I always knew that this new lifestyle of ours would be beneficial to our health despite everyone telling me that you put on weight whilst travelling. You see, in our previous lives at home we could be pretty lazy and I’m convinced it all stemmed from being unfulfilled. We were living for the weekend to such a great extent that takeout and huge portions cooked by me were treats after having bad days.

I would get home and declare that I’d had an awful day so we were going to have a movie night or a reading weekend and push exercise to the sidelines, I didn’t want to waste my precious weekends on exercise. I was very confident that our health would actually improve once we hit the road as lot of people have exercise regimes that are forgotten whilst travelling, we wouldn’t have that problem since we’d been too lazy to have a regime in the first place!

Tackling the Tongariro Crossing - New Zealand

Tackling the Tongariro Crossing 5 months into the trip – New Zealand

The inspiration for this post was this brilliant blog post I read towards the end of a freezing winter when we were still planning this trip. I remember being astounded that someone’s physical appearance could change so drastically in such a short space of time. They looked happy and healthy and didn’t have that dour, tired look that I see in myself when I look back at pictures. A work colleague of mine once mentioned that if you live in the north of the UK you only receive about 47% of your recommended vitamin D allowance, no wonder we all get so down in the winter! We haven’t changed anywhere near as much as that but there have definitely been improvements.

Paul on the Hooker Valley Track - New Zealand

Paul on the Hooker Valley Track 6 months into the trip – New Zealand

I’ve never gotten along with the gym, I love to be outdoors walking and you can’t go on a 5 mile hike every day whilst working a 9 to 5. Paul is one of these annoying people that always seems to be in shape without doing anything, he could head out and run 10 miles easily without having done any exercise for months. I’m convinced it’s because he played so much sport when was younger, his body just seems to remember every time he tackles any form of exercise. That, and he has a metabolism any woman would kill for! Me, I’ve always struggled and am prone to be heavier than I’d like, might be something to do with how much I love food.

Already starting to look healthier - our wedding day 9 weeks into the trip

Already starting to look healthier – our wedding day 9 weeks into the trip

Like I said, Paul has always been a skinny minny but comparing the photo of us taken by him Mum on the day we left to now, I can see his face has slimmed down and he just looks healthier. We’ve both lost that puffy look in the face and aren’t pasty to the point of looking like vampires! We’ve lost around 10 pounds each but more importantly we feel stronger and fitter than we ever have before, our body shapes are changing. We’re still eating a fair bit but because we’re exercising every day (even if it’s just walking or swimming a little) it balances out and we aren’t eating ridiculous portions anymore. Paul keeps having to add notches into my belt to hold my pants up and as someone who has always struggled with her weight that is a great feeling.

Paul during Sognkran this week - Koh Lanta, Thailand

Paul during Songkran this week – Koh Lanta, Thailand

Paul jokes that I am incommunicado when walking up mountains, I’m literally so focused on breathing and putting my feet in the right place that I can’t talk. I still struggle going uphill but I can now hold a conversation and the rest stops are down to a minimum. My new mantra every time I’m struggling is “you climbed out of the Grand Canyon, you can do this!”. I remember doing a tour of the Cadbury Factory in Dunedin, NZ (oh the irony) and at one point we had to climb 4 flights of stairs. I bounded up them and was amazed that skinny teenagers were out of breath at the top, I realised we were definitely moving in the right direction.

Me just the other day - eating something of course!

Me just the other day – eating something of course!

South East Asia has made us a little bit more sedentary and I’m actually looking forward to getting back to mountains when we hit South America. We’ve got some tough hiking challenges to train for including Macchu Picchu, Colca Canyon and the Grand Canyon but I genuinely can’t wait! We keep discussing that we’re going to have to be so careful not to pile on weight when we get home but I’m hoping that the addiction to feeling good about ourselves will outweigh the addiction to eating bad food and being lazy. I realise now that I won’t be wasting my weekends exercising, my mind and body will thank me for every mile and every sit-up!

Exercise South East Asia style - kayaking in Railay, Thailand

Exercise South East Asia style – kayaking in Railay, Thailand


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18 Responses

  1. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    Tony & I are right there with you, Maddie! Since leaving on our own trip, we have both dropped substantial pounds (all unwanted) and felt as though so much psychological weight has been lifted from our shoulders.

    Since leaving on our trip, though we still love trying as many foods as we can, our relationship with food is so much healthier as our portions are smaller and we no longer eat simply out of boredom or to fill a void. We’re out there, living our lives, moving our bodies, and our happiness has transformed us. I’m so glad that you have found this as well during your own trip!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Introducing Chewing the Fat!My Profile

    • Maddie

      I think eating out of boredom was a massive problem of ours when I look back. We still absolutely adore food but it’s limited to 3 solid meals a day with much smaller portions! Such a great feeling isn’t it? 🙂

  2. Ron Deaton

    It sounds as though you are both in danger of wasting away! Anyway; very well done. Having said that I fear for the future of Graveleys and one or two other high class eateries in and around Harrogate.

    • Maddie

      Paul is looking seriously skinny but he’s still eating a fair bit, I don’t know what else to do to get a few pounds on him! Never fear, I have a list of Harrogate eateries that we will be frequenting in July, most likely with you and Mrs D 🙂

  3. Phil

    You both look great! Although I think Paul had slopped a bit of sweet and sour sauce on his face in the picture above 😉

    Bad news though, forget about staying slim when you get home. Rainy weather, boredom, and sitting at a desk all day = getting fat. Travelling will seem like a distant memory within a week. Also, getting home at the beginning of winter when you go to work it’s dark, when you finish work it’s dark. I remember getting back from South America in December and it was depressing!

    Oh, and lets not forget The Anchor’s carvery or the jumbo fish and chips you will consume! That’s 2kg put on in one sitting!

    I lost 6kg in 2 months in the Philippines, but get back home and watch it go back on. You are burning a serious number of calories every day when travelling, which you simply can’t do at home. Think how many calories you burn walking around for 8 hours or climbing a mountain. You’d need to spend 3+ hours in the gym to do the same. You simply don’t have the time (or desire in my case)

    I wish you the VERY best of luck maintaining a healthy body/lifestyle, but 9-5 jobs in an office make it incredibly difficult IMO.

    Anyway, cross that bridge when you come to it! Like I said, you both look great!

    • Maddie

      Well aren’t you the prophet of doom brother dearest 😉 Seriously though, we know exactly what could easily happen when we get back but I’m really determined not to become morbidly obese! They say 95% of losing weight is what you eat and 5% is exercise, if we can just resist Graveleys and Sunday roasts in extreme then we might have a chance!

  4. Andrew

    Wow, do you know if the Lord of the Rings shot any of their scenes from that Hooker Valley trail? It looks like the scene from when the fellowship gets out of the Mines of Moria
    Andrew recently posted..Swedish SemlaMy Profile

    • Maddie

      Hey Andrew and welcome 🙂 I’m not sure if that particular valley was used but they did shoot absolutely everywhere. There is a book you can buy which takes you through all of the filming locations if you want to tour them and it’s massive!

    • Maddie

      I’ve definitely noticed that since hitting the big 30 it’s so much more difficult to keep weight off, maybe this will be the kick in the backside I need to start a proper exercise regime when I get home!

  5. Kim

    You guys look amazing!!! Wish I could say the same about my own body and traveling… but I can feel some of the extra pounds I’ve put on coming off here in Nepal. I just love to eat and am also prone to being overweight. I always fought it with tons of exercise but that is harder to do on the road… oh well. I figure that if I get fat traveling losing weight will at least give me something to do when I have to go home again 🙂
    Kim recently posted..A body in the riverMy Profile

    • Maddie

      My problem exactly, I just love food! I have serious envy of Paul, I’m actually trying to get him to put on weight at the moment but despite eating tons of food nothing is happening! If you’ve put on any pounds in India (and you don’t look like you have) they’ll soon come off when you’re trekking through the Himalayas. I’m taking this as the kick up my butt I need to start a proper exercise regime when I get home 🙂

  6. Jade

    We definitely don’t get enough vitamin D in the UK! I just spent a mini 3 day break in Sardinia where the weather was beautiful and I already feel ten times better because of it!
    Before I went on an 8 month trip in 2010 I was working seriously long hours and probably wasn’t eating right- the pictures of me the day I flew to Peru are ghastly. Anyway, I ended up putting a lot of weight on travelling BUT I looked healthy, I was brown and I was constantly smiling. And I managed to hike the Inca trail too so it wasn’t all eating empanadas and beer!
    I agree with you that something about being outdoors just makes you feel good inside…
    Travelling sure is good for the body as well as the soul!

    • Maddie

      Hey Jade, welcome 🙂 I hear ya there, I’ve never been so happy and my body is incredibly grateful for the exercise and new diet. It was hard work to get here but I’d recommend it to anyone, it was so worth all the saving and scrimping to feel like this again. Hope you had fun in Sardinia, it’s on my ever-expanding list!

    • Maddie

      It’s not hard to gain weight travelling in the U.S, I think the only reason we didn’t is because we were hiking every day. Losing weight while travelling wasn’t a goal either, it’s just something that’s happened naturally as our diet and fitness has improved.

  7. Franca

    It worked the same for Dale which has lost a lot of weight and feels so much better now. For me it’s always up and down depending on how healthy and well we eat. Usually when we are in place for a bit longer and we have our own kitchen we can make our own food mixing it with going out and trying the local cuisine, that really helps us to be more healthy 🙂

    • Maddie

      Hi Franca, strangely I’m actually healthier when we’re eating out! I’m a bit of a sweet treats cook which is dangerous. For us it was all about being active all the time, my day job is sitting in a office and I’m not really a gym person so walking around every day really helped.


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