January 10, 2009

The Backpacker Diet


Forget the South Beach, Zone, or Atkins diets, I have a much better plan, and I promise it's more fun. I think the problem with most North Americans is that we spend a good part of our days sitting at work, or in the car commuting to and from work. I know I did, and I considered myself to be a pretty active person. On weekends I would try to go hiking, running, or rollerblading around New York City. I was also going to the gym about two times a week. But no matter how much I worked out to stay in shape, I still gained weight. I'm kind of embarrassed to say this, but I gained about twenty pounds since my college days when I was in peak physical shape. I ran the New York City marathon in 2005, so that helped to curb the weight for a bit, but by the time I left to go traveling I had some small beer/love handles that Julie used to joke about.

Traveling was the best thing I could have done to get back in shape. I started in South America where it's an adventure playground. Even if you're not into doing serious outdoor activities, even just walking around sightseeing all day will burn an amazing amount of calories. The key is to stick to developing countries that have hot climates. The food in these places are usually extremely healthy, and well balanced.

I had lost a good amount of weight by the time I reached Argentina, but that country reversed all the good I had done to my body. Argentinians subsist off of beef, pork, and more beef, with some pasta here or there, topped off by a bottle of wine. Fruits and vegetables, what are those? Okay, so I might be exaggerating a little, but I ate like a king and my belly showed it.

Australia wasn't very good to me either, considering that they have free barbecues in every town. As a backpacker living out of a car, that's an invitation to grill some meat on the barbie, every chance you get.

It wasn't until I got to Southeast Asia that I lost all the weight since University, and I'm happy to report that I am now a whopping 145 pounds. I'm only five foot eight, so don't go thinking I'm anorexic. How did I do it. Well, I kept away from western food, gave up soft drinks, and didn't drink much beer. I ate fish, chicken, rice, tofu, and a whole lot of vegetables. Asia is easy since there are delicious curries to choose from, and the noodle soups are fantastic. It also helps that it's hot in Southeast Asia, and I drank at least three liters of water each day.

So, before you consider cutting out carbs for your new years resolution, why not consider a lifestyle change and travel the world. Pick a developing country with hot weather, and leave McDonald's at home where it belongs. Who knows, you might actually have some fun while you're dieting.

Sorry if the photo of me is a little creepy, but I wanted to show the results to all my beer belly brethren out there. It's tough photographing yourself in the mirror while trying not to look too cheesy.

4 comments:

souljob said...

yeah...all you need to do is quit your job, and somehow travel the world on an unending amount of money, surfing and laying in the sun to loose weight. It's so simple! Why arent we all doing that!? hahaha. Hey, while you're over there, can you tell me the cure for male pattern baldness? Let me guess...all i need to do is rub diamonds on my scalp while lounging around a glacial hotspring in Latvia?

Jon Feldman said...

Jared, in response to souljob's comment, I'm curious, now that you're winding down your 15th month or so backpacking through mostly cheap countries, could you share what your total outlow of cash in US dollars was for these 15 months of travel?

Others who think that a trip like this is impossible might be surprised to hear how relatively little it cost you to do.

Jared said...

Souljob, you made me laugh really hard, so thank you.

Jon, it's actually not that expensive to travel for 15 months if you pick the right places. I budgeted about $1000 a month, which was $25 a day with some extra money for travel. This $1000does not cover major travel, which can be a big expense. Although, low cost carriers in Asia have made travel really cheap...unfortunately at the expense of the environment.

You can also spend much less than $25 a day or $1000 a month in some places. Bolivia is really cheap, so is Laos. If you stay put for a while like I did in Thailand, then you can live off of $10 a day.

I have met many people from Canada and England, who work for 6 months a year and save so they can live much better in Asia for the other 6months when the weather is cold at home.

Alex Portilla said...

Look at that stud!! Maybe now you can tell us how to avoid sunburn.