Travel weight gain and how to avoid it

Did you know that travel weight gain is a real phenomenon? If you have wondered why your clothes seem tighter than you left them pre-holiday, you are not alone. Travel weight gain happened to you, like it does to many other happy travellers.


how to avoid travel weight gain

The food back home does not make me fat, but every time I travel, I gain weight. The struggle is real. I have been away from home for so long and the pounds have definitely piled on. Yes, yes, I know what my friends are thinking. Every time I say I need to lose weight, people tell me ‘no you don’t need to. You look just fine.’ Thank you for those kind words, friends. But I wish it were that simple. It’s not about what everyone thinks I look like. It’s about how I feel in my own skin.

Tell me more about these weight-gain during travel woes of yours

It’s actually a real thing. When you travel, a lot of your usual rhythms and practices are off. You eat at different times, sleep at different times, eat different things, and so on.

Interestingly, I instantly lose weight every time I return to Uganda. Within a week, pretty much. In many respects it’s true what they say, a fish thrives best in the water. My skin magically takes on new life too, every time I return home to Uganda. Of course my skincare regimen helps too, but there’s just something about home.

So what do you think is the cause of your weight-gain during travel?

I have a theory that is more than just a theory. Western food is more calorigenic than African food. I’m born and bred in the tropics. I will snack a hundred times in Uganda and stay at my usual weight, but once in Norway or Malta, or anywhere away from UG, I gotta eat less. I do not want to eat less! Haha. No, truly. I do not want to eat less, I love eating!

My barometer for weight gain is 2 things: do my clothes still fit and 2) am I sluggish or am I still agile? If the answers are no my clothes are tighter and yes I ‘m more sluggish and less agile, then I know it’s time to get back to my old size.

Also, I was a certain dress size for so long and suddenly I can feel I’m moving toward another. This causes me to panic because regardless how great anyone else might think I look, my body is not feeling like my body. I feel like I am wading around in a borrowed body. It helps that I am so tall because then my height disguises my weight gain.

My face disguises nothing though, haha, and my family is quick to remind me how round my cheeks have gotten, and how I look just like I looked as a child. These comments amuse me more than anything else. The real motivation for me is when my very lovely dresses that cost me quite a sum start not to fit. And the other big motivator is when I start to get breathless just going up a few flights of stairs. If that happens, I know I am not fit and need to fix things asap.

Have you tried fixing this travel weight gain?

Yes. I like running.

I was also very into yoga. Still am, just not at the same level. I taught myself off of a DVD, the internet and Instagram. There are many good DVDs out there. You get a lot more than you paid for it in the end.

It also comes in handy if you would rather work out at home, or if you don’t have many yoga studios in the neighbourhood. Which was my situation in Uganda. There are yoga studios in Malta and Norway, but I haven’t felt the motivation to go quite yet.

So, how do you actually avoid travel weight gain?

Here is how I like to avoid travel weight gain and stay fit, while still enjoying food on holiday, cause I just love to eat!

1. Stay active!   

This for me, I feel, is the most important aspect. Here’s why. If I am having a lovely holiday, I’m likely going to be eating many things I don’t usually eat, trying new foods, and I most likely won’t be the one making most of meals. I will probably be spending much more time at breakfast, what with all the breakfast buffets most of these hotels tempt is with!

So to make up for all the extra eating, I’ll try to stay active, and resist the urge to laze about like a cat. Which is unlike me anyway, I don’t even like naps! Here’s how you can stay active on holiday.

  • Walk to as many places as possible, whenever you can. This way, you get to see more of your destination and save money on transport costs too!
  • Take advantage of your hotel’s gym, if they have one. You’re more likely to work out in the mornings of your days tend to get busy or you like to have dinner out. I know it sounds counterintuitive not to have a lie in when on holiday, but trust me, you will feel so good at the end of your holiday if you’ve been taking some time to work out in the mornings.
  • Do some yoga. This you can even do in your hotel room, just a half hour in the mornings or at the end of the day will make a difference.

 2. Choose your food wisely.

Let’s be real. If you consistently opt for the wrong kinds of food, your body will work with you’re giving it.

I try to go with a predominately protein diet when I am trying not to gain weight, or to avoid travel weight gain in particular. My breakfasts will consist of eggs, yoghurt, beans and other protein-rich foods.

I carry fruits to snack on. Listen, I am such a sweet tooth person, it’s so hard for me to resist chocolate. But I once realised that a craving for something sweet will be satisfied by anything sweet. And I am very serious about fighting travel weight gain. So I make sure I never run out of fruit. Now this doesn’t mean I won’t buy the occasional bar of Cadbury’s, but I stay disciplined about it.

travel weight gain

Dessert will definitely feature, but remember, I am walking at least 5km a day!

With the above tips, I am able to keep fitting into my clothing and that’s how I avoid travel weight gain. Every time I travel to Malta (which I do quite often), I actually lose weight because for some reason I am always motivated to not go back home thicker than I left. This one time I actually lost 12 pounds in 6 weeks! I will write about that some time.

How about you? Do you ever experience weight gain during travel? How do you stay fit when you travel? Give me some tips in the comments section below.


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