Train Loco Nation! Today we have an awesome and very informative interview with Armi Legge, who is the editor at EvidenceMag.com and a very knowledgeable person when it comes to staying in shape while traveling. A lot of people tend to fall off the wagon when they travel and to be quite honest, there’s really no excuse for it. It’s very similar to the concept of losing weight isn’t the problem, but keeping the weight off is the main issue. People bust their tails to look great for vacation and then all the sudden blow their diets and training programs and wonder why they come back 10-15 lbs heavier. Well, this is why we interviewed Armi, so that when you travel in the near future, you will have all the tools to be successful 🙂 So without further ado, lets learn how to stay in shape while traveling.
– Chris and Eric
DDT: Could you give us a little background info on who Armi is?
Well at night I put on a bat suit and patrol Gotham fighting crime.
But during the day I work as the editor of EvidenceMag.com and the host of Evidence Radio. We try to keep personal trainers up to date on the latest scientific research and the best practices so they can get better results with clients.
DDT: What got you inspired and into the fitness-health industry?
Since I was four I’ve played about twenty different sports, and I’ve always loved athletics. When I was about twelve, I got really into triathlon and track and field. I started dieting down, took it too far and got an eating disorder, and ended up really confused and frustrated with my health and performance.
I started getting more into scientific journals and taking notes for myself, and those notes turned into articles. I started publishing them online back in 2010, got hired to worked as a writer and podcaster for a few different companies, and have been doing essentially the same thing ever since.
DDT: What do you feel the hardest part is about staying in shape when traveling?
For most people, it’s probably more of a mindset problem. They know they probably won’t be able to stick to their normal routine. Instead of trying to do the best they can, they give up. As my friend Menno Henselmans says, they “choose zero percent efficiency over seventy percent efficiency.”
It’s really not hard to stay in great shape and even make big improvements in your physique and fitness while traveling. The important thing is consistency, and doing your best with what you have every day. That’s also the thing people struggle with the most.
DDT: Before traveling, do you do any research on gyms nearby or if the hotels you’re staying at have microwaves and mini fridges? What do you suggest doing to stay in shape?
Absolutely. If possible, I always stay in an Airbnb, since they usually have kitchens and refrigerators. If I can’t find a place on Airbnb, I try to get a hotel room with a fridge and a microwave. They aren’t as hard to find as they used to be.
If I can’t find a room with a fridge or microwave, I just do the best I can. I eat out more than I would normally, but still choose higher protein, whole foods for most of my meals.
If I have any choice over where I’m staying, I always look for a gym first and a hotel or Airbnb second. Good gyms are much harder to find than places to sleep. Google Maps is often the best tool for finding new gyms. Once I’ve found one I like, I email them and ask if they have squat racks, dumbbells and any other equipment I think I’ll need. Having a good gym makes life much easier.
DDT: If you could travel back in time, and go back to those destinations you traveled to. What are the major things you’d do differently to stay in shape? What were some of the major obstacles you faced?
Great question. Recently I’ve done a really good job of practicing my own advice. But in the past, I definitely struggled the same way most people do — I stopped working out or worrying about my diet at all because I couldn’t stick to my normal routine.
One of the last times I went to Virginia Beach I ate at Ben and Jerry’s pretty much every day. I didn’t get fat, but it wasn’t a good habit to get into.
Probably the biggest fitness obstacle I faced while traveling was finding protein, fruits and vegetables in downtown Las Vegas. I worked there for two weeks last year, and I swear there are probably better grocery stores in Antarctica. I had to buy most of my meals at local restaurants or spend a ridiculous amount of money on basic stuff like bananas at a small grocery store near my hotel. That’s part of why I only stayed for two weeks.
We took a team poll in our private Team DDT facebook group and asked “what are some of the most common frustrations and questions you have when it comes to traveling and staying on track with training and nutrition?” We thought these would be some great questions for you to answer:
TeamDDT: Any ideas on how to locate a decent gym to stay on top of your training?
For sure. Search Google Maps first. If you just google “gyms Los Angeles” or something like that, often a lot of good gyms won’t show up on the first few pages of Google. Instead, look for gyms in Google Maps near where you’re staying. That way you’ll find a spot that’s close that you may have missed otherwise.
Almost all gyms offer some kind of day pass, even if they don’t advertise that fact on their websites. Most of the time you just have to ask.
Some people also have success finding gyms by searching Facebook, or just polling their friends on Facebook. I haven’t needed to do that yet since I usually find a good spot via Google, but it’s another option.
TeamDDT: Any ideas on how to stay on track of counting macros when on vacation?
Get comfortable eyeing portions instead of weighing your food. In theory, it would be great to be able to weigh all of your food all the time. But while you’re traveling, you may be eating in airports, at restaurants, or on a much tighter schedule, and using a scale becomes more problematic.
If you’ve been weighing your food for a while, guestimate your portion sizes and keep tracking your macros with a smartphone app. Right now I like Cronometer the best, but FitMacro is another really nice one to check out.
If you don’t have internet access, your phone dies or you get mugged and lose your smartphone, stick to sensible eating habits – eat protein and some kind of fruit or vegetable at every meal, and add starch and fat as needed to stay satisfied. I’ve become way more relaxed about how I count macros and my physique has actually gotten better.
TeamDDT: How do we balance vacation mode mentality along with still staying on track of our training and nutrition?
The key here is to focus on habits instead of specific methods. For example, working out is a great habit that pretty much everyone should be doing. But, if you’re completely stuck on the idea that every workout must be done with barbells or it doesn’t count, you’re hurting your progress.
I love barbell training, but when a proper gym isn’t available, you need to be able to adapt. For example, when I’m in West Virginia, I don’t have a gym, so I do bodyweight workouts and cycling instead. That makes it much easier to stick to other important habits, like eating healthily, being mindful of portion sizes and getting enough sleep.
TeamDDT: Any tips on what to do if the hotel doesn’t have a microwave or refrigerator?
- Make sure every meal has a protein source and some kind of fruit or vegetable.
- Add starch and fat as needed to stay satisfied and fuel your activity.
- Make the best choices you can based on the first two points.
You won’t be able to stick to your normal diet plan in this situation, but you can do a lot better than giving up.
TeamDDT: Any tips on how we can incorporate some drinks while on vacation but still being on track with our training and nutrition?
Ahhh, alcohol. Here are a few goof rules of thumb:
- Eat a lot more protein during the early part of the day. This helps control your hunger, keeps your portion sizes and calorie intake down, and gives you a larger calorie buffer at the end of the day. The more you plan on drinking, generally the less you should eat during the day.
- Choose alcohol or a dessert, not both. This makes it much easier to keep your total calories in check.
- Generally choose lower calorie drinks, like vodka, gin and other kinds of liquor. Fruity and sugary stuff like margaritas (which are delicious) have a lot more calories. But they’re still fine every now and then. J
DDT: What is your favorite book you’ve read and movie you’ve watched?
Favorite book: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.
Literally the most insane and impossible true story you’ll ever read, written in a way that I don’t think anyone else could have pulled off. I’d marry this writer if I could.
Favorite movie: V for Vendetta.
The plot and dialogue are great, and it makes a much deeper statement about the world than some dumb action movie. It makes you really think.
DDT: What was the best city/state/country you traveled to and why?
Favorite city: Austin Texas, United States.
The people are super nice, there are a million things to do, it’s relatively cheap, there’s a great startup and business culture, and it’s a fitness mecca. I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up moving here permanently one day.
Favorite state for visiting: West Virginia.
It’s quiet, peaceful, and in many places largely untouched by the outside world. There are still places here where you can walk for days without seeing a building or another person. I spent a lot of time here as a kid and got to do pretty much whatever I wanted – swimming, jumping off rocks, hiking, shooting guns, hunting and fishing. We also didn’t have internet access, so it was a nice way to unplug.
Favorite state for living in: probably California or Texas.
Texas because of Austin, and California because of the weather.
Favorite country: Brazil.
I’ve only been to the United States, England and Brazil, but so far the latter is my favorite. In America, we definitely have a lot of freedom in how we do business and what we say, but in Brazil, there’s a lot more cultural freedom.
For example, it’s fine to talk about sex openly, whereas in the United States we act like it’s some kind of taboo topic. Based on my experience and the experiences of friends who’ve traveled the world, I’d say Brazil has one of the most open cultures in the world.
DDT: Your favorite controlled-indulgence meal is______?
Perhaps spaghetti carbonara. Who doesn’t love bacon, cheese, eggs and pasta?
DDT: What does Armi like to do for fun? Please don’t hold back on us 😉
Meeting new people.
Hugging those people.
Playing with cats, dogs and other furry animals.
Watching movies, and making constant dumb jokes about the movie with a friend.
Listening and dancing to what my friend Daniel calls “bubblegum shit.” Stuff like Katy Perry, Banks, Kyla La Grange, Marina and the Diamonds – female pop mostly.
DDT: You just recently launched an awesome traveling guide. Can you tell us a bit about it and where we can find it?
It’s called The Fit Traveler. Basically, it takes all of the conversations I’ve had with other people who stay in shape while traveling, combines them with my 15+ year experience traveling, and distills all of the information down into simple, actionable steps people can use to stay in shape on the road.
DDT: Where can our readers and supporters follow you and your work?
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