in many places it’s one of the few hot vegetarian foods available), one point for ice cream, one point for coffee, one point for alcohol. The points are interchangeable: if I have four cocktails then I don’t have coffee, pizza or ice cream that day. If I have pizza and wine for lunch and again for dinner, then I don’t have ice cream for dessert. You know yourself and your eating preferences- maybe you never have pizza but you’re a sucker for street meat (gyros, tacos, etc.), or maybe you don’t drink alcohol but you love fast food milkshakes. I’ve found that for me, four “bad” foods (or drinks) a day is the tolerable limit that allows me to feel like I’m indulging while still being able to fit into my pants.
As for exercise, with all my eyeshadow and nail polish there isn’t much room in my backpack for a sports bra. I like to work out hard before I go, so that I feel strong enough to sling around a fifty-pound backpack and small enough to confidently walk along the beach (just look at the photo above, taken in January in West Bay on Roatan, Honduras), but when I’m traveling I don’t do “exercise”, instead just preferring to stay active by getting in lots of walking (in anatomically-correct flip-flops), taking the stairs and looking for opportunities to go swimming and cycling. I’ve noticed I tend to fall into a fitness slump when I get home, partly due to exhaustion and partly due to feeling sad about having to wait for my next big trip. When I feel too lazy to work out upon my return I remind myself that yes, exercise boosts those feel-good hormone levels, then I hop on a treadmill or hiking trail with my headphones blasting foreign pop music from countries I visited on trips of yore.