How To Stay In Shape Living On The Road
Traveling and fitness often don't go hand in hand. When we backpacked together our first year of dating, we failed miserably at staying in shape. I gained nearly 20 lbs in 8 months from eating chips, drinking too many cocktails, and neglecting workouts. Jimmy lost muscle mass and dropped over 30 lbs. It was the skinniest he ever was (not in a good way). We were camera shy, hated wearing swimsuits, and felt uncomfortable in our own skin.
When we started living in our bus full time, August 2016, we promised not to make the same mistake. Together, we hold each other accountable and motivated to stay active. We invested in a gym pass and building our bodies became more of a challenge that inspired us instead of an obstacle holding us back. We began building the bodies of our dreams (still a work in progress).
#1 Get a gym pass
Probably the most obvious but it's important to have the right gym pass. Our first membership was for a gym that only has locations in big cities so we couldn't go a lot. After 3 months of living on the road we invested in a pass for Anytime Fitness. It's open 24 hours and has the most locations of any gym in the USA and Canada. THIS IS NOT AN ADVERTISEMENT. It changed our lives so we're sharing it with you. They have private bathrooms that make showering feel like home. Nothing beats the feeling after a long drive.
Traveling non stop, we find ourselves short on time or tired from adventuring all day. We can't commit to 2+ hour workouts everyday like we used to so we started doing shorter ones with higher intensity (HIIT). Studies show that 30 minute workouts are as effective if not more than 60 minute workouts. It's a lot easier to make time for a shorter workout. We try to go everyday especially since we shower there but sometimes we only make it 3-5 times a week. Being consistent and putting in effort pays off. It's better than doing long workouts, burning out, and not wanting to go back to the gym.
We tend to stick to weight training only unless we want to shed a few pounds. Adding 20-30 mins of HIIT cardio at the end of our workout is efficient at cutting fat fast.
2. buy healthy groceries + cook your own meals
When we're not indulging at delicious vegan restaurants, we maintain pretty healthy and balanced eating habits. We always make sure to have whole foods and snacks in our bus to resist buying treats from gas stations or fast foods while we drive. The billboards bombard us with temptation and the convenience is often difficult to pass but we remember what our goals are and try to keep cheat meals for special occasions.
My favorite way to set the day for healthy eating is to have a protein shake for breakfast. It boosts my metabolism and keeps me feeling full longer so I'm less likely to reach for an unhealthy snack when I'm hungry. We use soy or almond milk and add various fruits and veggies to keep it interesting. Some of our favorite things to add are strawberries, spinach, peaches, mangos, pineapples, and bananas. I also like to have a cup of unsweetened green tea when I'm trying to limit my intake. It's a great appetite suppressor.
It's not what you eat but how you eat it. Eat smaller portions often, like 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day with lots of protein and good carbs. It's okay to have a cheat meal. We clearly do it and it doesn't derail our fitness goals at all. I recommend having a small dessert everyday, around 200 calories. It actually helps your diet. If you're too strict, you might cave and eat a whole box of doughnuts instead of just one.
3. Maintain an Active Lifestyle
Living in a camper van, we often find ourselves in remote places where there's no gym. We find a way to stay active. Even if it's not an intense workout because we don't have somewhere to shower, we just try to keep our blood pumping. Our favorite way is to explore.
We love wandering around dispersed campsites or in cities. We go on long hikes or random trails. Sometimes it's fun to park on a turn out and walk into the woods. We at least manage to take the dogs for a walk everyday. When we let ourselves be lazy we end up with so much less motivation to go to the gym. It seems like a drag until we're there and remember how great it feels. Exercising boosts our energy. It's rewarding to notice our progress and inspires us to be resilient in other areas of our life.