Travelling and fitness?
Sounds quite non-existent isn’t it. You’re right. It can be tricky to keep up with those two at the same time. I don’t know why when it comes to travelling, our mind simply just go into ‘I can eat like a horse every single day!’ or ‘Let’s plan for (insert city name here)’ and then completely forget about the momentum you’ve built for your fitness and health.
It’s a terrible thing.
Before you think I’m going to just talk about how I’m superwoman and never missed any one of my workouts when I was on the road for the past three months, wait a minute. I AM NOT SUPERWOMAN. And yes, I did missed a couple of workouts, but that’s okay.
More importantly though, I’m here in Canada and I have been travelling across this great land to feed my curiosities, and I have to say North America, you have taught me so many invaluable lessons when it comes to fitness, health and nutrition. A different lessons. Specific lessons I don’t think I can find in either Singapore (or Asia!) and Australia.
And that’s what I want to share with you today.
If you live in North America, you may (or may not!) find these familiar at all. But in the eye of a super curious cat like me, your country is awesome and thank you for feeding 9 invaluable lessons I’ll always keep in mind about health and fitness.
Fitness is more than just how you look. It’s how you move.
I’ve been lucky because a good friend of mine goes to graduate school here in the University of Toronto and I’ve made the uni’s Athletic Centre as THE gym. And boy, there’s such a different vibe going on in there. The Strength and Conditioning part of the centre is massive and it sports at least 4 Olympic weight lifting platforms on top of 4 dedicated deadlifting space, something like 10 squat racks, three free-weights area and a bunch of Precor, Hoist and cable and pin-loaded machines.
I’ve never seen anything like that in my life before.
The facility aside, what inspires me here is that most people that goes to the gym there do not care less about their body image, they care more about how their body performs. And I know because the look in their eyes when they finish up their last set of Clean and Jerks tells me so.
It’s much less of aesthetics. It’s more of quality of life.
And that’s amazing.
I’ve worked in several gyms, was a member of some and went to quite a number of fitness centres around the world and this place gives a motivating and positive vibe away from how big your biceps are or whether or not you have abs and I think we need more of this in the world. It’s inspiring.
Even fitness spells equality.
Performance aside, another thing I learned about North America is that they represent equality quite significantly — and I mean the gender kind. Perhaps it’s just a university kind of thing to offer women’s only hour and a safe space for people of various abilities but this safe space can make a difference in one’s training performance and goals.
While I am used to training in a co-ed kind of setting and I personally feel that the boys can actually motivate me to lift heavier, with of course, proper form, I know some people from back home who would appreciate the women’s only setting.
It’s quite welcoming and refreshing to see this and apart from specific women’s only gyms in Singapore and Australia, I’ve never seen any other gyms back home giving this safe space. Pretty cool I must say.
Meals are huge. And I mean H. U. G. E. Huge.
Now because at least 80% of Pretty Awesome Fitness readers and visitors comes from the United States and Canada, I’ve always wondered how huge can a meal be when you guys actually say that ‘our North American meals are huge’. And oh my god, your meals are massive!
I had this same shock when I first came to Australia from Singapore and it seriously feels like dejavu.
The funny thing is, there’s always a lot going on in the typical North American meals and when I say that I mean a typical meal will normally come with a single main plate with you know, food, and alongside that will be three side dishes which in my opinion can also be named a meal.
Let me draw this out to you.
3/4 of a typical dinner plate = the serving in Singapore. Yes, it’s that small.
2 of a typical dinner plate = the serving in Australia.
4 of a typical dinner plate = the serving in, wait for it, North America.
Rising obesity rates? That explains.
I think my biggest meal experience so far is at IHOP. I just had to go there and see what it’s all about, and woah. Speechless. ‘Nuff said.
But healthy options are of an abundance.
That scariness aside, it’s also quite refreshing to see that wherever you go, there’s always a healthier option to pick from, if not a healthier restaurant to dine in. Most fast food chains here offers salads and something which does not make you feel like curling into a ball after that big lunch feast.
If there’s anything that is quite similar to back home in Australia is this point right here and it’s always nice to know that you’re safe even if your other half wants to have In-N-Out burgers on Saturday afternoon. Apparently In-N-Out burgers are Paleo friendly too. Win.
The only problem is probably walking up to the counter, fighting yourself and gaining enough willpower to actually order what nourishes you. Willpower. Makes a difference.
Cheaper and fresher produce = YAY!
I’ve always thought fresh produce in Australia is the freshest in the world, until I walked up to Loblaw’s in downtown Toronto and saw this.
I may have squealed a little bit when I saw this and it was indeed an amazing feeling.
I have to say that while Australia have amazing fresh produce, easily accessible in major supermarkets, the fresh produce here works out to be cheaper than what I normally get back home, organic included. When I’m not out and about discovering new North America cities, I buy my weekly groceries (which typically contains the same thing every week) and it works out to be less than $30.
Now I may feel a little ripped off back home but the quality of produce here is awesome and it is slightly better than the ones I can find back home, and definitely way better than those in Singapore.
Running at 95 degrees is NOT RECOMMENDED.
I try my best to get a work out in every day when I’m on the road, even if it’s just a 20-minute jog. It keeps me sane, and definitely makes me feel so much better during the day exploring. It does too help me in my food choices.
But, I have to say this: Running at 95 degrees is not recommended. I mean it!
I was up in downtown LA for about four days and because the apartment gym I was staying at wasn’t one of the best equipped, I decided to go for a run. At 9.30am. I checked the weather and it was 95 degrees. I told myself, ‘Yeah I can do this. I do this all the time in Singapore.’
Mind you, Singapore is at least 95 degrees all year round.
So I went. Just a couple of rounds and I nearly died.
Not literally, but close.
I should’ve known better, obviously the heat coupled with the humidity level and the level of dryness here is NOT the same and unless you’re a seasoned outdoor runner, I do not recommend running outdoors (at least not for extended periods of time) in the west coast summer heat no matter how long you’ve lived in LA.
It takes 14-days for your body to acclimatise to the weather. It may lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion and worse, heat stroke so don’t do it, unless you know what you’re doing.
And for the first time, thank you Singapore, for the high level of humidity. You make running outdoors quite possible.
Vast lands. AKA Your Own Natural Playground.
Canada, you are massive! It’s green everywhere. And brownie plus points? They’re a beauty.
I really do have to check out The Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee (thanks to our reader Matt!) and The Canadian Rockies. Next week I will be out to the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls so I expect nothing short of amazing.
Nonetheless, just like back home, the huge amount of lands makes it easy for you to make nature your very own playground. Why not do some bodyweight exercises there too like I did?
You can work out anywhere, and no one will judge.
Apart from travelling the California and New York City, I did have a chance to explore the eastern part of Canada, namely Ottawa, Montreal, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. As I was travelling on a budget, I know I won’t have access to a gym, much less a fully equipped fitness centre. So I decided to work out wherever I was, with whatever I’m wearing and with nothing but my body-weight even if it’s just 10-minutes during the day.
While doing that, I did have a chance to take some videos of me exercising. And this is ONE of the result:
Yes, I was up at Stanford when I took a chance to do some body-weight exercises.
One thing I’ve learned about this is that you can be working out anywhere, doing squats and push-ups and jumping jacks and no one will judge. They probably couldn’t care less about what you’re doing but that’s a good thing because then there’s little to no excuse for you to skip that afternoon 10-minute move. And I reckon this is amazing.
Compared to most parts of Asia, you will attract attention if you do things like this so I enjoyed my time doing this. It’s fun, and definitely helps in getting my workout for the day in.
Everyone is just nice.
I know this may not be relevant to fitness and nutrition but I just have to say this — everyone I’ve met and stumbled upon in Canada and the United States are just simply nice. I have to admit, there are some unpleasant ones but at least 90% of the people here are friendly, welcoming and definitely go all out to make you feel at home.
It helps when you’re nearly 10,000 miles away from home for sure.
Thank you, North America for giving me one of the best times of my life. I’m sure I will pick up more lessons of all kinds along the way.
Before I go…
So what do you think guys? If you live in Canada or the US, does any of this sound familiar or is it just me? Also, where else can I visit in North America which will definitely blow my mind away? Let me know!!
Now that I’m back to writing, and you should know this if you’re one of my email subscribers, I would love to know how I can help you along the way in your journey in fitness and nutrition. More importantly, I want to know what content would you like me to cover on Pretty Awesome Fitness. All you have to do is leave a comment below and I will gather all responses to see which areas I can touch a little bit more on.
I’m no expert personal trainer. I’m just a girl helping you deciphering the ever complicating health and fitness things easily, together.
And I just want you to be pretty awesome. Cause you know, it’s pretty awesome.
So write me a comment, tell me TWO things:
1. Where else should I visit in North America?
2. What would you like to read more of on Pretty Awesome Fitness?
I’m here to help and I love to so leave me a comment below!
Take care all!
Photo credit: Taken by me. :)