Of all the things I miss from having a stationary life, going to a gym and staying active are high on my list. I trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu for years and aside from a few sessions here and there around the world, keeping up regularly has been nearly impossible. It’s only been over the past few year that I’ve made working out a priority again but it’s not easy when you travel often. My live chat guest today however can help you reach your fitness goals, particularly if you’re a frequent flyer.
Yasmin Al-Atrache holds certifications in Personal Training from the National Academy of Sports Medicine and IDEA Health and Fitness and ran Vitruvian Fit, training dozens of clients in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. In addition to medically supervising weight loss practices and treating patients suffering from obesity, Yasmin holds a degree in Exercise Science and Physiology from George Mason University and is currently working on Master’s degrees in Public Health and Health Science.
The chat is now closed, thank you everyone for participating!
Yasmin will be online later today for two hours to answer any and all of your fitness and diet questions about staying in shape, in the comments below. Additionally, Powerstick will be giving away a PowerTrip ($99 value) and Powerstick+ Portable Charger ($69 value) to the fitness question that gets the most likes. Ask away!
Hi everyone, the chat will begin later today but you can begin submitting your questions below, which will appear when Yasmin signs on.
I exercise heavily, I want to gain weight and make muscle but I can’t seem to.
What can I do?
Bumping these comments above in case you missed them 🙂
A lot of gaining muscle mass is in your diet. You need to increase lean protein intake while pushing yourself with weights by increasing them gradually. This can be difficult for many people who are genetically slimmer than others. You also want to remain aware of the fact that too much protein can harm kidney function.
Attached is a link that will help you calculate your needed protein intake based on your weight and exercise.
Hopefully that will help! I also urge you to not take supplements (creatine, etc) to increase weight gain. I have seen many patients in the clinic who would end up causing liver and kidney damage!
Hi Yasmin – As a travel blogger I travel a lot and when I’m away I tend to be both busy seeing everything and enjoying my food – I’m in the mindset of I want to enjoy everything the destination can offer especially the food – trouble is I come back a couple of pounds lighter and have a hard time shifting them – any thoughts on how to keep the weight down when travelling ?
Heather, I understand completely! The goal of traveling is to enjoy the culture and take in all the area has to offer. I would recommend eating the foods in moderation. There is no need to polish off a plate entirely to really appreciate the meal fully. Also, eat your meals slowly, savoring every bite (I do this with my desserts!). Sometimes I find it helpful to “pick and choose” what I eat. If I really want that glass of wine, I will skip out on dessert or vice versa.
Now with all of this, try going to longer walks and site seeing. Balance out your meals with increasing exercise and physical activity. That is a great way to experience all the sites of the area as well.
Adding on to this, how many days can you “cheat” on a diet, say, when traveling?
“cheating” is not a very good description since it implies that one is doing something wrong! I would say enjoy everything in moderation and continue to exercise and stay active throughout your travels. Ie do not just lay on the beach, walk or go for a jog in the sand
Also, here’s a look at at Powerstick Portable Charger kit we’re giving away during today’s live chat:
which includes this PowerTrip:
Good luck everyone, I’m looking forward to our discussion coming up!
Which will help me lose weight faster, dieting or exercising?
Miss_Elsewhere, both must be done to lose weight. If you do one and not the other, you will not keep the weight off effectively or long term. Now, with that said, dieting makes up about 75-80% of weight loss and exercise is the rest of it. I personally do not like the word “dieting” because that implies short term changes to achieve a temporary end goal. Proper nutrition and eating habits need to be a life long change along with regular exercise (cardio and resistance training). I have seen many clients and medical patients lose weight improperly and gain it all back shortly afterward. The more often an individual loses and gains weights (yo-yo dieting or extreme exercising), the harder it is to lose that weight each time. Your body is a machine that adapts and will become “immune” to your efforts eventually if they are not done in a healthy manner.
I exercise three times a week however i have not lost weight especially in the tummy area..Do I need to work out with a personal trainer or increase the amount of exercise? Thanks.
Hello Hulya. This is a common problem I hear from many people. Usually visceral fat (weight in the mid-section) is caused an improper diet rather than simply not enough exercise. I would recommend cutting out sugars and processed foods from you diet and aiming for high protein and vegetable meals. I personally have had clients eat 3-4 small snacks a day (the size of your palm) and 3 meals (the size of both of your hands cupped together) throughout the day. Aim for fresh vegetables and lean proteins in your meals as well as low fat dairy products.
You can also increase your cardio and the intensity of your workouts. Aim for exercise at least 5-6 days a week, an hour each time, for weight loss. Also aim for a target heart rate that is roughly 75-80% of your max heart rate (220 – your age) with exercise. Interval training (bringing your heart rate up and down through the intensity of your workout) has also shown to burn fat more effectively than traditional exercise methods.
Hi everyone, we’ll be live in just a few moments…
Alright, I’m ready, Yasmin, have you signed on?
Yes, I have signed on!
Yes I have signed on!
Hi Yasmin, welcome! And thank you for joining and spending some time sharing your knowledge with my readers and I.
I’m curious if you have some kind of chat power-snack handy?
I have my cut up veggies and boiled egg ready for this chat!
Ideal chat food 🙂
I’ve got a glass of wine, not too bad. But leads me to a question, how bad is a glass or two if you’re trying to keep slim while traveling? (And typically eating junky food at airports, etc.)
A glass of red wine a day actually has great health benefits (what a majority of studies have concluded)!! There are wonderful antioxidants in there and studies have shown that it may help to prevent heart disease, in moderation. I usually have a glass of red wine every evening while studying and doing papers. Mayoclinic has a great article on the benefits of red wine.
Very good news for us wine drinkers!
Do you have any recommendations for someone who spends most of the day in the airport, on how to get exercise?
Hello Selin! This can be difficult because no one wants to look weird doing pushups or lunges around airport kiosks and security. I would suggest simply going for a power walk around the airport since they are relatively large. Maybe add some “glut squeezing” and “core flexing” while sitting in your seat waiting for your plane to arrive. No one will notice those and you will feel the burn!
I just looked on YouTube for an example of gut squeezing and got some “unusual” results until I realized “glut” squeezing…
Actually, Yasmin, do you know of any good videos online or examples I can post?
Of course! It is not the easiest exercise to describe. Hopefully this video will help
Very helpful, thank you!
That is a great question! I have a gluten allergy myself and I must admit, it is tough to avoid gluten when traveling (especially out of the U.S.). I aim for foods that I know are gluten free naturally such as fish, meat, poultry, beans, veggies, and fruits. I also avoid dressings and aim for simple lemon and olive oil.
If traveling to an unfamiliar area with a culture that is new to you, I would look up foods before your trip and figure out what will fit your gluten free diet. You want to be careful not to insult anyone as well by declining food or asking too many questions about what exactly is in the meal.
For example, my aunts from Syria and Lebanon are still slightly insulted when I turn down baklava! They simply do not understand gluten allergies.
Mona that is good question since digestive ailments are a reality when traveling to unfamiliar areas with different foods, spices, and bacteria.
I would suggest yoga, focusing on your breathing and achieving general relaxation. Do simple poses that are not too strenuous or and avoid poses where your head is below your heart (may aggravate heartburn/acid reflux). Anything that is too high intensity (running, jumping jacks, etc.) might make GI pains and discomfort worse as well.
Yasmin, can you tell us a bit more about your travel background and experience?
Sure! Most of my travels have been around the Caribbean and South America. Unfortunately school precludes my desire to travel more though I do aim to go to Lebanon and Syria once the chaos settles down.
Most of my experience as a personal trainer and clinician has been in Northern Virginia and Washington DC where many of my clients travel to and from their second homes all over the world (Turkey, China, Mexico, etc.) I often type up workouts and dietary plans for their travels so that they do not come back to the states feeling as if they had “thrown everything away” during their travels.
What’s one of the healthier cuisines or dishes you’ve seen in the parts of the world you’ve been?
My favorite would probably have to be grilled whole fish (bones, skin, and all) and a squeeze of lemon. I find the simplest of dishes to be the most delicious when traveling. Venezuela, particular Margarita Island, has had the most delicious fish in my opinion.
I also always love having local fruits and fresh produce from the markets.
A country I haven’t been to but would like to eat my way through!
Also, everyone, don’t forget to click the little like button under your favorite questions and comments – the one with the most will win tonight’s giveaway prize!
From my Facebook page, Simon Gérard asks: any recommendations for what type/brand of resistance bands or those tube things to take while travelling and workouts to do with them?
Bands are a great way to get resistance training in when away from the gym and a rack of weights. I prefer Black Mountain Resistance Bands since they have interchangeable grips and come in a convenient bag for travel. I bought my own set awhile ago and have not had an issue with tearing or breaking of the tubing.
**Remember! Once you see any tearing in the band, stop using it immediately! Last thing anyone needs is a band snapping and hitting you. Believe me, it hurts! **
Definitely painful and the video shows that for sure!
Many of the questions have to do with losing weight, but my biggest gripe with my travel lifestyle is keeping weight on. I used to lift weights regularly, along with jiu-jitsu, and am now back into a routine (somehow!) I’m curious, what’s the best way to prevent or put off muscle loss when it’s hard to get in gym sessions or eat adequately?
Also, if protein is hard to come by, what are some alternative foods that won’t go right to fat!
I’ve got a question via email from a reader, Sonia: who wants to know how much of a workout is walking – the kind you do for a few hours when sightseeing? How long do the benefits last after you return home from vacation?
Sonia, walking is as much of a workout as you make it. The faster you go or aiming for hills will increase your heart rate, resulting in more effective exercise. Casual walking wont do much since the goal is to increase your heart rate rather than how long you walk for. I usually do short bursts of “speed walking” or walk quickly up hills to bring my heart rate up.
Cardiovascular benefits from walking are usually short lived compared to weight lifting or resistance training. Cardio exercise needs to be performed regularly and possibly daily to fully gain the positive physical effects during and after your travels.
I travel 8-10 months of the year for business, is it impossible for me to be healthy?
Hello Lukas! It is possible for you to be healthy with your travel schedule though it will be more difficult for you than others. Aim for healthy foods that are not processed and fresh. Airports are coming up with healthy alternatives to the usual “sub and chips” option. Pack snacks such as low sugar fruits (apples, berries, etc) and nuts that will stay good out of the fridge for extended periods of time. Avoid cashews, brazilian nuts, and others that are higher in fat though. Keeping healthy snacks always by your side can reduce the chances of grabbing unhealthy, quick options.
While in hotels, do high intensity interval training with squat jumps, burpees, etc. to stay in shape. Short bursts of these type of exercises can more beneficial to keeping a healthy weight than simply running on a treadmill alone. Also, these types of exercises can be done anywhere you have floor space.
thank you so much! oh, what about peanuts, are they ok?
Peanuts are okay. Almonds and pistachios are your best bet! Make sure they are not salted and not roasted in oil
You’re currently in first place to win the Powerstick portable charger kit!
What does your current workout routine look like?
Currently, I exercise 5 days out of the week. I make an effort to add variety to my workouts so that my body does not get “used” to them and I won’t get bored. For example, Monday I did 35 minutes of cardio and 45 minutes of weights. Tuesday was 60 minutes of cardio (on different machines). Wednesday was my day off. Today I did 30 minutes of cardio and 60 minutes of high intensity interval training and weights. Friday will probably be more cardio and Saturday more cardio and weights. I never repeat a workout in one week and continue to push myself with weights.
Unfortunately I live in D.C. so running outside may not be an option at times with high pollution, dangerous dark corners, and pavement kills my knees. I would much rather be on a beach jogging and swimming for exercise!
There is really nothing like being outdoors, even some of the gyms I’ve worked out in Mexico had open air floors, it was a nice change that seemed to give me more energy. Now, if you happened to be on vacation for 2 weeks, how would you mix up the routine (e.g. time) if at all?
If you have limited space or equipment, another option to mix things up would be increasing the time you do a particular exercise that is high intensity. For example, instead of squat jumps for 30 seconds, do them for 45 seconds. Also, instead of following it up with a 20 second rest and pushups, try doing just a 10 second rest with planks. Little changes like that can make a huge difference!
three effective exercises I can do without gym?
My favorites are:
1. Squat jumps
I would do 30-45 seconds of each with 15-20 second breaks in between.
What are your tricks to keep toned when you don’t have traditional weights around?
KK, high intensity workouts are the best! Specifically plyometrics that will pick up your heart rate quickly and burn out those muscles fast. Burpees and squat jumps are probably my favorites. Pilates and core strengthening exercises are great too
Any differences between how men and women should workout when traveling (i.e. one focus on cardio more than the other, etc.) is there a difference at all?
I have found that there is no difference at all. Both men and women need to incorporate cardiovascular exercise and weight training/resistance training into their workouts when traveling. Both are important in gaining muscle and losing fat effectively.
Yasmin, as we’ve got a few minutes left, I wanted to thank you very much for spending some of your valuable time with all of us. It has been a wonderfully informative chat we can all reference next time we’re feeling sluggish traveling.
Maybe we can catch up with you again sometime in the future. Any last words or advice?
Thank you Anil for having me on your site! My last few words of wisdom would probably have to be eating right and exercising regularly needs to be a change in lifestyle and not simple a temporary fix! Also, plan meals ahead of time and always carry a snack!
Thank you again very much and best of luck in the rest of your school year(s)!
Also, Selin, I’ll be emailing you shortly so I can have the Powerstick charger kit sent to you, congratulations!