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Strategies I’m Using to Stay Fit While Traveling

Strategies I’m Using to Stay Fit While Traveling

I believe that we are meant to live physical lives, which is why I love training, weightlifting, and athletic competition. However, I also believe that we are meant to explore the world around us, which is why I love adventure, photography, and travel.

Balancing these two passions can be a struggle sometimes. Eating healthy and getting to the gym is easier when you’re at home, but harder on the road.

I’m still learning and experimenting with different ideas, but here are some strategies I’ve been using to stay fit while traveling. Plus, the new approach that I’m taking this year.

1. Do what you can, when you can.

I think the simplest approach is to fit training in whenever you can. When all else fails, you can always resort to this strategy.

Example 1: After 14 hours of flying and a 9-hour time change, I landed in Russia and made it to my hotel late at night. I was exhausted, but decided to do a 10-minute pushup workout before melting into the pillow. It wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing.

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Example 2: When I was on the road in the Midwest, I spent 20 minutes doing sprints in the parking lot of an apartment complex. (And a particularly interested inhabitant came out on his balcony and cheered me on.) Again, not much, but I think it was worth it.

You get the idea.

I think the most important part of this strategy is learning to not care what other people think about you. When travel restricts your options, sometimes you have to train in strange places. If you can learn to not care what you look like, then you can always find a way to do some push-ups in your hotel room, toss in a set of pull-ups on a nearby tree branch, or go for a short run in the parking lot.

2. Train with the locals.

It doesn’t always work, but if you have friends or friends-of-friends in the place you are visiting, then this can be a perfect solution. They can take you as a guest to their gym or you can meet up for a training session. As an added bonus, you get to hang out with a friend.

3. Make hard choices.

I spent a week exploring Italy (photos here) before heading to the fantastic St. Gallen Symposium in Switzerland. By the end of the week, I was itching for some exercise. However, I also needed to catch up on sleep since there was a speaker I wanted to hear leading a session at the symposium the next morning.

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Something had to give.

I decided to sleep, exercise in the morning, and go to the symposium an hour late. I missed a great speaker, but after the workout and some rest I was in better spirits for the rest of symposium. It was a hard choice, but I don’t regret it at all.

There are constraints and limitations that happen every day of our lives. They just seem to be especially apparent while traveling. Training on the road isn’t magically going to be easy. Your time and options are limited, so sometimes you have to make a hard choice and miss out on something else.

4. Schedule your travel during an “off week” for training.

This is my latest and greatest approach and I’ll be trying it out for the next 12 months. Essentially, I’m scheduling my travel to happen during a planned “off week” in my training. My thought is that if I travel for 6 weeks of the year, but train consistently for the other 46 weeks, then I’ll be able to have the best of both worlds.

Currently, I’m training on cycles that are approximately 8 to 10 weeks. After each cycle, I’m planning to take an off week from training that usually lasts 5 to 10 days. During this time, I give myself a free pass on lifting while I spend a few days diving into travel, adventure, and photography.

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I realize that many people don’t have this kind of flexibility with their travel plans. In fact, I didn’t have this much flexibility myself until very recently. Creating freedom in my life has been one of the main driving forces of my entrepreneurial career and now I’m fortunate enough to have it.

Here’s what this strategy looks like in practice:

My latest training cycle started after Thanksgiving of last year. I trained for nine weeks from the beginning of December through the end of January. I then spent my off week traveling through Morocco (photo essay coming soon!).

During this “off week” I did a lot of walking, hiking, and exploring around different cities to take photos. It was definitely a week of active rest. I didn’t touch any weights, do any push-ups, or run any sprints. I just walked, and ate, and took thousands of photos. It was a great creative break. I’m hoping that it will be a good physical break as well, setting me up for the next phase of training.

The only real answer is the one that works for you.

Obviously, these strategies aren’t the absolute answer. I’ve said many times before that I don’t have it all figured out. I’m just experimenting with ideas and seeing what works for me.

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As an entrepreneur, my schedule is more flexible than usual. As a photographer, my mission when I travel (to capture the essence of a place) is different from what many people have in mind when they travel. In other words, while these strategies work for me, they may not be a perfect fit for your lifestyle or your mission. That’s fine. Take the ideas that work and leave the rest.

No matter what you do, keep training and keep exploring.

James Clear writes at JamesClear.com, where he shares science-based ideas for living a better life and building habits that stick. To get strategies for boosting your mental and physical performance by 10x, join his free newsletter.

This article was originally published on JamesClear.com.

Featured photo credit: FUMIGRAPHIK-Photographist via flickr.com

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James Clear is the author of Atomic Habits. He shares self-improvement tips based on proven scientific research.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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