Here’s how to stay (relatively) fit on holidays
I’m on holidays in Japan at the moment, and optimistically packed running tights for the trip.
Obviously, I haven’t used them yet, but I don’t feel guilty about it because honest-to-God, every night I go to bed with sore legs on account of all the stairs and running around catching trains I’ve been doing on the Tokyo Metro.
Seven years ago on a different trip to Japan I packed running gear and actually used it most days. I was struck by the absence of other runners. I jogged places you’d expect to see such people (Ueno Park, usually) and would sometimes see guys jogging who clearly looked like professional athletes – and no one else.
Conscious, dedicated exercise out in the open air is not common like it is in Australia. It’s no wonder my joggers are sitting unloved in my suitcase, taking up space that could be used for Totoro merchandise and green-tea flavoured crackers.
I also have Sore Phone Elbow Condition (‘SPEC’) from all the photos I’ve been instagramming of my food.
Top 5 weirdest foods I have eaten this trip
1. A bento (fancy lunch box) comprised of rice topped with beef tongue. TONGUE. (Look, I know this happens in all cultures but frankly I am pretty happy with just one tongue in my mouth at any given time, thank you.)
2. Gummi candy – tomato flavour.
3. A hot soup thickened with kombu seaweed that glowed and took on a frothy aspect like the shores of an algae-infested lake.
4. Foie gras flavoured potato chips from a convenience store. (Really?? And there you were thinking wagyu beef burgers were enough ironic highbrow-meets-lowbrow.)
5. Coffee that tastes like ass. Which is to say, 95% of all coffee in Japan. (Interestingly, good, artisan coffee in Tokyo is sold as “Melbourne Coffee”.)
So with all the great (and not-great) eating, how can you balance out your consumption with exercise when you’re travelling?
Here are some of my favourite, not to mention hard-won, fitness travel hacks:
1. Circumnavigate your hotel – on foot.
It’s scary being in a new place and is all-too tempting to anchor yourself by not straying too far from camp. But if you take a long walk in a circle around where you’re staying, you’ll get a better bearing on your surroundings and likely discover something useful.
2. Don’t be afraid of the hotel gym.
Okay so it’s tiny and all the equipment looks like a hangover from communist Russia, but a workout is still a workout.
3. Empty your bags at the end of each day.
You’ll be more likely to gallop up those seven flights of stairs to see an ancient temple if your bags aren’t weighed down with loose change and half-drunk water bottles. The lighter you travel, the lighter you’ll feel.
4. Think ahead about what you’ll eat on your flights.
If you’re like me, you’ll look forward to your plane meal as a way of killing time. So if you’re definitely going to eat on the plane, don’t load up on snacks at the airport, and where possible, pre-order vegetarian/vegan food as it always leaves you feeling better.
5. Buffets are bad.
As a general life-rule, if it’s all-you-can-eat, it can’t be very good quality. If you are faced with a buffet, it’s a very natural temptation to eat as much as you can to get your money’s worth. Always start with raw fruit and vegetables, which can be hard to find when you’re away from home. Load up on uncooked, crunchy, yummy treats before even looking at those hash browns.
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