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A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting and Staying Fit and Healthy on the Road

One of the best parts of RV life is the freedom that comes with the lifestyle. But freedom also makes it difficult to stick to a routine. And without routine, it’s likely your healthy eating and exercising habits will die.

We struggled quite a bit with this our first year on the road but have finally found a way to get back in shape and are feeling good. Here is a step by step guide to help you either stay on track with your health and fitness when you hit the road, or encourage you to get back on the wagon if you’ve fallen off like we did!

Step 1: Cut one thing at a time and/or find a healthier replacement

We all have those habits we pick up that are so hard to break. Just choose one and focus on cutting it out for a month. Then you can slowly cut out other’s. But if you go cold turkey on them all, there’s very little chance that you’ll continue to be successful. For us, it was drinking extra calories – beer, wine, soda and coffee. We started by just drinking our coffee black. It took a bit to get used to but after a few weeks, we didn’t even think about adding cream and sugar anymore.

Coffee cups cheers with coffee spilling out and fall leaves behind the mugs
Cheers to drinking our coffee black! One healthy step leads to others.

Then, we completely cut out soda by swapping it for sparkling water. We got the same carbonated, sweet(ish) taste without all the terrible ingredients. Next, we decided to limit our weekly alcoholic beverage intake to 2-3 per week. This allowed us to still check out breweries and wineries in the areas we visit (our favorite activity!), but kept us from buying a bottle or a 6-pack for home and grabbing them from the fridge out of habit. Which is a good point to make – don’t have anything in your fridge or pantry that will tempt you!!

Step 2: Start a fitness challenge with an accountability partner

Signing up for a gym membership is not enough. You’ll show up, be unsure of what equipment to use and what workouts to do. You’ll be less likely to see results and stick with it.

We recommend signing up for a training plan or fitness program to actually motivate you and keep you on track. One idea, is to sign up for a 5k or half marathon. Then, find a training program that breaks down what you should be doing every day leading up to race day. The Nike+ Run Club app is a great tool we recommend for finding a training plan. Running is great for travelers because you don’t need equipment and you can literally run anywhere you are! Better yet, have a friend sign up with you and keep each other accountable.

You might be thinking “but, I’m not a runner”. Don’t worry, we weren’t either. But somehow, someway we went from barely being able to run a mile to running a half-marathon without stopping in less than 4 months. You’d be surprised what you can do if you just go for it and have a clear plan for achieving it! It’s also fun to incorporate these races into your travel route. Pick a city that has a fun or unique race and maybe even meet up with other travelers to run it with you. We did this with the Austin Marathon in Texas with friends!

couple holding medals after completing the austin half marathon

Another idea is to purchase a workout program. There are many 30, 60, or 90 day programs that you can stream online and don’t even require equipment. You can do the workout anywhere you have space! Now, we know that “space” isn’t really in an RVer’s vocabulary. But, RVers have the great outdoors as their backyard.  Don’t be shy…get outside and do your workouts, even if that means you’re the “star” of the campground!

We recently purchased Beach Body On Demand and are so happy with it! We completed our first 60 day program (Insanity Max 30) and while it was physically challenging, it wasn’t hard to stick to. The workouts are all laid out for you, are only 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, require no equipment, and have a companion eating plan. It’s not rocket science to understand that the easier something is laid out for you, the more likely you will be successful at it.

Dan lost 17 pounds just doing what the program said to do and eat each day! But, it definitely helped having each other to push and motivate one another. We can’t stress the importance of having an accountability partner enough! If you’re a couple and have different physical abilities and therefore will have different workout programs, find a way to still encourage one another!

Step 3: Get a meal planning strategy (need one? we’ve got one for you for FREE!)

Studies show, weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise. So ignoring your diet won’t get you far. Eating healthy can be especially challenging for full-time travelers. But, this cannot be your excuse.

Just like with exercise, if you have a plan, you’re more likely to stick to it. We all know how to eat healthy – veggies, lean protein, less fat, sugar, and carbs, and more veggies! But we don’t always eat healthy because of the inconvenience of it and the habits we’ve formed.

Healthy habits are more likely to “stick” if you use the buddy system. Exercise and clean eating are perfect buddies. If you start your workout program we suggest in step 2, you’re going to increase your motivation to eat better. You’ll quickly realize how hard you’re working during your exercise and you won’t want to waste that effort on eating the calories you just burned. You’ll start to feel better physically, which will help you keep going and will encourage you to fuel your body with goodness!

It’s common to get stuck in a rut of eating the same unhealthy recipes over and over again because, if you’re how we used to be, you walk into the grocery store and say “what do we need?”. You want to get out of there so quick that you just start buying whatever meals require the least amount of ingredients and effort – which are usually unhealthy!

computer with recipe and ingredients next to it

But, imagine if you had your meals planned out for an entire month? And if you had a list of the ingredients, organized by the section of the store you’d find them at, and could reuse or just slightly tweak that plan month after month. Not only would you be in and out of the grocery store in 15-20 minutes, but you’d never have to wonder “what’s for dinner”.

Well, we’ve created that for you…

Here’s a FREE meal planning guide perfect for RVers and full-time travelers

We created a simple, easy-to-use spreadsheet that makes meal planning SO much easier. Using the spreadsheet, you can plan 4 weeks of daily meals, have your grocery list right there, link to recipes, and make shopping easier and healthier! We even have 1 week done for you, with healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes!

You can keep the same recipes each month and never meal plan again, or switch the meals up if you get tired of them or want to try new recipes! Either way, the planning is the hardest part! But once you complete this meal plan spreadsheet, you’ll be on the right track.

When you have meals planned out and the food in the fridge, you’ll stick to it. You’ll eat the food because you won’t want it to spoil and having this spreadsheet is almost like having meals scheduled on your calendar. You’ll no longer need to eat fast food out of convenience and you might even save money!

A few more tips for eating healthy on the road…

One common reason that RVers especially have trouble staying healthy on the road is the lack of storage. Find recipes with fewer ingredients and that use fewer pots. You can search Google for “one pot recipes” or “5 ingredient meals”, for example. Or, use an Instant Pot! You throw everything in one pot and can have dinner ready in under 30 minutes, which is especially great on long travel days!

As for not having enough food storage space, we recommend only buying enough groceries for 3-4 days at a time. Yes, no one likes to go to the grocery store more than once a week, but our meal planning spreadsheet will make grocery shopping a breeze and it won’t be as big of a deal! Again, finding recipes with few ingredients will help, too.

We can’t forget to discuss road trip snacks! Every road warrior knows that snacks are a must for long drives. So here are some healthy road trip snacks that we have found to love. They’ll keep your mouth busy, which helps pass the time, and are either high in protein to fill you up, and/or low in calories so it’s okay if you eat a few too many.

  • Cherries
  • Edamame
  • Sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • Mixed nuts (walnuts, pistachios, almonds, cashews – but don’t go too crazy, nuts are high in fat)
  • Carrots and celery (dip in hummus for extra flavor!)
  • Popcorn (without the salt and butter!)
  • Beef jerky
  • Kale or coconut chips
  • Sparkling water (because plain water can get boring!)

Step 4: Keep at it and have balance

The journey to better health and fitness might be slow and difficult at first. But, eventually it will become a part of your natural habits. You’ll become a whole new you that you hardly recognize! It’s exciting. It’s addicting. You’ll want to keep going when you see the progress, we promise.

couple working out exercising next to RV

Have fun with your fitness goals, too. Incorporate things you love about the travel lifestyle and are doing anyway. Choose a more challenging hike than you normally would, pick up a new outdoor, active hobby like biking or kayaking!

Most importantly, give yourself some grace. You’ll have bad days where you slip up and miss workouts or splurge on sweets. That’s okay. Don’t be too rigid or you’ll feel like you’re depriving yourself of everything you love. Have cheat meals, cheat days, or whatever you need. Reward yourself in some way – even if it’s with your favorite food or beverage – when you’ve been doing well, you deserve it!

One final piece of advice…

Don’t let the weather derail your fitness goals. It’s a very easy excuse to skip workouts when it’s winter time and there’s absolutely no way you can work out outside because of a blizzard or even in the extreme heat of summer time.  So if you’re planning to be facing some variable weather conditions, we suggest signing up for a gym membership.

What’s the best gym membership for full-time travelers?

We researched all the nationwide gyms out there to find the best options for travelers. We compiled a list of each gym, how many locations they have, their monthly fees, amenities, and free trial information (if applicable). If you want to quickly determine which gym would be the best for you, based on your location, needs, and budget, you can download a copy below!

We hope this article has helped you get motivated to stay healthy on the road! Full-time traveling may feel like you’re always on vacation, but you don’t want your body to look like it is.

What other tips do YOU have for staying healthy and fit on the road?

Share in the comments below!

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