Lose The Blogger Belly

Riding a bicycle in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Last Winter I decided to challenge myself by partaking in a 100 day weight-loss and fitness regimen.  I had promised to follow up with a progress report and well…complete failure in that regard.  In a nutshell, my attempt to melt a few layers of fat off of my ‘blogger bell’y and push myself away from the dinner table was only mildly successful.  I lost roughly 15 pounds but then as soon I came home to visit my parents over the Christmas holidays I gave in to the many temptations that had been unavailable to me while teaching in Korea.  Oh, those cookies.  Mmmmm…lasagna.  Turkey dinner!  Can I have seconds, thirds?!?!

Needless to say, even though I was skating daily, lifting weights and playing ice hockey, I was packing on the pounds.  When I hit the road for the first time as a digital nomad, my familiar ‘comfort’ eating habits continued.  Those delicious mango smoothies.  Dim Sum?  Hellz Yeah!  Roti Canai?  How could I just eat one.

One morning when I went to do the up the zipper of my loosest pair shorts I couldn’t fasten the button across my waist.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!  Sometimes the greatest lessons you learn in life are from the most humiliating moments – like when you can’t properly do up your pants 😛

In recent weeks I’ve been taking proactive steps to reduce the ‘blogger belly’ that I so desperately despise.  Now that I’m in Chiang Mai, Thailand basing myself for several months the excuses I’ve been using to justify the extra heft are now moot.  It’s time to shed and let the shedding begin.  This is my plan of attack to get in shape this summer:

Riding a bicycle in Hoi An, Vietnam

1)  Exercise Like A Fiend

If you notice a red headed albino flush faced and sweating profusely on a bicycle or rooftop gym somewhere in Chiang Mai, please do come over and say, ‘hi!”  My strategy to melt away the flab includes plenty of daily exercise.  With a rooftop gym and pool in my rental apartment, I plan to wake-up at 6am every morning to hustle my little buns (oh how I wish they were little) on the treadmill before swimming laps and then going on a bicycle ride.  In the evenings I’ll engage in a the seven minute New York work-out.  Now that I’ve finally shaved my clown hair, hopefully I’ll look a little less like Richard Simmons along the way.

Richard Simmons photo

2)  Reduce Calories/Portion Sizes

My girlfriend Audrey is such a dear.  She’s enhanced my life in so many ways; however, the one thing we haven’t been so compatible with is our eating habits.  She’s a nibbler who loves to eat something every few hours.  I, on the other hand, am like the guy who gets kicked out of buffet.  If it’s in front of my face I’ll devour it – no questions asked.  When we go out for lunch Audrey often has eyes larger than her stomach:  “Sam, I can’t finish my shake.  Sam, can you help me finished my fries?”  Much like a tender eyed dog waiting for scraps under the table, I oblige by devouring every last morsel on the plate.  Well my loyal readers, those days are long gone.  I’m now ‘push yourself away from the table, Sam.’  I’m going to eat slower, chew longer and leave food on my plate.  Indeed, it appears I have been abducted by aliens.

In essence, this all boils down to eating less and moving more.  I don’t believe in making things any more complicated than they ought to be.

What kind of goals do you have this summer and how do you plan on achieving them?  Do you have any exercise or diet tips to help this rotund ginger?  Please share in the comments section below.


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  1. says: Claudia

    The tricky bit for me when I travel is that I can’t eat and exercise the same way I do at home. When I am back in Sardinia, I eat 3 reasonable meals per day, avoid alcohol except for the odd beer or glass of red wine, eat huge amounts of vegetables and salads and train in the swimming pool 3 times per week. I can’t do this when I travel. There are no pools to be found in the countries where I travel, usually. And there is no way I can have 3 sensible meals and the amounts of salad I have at home. I also consume higher amounts of alcohol so it is inevitable that whenever I get back home I have a beer belly that was quick to appear and very VERY slow to disappear. I am still trying to shed it and if I can’t by the end of the summer I will have to see a nutritionist to see what I need to do, because I can’t stand it!

    Let us know how you progress 🙂

    1. Thanks Claudia. It is tricky. I’ve experienced some progress. I think the key is to try and compensate when I overeat. If I have a huge meal and drink a lot I’ll try to fast or eat very sparingly the following day.

  2. says: Kevin

    Traveling and staying fit. On the surface, these two things don’t go hand-in-hand. But it’s totally possible to stay fit and healthy (even ripped) if you stick to a regiment while you’re traveling. I live in a rural area of Thailand where there are no gyms, but it’s still possible to get a killer workout out here in the boonies. Pushups, handstand pushups, pullups, dips, running, sprinting, football. The possibilities are endless. Exercise abroad is an interesting two-word combo! Thanks for the post.

  3. says: Andy

    We’ve got the same problem going on over here – I think it all started with the endless food available on the cruise… and when you’re on a boat 1,500 miles from anywhere, there isn’t much else to do other than stuff your face 😉

    So now that we’re back home, every part of my body already aches. For me, the biggest thing is brutally hard exercise. It doesn’t matter if I’m walking 4hrs a day, watching what I eat, counting calories, or anything. If I’m not working out like an mf’er, I’ll put on weight.

    In case you need to change up your workout routine, the best free workouts I know are http://www.nerdfitness.com, http://www.dailyhiit.com, and search for “yoga zone” on Youtube.

    Good luck!!

  4. says: Lorie Crane

    Useless? Hardly so. I love these ideas for healthy eating. Ingraining your children to eat healthy will benefit them for the future of their health. Just because we eat healthy in my household doesnt mean we dont cheat once and a while and eat pizza or fast food, we just do it in moderation. This type of prep does take hours, for you to say that it takes only a half hour including shopping is absurd. It takes me half an hour to drive to and from the grocery store…..and if you send your children to college and they can’t afford to get a dollar yogurt parfait or a three dollar chicken wrap, something’s wrong.

  5. says: Nicole @ Green Global Travel

    One of the hardest things to do on the road is to not take the easy “fast food” option. Also blogging makes it easy to sit on a computer too long.

    Just need to focus on what you want, eat in moderation and get some exercise, even if it is walking around the city (we are travelers aren’t we!)/.

  6. If you can try to find out more about the food you are eating. It’s not just about portion sizes but what goes into your mouth. If you have a full plate of beans and veggies it’s not as bad as eating a half a plate of fried chicken and rice.

    Make sure the calories you are intaking aren’t empty. Rice for example is a great filler but really has no nutritional benefit. So pretty much just be aware of the type of food you eat. Also, don’t eat to close to bedtime and when you workout GET IT IN!!!! You already set time aside from your day to do it so might as well make the most of it right? =)

  7. says: Barbara

    Looks like you have all the wonderful help you could ask for in these replies…I think I will be following some of them myself! But seriously, good luck to you, I know it’s not easy!

  8. says: Jenny

    So, the problem started when you went home to visit family? This happens to me all the time. I step off the plane and immediately bloat up by 20lbs. I think it’s a combination of pigging out on foods I miss (decent pizza and Tillamook Mudslide ice cream, socializing with friends I haven’t seen in a long time (always around food), and the fact that food in the U.S. isn’t really made out of food. So my advice is KEEP TRAVELING and DON’T GO HOME. Make your friend’s and family come visit you!

  9. I sympathize with the situation in which you have found yourself. I took up blogging just over 5 months ago and I’m pretty sure I’ve put on a pound/month. Sitting on your arse all day is not conducive to muscle tone and glowing skin…who knew? I’ve been busting my big butt over the last week and heading out for a run once a day, eating less and being a little more fussy as to what I put in my mouth. I look forward to your waist line updates! We’ll have to compare notes 😉

  10. says: Christy

    Haha… that sounds like Scott and I. I used to call Scott my garbage disposal, but now he eats less than me because of some digestion issues. I no longer have anyone to finish my food. 🙁

  11. Wow there are a lotta comments on this one!

    My thoughts?? Eat what you want…in moderation. Bike and explore Chiang Mai and enjoy yourself!

    ps…I hear ya on the cravings and eating a ton when you go home to Canada, we’ve definitely got some China Chub going on! Hmm, maybe that’s a title to a post.

    Cheers 🙂

  12. says: Auston

    Staying in shape on the road is tough and I agree it’s much easier when you have a base and live in a city at least part time. My trick is to find a park in every city I visit. I travel with a good pair of jogging shoes and keep it up 3 times a week. I must admit though that the worst jogs are in Southeast Asia. There is never a break from the heat and humidity. Night time runs in Bangkok and early morning runs in Singapore will always be in my memories.

  13. says: Amber

    Great post! As a perpetual traveler, outside the US, it is easy to assume weight will just fall off – eating healthier food, smaller portions, less preservatives, walking everywhere, sweating nonstop. During my first RTW, that was what happened. I lost almost 20 pounds without an ounce of exercise. During this trip, in 10 months I weighed the exact same. But, the last two months of yoga and healthy living in Bali have been great. The biggest difference – no booze! The no booze rule is easy to abide by in a Muslim country where beers are expensive, but I am nervous to leave Bali, head into the real world, which for me includes $.15 beer and lots of temptation!

  14. says: Stephen S.

    Ha I love this post mate! Now that I’ve started traveling I been starting to grow a blogger belly. I told myself last week that I was going to start losing it, so this post is perfect 🙂

  15. I like how you call it ‘Blogger Belly’ even though your weight has little to do with your digital nomad lifestyle 🙂 It makes me conjure cartoonish images of what a Blogger convention would look like, reminiscent of ‘Wall-E’.

    If anything you’re a proudly vibrant and active Digital storyteller. Good luck with it all

  16. says: Abby

    My weight has gone up and down at a pretty alarming weight this year, and I am definitely up! I don’t have “blogger belly,” but since I sit at a computer all day and then go to work events at night… “journo belly”? For me, it’s the booze…. Slows down the metabolism more than I’d like to admit. Good luck!

  17. says: Colleen

    Hello Samuel,

    I do have some effective recommendations.

    Best friend: Water. If you make this your only beverage and literally slam a glass every opportunity you have, you will find this to be an easy and effective key to weight loss. Dehydration or even diminished hydration is easily misinterpreted by the brain as hunger. Drink as soon as you get up and also keep water by your bed to sip. Carry it on you as you toodle around. Sip sip. = )

    Sugar is enemy #1. It stimulates appetite. Banish sugar from your diet. Once you get there, keep it out. It’s a drug, it hijacks your brain, and once it’s in the cockpit, calls the shots. Once you have it out for a few days it stops calling you. Delete soda, desserts, sugar-sweetened anything, etc. Instead, make fresh fruit your new best friend. Once you get into fresh fruit you will wonder why you ever put sweets into your body. It will make you feel great, satiate that sweet tooth and help you to have the body that fits perfectly on your frame.

    Trade fried for healthier alternatives. Audrey’s Spring rolls over fried. Steamed rice over fried, etc. Once you have fat on the bod, the body stores fats as fat. The fats you eat are the fats you wear. Once you’ve reduced the fats in your diet, fat will stop calling you.

    Exercise is for life. Releases endorphins and reduces appetite, gives you increased physical energy. Fit people are happier, more energetic, more productive, sleep better, have better sex lives and more confidence. Looking better is nice too.

    Keep caffeine to a minimum. Stabilized hormones promote reduced appetite and fatigued adrenals make people hungry. Decrease caffeine to minimal levels and ultimately eliminate. My best energy is when I’m deriving it from a nutrient-dense fresh diet, lots of water, early nights, plenty of sleep and regular exercise. The false boosts derived from caffeine and sugar lead to the inevitable law of diminishing returns. What goes up must come down and the downward spiral is part of what leads to overweight. It’s good to be free of the monkeys and not have caffeine or sugar calling the shots.

    Fill yourself with healthy food instead of tolerating junk in your diet. Don’t make the mistake of being hungry. Just keep the healthy stuff coming in. Keep satiated on light stuff regularly and steadily consumed. I stop by fresh markets or grocery stores on the way to long train or bus rides for my own fruit, veg and healthy breads, etc. I try to have a healthy, lightly filling meal before boarding. I don’t like to put myself in the position of being tempted to eat junk.

    Big meal calorie bombs lead to calorie storage as fat. Eat lighter and more regular meals. Snack on fruit. Guzzle H20.

    When in doubt, eat like Audrey! I love the videos showing you guys eating. There’s a reason she’s so slim! Her eating instincts (that I’ve seen on your films) are correct. More fiber, more veg, less fat, less sweet, less quantity, more regular consumption. A big key is stable blood sugar. Then you can call the shots on what to eat from your brain rather than getting too hungry and making crazy choices out of disproportionate hunger.

    Slim people, and those of us prone to be chubby, eat differently from one another. If I was traveling with Audrey, whenever I wanted to order differently from her I would permit myself only if convinced my choices were as healthy or healthier, less fatty, less sugary, etc. Otherwise I’d copy her and see if I could learn to like the healthier choice. When I’m in the groove, the healthier choice almost always tastes best anyway. (Disregard this at times when she’s eating something rich in fats, sugars or calories. = )

    Walking tours, bike tours, hiking tours, renting bikes to see the city, walking wherever you can, swimming when you can.

    You guys are adorable! Have a wonderful summer and many thanks for both of your wonderful websites! = )

    1. says: Colleen

      PS Have your last meal earlier rather that later in the evening. If hungry before bed, eat a piece of fruit or two. Calories slept on are stored.

      Veggies. Steamed, raw, salads (easy on the dressing.) Also, understanding that eating healthfully and exercising are lifetime habits that bring the best rewards. It’s for life! = ) (Otherwise the weight tends to creep back.)

      Breakfast like a king (a healthy king = ), lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.

      You can do it! We’re all growing all the time and learning the best ways to do the various areas of life makes for an exciting adventure within the adventure. = )

      1. says: Samuel

        These are fantastic tips Colleen! If I apply everything that you’ve said I’ll well be on my way to losing weight and keeping it off permanently with a lifestyle change as opposed to merely just a temporary diet.

  18. says: Sherry Viray

    Blogger belly!?! That sounds like something too painful to carry. I’m glad you are taking steps to make it go away. Audrey may have the right idea. Eating small meals throughout the day while you are actively out and about might be the best way to keep your body fueled, but not grow bigger. I’m all about simplicity so I don’t really follow any gimmicks. Controlling your portions and being more active are key to losing the belly. Good luck … we’ll all see your success very soon.

  19. says: Salika Jay

    My tips surely won’t help because I have the opposite condition. I eat but don’t gain weight. Most of the time, I eat more than my hubby who’s almost twice my size. Lucky me I guess.

  20. says: Peter Lee

    Great tips about healthy diet for a traveler in your article as well as in comments. It’s beneficial to read all the lines. Thanks for posting this stuff.

    1. says: Samuel

      James, I’m the worst for that. Even if I tell myself I’m not going to do it. It starts with just one cookie and goes downhill from there…lol

  21. says: Tim H

    Point number two and what Paul said is the way to go. If you want to keep your mobility and be a badass awesome person when you get old, exercise. Now.

    However, if you’re just looking to fend off the pounds then don’t put the calories in your mouth. 300 calories is easy to consume (I’m looking at you beer), but can take an hour or two of exercise to burn off.

    1. says: Samuel

      Thanks Tim,

      I think sometimes even just trying to shave off 10-15% of what you’d normally eat or drink can do the trick. The best part about that is that you aren’t denying yourself anything; you’re just reducing ever so slightly.

  22. says: Roisin

    Since I’ve started traveling I haven’t been exercising much and I’ve been eating out a lot and eating way too much chocolate! But I’ve started eating healthier and exercising again. I would suggest finding healthy foods you like and drink tons of water.

    But it sounds like you have a good plan – but you should take at least one rest day. Good luck 🙂

    1. says: Samuel

      Thanks Roisin,

      I really like your tip for drinking a lot of water. I think not only is that healthy but it gives you the sense of feeling full.

  23. says: Laurel

    I was at my skinniest weight ever when I lived in Thailand. I did moderate exercise, ate lots of veggies which is easy in Thailand and only ate rice every 2nd or 3rd day and the weight fell off within a couple of months. Good luck.

    1. says: Samuel

      That’s great to hear Laurel!

      I’m going to try your methods of eating mostly fruits and veggies and staying away from rice and bread whenever I can.

  24. says: The Guy

    Great opening picture, I love it.

    Like you I’m often battling the “blogger bulge”, great name. I’ve cut out bread (apparently really bad for you) and try to eat more salads. Although to be honest I’ve never really been a bad eater. I do agree to leave some food on your plate.

    I also take exercise DVDs with me when I travel so I can at least do some exercise in my hotel room even if they don’t have a gym.

  25. says: Chris

    A fellow Chiang Mai blogger.. Welcome. 🙂

    Resist the roti? Impossible! Though to be honest the food here otherwise is so good and relatively healthy so your diet is going to be pretty good.

    Have fun with those early get ups. There’s also the university health park just off Nimman if you fancy a change of scenery.

    1. says: Samuel

      Hey Chris,

      Thanks for the tips! I’ve been finding the food options really healthy here. I’m going to try not to visit the many pizza parlors and Mexican joints too often.

  26. says: Nat

    Alas – I read the post, looked down at my belly resting over the waistline of my pajamas and realized that I too have fallen to the dreaded blogger belly! 🙁

  27. says: Tiffany

    Hmmm…I dig the simple concept of eat less and move more. I think the moving part is one of the most over analysed concepts of shedding those pounds. Simply put: move.
    You and Audrey sound like me and my husband Chris, I eat all day too as Chris can have one or two big meals. Having well made, healthy food around at all times is must, at least for me.
    Good luck!

  28. says: Steve Miller

    I can totally understand. While on the road last January, I gained 7 kilos. Now, while I loved doing that, it wasn’t the best way to go about things. Like Tiffany, I am a big fan of eating a little less and doing more. I usually try to eat a very small breakfast, then a moderate lunch, and a good meal. Booze has a way of really increasing the waste line, so I try to stay away from it. This summer, I’ll also introduce a new plan as well. There was a killer 7-minute routine I saw a while back that literally kicked my ass and might be worth a shot as well.

    1. says: Samuel

      With all of the exotic treats and tempting foreign booze (which often happens to be dirt cheap) it’s hard not to gain weight. Western options tend to be of the high calorie variety – pizzas, burgers, pastas. I think you really have to be disciplined to not pack on the pounds…haha

  29. says: Paul

    Hey Sam,

    A couple tips from a guy who loves blogging about health and travel 🙂

    Your body composition is determined 80% by what you eat and only 20% by your fitness routine. So, if you want to take the lazy man’s way out, and still drop some kilos, I’d recommend focusing on revamping your diet, and just throwing in some fun exercise routines here and there (bike rides around the city, hikes whenever you want, walks around town, etc.).

    It’s much more difficult to follow through on a rigid fitness routine 3-4 times a week, than just eliminate a few foods you’re used to eating (all about willpower, baby).

    Check out MarksDailyApple.com for more info on what foods to eat and why!

    Hope this helps!

    1. says: Samuel

      These are great tips Paul!

      I once heard that you can’t out exercise a bad diet. That’s so true. Although it takes hours of exercise to burn a certain amount of calories, one can literally consume hundreds or thousands in just one sitting.

    2. says: Sophia Chang

      This was helpful for me as well. I’m nomadic this year and I came back from Asia with a food baby I did not conceive in the Americas 🙁

      Here’s to slimming around the world!

  30. says: Josh

    Tabata Protocol

    Lemon water first thing in morning and at night

    Cold showers

    Cold drinking water

    Intermittent fasting 3 or four times a month (3-4 spaced out fasts of 24-36 hours at a time)

    Lower white carbs like bread, rice, pasta, flour and anything processed, replace with FAT, good FAT like butter, animal fat, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil/MCT oil

    Don’t eat after 8pm.

    Have an eating window of 8 hours. (once you first eat, have your last meal no later than 8hours after that)