How I Don’t Stay in Shape While Traveling the World

One of the most common questions I get as a food and travel blogger: “How do you eat your way around the world and stay in shape?”

The short answer is: I don’t!

Since I have started this blog a little over a year ago I gained 8 pounds. As you can see there’s no magic when it comes to losing weight. You eat fatty brisket, pecan pies and ice cream, you can see the consequences of your choices very quickly.

The reason this is all the more frustrating is that before starting the blog I worked very hard for a year to lose 18 pounds.  Now it feels that all the hard work is wasted and those sneaky pounds slowly find their way back.

Here’s what happened

how to stay in shape when you travel
Hiking Jay Peak in Vermont

Stage one. Fitness Freak

I once spent 3 months in USA at the age of 19 selling ice cream and eating it too. When I came back to Russia carrying extra weight in my luggage and on my bum, my parents could barely recognize me. To be fair, it happens to all exchange students who travel to USA. Insane amount of choices, large portions, exposure to many fast food restaurants do their job.

Long story short, when I moved to USA in the end of 2014 I was so scared to put on weight again I made a conscious decision to watch what I eat. I had almost paralyzing fear of eating anything American-made, even cucumbers. I switched to healthy foods first, then I added working out to my schedule.

The year of 2015 was a year of fitness in my life. I worked out 5-6 times per week, even when I was tired and unmotivated, even when I was traveling, even if the only time I could do it was midnight. I didn’t try to squeeze gym into my schedule. I built my schedule around gym. I cooked 3 times per day. I had a cheat meal once per week. I did it all for one whole year, and I lost 18 pounds.

Looking back I can’t believe my own will power. I would go out with my friends and watch them eat ice cream in front of me. I would cook fried chicken for my husband, a veggie salad for myself. I hit the gym 6 times per week and missed a maximum of 5 work outs in that year. I can be very meticulous when I set my mind on something.

Trying a 3 pound cinnamon roll in San Antonio! I didn’t eat it all by myself, I swear!

Stage Two. The Foodie Arises

And then I launched a food and travel blog. 2016 was the year of indulgences. I watched how true Italian pizza is made by a Neapolitan pizzaiolo, I followed the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain in Quebec, I ate my way through Texas rodeo. Not only I tried a lot of delicious foods, I learned a lot about people who make it, their cultures and traditions.

Not surprisingly, it came at a cost. Although I kept working out 3-4 times a week and eating healthy at home, I put on 8 pounds in the last year. And it bothers me. A lot. I don’t regret a single croissant or a single taco I ate last year, but I do wish my waist line didn’t suffer that much from my food obsession.

How to stay fit when traveling

Stage 3. Finding Balance

As much as I enjoyed my healthy lifestyle in 2015, food is too big a part of my life to limit it to fat free yogurts, steamed cauliflower and baked salmon. For me, food is not only a way to indulge myself, it’s the most sincere way I know of exploring the world. I refuse to travel to Louisiana and look for a restaurant serving grilled vegetables. I will not fly all the way to Italy only to eat a salad for dinner. And I will not live in Austin, Texas, and order chicken in BBQ restaurants!

I love food too much. But I also love myself in a figure-hugging dress. Is that bad? Am I contradicting myself? Can a person who loves food be picky and say “no” to deep fried chicken now and then? Or is it against the rules and I am not worthy to be called a food lover anymore?

I don’t know about you, but to me this whole situation reminds “Eat. Pray. Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Italy for her was all about earthly pleasures, India was about spiritual growth, finally, Bali was about finding balance between the two.

In a more prosaic way my journey is similar: the first year in USA was about health and fitness, my second year was about enjoying food. This year should be about finding balance before I throw a tantrum next time I can’t fit into my dress.

What I am going to do

The truth is I have no idea what I am going to do at the moment. I know how to lose weight when you don’t have a food blog (and I can share with you if you like). I don’t know where to start when you have one.

My goal is to lose the 8 pounds I’ve gained and 5 more on top of that by the end of 2017. 13 pounds in one year makes only about a pound per month which sounds reasonable. I decided why not write a post about it, share that scary ugly number on the scale that any self-respecting woman is supposed to hide, with several thousand people in order to feel the pressure and go through with my plan? So here you go!

My weight now is 157.6 lb

My goal weight is 145 lb

I am going to write a monthly post about my achievements and failures on the way to stay in shape while exploring the world through food. If that’s even possible. It has to be possible, otherwise, what is this life? 

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how to stay in shape traveling the world


Yulia is a Russian food and travel blogger who found home first in Sri Lanka for 3 years, then in Brazil for a year and is currently based in Austin, Texas. She is the kind of person who starts a research of the new country by googling “what to eat in…” instead of “what to visit in…” Yulia is a self-proclaimed “food nerd” who will spend hours reading on the origins of pecan pie before trying it and who doesn’t consider waiting in line of 50 people to get a cronut a waste of time. She finds it hard to keep her delicious findings to herself and that is the reason why this blog exists.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Anita says:

    Kudos for recognizing what you need and making steps to change! I think it’s about consistency. Plan workouts every week and stick with it. (Because we know there will always be good food!) Try more high-intensity, cardio workouts like running or spin class to do more in less time. I’m happy to be a workout buddy if you need one! 🙂

    1. Thank you for support, Anita! I agree about consistency. I’ve always said: it’s not about motivation, it’s about making working out a habit. Sticking to plan always gives better results than spontaneously doing something whenever you feel like it. Where do you go to gym?

  2. Jayne says:

    I love your honesty in this post and your commitment to change. I too have piled on the pounds as I often explore new destinations through my stomach! I’ve lost weight in the past by being 100% committed (strict) but it all goes out the window when I leave the country. I look forward to reading your posts on how you found the balance to sustain a healthy lifestyle while travelling the world.

    1. Oh Jayne! I am writing my February round up and it does not look good! I am far away from finding balance, but I am committed and determined. The thought that this is only the beginning gives me hope and support of great bloggers like you too 🙂

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