Moving to Asia hasn’t been easy. Cultural differences, a different language, being so far from friends and family. None of it has been easy, but there’s one thing I have figured out: Keeping fit and eating right.
I thought following my nutritional plan would be impossible in Bangkok, where I’m working as a model, but I managed to figure it out, despite it taking a little creativity and extra work (there are no super-convenient pints of pre-separated egg whites or Trader Joe’s stocked with pre-riced cauliflower).
On Day One, I arrived in Thailand jet-lagged and with only two concerns— where’s the supermarket and do they have chicken breast? This was my first trip, so I had no idea what to expect. I was worried about how I would fit my diet and lifestyle into this new culture, but my trainer, Heather Marr, assured me that we’d figure it out together. My first mission was to scope out the supermarket. The most common way to eat in Thailand is to go out for street food, so the local supermarkets aren’t overly stocked. I remember going back to my apartment my first day with a can of tuna, some semi-familiar looking vegetables, and a desperate feeling wondering how I could keep this up for three months. The next day (while very lost on our way to castings), my roommate and I stumbled into an international supermarket. I found all the essentials—chicken breast, egg whites and olive oil spray.
My next mission was to scope out the gym situation. Our apartment fitness center was no Equinox, but luckily my workouts don’t require much equipment. I had a treadmill, my jump rope, and an open space—I was set.
While still being able to keep a version of my old routine, I really began to enjoy all of the new experiences Thailand had to offer. I was introduced to tons of new fruits and vegetables, which definitely made food prep exciting, and I got more creative with my exercises: No Step Mill means getting to climb up and down the stairwells of Thai skyscrapers for an hour. One of my favorite things was to enjoy a treat meal and eat like a local, then create my own version of the recipe that fits into my everyday diet.
But just as I was getting the hang of Thailand, my work took me to Taiwan and China. Most apartment buildings in Taipei and Guangzhou don’t have fitness centers and gyms aren’t overly popular. Healthy imported foods are difficult to find and, unless you read Mandarin, good luck deciphering those ingredient labels. Still, I do my best, which is the most important thing. Wherever you are—making smart food choices and getting exercise may not be easy, but it is possible. Here are my top tips for maintaining your healthy lifestyle while traveling for work (or fun).
Tip One: Before you go, do a Google search for international supermarkets. Local markets are great for shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables, but the international ones tend to have better quality meat and are stocked with some items that are tough to find in local stores.
Tip Two: Pack a jump rope and a compact foam roller. Neither take up much space. The jump rope lets you get in your cardio anywhere, anytime, and the foam roller helps keep muscles loose after your workouts.
Tip Three: Find the nearest gym and ask the manager if they offer day passes or week passes. Many gyms do even though it isn’t advertised.
Tip Four: Pack plastic containers (you can fill them with clothes) and measuring cups for easier food prep.
Tip Five: Pack the non-perishable food items you can’t live without. I’ve had trouble finding Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and no-sugar nut butter overseas, so now I know to pack that.