As a digital nomad, traveling and staying fit doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, for me, fitness is a priority now. I have finally, in my 40s, figured out one of the things that makes me feel the best.
Being lean, fit, and strong.
Sound silly? Like, who doesn’t feel great when they’re fit?
It’s more than that for me thought.
I’ve had many periods in my life where I relaxed my exercise, and I cut loose with my food choices. In these times my body composition changed. I put on a few pounds. I had some softness around the midsection. No big deal, right?
In fact, that’s what I kept saying, “No big deal, I’m still in good shape.”
I see women of all shapes and think the ones with curves are very pretty and just as attractive as those without them. In those times I encourage myself that it’s ok I have gained a few pounds. It never gets higher than about five pounds anyway.
Then, I figured something out. I realized that I regularly go back and forth with the same five pounds. Get too relaxed with food and exercise, gain a few pounds, feel kind of “off” and not comfortable in my clothes (I’ve always disliked anything tight on my waist – even back in high school I always opted for a baggier waisted option, something that hung a bit more lose.)
Then, I’d lose the few pounds, which required exercise and good food, feel AWESOME.
Back and forth. Again and again.
After leaving to travel the world, my soft waist came back from lack of exercise and my eating changed to omnivore with mostly good choices, but not good enough to maintain my treasured leanness.
When I eat well AND EXERCISE… I feel EMPOWERED!
I feel STRONG!
To be clear, it’s not about being skinny for me. I don’t want to be skinny. It’s not a body image disorder, at least I don’t think so.
I’m into a strong and lean body for me. Tight.
It’s very much about how I feel physically inside my body and outside. I have this total bad-ass feeling when I’m in really good shape. I feel like I’m in control of my life. I don’t feel lazy. And, I think there’s something to that.
So, I finally said to my self, “SELF! I figured out something that positively benefits my life experience, and that is to be lean and strong.”
(Here’s a secret: when you exercise it’s easier to make better food choices cuz you think to yourself, “I’m not about to fuck up the work I just went through by eating shitty.”)
And, let’s not forget: There is a reason exercise combats depression. It makes you feeeeeeeeeel good!
This simple realization has changed my habits.
I KNOW that I feel my best and strongest (physically and mentally) when I’m in shape. Being lean and strong is the result of eating well and exercising. When I’m in this state, whatever you throw at me: work challenge, sick kiddo, or anything else, I am in a MUCH BETTER STATE OF MIND to tackle it. 💥
It boosts my confidence. 👊🏼
As a result, I have made a life change. I now know what I need to do, at a minimum, to feel really great (in addition to the obvious daily gratefulness and meditation).
I can’t be lazy or half-assed about these things. I need to do them regularly:
- Eat healthy, clean. This can be a struggle when trying to be frugal (animal foods are not cheap), but I’m figuring that out and finding ways to succeed (I’ll share that in another post). This doesn’t mean I obsess about food to an unhealthy degree. It means that about 80% of my choices are healthy (for me that’s as many animal products as possible and low carb) and a 20% allowance for things like bread, fruit, eating out, wine, etc. That is not an 80/20 rule to be followed every day. I find that the success comes from eating more strictly 5 to 6 days of the week (though enjoyable, who doesn’t love Greek yogurt, cheese, creamy coffee, etc?) and entertaining the 20% on one or two days a week. It also, importantly, means that I don’t overeat. (I’m still tweaking these things though.)
- Exercise. I no longer create this “to-do” in my life as an option. I don’t look at exercise negatively either. It’s not a 4-letter word. I don’t come up with excuses. Exercise is paramount to my feeling my most awesome self. And, you know what? Having come to this realization, this huge light bulb moment for me has given me all the motivation I need to do it every day. My brain 🧠 has been rewired to want to exercise.
For me, the feeling of health, vibrancy, confidence, strength, and energy will always trump the life of finding excuses and being too relaxed with food choices or deciding whether to exercise.
No. For me, if I want to feel my best, I require this!
It’s a priority. Eating well, exercising, and I should add meditation, but let’s stay focused on food and exercise right now, are the things I need to do. No questions asked.
When I’m at my best, I’m better for those around me. It’s like the airplane rule of putting on your own mask before helping others.
- Being lean (not skinny) and feeling my strongest and most vibrant makes me feel sexy. That’s good for my marriage.
- Being lean and feeling my strongest and most vibrant keeps me happy even when challenged with motherhood. 😳 With a happy confident mindset at the get-go, I can tackle or take on anything (or any attitude) my kid throws at me.
I’ll tell you how this all came about: I was having a rather “off” day and I felt frumpy and dumpy at the same time. Nothing huge was horrible, but there were lots of little things that I found sucky and worth complaining about.
So, I had a chat with my husband about what was going on inside my head, basically venting. He pointed out that I ALWAYS feel better when I’m lean/strong, which was ALWAYS the result of exercise and good eating. He made the excellent point that all of the other things I was bitching about wouldn’t seem so stressful if I addressed the basics of exercising and eating well. Getting back to that lean and strong baseline would boost my feel good hormones, give me energy, and confidence. 💃🏻
Love that guy.
During our discussion another thing dawned on me: Greg really wants me to learn to surf someday. 🏄
I had this “A-ha” light bulb 💡 moment and realized that there were many different times he brought this up. Some of the times I felt like, “YEAH I’ll try that. I’m strong and capable. It’s a total challenge cuz like sharks and all, but I can do this!” Other times, I had less interest, felt weak and unable to see myself taking on such a scary challenge.
Interestingly, those times of surfing excitement directly corresponded to the times I was lean, strong, eating healthy and working out. The times I felt weak and allowed fear to take front stage, I was heavier, more lax in my diet, and not strong from exercise.
Ok, so THAT brings me to the basis for this post. Exercise is a numero uno priority to for me. How do I do it while traveling?
4 Tips for Staying Fit While Traveling the World 🌍
We’re a digital nomad family. We’re traveling the world. We’re minimalist. We’re frugal.
THOSE 4 items I listed can make it more challenging to stay healthy with food choices and with exercise. Notice that I wrote the word “can.”
We’re moving around a lot. Some places we stay longer than others. What we don’t do is take classes (not frugal or not always available even if not frugal). We don’t visit a gym (not frugal or not always available even if not being frugal). We don’t carry weights or exercise bands or anything else for fitness (not minimalist for traveling).
So, now that I finally found the inspiration to stay fit and made it an absolute priority, how do I do it?
How do I exercise while traveling and staying frugal?
I could simply go running all the time and do lunges/pushups to stay in shape. The problem with that, for me, is that I don’t like the pounding that running does on my body. Sure, I like the feel of running for short 10 minutes at a time during a workout, but it’s not something I’ll do for extended periods of time. Plus, weather or location can be limiting factors.
Here’s what I do to easily stay fit while traveling!
1. SWORKIT app.
I am loving this. It’s an app where you follow the exercises easily on your phone or ipad. Very little space is needed. Any fitness level is welcomed. The best thing is you can start with only 5 minutes which is EXACTLY what I did to ease myself into it. I even started at beginner in spite of my exercise history. Doing this boosted my motivation and confidence. Over the coarse of the week I increased the level and time.
SWORKIT is free for a month and then I’ll have to pay monthly. It’s not as frugal as I want. It’s about $7 a month and I’d be happy if it were $4 or $5 a month. I know that’s only a few dollars different, but it adds up. Still, it’s way cheaper than classes or gym memberships and for me… it works! My favorite elements other than the ease with which it is to start is the diversity. You do an activity for 30 seconds and then it changes to another, giving you a few seconds to transition. It’s just brilliant.
2. Stairs and Chairs.
Anytime I’m in a home with stairs I take advantage. This is simple. I go up and down. REPEAT X 10 or more. I listen to podcasts while doing this and actually enjoy it. I like taking the stairs slowly and two at a time. I feel it working my legs and butt the most.
I also like doing dips to keep my triceps in shape. All I need is a chair, and, ideally place the chair near something (another chair, couch, etc) to raise my feet for a better dipping experience.
Once I’m settled in a new location, we scope the areas for safety and I take walks when I can. I’ll admit that I wish this happened a lot more often than it does. I find that the stairs and the SWORKIT are more effective in that I do them more. I think that actually leaving the house, though it always has amazing benefits of movement, getting outside, fresh air, etc, it can be a barrier for me when trying to walk daily. So, I use walking as exercise, but don’t require it daily. Instead my daily focus is SWORKIT and stairs when available.
4. Just getting up and moving.
I make it a point to get up hourly to walk around the house or just simply move a bit. This way I’m not always sitting. Pro-tip: drinking lots of water and coffee facilitates this. :)
5. Extra credit:
When going from my desk to the bathroom or kitchen I throw in some walking lunges or I jog (or skip) the few steps. Small, but adds up.
There you go. My favorite ways for getting fitness into my life while traveling the world.
By the way, I’m on Instagram now: global_kristen