traveling and maintaining weight
January 22, 2011 11:40 PM   Subscribe

What are ways I can make sure I don't gain weight while not going to gym over a 2-week period?

I am excited to be traveling to Beijing and then to Inner Mongolia, where I was invited to spend the Chinese new year at a friend's home. However I am a tad worried about gaining weight over this 2-week gym-free period and would like to avoid this if at all possible. I currently have a regular gym habit (almost every day) and it's possible I'll be able to walk or jog everyday on my travels but maybe not likely. Also, I know I will be given a lot of food at my friend's house.

I gain weight easily and given that exercise may not be as easy as it is when I have the gym down my street, I am looking for ideas to implement during this time. I am not really looking for China-specific advice (but that's ok too), as I have lived here for some time, but more so advice in general (things not to eat, signals for being full, ways to burn calories that don't involve "working out", how to look like I am eating a lot when I'm not, at a friends house).

as a plus, it should be easy to avoid carbs and sweets....

thanks in advance!
posted by bearette to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Chinese New Year combined with Inner Mongolia just sounds like an obscene amount of drinking waiting to happen. If you avoid over-indulging on the alcohol, you'll save yourself a lot of calories there!

Perhaps do some stretching in the mornings. If you want to get up early, parks in Beijing are nice places to jog, do some calisthenics/tai chi/dancing, in groups.
posted by astapasta24 at 11:57 PM on January 22, 2011

It's not complicated -- just eat less. Take less food, stop before you feel full, don't snack, put off eating until later. Feeling hungry won't kill you.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:10 AM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Eat less.
posted by Sonic_Molson at 12:16 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Eat less is really the only way. Eat 2/3 of each meal served to you.

It may also help if you get up early and go for an hour walk in the morning to get in a fitness/eat less mindset (I find when I've been abroad that walking is more acceptable culturally and just feels less fussy than going for a run).
posted by Pax at 1:00 AM on January 23, 2011

Get sick. Seriously. Get it out of your system while you have the chance.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:02 AM on January 23, 2011

Unless you are from a less developed part of the world than China/Inner Mongolia, or your trip is going to be spent lying in a bed and eating lard out of the tub, I wouldn't worry about skipping the gym for two weeks.

I've lost dramatic amounts of weight every time I've traveled to a developing country, without working out or even thinking about what I was doing. (And not only the time I got traveler's diarrhea.)

Even if you were traveling to Europe or something, chances are you're going to be active during the day - lots of walking, exploring new places, seeing sights, etc. The food will be very different, which will make it less likely that you'll go crazy stuffing yourself.

Also, it's not unusual to overindulge during holidays. This is something you're going to have to live with if you hope to be a human being. Just plan to make up for it when you return - two weeks is not very long.
posted by Sara C. at 2:11 AM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Lots of walking... countries that don't have gyms on every corner usually don't need them because people walk to and from everywhere. Sightseeing is good for this, take sensible snacks so you don't end up eating everywhere you go.
posted by SockyMcPuppet at 3:56 AM on January 23, 2011

I don't think you have anything to worry about. You will get be getting smaller portions for the most part, since these are developing countries. That said, you are on vacation and it's only two weeks, so you wouldn't be able to gain that much weight, even if you were feasting three times a day.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:34 AM on January 23, 2011

"Eat less" is the flippant answer. But more to the point - unless you're going to be weighing in for a wrestling tournament the minute you get back from your trip, what's a pound or two, compared to the experience? Even if you "gain weight easily" (me too), absolutely gorging yourself on only the fattiest foods every chance you get over two weeks is going to make you five pounds heavier, at most. But you're probably going to be much more active - walking, partying - on the trip, so it's going to be a gain of less than that.

When you get back, if you've gained at all, add a half hour to you workouts for a couple weeks. No biggie.

(I went to Europe a couple years ago for the wedding of one of my wife's friends. Apparently Central Europe has nothing to eat bu sausage, cheese, an pastry. I don't think I saw a single vegetable outside a potato. The wedding proper was two days of feeling I-might-just-puke full. I found, when I got back, that I'd lost two pounds.)
posted by notsnot at 7:01 AM on January 23, 2011

Another option is to just accept that you might gain a little bit if weight while traveling. Seeing the world is more than enough reward to offset being a little behind whatever workout goals you have. It's about being healthy, not a certain weight, and this trip sounds like it'll be great for your health by making you happy.
posted by anildash at 7:11 AM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

I would strongly consider not caring about your weight and enjoy yourself.
posted by mhoye at 8:17 AM on January 23, 2011 [6 favorites]

seconding anildash--it's a fantastic opportunity and life experience that seems well worth a couple of pounds. just think, at the end of your life, what are you going to want to tell your grandkids about: the amazing food you had, or the fact that you managed not to gain any weight?

(and by the way, even if you eat nothing but lard and sit on your butt all day, you probably won't gain more than a couple of pounds in two weeks. you might retain some water, which might temporarily bump you up a couple more pounds, but that's not real weight.)

when you get home, eat lighter for a couple of weeks, and add fifteen minutes a day to your workout for a couple of weeks. you'll get back on track quickly.

sounds like an amazing opportunity--i hope you make the most of it!!
posted by thinkingwoman at 9:21 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't stop eating when you are full...stop eating when you are not hungry. Evaluating this will require some conscious reflection and eating slowly. It helps if you pace yourself to the slowest eater at the table or engage yourself in conversation. Simple tricks that can make a big difference over time.
posted by unannihilated at 9:38 AM on January 23, 2011

Like everyone else has said, eat less. Skip desserts and snacks. You'll be fine. I mean, in two weeks, the maximum you might have gained was a pound or two anyway.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:46 AM on January 23, 2011

When I go on vacation, I take a jump rope and do 10 minutes of intervals followed by some pushups/situps/squats, and it works really well as a substitute. I don't know if that counts as not working out to you, but it doesn't require a gym and can be done pretty much wherever you are.
posted by LarrenD at 10:21 AM on January 23, 2011

Look up some things like Prison Workouts or Bodyweight Exercises. You can do a lot of pushups/lunges/squats/burpees/cardio-in-place without any equipment, in addition to walking/jogging everywhere you go.

For eating, if the food is something unique to your travels or your host (best BBQ in Tennessee; Aunt Sophie's famous Pecan Pie), then go ahead and enjoy it as part of the experience. If it's something you can get anywhere then either abstain (read about Intermittent Fasting) or just eat small enough portions to make up the calories that you think you need at that point. In America this would include fast food, chain restaurants, chips/snack foods etc; I don't what it would be in China.

And don't worry about gaining a few pounds; you can work that off later. Enjoy your trip!
posted by CathyG at 10:37 AM on January 23, 2011

Cardio isn't a very effective way of keeping weight off anyway - the body increases hunger to compensate for the energy burned. Exercise for weight loss is primarily effective when it causes muscular and metabolic adaptations such as increases in insulin sensitivity, which happen more with interval training or weight lifting.

So, basically, don't worry about it. If you really want to exercise there, look up bodyweight programs such as Naked Warrior, Never Gymless, or Convict Conditioning. But don't let any of this get in the way of you having new and awesome experiences!
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 11:39 AM on January 23, 2011

The nighttime temps in Mongolia this time of year are around -30F. You'll burn plenty of calories just keeping warm. Fidgeting will warm you up and burn calories, too.
posted by martianna at 1:19 PM on January 23, 2011

Thanks to all of you! I got something out of every answer. I realize the question was kind of silly, but askmefi is always good for practical advice and tips, which I got here. I do plan to enjoy myself and not worry about gaining weight too much :)
posted by bearette at 4:41 PM on January 23, 2011

« Older Help me set up a wireless-wired spoke for my home...   |   Where can I find the still pictures they show of... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.