Food is one of the best ways to connect with the local culture while traveling. I’m certainly not one to hold back when it comes to trying new dishes. But, how much is too much? Whether you’re a road warrior always on the go, or simply looking forward to weekends at the beach this summer, Amy Rizzotto of MOARfit sat down with me to share some tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle while traveling.
So Amy, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I’m a wanderlust food and fitness loving blogger, yoga teacher and nutrition coach currently based in Washington, D.C. Over the past five years, I’ve had the great fortune of living on three different continents—North America, Africa and Europe—and experiencing a small slice of all that this great world has to offer. As meandering as my path has been, it has landed me in this amazing city and given me the confidence to pursue my passions—like opening a yoga studio!
And, how often do you travel?
I travel as much as I can, though recently, it’s been mostly U.S.-bound. Over the last seven years, I’ve traveled to 18 different countries and lived overseas three separate times. It’s my dream to eventually blend my love for travel with my dedication to yoga by leading yoga retreats for Yoga Heights in Africa and southeast Asia—I can already picture a group of yogis doing sun salutations with Mount Kilimanjaro as our strong, still backdrop. In the meanwhile, I’m embracing shorter getaways to underrated local destinations like Charlottesville, VA and Ashville, NC.
Well, it sounds like you're working on some very exciting things! Part of what drew me to your blog are the simple, clean eating recipes you share with your readers. Do you have any go-to snacks you recommend packing for the plane, train, or car?
I’m so happy to hear you enjoy MOARfit, Marie! It’s my goal to make healthy eating easy, fun and yummy. My go-to snacks to take on the go whether it’s for travel or just for a busy lifestyle are pre-portioned nuts (1/4 cup or enough to cover your palm), hard fruits that won’t get banged up in your bag (like green apples and Asian pears), and homemade energy bites. I also like to pack gluten-free instant oatmeal and ziplock baggies with proportioned cinnamon, chia seeds, slivered almonds, dried tart cherries and a touch of coconut palm sugar for a healthy breakfast on the road—just add hot water! These things take a little more planning, but they make all the difference.
Sounds great. What's the best way to adapt to different time zones and prevent jet lag?
I’m super light sensitive so I tend to adjust pretty quickly—when the sun’s up, I’m up. That said, the older I get, the tougher it is. My trick is to take melatonin an hour before I want to go to sleep for the first two nights. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that is part of our body’s sleep-wake cycle. When melatonin levels drop when you don’t want them to, it leads to insomnia or jet lag. I like Trader Joe’s peppermint chewables, which come in a 500 mcg dose.
Does our amount of physical activity each day affect the way we sleep?
Yes, absolutely. Think of a two year old who’s bouncing off the walls at 7pm when his parents just want them to go to sleep so they can watch a movie and kick back. What’s the solution? Get them to run wild around the house, play for 20 minutes in the backyard (supervised of course) or dance to silly songs and they’ll crash shortly after—and sleep, literally, like a baby. We’re all two year olds at heart and a good dose of physical activity is keep to wearing out our energy stores.
Everyone is different, however, so pay attention to when you exercise. For some, working out late at night can amp you up rather than mellow you out, so experiment to find a time that works well for you.
I like to do an energizing yoga practice with lots of inversions in the morning to wake myself up when I’m feeling groggy, and a more restorative practice with seated forward folds and longer holds to wind down before hitting the sheets. Yoga helps clear my mind, which is often the biggest hurdle to sound slumber.
How do you ensure you fit in exercise when you travel?
Fitness and a healthy life style are all about consistency. Being consistent takes dedication and is made much easier by finding activities that are fun and engaging. For me, I always bring my travel yoga mat (I’m a Jade snob if you’re looking for a recommendation) and a pair of running shoes. What I love about yoga and running is that you can do them anywhere. Granted I’m a yoga teacher, but there are great resources for free and low-cost yoga online. If you’re a yogi road warrior I’d definitely recommend giving YogaGlo a try.
Can you tell me about the coolest or most unique place you've practiced yoga?
Hmm—I’d have to say it was probably the roof of my Senegalese homestay family’s house in Dakar. When I was studying abroad my junior year at GWU I would go up there a few nights a week after school and free flow for 45 minutes to an hour. The end of my practice usually coincided with some of the most epic sunsets I have ever seen. The hot pink and orange sky, warm African air and coastal breeze made for the absolute best savasanas. I feel a little piece of bliss just harkening back to that memory.