How I Went From Fat to Fit in 3 Months While Traveling For Work
I may have met my initial goal but my life is forever changed. I have adopted this as a new lifestyle.
I was unhappy.
Not with everything, but certainly with how I looked and felt.
I was out of shape and it showed. I also felt it every morning when I got out of bed, every time I walked up a flight of stairs, and every time I went to pick up my daughter.
I looked at fitness programs and diets. Almost all of them wanted me to spend big money, either on gym memberships, personal trainers, or the latest equipment. I even tried a few but nothing was working and there was major reason for it.
I traveled for work all the time.
I spent at least twenty days of every month on the road, in hotels and airports. Business meetings, dinner with clients and business partners, fast food on layovers, and a hectic schedule.
All of this meant that sticking to a workout program designed for a gym was close to impossible. Many of the hotels I stayed in had no gym. The ones that did have a gym were usually tiny and had only a treadmill or two.
Things were only getting worse. My weight continued to climb and visits to the doctor always gave me anxiety after being told I had high blood pressure and was in danger of developing diabetes.
Something needed to change.
That's when I decided to alter my approach and try something new.
Becoming an Athletic Nomad
Considering the fact that I constantly travel, I knew I needed a workout program that would not keep me at the mercy of finding a gym. I also needed it to require the minimum amount of time. I didn't have enough time or energy to spend an hour working out while I was on the road.
My idea for exercising while traveling was simple: I would use hotel gyms when they were available and worthwhile but would be ready to do bodyweight workouts in my hotel room. Even in decent hotel gyms full of equipment, I would still do a lot of bodyweight training (because it's really, really effective).
My focus would be on performing bodyweight exercises in a high-intensity circuit, limiting workouts to twenty minutes. Rest periods between sets and rounds would be short to keep my heart rate up and my metabolism boosted.
Performing multi-joint, compound movements like push-ups and squats would help me build strength. Each workout would be full-body, giving me the biggest benefit in the least amount of time. I knew that these types of workouts would keep my body burning calories long after my workout was done.
Here's what one of the early workouts looked like:
5 rounds of 20 push-ups, 20 air squats, 20 burpees.
It took me eighteen minutes to complete this workout.
I started out slow. I even struggled with basic exercises like push-ups and air squats.
But I got better at them by doing them consistently, often right in my hotel room.
Tip: Place a towel or blanket on the floor of your hotel room before your workout.
By week three, I was able to do over twenty push-ups and had lost five pounds. I felt like I had more energy and was invigorated by the fact that I was making progress.
I suddenly found myself doing exercises I never thought I would ever be capable of doing. I did my first pull-up in week four. By week five, I was experimenting with tougher variations of exercises. I tried something called a pike push-up, where you get into a push-up position, elevate your feet, bring your hands in and lift your butt in the air so that your body forms a "V" shape. You then lower your head towards the ground and push yourself back up, forcing you to do a sort of modified handstand push-up (but way easier). My shoulders were on fire.
I was always crunched for time on the road, going from airports to meetings and often returning to the hotel late and exhausted from a long day. My solution to this was simple: wake up a half hour earlier and do my workout first thing in the morning.
I started my day off strong and it left me feeling great the rest of the day. I felt great physically from the workout of course, but I also felt great mentally because no matter what happened the rest of the day, I knew I had completed my workout. I had improved by getting stronger, fitter, and healthier.
As I progressed, I focused on two things: adding repetitions and variations. So, for example, every week I made sure I was doing more push-ups than I did the previous week. Once I felt confident that I was performing the exercise at a solid level, I began to try harder variations.
Here's what this looked like for push-ups:
Regular Push-up > Close-Hand Push-Up > Pike Push-Up > Handstand Push-Up
And for squats:
Air Squat > Rear-Leg Elevated Split Squat > Pistol Squat onto Chair > Pistol Squat
I also did burpees everyday. Morning, noon, or night, I made sure I got in a set here or there. In airports, hotels, and even in office buildings, if I had a few minutes to kill, I did a set of ten to twenty burpees. My goal initially was to do a total of 25 a day. Over time I worked my way up to 100 burpees a day and I was hitting that goal consistently.
I wrote down everything I did and I developed it into a workout program just for travelers. It's called Athletic Nomad: The Ultimate Travel Workout Program and it's available to you for free.
My Nutrition Strategy
I knew when I started that working out was only half the battle. I had to change how I ate. As anyone who travels a lot knows, this can be tough. You're often faced with minimal food choices on the road and most of those options are flat out terrible for you.
The nutrition strategy that made the most sense, and based off of some sound advice, was intermittent fasting. Instead of focusing on finding the right foods all of the time, it seemed logical to try going longer without eating.
My goal was to try the 18:6 protocol. I would eat only during a six hour window and fast for eighteen hours, including the time I slept at night. I decided to work my way up to this. I started off with a twelve hour fast and a twelve hour eating window.
When I was in my eating window, I typically only ate two meals. They consisted of a protein source (meat), a carb (rice or potatoes mostly), and a lot of vegetables. Finding a meal that looked like this wasn't too difficult, even in airports.
Over the course of the first month, I gradually increased my fasting period, one hour at a time.
During my fasting period, I only drank water and black coffee (which took some getting used to). It was tough at first and my stomach growled all morning as I daydreamed about big breakfasts during the first few days.
But then something amazing happened.
I adjusted to intermittent fasting. I got used to it. I actually started to like it. After the first two weeks, I began to experience a change in how I felt while in a fasted state. I had more mental clarity and focus. My workouts, done in a fasted state, got better as I felt more energy and stamina. And, for the first time in long time, I was able to see my abs.
Tip: Find a place to do pull-ups. They're one of the most effective exercises you can do.
I wanted to call this the end result but this isn't the end. I may have reached my goal but my life is forever changed. I have adopted this as a new lifestyle.
Here are the results.
After three months, I had dropped thirteen pounds.
I went from doing zero pull-ups to doing ten.
My max number of push-ups went from twenty to fifty.
My one mile run went from just under fifteen minutes to just over nine minutes.
All of this is great but it's not the best part. The best part is that I feel great every day. I feel strong, confident, and healthy. I can now attack each day with vigor. I can lift my daughter up and over my head and onto my shoulders. I have no back pain and things don't ache when I get out of bed in the morning. And I actually enjoy traveling for work now.