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6 Ways to Stay Active While Travelling

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers! If any of my readers will be travelling anywhere soon, I hope you have a safe journey.

One of the tricky parts of travelling is figuring out how to adapt your daily routine to all of the new experiences that come with visiting another place.

Between spending hours in airport or bus terminals while waiting for the next leg of the trip to begin and adjusting to a new climate, culture, or time zone, it can be challenging to stick to a fitness routine.

This post is going to talk about how to squeeze activity into whatever kind of trip you may have planned for the future.

Take Advantage of Dead Time

A year and a half ago, my spouse and I travelled to California for a beach vacation and extended family reunion. We couldn’t get a nonstop flight to our destination, so we ended up needing to book a layover. Our first flight took off first thing in the morning, and the second one wasn’t scheduled until the evening. What this meant was that we had several hours of dead time in the middle of the day while waiting for our connecting flight.

It wasn’t enough time to go out and explore the city where our first plane landed, so I walked laps in the airport instead. It wasn’t a challenging workout by any means, but it did allow me to stretch my legs and increase my step count while waiting for the next stage in our journey to begin.

Walking around can also be a more interesting way to pass the time than sitting for hours in the waiting room before you sit for even longer while on the train or bus.

Use the Hotel Gym or Pool

Checking out the hotel gym is a fantastic way to try out new equipment. You might discover that you like running on treadmills or that you prefer free weights to using a cable bicep bar. Alternatively, you might love gym machines and not find treadmills helpful at all. The only way to know is to try them out for yourself.

To give another example of why you should take advantage of these amenities, I love to go swimming. If my apartment building had a pool, I’d practically be a mermaid. You’d better believe that I spend as much time as I can swimming whenever my spouse and I stay somewhere that has one.  I’m not a huge fan of travelling in general, but this is definitely one of the perks of it.

Practice Body Weight Exercises

Body weight exercises don’t require any special equipment. Most of them are easy to memorize, and they can be done in your hotel room or in another small space as well. Due to all three of these benefits, I can’t recommend them highly enough if you’re looking to include some strength training sessions in your routine while you’re away from home.

Some of the exercises in the link above are already part of my strength training routine. The next time I go somewhere far from home, I’m looking forward to creating a hotel-friendly workout that can be done using only my own body as resistance.

Pick Active Entertainment

You don’t have to go to the gym to improve your fitness. There are so many other ways to exercise, and many of them can be valuable forms of entertainment in and of themselves.

Several years ago, I went hiking with my youngest brother and some other relatives while on a family vacation. He was a much more experienced hiker than I was, so we picked one of the easier trails and started walking.

There were many things I loved about that trip, but that hike remains one of my favourite memories from that time period. It had been ages since I’d been surrounded by mountains, and even longer since I’d hiked around in them.

We noticed a few subtle signs of the animals who lived there, from holes in the ground where snakes lived to the sound of birds singing in the bushes. While we weren’t actually that far away from the road, I was slightly surprised by how quiet the world is when you can’t hear any cars driving by or people having conversations just out of earshot. It was an incredibly peaceful experience.

Spending time with my brother was also a blast that day. We’re two of the quietest people in the family, so I relished the chance to listen to whatever he had to say while we hiked.

Playing Counts, Too

One of the things I like the most about visiting my other brother and his family is all of the playtime that happens with them. It’s not limited to the kids, either!

From playing catch with my oldest nephew to going swimming with everyone, we found so many active ways to spend time together that I didn’t bother doing a formal workout on those days.

Running around with them was all the exercise any of us needed. Now that my nephew is a proud big brother, our family reunions are only going to be more active and playful in the future.

Do the Best You Can

I’m going to be completely honest with you here. My workouts vary quite a bit when I’m travelling, and I don’t always meet my fitness goals. Some days could be full of more activity than I’d typically do back home, but others are more sedentary due to the kinds of activities the extended family chose for that particular day.

Vacations are a time to relax in whatever way you see fit. Don’t worry if working out doesn’t fit into your plans for a particularly busy day. Missing one session isn’t going to matter in the long run, especially if that short time away energizes you. I know I miss my workouts when I’m not able to squeeze them in. The longer I go without them, the stronger my urge becomes to get back into old, familiar routines again.

Maintaining a Low-Sugar Diet Through the Holidays

Last August, I began seriously cutting back on how much added sugar I ate after a friend mentioned all of the positive changes she’d seen from doing that.

Not only did I lose a few pounds unexpectedly, my skin became clearer and I have more energy now than I did last summer. My early afternoon energy slump has ended, and I don’t crave sugary snacks the same way I used to. Cutting back has brought so many positive changes to my life that I’m planning to stick with it.

Is my diet 100% added-sugar-free now? No, it isn’t. I have occasional treats, and I know there is still a little bit of added sugar in some of the food I buy like spaghetti sauce. At this point, I’m not interested in completely eliminating every source of added sugar from my diet.

Going 100% sugar-free would require me to cook and bake stuff that I’ve rarely if ever made purely from scratch, from bread to homemade spaghetti sauce. Maybe someday I’ll want to give this a try, but for now I’m happy with the way things are.

It is going to be interesting to see how this low-sugar diet affects me over the next few months in a few different areas, though.

Changing Tastebuds

The funny thing about switching to a low-sugar diet is that it changes your perception of how sweet something is and how much of it you want to eat.

Fruit and carrots taste much sweeter than they used to taste. They’re almost becoming a new version of candy to me because of how sugary and flavourful they are.

To give another example, I bought a pie for Canadian Thanksgiving last month thinking it would be a special treat after spending two months watching what I ate so carefully. While it did taste good, it was so sweet that I didn’t want much of it at all. The savoury dishes my spouse and I had that weekend were much more enjoyable, so I suspect I won’t bother buying or making a dessert for Christmas.

What will Christmas season treats be like in general this year?

Well, there is a flavour of speciality herbal tea I’ve already stocked up on for the winter. It happens to be a sugar-free variety that tastes so wonderful I’ve never felt the need to add anything sweet to it. It’s delicious just the way it is.

I might buy a couple of bars of dairy-free chocolate for the winter if or when I notice interesting flavours at my local grocery store. I also expect to eat them much more slowly than I did in the past. If carrots taste almost like candy to me, dark chocolate might not taste bitter at all anymore.

Fewer Treats

So far, I’m not stocking up on dairy-free Christmas treats like I’ve done in the past. I bought Halloween candy last month, and I still have plenty of it left to nibble on here and there.

Having a lot of sugary treats in the house also make it harder to stick to a low-sugar diet. There is something about having to bundle up and walk to the store that discourages me from actually doing that most of the time when I have a sudden urge to eat something decadent.

I’m not saying I won’t buy anything sugary this holiday season. Grocery stores often sell delicious holiday-themed candies and chocolates this time of the year, and I’m not opposed to trying one or two of them if any of them are dairy-free as I mentioned earlier.

The difference will be in how many I buy and how often I eat them. Some of my Halloween candy actually got stale a few weeks ago because I was eating it so slowly. That’s never happened to me before, but I like the fact that I can be satisfied by much smaller and less frequent portions of sweets these days.

Holiday Sicknesses

My final prediction for the holiday season has to do with getting sick.

Every Christmas I used to eat far more sweets than normal because they were sold everywhere and it always made me so happy to find a few of them that were safe for me. On or soon after Christmas, I’d come down with a cold or other mild illness.

Obviously, the sugar itself didn’t cause me to get sick. Late December is prime time for all sorts of respiratory illnesses to get passed around as people meet up for celebrations and spend much of their free time indoors in crowded places in general. I’m sure that most of the blame for my annual Christmas cold can be placed on all of the germs that thrive during that part of the year.

I have read, though, that sugar can curb your immune system just enough that a germ you might have normally been able to fight off is able to make you sick.

It will be interesting to see if this pattern repeats itself now that I’m eating sugar far more sparingly.

Go Low-Sugar with Me

If you’ve been thinking about adopting a low- or no-sugar diet, now is the perfect time to start.

It only took a couple of weeks for my tastebuds to begin adjusting, and I didn’t take a cold-turkey approach to this dietary change. It can be as simple as putting one teaspoon of sugar into your morning coffee instead of two.

Small changes can make a big difference over the long haul. Don’t think of this as temporary experiment. Make it a permanent lifestyle change, but go as slowly as you need to in order for every tweak to your habits to stick. They build on each other, especially once your tastebuds become more sensitive and fruit begins to taste sweeter than it did in the past.

The more tweaks you make to what you eat and how often you eat it, the easier it will be to stick to the next small change as well.

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Suggestion Saturday: November 18, 2017

Here is this week’s list of blog posts, comic strips, short stories, and other links from my favourite corners of the web.

How the Horrific 1918 Flu Spread Across America. This is what our ancestors were dealing with nearly a century ago. I’ve read that this epidemic killed more people than World War I itself. It surprised me as a kid that, to the best of our knowledge, none of my ancestors lost any family members or good friends to it. Many people weren’t so lucky a hundred years ago.

Coping with Tinnitus or Hearing Loss Over the Holidays via tinnitustoolbox. Whether you’re personally dealing with hearing loss or care about someone who is, these tips are wonderful.

Five Star Trek Technologies Taken to their Natural Conclusion via mythcreants. It’s nice to be reminded about Star Trek episodes that I’d half-forgotten about, especially when their writers didn’t fully think through how certain inventions would actually change a society.

Coming Out for the Holidays. This is fabulous advice for the upcoming holiday season.

Winter Fashion – Expectation vs. Reality. With winter just around the corner, this is going to be very true soon.

Top 10 Ways to Prepare for a Canadian Winter via ‪andre1begin‬. There was a lot of good advice here.

From Untilted:

Firstly, my name is Marcus.

Grandma sumtimes calls me Marcy. Marcy is a girls name.

I should make her stop caling me by a girls name. But I cant. She washed my soiled diapers when I was litle. She didnt sleep nites. She personaly received me from the stork. She pulled me from the cabbage patch. She did loads of other stuff for me too.

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Why It’s Okay to Take Breaks From Science Fiction and Fantasy

I have a confession to share with all of you. I’ve barely read any science fiction and fantasy books recently.

Since I’m a sci-fi writer and a longtime fan of these genres, I’m regularly immersed in thoughts about wizards, robots, aliens, spaceships, science experiments gone wrong, and all of the other tropes you can expect to find in them.

Science fiction and fantasy ideas show up in my dreams, tweets, and random conversations with my spouse, family, and friends.

Most of the time, I love living this way. I’ve read so many different series velw that I can quickly pick out how certain contemporary writers were influenced by tales that were published decades or centuries ago. One of the things I like to do when I’m standing in line or waiting for something is to try to pick out similarities between various universes that I hadn’t thought of yet.

Some authors take careful note of usual patterns in these genres only to figure out how to disrupt them at a critical part of the storyline. It takes a thorough understanding of how science fiction and fantasy stories typically play out to bend the audience’s expectations of how an adventure should end or how a hero is supposed to behave without alienating your readers.

My favourite storytellers are the ones like Douglas Adams who tiptoe across this line perfectly from the first scene to the last one.

With that being said, there can be a lot of repetition in any genre after you’ve spend many years exploring it. I know some people who truly enjoy the familiarity that comes with diving so deeply into this subject, and I completely understand where they’re coming from even though I don’t always feel the same way.

You see, spending time reading other types of stories only reinforces my love for science fiction and fantasy.

Taking Breaks Is a Good Thing

The nice thing about wandering between genres is that it gives the reader a chance to try something completely new. The romance and horror genres might both write about an abandoned graveyard, but the ways they used that setting would be nothing alike.* but  A thriller’s approach to a herd of runaway horses threatening to trample the main character would also be nothing like how a traditional western would solve that problem.

To give another example, a few years ago I began reading mysteries because I was curious about that kind of storytelling and hadn’t read much of it in the past. Needing to pay attention to every little detail of the plot in order to figure out who the murderer was as soon as possible changed the way I approached other genres. If you assume every odd detail might be important later on, it’s much easier to predict how a story will go when the author drops hints about future plot twists.

I also never would have guessed there would be so much crossover between mystery and science fiction, but to my surprise I found a lot of books that couldn’t be easily pinned into either category. This isn’t something I would have ever figured out if I’d stuck to a steady diet of pure science fiction and fantasy.

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of young adult and non-fiction books. The young adult genre reminds me of what it felt like to be a child or teenager. Most of the non-fiction books I read are about history or science which are two topics that can be very useful for educational reasons as well as for eventually coming up with new ideas for my own stories. The longer I spend in these other genres, the more I begin to miss the ones I read most often.

The good news is that the science fiction and fantasy landscape is gigantic. My to-read list is still incredibly long, and it includes still includes a decent number of famous authors I’ve been curious to try but haven’t gotten around to yet.  It will be nice to chip away at this list once my break has ended. I’m already beginning to feel the first stirring of interest in magic and technology, so I suspect I’ll jump back into my regular routine soon.

*I have accidentally stumbled across one or two romantic horror tales in the past, though, so in those rare cases it would depend on whether the characters were preparing to fall in love or fight monsters.

How often – if ever – do you take breaks from reading your favourite genres?