6 sleeps to go! Are you looking forward to watching the sun set over a new horizon?? I know I am. However, this holiday I have a mission. I want to learn how to stay fit on a road trip. No more coming home with ‘holiday belly'! I hope these tips help you if that's your goal too!
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Why stay fit on a road trip?
One of the things I learnt during our first year of motorhome life was that road trips make me fat. Actually, that's not really fair or true. All the rubbish I eat whilst I'm sitting in the motorhome staring out at the beautiful scenery makes me fat!
When we first bought a van, I had this vision of suddenly becoming a 20-year-old blonde yogi (god knows why- I'd HATE to be 20 again!) I thought I'd do yoga on the beach every morning, after completing a 457-mile run, of course. All before my breakfast of one muesli flake and a carrot stick. And I'd be serenely happy all the time (possibly to cover up the fact that I was ravenously hungry…?!) And of course I would swan around in a bikini 7 sizes smaller than I wear now. Because that's what van girls do, right??
Unfortunately, it turns out if you're not a naturally thin, healthy eating, yoga-doing person in real life, you're unlikely to change that by living or holidaying in a motorhome. Actually, it's kinda worse- because being in the van feels like a holiday- and so you act (and eat!) accordingly. Even if that holiday lasts 6 weeks!!
I enjoy exercise but, honestly, I'm naturally lazy and can quite happily postpone anything which involves me wearing lycra. This is even easier to do in the motorhome- which is bad, as it's the first place I should be making more effort. We sit all day with very little movement and we eat not very healthily. It's a perfect storm all combining to ensure your jeans won't do up in a week!
So this time, I'm looking for some ways to combat it. Some work better for me than others, some make me feel utterly stupid and some work just fine… if I can be bothered!
Because unfortunately, that is the crux of the matter- you have to make yourself and it's SOOOO much easier to just say “later” or “tomorrow”. Nothing I or anyone else says can make you do it- but I hope some of these ideas inspire you to move a little more and stay fitter on your road trip! I'm hoping they inspire me too….!!
Ways to stay fit on a Road Trip
This is the obvious choice- easy to do, doesn't require much kit and can be done pretty much anywhere. I've just completed the ‘couch to 5k' running app (it was free when I bought it- I think it's £2.99 now) which encourages you to run 3/4 times a week and the distances get progressively longer until you can run for 30 minutes. If you think you will NEVER be able to run for that long, that's how I felt a few weeks ago- I could barely manage 2 minutes without dying! But I can run much further now. I may not be quick, but it's great exercise- even with my poorly knee! I'm hoping to continue the running when we travel… although I'm a little worried about the mountains!!
One of the best things about motorhoming is being able to get to some amazing places which many visitors can't get to easily. Often these places make great locations to hike. Norway is FULL of places like this- I bet you can find some mountains/ big hills/ forests to hike through too. Just be sure to obey the local laws. For example, in France, not all land is free to roam and most is privately owned. Trespassing can have severe penalties! Keep an eye out for signs and move on if you're not sure.
Easy if you happen to find a campsite with a pool or camp near a lake or the coast. Swimming is one of my favourite ways to wake up in the morning. We're hoping to do some swimming in Norway- although I'm expecting it to be VERY cold! TOP TIP FOR THE MEN- if you go to a swimming pool in Europe, expect to have to wear speedos. Board shorts or longer swimming trunks are generally not allowed.
Surfing/ Windsurfing/ Kitesurfing…
Many, many vanlifers travel with a surfboard or similar. Most of them stay for long periods near the coast and wake up every morning to catch some waves (look at me with my ultra-cool surfer girl lingo!) It looks idyllic, except for one teeny tiny problem- I am a HORRIBLE surfer. Like, really bad. I desperately want to be cool and good at it… but I've tried 3 times now and I'm just rubbish. Having said that, I'm planning to go again next year. Who knows- it may be my time to shine!! I'd also love to try out windsurfing and kitesurfing… but I fear I may die.
I have JUST taken this up- and it's brilliant. So much easier than surfing (even though I still fall in a lot!) but it's also really good exercise if you do it right. We've just bought a paddleboard to take to Norway with us and we're hoping to be able to use it a lot on the Fjords. I want to look just like this picture…..
HIIT- perfect way to stay fit on a road trip
I love HIIT. HIIT is magical. HIIT is 20 minutes a day of sheer misery, followed by the ability to eat cake/ croissants/ pain chocolat without feeling even slightly guilty. (I know, I know- some ‘experts' in the field might disagree with me- but what's the point of all this exercise if you can't eat yummy things…??!) If you have never heard of HIIT, it stands for High Intensity Interval Training and basically means you work really really hard for 30-40 seconds, then have a rest for 20 seconds. Repeat this 20 times (ideally with different exercises) and you're done! Think of things like push-ups, burpees, sit ups, squats etc.
The problem with HIIT is that I feel like an absolute IDIOT when I do it in public. Seriously, I've tried doing it on campsites or whilst wild camping, but I just feel stupid and a little embarrassed. Sometimes I push through, and other times I allow myself to be overwhelmed by what I imagine other people to be thinking as they peer out of their windows, and I slink back inside our van. It's a learning curve.
I recently bought a couple of sheets which can hang from our awning. I hope this might give us a little privacy and allow me to work up a sweat without the fear of judgement. NOTE- nobody has ever, EVER said anything. It's entirely an issue in my head. Grrr. I have tried to do the exercises inside the motorhome, which is fine when I'm the only one there (although I do wonder what the neighbours must be thinking as the van is rocking all over the place!) but it doesn't work well when the family are inside too.
If you'd like to start with HIIT, look up Joe Wicks HIIT on YouTube. There are LOADS of free videos on there which you can follow. There are also loads of other people doing very similar things if you find Mr Wicks a bit annoying (it happens!) It's seriously a great workout- maybe if more of us did it on campsites we wouldn't fee so silly!!
The Burpee Challenge! A terrifying yet utterly satisfying way to exercise while travelling
Talking of HIIT, this is a challenge set by a friend of mine, Dave at Roc Doc Dave UK. He and his wife Lynne holiday in a campervan with their boys and they set a challenge to do 100 burpees a day whilst travelling! His videos on Instagram and Facebook are often hilarious, but you find yourself wanting to complete the challenge with him- it's very motivational.
Yoga- great for staying supple on a road trip
See- my inner van girl gets a chance yet! Yoga (or pilates!) is great for keeping you supple- especially if you've been driving for a while. Even 15-20 minutes can get the body much more balanced. If you have NO IDEA what you are doing, I highly recommend Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube. I really enjoy watching her videos- she makes you feel like you might just be able to do these crazy poses and she's very good at giving beginner options.
I am not a ‘meditator'. I get bored. But I love to sit quietly somewhere new and just absorb the location, especially if it's in the mountains. I call this meditation. Anywhere that you can take a few minutes, step away from the phone and just ‘be' is good for the body and soul. Take some deep breaths and try to quieten the busy mind. It's one of my favourite things I've discovered through travelling, and the more I practice it, the better and easier it gets.
So that's it… that doesn't sound too hard…. right?? I'm sure we can all squeeze at least one of those into our trip a few times a week. Let me know how you get on!
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