I was recently at a family wedding listening to my cousin’s wife expressing how she wanted to travel now because she didn’t think her out-of-shape husband’s health would allow him to travel later. As I took it all in, I realized, “wow that is me!” My husband is very fit, and I didn’t want to be the one holding him back. Am I going to be fit enough to travel and do the things I want to do on trips?
For me, the weight gradually added on over the years, and combined with a couple of health issues, I was just a hot mess. So, at the beginning of 2021, I began my journey of regaining my health and improving my fitness levels. It wasn’t always that way. I served 12 years in the Army where I was extremely fit and won many fitness awards. When my children were toddlers, my sister talked me into doing a few triathlons, so I knew I had it in me.
1. Setting Realistic Goals
My goals this time were not about losing weight and dieting as that was just doomed to failure for me. Because going on a diet meant I was going to go off it. Instead, my goals were to regain my mobility. To accomplish this, I would need to find a healthy way of eating and exercise I enjoyed. This would become my new way of life. I knew it would be tough, but health was a much bigger motivator for me than weight loss. I began to set little goals, like today, I will just move more.
2. Upping My Food Game
Instead of thinking about what I couldn’t eat, I started focusing on what I should eat. I am allowed to eat whatever I want I just don’t keep any of my trigger foods in the house. It is amazing what giving yourself permission to eat does for you. Knowing I can’t eat whatever I want has kept me from obsessing about forbidden foods. When I go out for dinner, I have dessert but now I don’t have it after every meal. Surprisingly, multiple studies have shown wine can have a weight loss effect and can help lower blood sugar in diabetics. Now that is a diet food I can get behind. I also rate whether a food is worthy of going into my mouth. A slice of white bread is a no, but a crispy warm croissant is such a yes.
I love to cook, and I have discovered farm-to-table. Living in the Pacific Northwest I am surrounded by farmers, makers, and creators of some incredible food products. I now incorporate good quality ingredients into everything I make. Farm fresh vegetables are so good it doesn’t feel like a punishment anymore. When I eat good clean food I have more energy, sleep better, and frankly just feel better.
3. Using A Fitness Tracker
Track your steps. I was shocked to find out how much more I was sitting during the pandemic, especially as I was writing more. I now make an effort to get up and move every 30 minutes with a goal of a set number of steps. It has dramatically improved my circulation as well as my energy level. Most importantly it keeps me accountable.
4. The Peloton And Walking
Exercise is a key part of my future in travel. My goals are functional fitness and to be able to do every activity I want to when traveling. What a game changer this bike has been for me! In 2020, I was back on my fitness game working out, then COVID-19 hit. Gyms were closed and like many of us, I packed on the pounds while quarantining. I decided to order a Peloton like just about everyone else in the United States and ended up having to wait for 3 months for it to be delivered. It is a no-excuses piece of equipment with classes as short as five minutes. Anyone can do five minutes of exercise. The classes are fun and energetic, and I really feel like I am working out in a fitness studio. In addition to cycling, there are tons of other classes including strength, yoga, stretching, etc. There are also some great Facebook groups for Peloton that have really motivated me.
Because I want to do more hiking, I started walking in my neighborhood. My town has plenty of hills as well as a wildlife area which are perfect for improving my hiking fitness. The key to walking is to have a buddy. I walk with my friend who is about the same fitness level and we both look forward to our morning walks. My walking buddy saw her mom end up in a wheelchair because she just stopped moving and was sitting too much. That resonated with both of us and motivated us to keep walking so we don’t face the same fate.
Is It Working?
Well, I am down about 20 pounds since January and I have been able to challenge myself on the road again as travel has begun to open up again. My recent trip to Anchorage, Alaska, provided me with a very challenging activity — a glacier walk. The glacier portion of the tour was two hours long with more than 3 miles of walking. The portions on the glacier involved walking on ice, jumping across crevasses, and making our way up and down as we explored the glacier. It was so incredibly beautiful and an experience I will remember for the rest of my life. It was physically challenging for me and something I probably would not have been able to do a year ago.
I still have a long way to go on my journey, but I am okay with that. Just the weight I have lost so far has made a huge difference in the way I feel, and my energy level is through the roof. I can be more active on my travels and not be the one holding everyone back. That is a win in my book.
Traveling requires a certain level of fitness in order to enjoy all that vacations have to offer: