Losing Weight After a Year of Travel

So we got a little fat.

It was bound to happen eventually, I suppose. Eating in restaurants every day, drinking more than we normally do and trying all sorts of foodie delights across four continents certainly doesn't help one's waistline. And who wants to miss out on any of this stuff when they're travelling.


One week into our 2011 travels in Auckland - we were pretty fit.

We actually did pretty well the first four months. New Zealand and Chile were places where we were hiking long distances at least once a week on average and staying pretty active the rest of the time. Then Argentina came along. Steak dinners, red wine, pizza, ham and cheese sandwiches and medialunas were the staple diet there. Bolivia was healthier and then we had a few bouts of food poisoning in Peru to get us back to normal. Colombia began the decline with its delicious food and craft beer. We were much less active in Europe with our long hikes becoming fewer and fewer. Then winter hit and it was all over, even in the Middle East where the food was sublime.

The places that really killed us: Argentina, Ireland, UK, Austria, Turkey, Germany and Jordan. Not that we're complaining too much. And may I add airports and flights? Lack of sleep and overeating in transit are incredibly damaging to one's figure.

So now we're finished with full-time travel and back to a slightly more normal routine, though sitting around looking for overseas work and not being able to exercise in the Australian heat isn't helping. But we do have a plan: Operation Rewind, where we will attempt to turn the clock back one year to our fitter selves.

Pigging out in Jordan eleven months later. Notice the same shirts but a much tighter fit.

How will we achieve this? Everyone knows crash diets don't work so we just have to take it slow and get it off the healthier way. We have a three step plan:

1. Eat healthy.

We're eliminating fattening foods from our diet and sticking to vegetables, fruit, lean meats and whole grains. We won't be eating processed foods, red meat, fried foods, fast food, snack foods and refined carbohydrates. In the past it has helped to have one "free day" to keep us from losing our minds (and we've found that we don't usually eat that much on the free day because we've been so good all week).

2. Curb alcohol.

We usually stick to beer and wine but even these drinks have around 200 calories per beverage, which adds up quickly when you're having one or two a day, three or four times a week. We'll be cutting out alcohol except for once a week when we have a social event. Life doesn't stop just because you're dieting.

3. Exercise.

We hate gyms so for us this means getting active outdoors. Unfortunately we're in very hot weather at the moment and our one hour racewalking at the beach three times a week has been difficult to keep up with. Sometimes it's still 32-34 degrees C at 7pm and that makes it hard to get a walk in before dark. We're going to have to start getting up early in the mornings to walk if the weather keeps it up.

Unfortunately this is not a post containing a magic formula to help others lose weight post-travel but I thought I'd share our battle with you. John's goal is to lose 15-20 kilograms and I need to lose around five to get back to our pre-travel weights. We'll keep you posted on the progress.

In the meantime, help us out: do you have any tips for losing weight, keeping it off or preventing travel weight gain in the first place? Do you tend to lose or gain weight when you travel?


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10 years ago

Goodluck!  I am a month and half into my RTW trip with my husband and we are currently in Argentina – This place is so deadly! I may be doing the same thing you two are doing when the trip is over with.  I am excited to see how it progresses for you!

Thanks, Meg! Haha – Argentina was a killer as I said – are you sick of steak, empanadas and ham and cheese sandwiches yet? So far we’re going ok – John lost 1.5 kgs over the last week. Much more to go though. At least the beer in Argentina is yummy (but that doesn’t help the waistline either). Try not to think about it too much and just enjoy =)

10 years ago

ugh. I’m struggling with this in a slightly different way. I used to play tennis almost every day and that was how I stayed fit. I also ran with my dog. Well, my dog has hip problems and can’t run anymore and you have to be a billionaire to play tennis regularly in Costa Rica, so I’m at a loss. I am 5 minutes away from joining a gym, but I hate gyms! They are so boring! I need mental stimulation!  I’ve played tennis in ~40 degree heat before and it’s doable if you drink a lot of water. Maybe… Read more »

That’s ashame – why is it so expensive to play tennis there? Lack of courts? Club fees?
I think I’d pass out if I did any exercise in 40 degree heat, haha…
I love tennis but haven’t played since I was little…
We’re going ok with our plan so far – John has lost 1.5 kgs in the first week so he’s excited.
Thanks for the tip though, Erin – I feel your pain on hating gyms!!

10 years ago

Costa Rica has almost-free courts provided by the government, but they are all cracked and you can only play for an hour at a time. You also have to sign up weeks in advance, so there is never a sunny afternoon where you can just decide to go play tennis. UNLESS you pay thousands a month to join a country club. Glad your plan is working 🙂

10 years ago

I can definitely relate. Our weight fluctuates a lot these days. We find that spending hours a day in front of the computer isn’t helping either. We’ve been on a lifestyle change ourselves and are trying to get ourselves back to our slim selves. Travel definitely takes it toll on the waistline. Good luck! Warm weather helps a lot. 

Reply to  Dave and Deb

Thanks, guys – we’re moving to Norway, haha, so I guess the warm weather will be over. I agree that the computer is a killer…

10 years ago

haha… entertaining post and sorry about the extra “fun”. I’ve actually had the fortune of losing weight w/ travel only cause I’m a vegetarian and can’t eat most foods, don’t like oily or creamy foods and walk to get around. I really make it a point to do more walking than riding, if I can. And then, if I have a single room, I sometimes do a Bollywood dance workout– shhhh! But now that I’m not backpacking, I’ve been gaining all my weight back, despite gym efforts. =(  Good luck!


A Bollywood dance workout!? Teach me!!! =)

10 years ago

I think cutting out alcohol is a great idea. I’ve been doing the same… well, mostly. I also make sure I do some form of exercise at least 6 days a week. I like to break it up and not do the same exercise every day. One or two days a week I’ll speed walk on the beach or jog, I’ll surf as many days as possible and the other days I’ll do yoga or pilates. Pilates is great for toning without getting bulky. I actually usually lose weight while traveling because we are constantly walking, surfing, or hiking. Then… Read more »

Wow – I think I need a trainer, haha! If I could get into a program like this I’d be in so much better shape but I’d need someone kicking my butt to do 6 days a week =)

Thank you for working with Straigh To The Point.
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