Your physical and mental health is one of the easiest things to neglect when working and regularly travelling. With a long list of continually varying priorities each day, looking after yourself can quickly the back of the queue. Constantly switching kitchens makes cooking healthy meals at home seem more effort than it’s worth. Exercise becomes a challenge as it becomes impossible to sign up to monthly gym memberships, run a familiar route or take your bike for a spin. Low energy levels impact your judgement and decision making. So the default state can quickly become to eat (garbage) out all the time and do very little exercise.
This is exactly what I let happen to me. The impact that frequent travel was having on my health wasn’t immediately apparent when I started out, as I was still in my twenties and was blessed with a forgiving body. Once I hit my thirties however; things rapidly declined. Before I realised it I’d grown to over 91 kg (200 lbs), my sleep quality was poor and I started getting back problems from my larger size and hunching in cafes all day.
April 2016. Around the largest I’ve been, and not in the happiest state.
Everything changed after a relationship breakup in late 2017 and realising that my health was only continuing to decline. It was apparent I was driving myself to some potentially very serious health problems later in life.
By February 2018 I’d made a total commitment to myself that I would turn my lifestyle around and reverse any damage I had done. Having made that commitment, despite 2018 being by far my busiest year in terms of both travel and work, moving through a large number of cities and rarely being anywhere for longer than a couple of weeks, I’ve lost 15 kg (33 lbs), 12% body fat, built strength & endurance and defined muscle along with numerous other health improvements.
Disclosure: I am by no means a fitness expert, I am not officially qualified in any form of fitness, health or exercise and my tips here are entirely anecdotal based on how I personally got myself from poor to good shape whilst travelling. Different people have different requirements and get different results. Consult your doctor or physician if you have any concerns.
So how did I do this? How did I achieve this whilst working long hours and travelling so much and what can be applied by other people to do the same? There are three main elements to a healthy lifestyle which are exercise, nutrition and mental health. The first point however spans all three of these.
1. Understand why you’re doing it
Like the decision to go remote and travel, remaining healthy is an ongoing lifestyle choice and not something you just try for a couple of weeks then stop. You’ll probably have good reason to yourself why you’re travelling, so if you know your reasons for committing to a healthy lifestyle they’ll take you through the harder times.
For me it was understanding that I was hitting an age where not looking after myself could end up having a serious impact on my quality of life later on, particularly as I was starting to see the tip of this iceberg with back problems manifesting. I’ve since been really enjoying regaining control of my own body, I have hugely increased general self-esteem as I’m looking better and feeling better and I feel much more confident involving myself in physical activities with other people.