Health and Fitness Abroad

UPDATE!

Hello all! It has been so long since I have posted. It was an absolute blessing to serve all the kids at camp and meet a lot of amazing people. I am thankful that you were patient with me as there were no posts during that time. Good news is… I am back! I will be returning to a post every Friday, also I will be posting soon about my experiences at camp and I will be finishing up the Unbound Journal Series. Those posts might be published before Friday since I kept you all waiting so long, so stay tuned! Lastly, I have been thinking a lot about the direction and vision for this page and what I want it to be about. SO, I might be changing the direction and re-orientating my channel to serve a slightly different purpose. All of this is still in the works and in consideration. If you have any input as a reader (things you like about my page, things you want to see changed) then let me know. MUCH LOVE!!

Health and Fitness Abroad

Traveling is extremely fun, but often it can be a hassle for any gym goer or people trying to eat healthier. For me personally, I usually follow a pretty specific workout plan and have intentionality with what I am eating to achieve a certain goal. I like my routine and traveling for any period of time means welcoming in a new routine. If you are like me and are someone who wants to still workout and eat a certain way, then you have come to the right place. In this post I want to share with you how I have been managing my health and fitness abroad, and tips and tricks you can use to keep yourself happy and active while traveling.

Before we get into the heart of this post, I want to first give two pieces of advice right off the bat. The first being, embrace the change. Understand and accept that you are more than likely going to have to change a good portion of how you approached health and fitness back home, and that’s OKAY. This is a good chance to experience new things and get outside of your normal routines. Take this as a time to get to know yourself and your body better, and whatever you do, do not let these things stop you from enjoying your time away. This is my second point: Don’t stress! I want you to be healthy and active, but I also want you to live your life and enjoy all the amazing experiences of traveling. Odds are you won’t be gone long enough to mess up all the hard work you have accomplished and whatever you do lose… or gain… can be amended in half that time once you get back. Also, if you follow my advice and put in a little effort while away you can maintain your current physique, or even improve upon it because you are giving your body a break while exposing it to new things.

Exercise 

If you don’t mind the cost, then the simplest and best solution to working out is going to be finding a gym near you and continuing on with your normal workouts. With this option, you very well could keep your workout routine unchanged. However, I would advise against this approach because odds are you are going to be busy, well, ENJOYING WHERE YOU ARE! You’re not going to want to, or may not even have the time, to go frequently enough to get your gains for you bucks and you should be trying to find every way possible to maximize your time doing fun things and soaking in your travels.

The best thing I would recommend doing is aiming for twice a week, at home body weight work outs. You don’t need any equipment, it doesn’t take very long, and you can do it anytime where you are staying for free. Believe it or not, you can train pretty much every muscle without any equipment! If you want to see specific exercises, then check out the video I linked at the end of this post to my YouTube channel which shows you an example of exercises to train muscles that are more difficult to train with just body weight. In that video I show you how to train everything besides legs and abs using only body weight. I left those two out because I feel that training them without weight is a little more obvious (ya know, lunges and crunches and such), and already touched on by a lot of people than those other muscles.

Now, I said the best thing to do would be to do body weight work outs twice a week, but I don’t even follow that advice even though I wholeheartedly believe that it’s effective and sufficient. The reason why is that I have access to a playground, and I have found creative ways to get some weight into my hands. For example, I have been loading up my backpack with things and then doing some of my exercises with that. There are plenty of things you can find to use as weights. Not everyone will have access to these things, but you can definitely find things to challenge yourself a little more than just body weight, and if not, body weight will do just fine. Prioritize the big muscles! I still aim for two workouts a week and on each one my goal is to workout the big primary movers with compound lifts (legs, chest and back). Working these in this manner is going to also hit the secondary movers (shoulders, biceps, triceps, calves). So, try and do those first and if you have time and energy do some isolation exercises. Just to clarify for anyone who may not know compound movements are going to involve multiple muscles working, think bench press, deadlifts, squats while isolation movements are going to work mostly a single muscle, think bicep curls, calve raises, and shoulder raises. Here are some of the things I have been doing.

  • Pull up variations (at the playground)
  • Push up variations (at the playground or at home)
  • Lunge/Squat variations (at the playground or at home)
  • Calve Raises (at the playground)
  • Hand stand press (at the playground or at home)
  • Bicep Curls (with backpack at home)
  • Tricep dips (with backpack at home)
  • Shoulder raises (with backpack at home)
  • Abs (at home)

That is it. These are the exercises I have been doing. Your goal for these should be to try and improve your repetitions or work your way up to a harder variation of a lift. For me, a workout has never taken more than an hour to do, unless I mess around.

Food

Managing what you eat while abroad can sound like a very daunting task. I try my best to not use the terms “eating healthy” or “dieting” because I think that they suggest not getting to enjoy yourself or eating in a way that is unsustainable which are both not how a relationship with food should be. So if I use those terms just know that when I refer to a “healthy” way of eating I’m referring to foods that nourish your body, AND includes things that you enjoy because doing that will lead to sustainability in the way you eat and long lasting health. I think that remembering to enjoy yourself applies more to food than to working out while traveling. Please, do not let food stress you out while you are away. If you are bulking up then food shouldn’t be to much of an issue, and if you are trying to eat to lose weight you have options.

Whether you are bulking up or leaning down you most likely will need to get some groceries. When shopping for food I would say prioritize getting protein. Carbs and fats will come easily in most dishes around the world but getting adequate protein to maintain your muscle will be more of a challenge. So, look for protein dense food items while shopping. If you have access to a place to cook then go for lean protein options such as seafood, chicken, and other lean meats. On the other hand, if you don’t have access to an area to prepare foods look for things like protein bars, beef jerky, or any sort of already cooked meat. What’s nice about protein bars/powders and jerky is that you don’t even have to worry about keeping them in a fridge. The only other thing I would say to get at grocery stores is some fruits and veggies to make sure you get all your micronutrients as well.

Bulking up, or eating in a caloric surplus, will be easy to do because wherever you are you are going to want to indulge in the culture and experience new dishes and I highly recommend you do! Eat some of your protein and fruits/veggies each day and the remainder of your macro and micro nutrients will easily be filled while eating out. Your goal should be to save the good stuff, carbs and fat, for eating out.

Now, if you are trying to lean down (eat in a caloric deficit) while traveling you may be concerned that you won’t be able to enjoy those good foreign and genuine dishes without sacrificing your goals. Not true! My first recommendation would be to really think about how long you have been trying to lose weight and consider giving yourself a break from the strains of being in a caloric deficit and eat at maintenance at least. You would be surprised how the body responds to moving back into maintenance for a period. You may even lose weight while eating more. If you have been trying to lean down for a good period of time then this will be a very refreshing recharge for your body, especially your metabolism. However, if you are set on still getting leaner then I would say that intermittent fasting is going to be your best friend. With this tactic you will be able to enjoy big meals and stay in a deficit without too much of a hassle. To do this, you fast from when you wake up into later in the day and you save yourself for eating out or a big meal. Coffee is a great option to help you fast from calories and if you bring some of the groceries you got (fruits, veggies, and protein) to eat later in the day it is not to unreasonable to make it to the end of the day for a nice and filling meal. Lastly, you could incorporate both ideas into one, taking some days to eat at maintenance and fasting on others. This is what I have been doing and it has made enjoying foods and staying leaner so easy and enjoyable.

I want to conclude with reminding you that above all you should enjoy your time away and not let eating and exercise hinder you from an amazing trip. Furthermore, I want to remind you that there are very applicable ways to not completely ditch health and fitness while abroad. If you have any questions about anything at all, want further examples or more details, or want to see more health and fitness related content on this blog let me know. Also, go check out the video I made, linked below. It goes very much hand in hand with this post and may answer some of the questions you have. As always, thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope it helps you with your fitness journey while away from home. Stay healthy and stay happy!

YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jinThDzlXD8

One of My Biggest Struggles

There is something that I struggle with that has impacted my life in lots of terrible ways and is something that I feel a lot of people deal with to some degree. I want to share with you my experience with trying to respect my body. Body image issues can be extremely devastating and have so many grueling impacts on life. In writing this, I want to be open and real with you about how it’s affected my life, and the ways I have dealt with it.

Appreciating my body was hard. Everyone can always look at themselves and see something that is “wrong” or “ugly”. I used to look at myself in the mirror in the mornings and my eyes were drawn to all the imperfections of my body. I focused on the negative things and this influenced the way I thought about my body for the rest of the day. Over time this led to so much insecurity. Constantly worrying that one day others might look at me and see what I saw in the mirror. Stress would fill me when I thought about having to take my shirt off or change in front of others. Body image issues led to comparing myself to everyone, and when I would do this, I would find everything I didn’t have in other people; The way their clothes fit them, their height, their slenderness, always ignoring any of their imperfections. This drained me of any confidence. I became timid because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. Participating in things was a real challenge. I couldn’t live my life comfortably. The biggest thing I felt, and the most devastating affect of negative body image, is shame. Part of the definition of shame is “a painful feeling of humiliation”. At one point I believed that the way I felt about myself was no longer just my own opinion, but a confirmed understanding of everyone; a fact. So that’s how I lived for a while. Going through school shy and scared. I lacked confidence and like the definition says, it was painful. I was on the outside of life looking in at others enjoying it. Something inside me knew this wasn’t how it was supposed to be, that I shouldn’t feel like such an outcast. To be honest, I wasn’t at my worst when I was at school or outside the house. Things were the worst when I was home by myself, just me and the mirror. All those negative feelings escalated to new degrees and I started eating a lot. I guess at the time I didn’t realize why I was eating, or maybe I did, and I just didn’t care. I can’t remember. But I do know that it made me feel better and my mindset was that if they see me as this nasty, imperfect blob already, then why not eat and enjoy. I found sanction in food, in books and video games, and in solitude where I could escape and didn’t feel judged. It was around the end of middle school and beginning of high school that I started making more of an effort to make a change. I’m not sure what inspired me to start working out, but that’s where I started. I had one dumbbell at home, and I would use that to do mostly curls. Along with those were the occasional sit ups. I had some friends that I felt comfortable enough with and we would play outside a lot as well. I was active and working out, but my diet stayed the same, and I remember feeling discouraged because I wasn’t changing. Some of my friends and those around me never really worked out and here I was feeling like I was busting my ass and really trying to get into better shape but results just weren’t showing. So I decided that I just wasn’t trying hard enough. My workouts got a little more advanced, I ran more, but still the consistency and proportion of my diet was ridiculous, and I still wasn’t seeing a difference. I remember one time running on the tread mill for what felt like forever, and then getting Taco Bell on the way home. I was stuck in a torturous cycle. Nonetheless, it was right around the middle of high school where I really felt like I started seeing some differences. I had gained some muscle and got a little taller. I was still working out 6 times a week, which is exhausting and no way to live your life, and didn’t really have a clue about nutrition, but things were starting to look up.

From then until now (my sophomore year of college) I can assuredly say that the three biggest things that helped me to get control of my body image problems are; my strong support group of family and friends, fitness, and my faith.  Everyone around me gave me kind words and loved me for me, no matter what! My mom was always willing to get me good foods and paid for a gym membership and workout equipment. I learned so much more about working out in a healthy way and how to eat in a way that is enjoyable and nutritious. I learned how to give my body rest. And my faith, man my faith taught me that no matter what I am loved by the God of the universe. He sees me as perfect, complete, and lacking nothing. I have stopped searching so hard for other’s opinions of me, stopped listening so much to my own opinions of myself, and have been constantly reminding myself of the opinion of the only one who matters. My faith has led me to become surround by so many people who love and support me. These things have helped me to feel happy in my own skin… for the most part. Honestly, I still struggle at times. When I look in the mirror, I still sometimes see things that need improvement, but I also understand who I am in the eyes of friends, family and God.

I believe that social media, film, and advertising are just a few of the things that set the standards for what is considered “beautiful”. Unrealistic expectations are constantly being portrayed in multiple ways and platforms which are accessible to everyone, including children, so that from a young age it is very easy to get the wrong mindset on your body. The truth is, there is no mold that can contain you, no model that could mimic you, and that is something that you should cherish. Your body is perfect in its imperfectness. You should be proud and respect that your body is yours, and yours alone. One thing I have learned is that part of dealing with something like body image, is enjoying the journey and understanding and accepting the ups and downs. Some things aren’t in your control when it comes to your body. Life happens and if you focus on the things out of your hands it will drive you crazy. Also, working out can be tricky if you struggle with your image. It can easily turn into an obsession and quickly become unhealthy. As long as you don’t let it get to that point and don’t let it control your life, then I think that exercising is one of the best things you can do. Not only are you working on your body, but you are helping yourself to become healthier and it is a great way to relieve stress.

Not everyone has access to friends or even family that are there for them. You may not have that support group that encourages you and reminds you that you are loved despite your body. You may not have the ability or resources to pursue fitness. It may just not be realistic for you to find time and finances to eat a certain way or work out. Maybe you’re even dealing with a hindrance in some way that limits your body in physical ways, or mental issues that leave you too fatigued to exercise. But everyone, everyone, has access to a God that loves them just the way they are. I really hope that you don’t live in shame and insecurity, battling this on your own. Don’t give up on yourself. The fight against body image negativity is one that may never end, but you don’t have to do it alone. I am more than willing to be someone that you can talk to. It can get easier, and it will. It is a journey and it’s super important that you realize that because if you keep trying to reach some end point of perfection you are going to be constantly disappointed. I really encourage you to reach out to me if you need, and if you are at the end of your ropes, I can’t give you any better advice than to try reaching out to God, the one who made you out of love and sees you as beautiful.

My YouTube Channels!

 

I have been working on different ways to express my ideas and share them with others. That is partially why I started this blog. I have also made my own YouTube Channels to satisfy my creative hunger. Video editing has always intrigued me and I have made fun little videos on my various phones and ipods growing up. But at the start of this summer I decided to dive deeper into learning how to make quality videos. I started working with editing software, using a nicer camera, and taking more time to think about the content I was producing. I am super happy and love making videos as a hobby! It would mean a lot to me if you checked them out!

My first channel is my personal channel where I post music covers, trips, vlogs, etc.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl5vIr8TkDUszx6PG3HB5Mg?view_as=subscriber

My second channel is for funny videos and videos I make with my friends.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQH-pIgwJjT_BKIszi6AX7Q?view_as=subscriber

My third channel is my fitness channel where I give advice, tips and tricks, and share my somewhat different approach to health and fitness. Also, I post about my personal journey with working out.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuJxTHWW6yYM0EFtcWZlAEA?view_as=subscriber

If any of those sound interesting to you please check them out! Subscribe to them if you want to see more and make sure to like the videos you find interesting so I know what you want to see more of!

Thank you so much for your time! I hope you have an amazing rest of your day! 🙂