100 day diet & fitness challenge to get back in shape & lose weight

Not too long ago when I was healthy and fit

In many ways this is the best time of my life. I’ve been diligent about saving and being frugal and consequently I’ve never been in better shape financially. I’m thrilled that many of my travel related projects including this travel blog, Smiling Faces Travel Photos, Backpacking Travel Blog, my youtube travel channel and my vimeo travel channel have taken off and grown at rates that have exceeded any of my initial expectations. I’m the dating the best girlfriend (Audrey – aka on the interwebs as That Backpacker) I’ve ever met in my life who is just as thoroughly addicted to travel as I am. I have travel plans for next year that are likely to exceed any journey I’ve ever been on.  Not too shabby!

I love in-line skating - it's almost as fun as being on the ice.

Thus, things are going supremely well these days except for in one MAJOR area: MY HEALTH. In the process of working a demanding 40 hour 9-5 job in tandem with blogging around the clock, I’ve let my health and fitness levels slide in a way I’ve never experienced before in my life. I’ve almost always been one of the healthiest people I’ve known in terms of eating well and exercising daily. I’m a former competitive athlete in a number of different sports. I’m thoroughly appalled at how bad I’ve let things get and the tipping point came recently when I could no longer fit into my loosest pair of pants. It’s beyond embarrassing. I’ve been in a state of denial for quite some time and it’s only now that I’ve decided to put my foot down and do something proactive about this situation. The stress of trying to juggle a full-time 40 hour a week job with another even more demanding job (blogging) has pushed me to the brink. There have been weeks where I’ve worked over 100 hours. I can’t remember the last time I slept more than 5 hours. Instead of intelligently coping with my stress levels by doing things such as weight training, jogging and in-line skating, I’ve often made frequent trips late at night to the local pizza parlour, 24 hour burger joint and convenience store that sells packets of frozen poison. I’ve put teenagers to shame with the amount of junkfood I’ve consumed in recent months. As I mentioned previously, I can’t believe I let it get this bad!

As a humorous aside:  a few months ago I told my good travel buddy Brendan Van Son that I wouldn’t eat pizza for the rest of the year and that if I failed I’d give him $100.  I think I may have lasted 5 1/2 days if even that :P  My paypal account suddenly felt a little lighter.  In this video you can see him and Will Peach devouring a pizza that I bought for them…because that’s what good friends do, right?  They make fun of each others weaknesses :P

I’ve always believed that focussing on the problem is never the best way to solve something. It’s good to identify a problem in your life, come up with an action plan and then spend 90% of your energy focussed on the solution as opposed dwelling on the problem. I’ve reached this point. I’ve decided to embark on a 100 day diet and fitness challenge to whip my fat ass back into shape. You see, I prefer having a skinny ass as opposed to a fat one :P This is what I’m going to do to get back into a lean mean backpacking around the world travel freakshow machine – in less than 100 days:

Diet Related:

1)  No Junkfood Pizza, chocolate, ice cream, burgers, fries and colas have been the worst offenders in my catastrophic failure of a diet lately. I plan to eliminate all of these junk food items plus anything that is sugary, deep fried, over-processed, salty or fattening. My goal is to eat as naturally as possible favouring a diet heavy in fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and other sources of lean protein. 2)  Reduce Calories I’m going to eat smaller portions for breakfast and dinner and eliminate all late night snacking. My breakfasts will now consist of a handful of almonds, one kiwi (the only fruit that is cheap in the area I’m living in) & a multivitamin. My late night snack, if I decide I even need one will be the same as my breakfast.) 3)  Drink Only Water Aside from water and herbal teas I won’t be consuming any calories with my beverages. This includes alcohol. *The only exception during this 100 day protocol will be at times when it would be otherwise socially awkward: for example, at a birthday party when everyone is eating cake*

Fitness Related:

Exercise Daily This is going to be the easy part. I’ve missed working out regularly something fierce. My usual standard, as a teenager and in my adult years was to do some form of exercise daily. I will get back on this routine immediately. I plan to do a combination of weight training, jogging, running and stretching to improve my strength, endurance and flexibility. It’s time to become super fit Sammy once again :P

Barriers to Success

As far as I’m concerned my biggest barriers to achieving success with this protocol is to slip and fall off the wagon. Thus, I’m going to impose a harsh penalty on myself for any day I don’t live up to my standards both nutritionally and/or fitness wise. Every time I mess up I’ll take $100 away from my travel fund. Ouch! Now that’s a plan with some teeth!

Another photo of me stretching

What I Need To Do In Order to Achieve My Goal

I want to keep this as simple as possible. I need to move more and eat less. And I need to do it on consistent basis. I’ll need to be disciplined with my diet and diligent about exercising daily. If I do this I’m sure I can achieve some impressive results in just 100 days. I plan to provide an update on December 13th – when the challenge is over. It’s time to begin – IMMEDIATELY:  The first step is picking up the pizza box I currently have on the floor :P   What are your thoughts? Do you think I’ll fail or succeed? Is there a 100 day challenge you’d like to take yourself? (Blogging, health, fitness, travel, etc) I’m curious to hear what you have to say!

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{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

Cole @ FourJandals.com September 5, 2012 at 11:20 am

Good luck mate. I had a similar revelation the other day. Just need to kick that A into G.


Nomadic Samuel September 5, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Hahaha, no doubt, that’s my plan as well: kick my A into G!


flipnomad September 5, 2012 at 11:32 am

goodluck sam… im sure you’ll succeed just like what you have done in your other projects…

im just on my way to mcdonalds when i read this post LOL… as for me, i need to fatten up :-)


Nomadic Samuel September 5, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Hahaha…lucky you! :P Thanks for the encouragement!


30 Home Games September 5, 2012 at 11:39 am

Sounds fun! Basketball was my sport of choice when I was abroad, finding it in every Country and connecting with people through a shared passion.

For myself I’m extra motivated if there’s a social element. You never mentioned working out with your GF or other people (your students?). It would help having a running mate right?


Nomadic Samuel September 5, 2012 at 11:58 pm

That’s a great idea! Having an exercise buddy would not only make work-outs more fun, but it would hold you more accountable, as well.


Santosh Mishra September 5, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Hello Samuel,
This one really a cool article. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.


Nomadic Samuel September 5, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Thanks Santosh, it’s an experience I’m hoping to transform.


Alain September 5, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Sam, I ‘m a fitness fanatic, at 66 m’y Wright hasn’t changer since I was 25. Ther is nô secret, exercice EVERY DAY. The best one is running, second swimming. personnaly I swim 4kil/DAY or run 10 kil/DAY. Eat asian soup, shrimps,chicken, no red meat, Rice, no sauce, pure olive oil , no milk, cheese, végétales steamed for 5minutes. In 2 months you’ll be fit, no need to lift weight. One hour a DAY that’s all. And at 60 you’l be still running marathons and triathlons. But for god’s sake forget the creations of these Sick americans, junk food.


Nomadic Samuel September 6, 2012 at 12:00 am

Alain, that’s great you’ve kept your fitness levels up throughout the years. I want to be in your position as I age. You’re absolutely correct about Western junk-food. It’s nothing but poison. It’s back to the basics in terms of diet and exercise and after a long in-line skate & jog last night I’m feeling great this morning.


Molly September 5, 2012 at 2:24 pm

It´s so easy to get sidetracked with twitter, blogging and travelling leaving sport and other goals on the wayside. After getting really in shape I need to get back into the gym more this Autumn/Winter and reign back the pizza & beer intake. Good luck with the challenge. If you really put your mind to it, it can be done.


Nomadic Samuel September 6, 2012 at 5:15 am

Thanks Molly!

It really boils down to be a matter of your mind and how strong your will is to achieving the goal.


Tom @ Waegook Tom September 5, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Good luck, Sam! I feel you on this, too – the hagwon job plus blog upkeep is taking up a LOT of my time and my health has gone down the drain recently. I’m not the heaviest I’ve ever been but let’s just say that this time last year, I was several kilos lighter and eating a lot less junk food!

I’m starting the Insanity Workout after payday – my goal isn’t as close as yours though. I want to be looking all sexified for when I start my RTW trip in March! (and so that my mum can’t possibly call me, “portly”…again.)


Nomadic Samuel September 6, 2012 at 5:14 am

Hahaha…yeah, I recently had a kid make fun of my belly at school. I’m just shocked I let it get this bad. I think you’re giving yourself a more reasonable amount of time to accomplish things. Also, by having a time deadline I think it forces you to stop making excuses.


Marianne September 5, 2012 at 4:07 pm

I´m sure you will succeed because you seem determined to do so. Sounds like a good plan.

Good luck anyway, Sam. :)


Nomadic Samuel September 6, 2012 at 5:13 am

Thanks Marianne,

I certainly am determined this time around!


body by hcg diet September 5, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Very nice article I am glad I found this info on the net and I will tweet this on my social network.


Nomadic Samuel September 6, 2012 at 5:12 am



memographer September 5, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Good luck! I also start my “program” every Monday :( If I was as cruel as you are (meaning “Every time I mess up I’ll take $100 away from my travel fund.”), I would not travel this year and probably next year also :)


Nomadic Samuel September 6, 2012 at 5:12 am

LOL, I hear you. I’ve actually ‘started’ on plans several times in recent weeks/months and slipped back into old habits. By making it public and by having some harsh consequences if I don’t follow through will hopefully get me on track. If not I’ll be many $$ short…lol


Vi September 5, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Good luck! I have the same problem and too much time with my sites :)


Nomadic Samuel September 6, 2012 at 5:11 am

Thanks Vi,

There is never enough that can be done in the day. I think you just have to be willing to say enough is enough :)


Vi September 6, 2012 at 6:09 am

If that would be so easy :) When you are trying your hobby convert into business it is very hard to see the limit – where it is a business or where it is still a hobby – and at the end you are lost in time :)


Callie September 5, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Yeah, you can do it! :)


Nomadic Samuel September 6, 2012 at 5:11 am

Thanks Callie :)


Spanish Translator @latinAbroad September 5, 2012 at 9:42 pm

“In the process of working a demanding 40 hour 9-5 job in tandem with blogging around the clock, I’ve let my health and fitness levels slide in a way I’ve never experienced before in my life. ”

Are you sure you have not been plagiarizing my work, Samuel? Seems like I wrote that sentence.


thanks for this post, I needed it! I’m going to exercise as soon as I get from work, as I thankfully had some time to blog during my lunch break at work today…

– Maria Alexandra


Nomadic Samuel September 6, 2012 at 5:10 am

That’s great Maria!

I think the best part about starting a more healthy routine is that it doesn’t take too much additional effort. You just have to make time for it because it’s important.


Caroline @ Traveling 9 to 5 September 5, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Good Luck! I was a personal trainer back in Chicago before I left to travel and swore I wouldn’t fall off the wagon… now it takes all my energy to get out for a run or body weight workout! It’s hard on the road – Good Luck.. I’ll be cheering you on!


Nomadic Samuel September 6, 2012 at 5:09 am

Thanks Caroline! I think when you’re on the road it’s easy to break away from habits – both good and bad. Its’ just time for me to make exercise and eating healthy a much higher priority.


Mark Wiens September 6, 2012 at 3:14 am

You got this man – and it’s a great idea too! For the past few years I’ve been drinking only water 95% of the time and a few years ago I decided to cut out the late night food (apart from the special social occasions), and I even feel better!


Nomadic Samuel September 6, 2012 at 5:08 am

That’s great Mark! I think it’s just subtle changes that can make a big difference. I find I’m susceptible to junk-food cravings late at night, so instead of reaching for unhealthy foods I plan to just put on my sneakers and jog for a bit.


barbylucedistelle September 6, 2012 at 6:56 am

Ha! Best of luck with that! From the pictures I do not think you need to loose weight but one never knows…
About the $100… hmmm… What are you going to do with those money? Buy more food? :P


Nomadic Samuel September 6, 2012 at 7:01 am

Thanks! Regarding the pictures, they were taken when I was fit :P I’ll either give it away to charity or buy more pizza for Will and Brendan.


Andrea September 6, 2012 at 10:38 am

We gained weight on our RTW last year too…it’s tough. Have gotten most of it off but not all. And now travelling again a bit I remember why it was so hard!


Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 4:16 am

Andrea, I find myself often tempted by the local delights. It’s not easy having enough willpower to stop yourself :)


Angela September 6, 2012 at 11:12 am

Good choice Samuel, just don’t cut too much on calories, eat healthy with the right calories intake for you. Obviously eliminating junk food and bottled beverages is the first step, possibly to maintain even after you reached your ideal weight, but do have a diverse and complete diet. If you want to keep the weight you are aiming at you need to get in shape slowly.. Drink a lot of water and different herbal teas to detox, plenty of veggies (raw as much as you can), beans and cereals ;)


Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 4:17 am

Thanks Angela, your advice is wonderful. I think it’s more about a lifestyle change than a diet. I’m hoping many of these new habits I’ll keep for years to come.


Ashley September 6, 2012 at 3:39 pm

You’ll definitly have to up your protein intakes by the sound of it.
breakfast: multivitamin shake or pill?? you need more substance.
Remember that carbs aren’t the enemy: try and get a controlled portion in a lunch or two, and after workouts :)
I think your biggest challenge will be my sister/your girlfriend, have you seen her eating habits? Her favourite foods are chocolate and cake. I hope you have good self control ;)
I look forward to reading about the results!
Q- where is the $100 you take from your travel fund going to go?
Dont forget that having a ‘lazy day’ is not the end of it all, and its sometimes welcomed to your body, its about getting back on track the following day.
Good luck!


Nomadic Samuel September 6, 2012 at 11:58 pm

Thanks for the tips and advice Ashley!

I think you’re definitely right about the protein intake and controlling portions. I want to lose weight fast but I don’t want to wilt away at the same time. I’m glad I’ll be doing weight training as part of my routine. Although Audrey certainly has a sweet tooth (as do I) I admire her ability to control how much she eats. I, on the other hand, have a hard time controlling portions when I’m eating junkfood. In the past, I always had lots of time to exercise and burn it off, but this year has been insanely hectic, so I’ve let me standards slide quite a bit in that department. I haven’t decided where the $100 will go but I’m leaning towards charities. Ideally I won’t be making any mistakes along the way :P Thanks again for the encouragement and I definitely plan on having some follow-up updates soon .


Wanderplex September 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm

It’s really easy to fall off the wagon fitness-wise, and I’m totally guilty of this. I know I’d actually have so much more energy if I got back into a fitness routine, so I sympathize. Good luck with your challenge!


Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 4:18 am

Thank you! I appreciate you wishing me well and good luck to you!


Maria September 6, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Sam you got the bull, grab those horns and don’t let go. If anyone can do this, it’s YOU!
Also, kudos to Mark Wiens and check his site for some really healthy recipes. http://migrationology.com/


Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 4:19 am

Thanks Maria! I could learn a few things from Mark. He enjoys his food but rarely do I see him eating junkfood.


Caanan @ No Vacation Required September 6, 2012 at 9:49 pm

> My breakfasts will now consist of a handful of almonds, one kiwi (the only fruit that is cheap in the area I’m living in) & a multivitamin.

You can eat all that! Kent and I generally just split a breath mint for breakfast. :)

Kidding aside, we wish you the best of luck on your challenge. As you know, we are big proponents for a healthy lifestyle. In addition to it being “wellness” month over at NVR, we outlined some very doable (vegetarian / vegan) food challenges for our readers last month – challenges we have committed to.


Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 4:20 am

Hahaha…I may resort to half a breath mint if I don’t get the results I want soon enough.

That’s a great challenge to take. Best of luck with it!


Priyank September 7, 2012 at 1:17 am

Hey Samuel,
I totally hear you! By the time I realized that my pants were a bit tight, it was already late. So I did what I think you could do for a guaranteed result: Signup for a marathon! By the end of it, I had a real sixpack (not the photoshop version seen on magazines). I also discovered that the healthier I ate, the lesser I craved baked goods.
Good luck! Priyank


Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 4:21 am

Wow! You took such a proactive response. I’m looking forward to not only being leaner but also more physically fit.


Cathy Sweeney September 7, 2012 at 3:48 am

I’ll think your plan will be a big success! :) Good for you to recognize how important health is no matter how busy we are. My big thing is “balance”. I work out a lot, eat well, but I do like to indulge a bit, too. Good luck!


Nomadic Samuel September 10, 2012 at 12:51 am

Thanks Cathy! You bring up a great point regarding balance – that’s what I’m striving for now :)


Laurence September 7, 2012 at 9:56 am

I find one blog time consuming enough ;) Admittedly, I don’t manage my time terribly well, and living in France means I am surrounded by amazing food nearly all the time, so staying fit is a challenge. Luckily the scenery is also very pretty, so I try and walk and cycle as much as I can. I got fit when I left my 9-5 career, and don’t want to fall back into old bad habits!


Nomadic Samuel September 10, 2012 at 12:50 am

Laurence, that’s awesome! I’ve managed my time very poorly this year and let important things like my health and fitness levels slide. It’s time to change that immediately! :)


tourismwithme September 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Hey sam!
Great idea, i lost 15kg on the past 4months going to the gym working out and i feel so much better and healthier so i encorage you to do so.
Thumbs up! You can do it!


Nomadic Samuel September 10, 2012 at 12:49 am

Thanks for sharing that with me! It’s inspiring to hear others doing the same thing and it motivates me even more :)


Abby September 10, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Um, if that photo of you is after you think you’ve gained weight, then you are insane! Great goal to work out every day. I wish I had the time. My health kick did start a few months back, however. It feels great! The best benefit to my busy life is that I’ve been sleeping better. That was an unexpected surprise.


Nomadic Samuel September 11, 2012 at 6:40 am

Thanks Abby! I wish that was my ‘before’ shot :) I’ve been finding I’ve been sleeping better and not having mood swings throughout the day. I’m thrilled with how things are going so far.


Sherry September 11, 2012 at 7:02 am

Its hard to stay fit and keep up with it on the road; I would know. And, probably even harder for those who stay away from home a lot longer than I do. I tend to come back home after a few months and go off somewhere again. This gives me the opportunity to get back into mode. I’m really proud of what you are doing and setting the standard for yourself going forward. I wish you the best of luck.


Nomadic Samuel September 18, 2012 at 1:32 am

Thank you Sherry!

I think for me it’s about making fitness and health a top priority again and just staying focussed :)


Katie September 18, 2012 at 3:31 am

I am sure you’ll succeed in your 100 day fitness plan. Fitness, for me, is a way of life and I truly believe that one should exercise daily, watch one’s eating habits, sleeping patterns and our approach to life in order to stay focused on one’s training/ weight loss regimen. I follow a strict work out/ diet program when I feel like weighing a little more that I should and gradually come back to my normal routine after I am happy with my shape. I shall curiously wait for the December 13th article of yours to see how you managed your plan. My best wishes are with you.


Nomadic Samuel September 21, 2012 at 4:16 am

Thank you Katie,

So far things have been going really well. I’ll be excited to share my results with my readers soon :)


leandra / adbenturera September 18, 2012 at 5:31 pm

whoa! actually have the same goal (my target date is Dec 05) that’s why i’ve started running along Al Fateh Mosque hehe! Good luck to us! :)


Nomadic Samuel September 21, 2012 at 4:17 am

That’s great to hear Leandra! It sounds like you are off to a good start. I’ve been running almost daily as well :)


Tonya @ The Traveling Praters September 22, 2012 at 8:19 pm

I’m ashamed to say that I have more than 100 days of work ahead of me. I’m taking steps to improve and so far I feel so much better. The fact that I can now wear clothes that have been hanging in my closet untouched for the past two years doesn’t hurt. :)

Good luck to you!


Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 4:22 am

That’s great Tonya! It sounds like you are making great strides. I think it’s more important to do it slowly and make lifestyle changes as opposed to shortcuts that fizzle out once the diet is over.


Foot Massager Spa November 15, 2012 at 11:12 am

Sound good man! You are doing well.


Claire December 27, 2012 at 9:48 am

Hey Samuel! How did things go with your 100 day challenge?


Jeremy Branham December 27, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Water is HUGE!! Drink that and pounds will melt away. I sometimes lose weight when I travel because I am walking so much and forget to eat. Not a big foodie when I travel so not a big priority for me. Recently I did a travel series where I had to eat and I easily gained weight.

However, I was just having a discussion about this and I think losing weight is much easier than we make it out to be. One simple question:

Are you hungry? If yes, eat. If not, don’t eat or stop eating. I think we tend to eat too much at a sitting or eat out of habit when we aren’t really hungry. If we discipline our mind and bodies to eat when hungry, then we would have smaller portions and eat smaller meals more frequently.

Obviously, what we eat matters but if you are traveling a lot you can get the exercise you need to stay in decent shape. Just my opinion. During the holidays, I have failed to implement this though :)


Amberly December 29, 2012 at 7:33 pm

I am in the exact same boat. I have two bartending jobs, am heavily involved in research at the university I attend; I spend at least 20 hours a week in the lab, go to school full time, then bartend double shifts on the weekends. I used to be a huge gym junkie and spend 2-3 hours a day there running and lifting and doing and various cross-training work outs. Now with all the jobs I am pulling and recently getting a position as a science ambassador for my University I do not have the time to work out as much, and when I do go to the gym I can’t even make it through my old warm up routine. My warm up a year ago consisted of a 3 mile run followed by half a mile of alternating sprinting and jogging, Then 3 rounds of 600 meter row, 1 lap sprint, 10 push ups, and 24 squats. Now I am lucky if I can make the 3 mile run. I am so disappointed in myself but I am so far away from what I used to be endurance and stamina wise that it is frustrating to even go to the gym
But if I could just do what you are planning to do and start dieting I think that I could get back to being healthy, lean, and strong. The healthy diet would help me stay focused and make me want to stay at the gym. Right now I am so busy that I just stop through the drive thru all the time, I don’t eat meat but that doesn’t stop me from getting fries or other greasy foods offered. I must incorporate and make time for a better diet. Thanks for the motivation


Simran January 27, 2013 at 2:00 am

I am doing a 12 week challenge … and on my 3rd week.. i have blog too where i am recording what i am doing everyday..

In my diet there is no sugar,salt ( little very little ) , no alcohol , no dairy …

I am stoked to see myself in some weeks :)


Dangerously Fit February 21, 2013 at 8:05 am

Just always keep in mind that to stay fit, you need to exercise, and to stay healthy, you need to eat the proper diet. Exercise does not have to imply spending hours in the gym, and a diet does not necessarily indicate reducing all those good things we crave and hunger for! But you do need to find a balance which fits you. Sticking to a healthy diet and fitness plan will assure your body is well nourished and healthy.


Dangerously Fit February 21, 2013 at 8:06 am

Fitness and diet are a team. You have to combine them cohesively. So burn excess calories in your workout and make the right food nutrient choices to give your body the best results you want.


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