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Vagabonding: It’s Not For Weaklings

Travel is tough, but the traveler needs to be tougher. Here’s how Gar Williams, the 66 year old Senior Vagabond stays fit enough to continue moving through the world.

Most of my life I’ve been healthy and physically fit. I’ve hiked fifty miles in one day several times. Just ten years ago I hiked from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the South Rim in 14 hours. That’s a distance of 25 miles involving elevation changes of 11,000 feet and temperatures up to 125 degrees. But that was then. This is now.

Now I’m 66 years old. Everything hurts more than it did. Everything takes longer to stop hurting. In short, I’m slowly disintegrating. For a traveler, this is not good. I still want to walk the streets of new towns and hike the trails of new mountains. I’m not ready to buy a cane and hobble like some old man. Lately though, this is exactly what I have found myself doing.

I spent the months of December 2013 and January 2014 in Arkansas trapped by weather into a two month period of inactivity. Somehow, during that time, I injured my knee. Then, to escape the weather, I hopped a plane and flew to Ajijic, Mexico. It was an all night flight counting the layovers in Dallas and Los Angeles. By the time I arrived I had pain not only in my knee but in my entire mid-section, my core muscles.

Without good core muscles the body simply won’t stand up to any physical stress for long. I knew it was time to get off my butt and do something. Then, I found Ron Krayewski and his Super Senior Fitness training center here in Ajijic. I’ve been working out with Ron three times a week for about three weeks now. I can already tell the difference. My main goal for the month I will be working with Ron is to strengthen my core muscles but, perhaps more importantly, to get back into the habit of healthy living and exercise suitable for an old(er) Senior Vagabond.

Workout 2 - Ron and Jim going a couple of rounds.

Workout 2 – Ron and Jim going a couple of rounds.

I asked Ron what advice he would give to older folks like myself who want to travel and stay active and healthy. I think what he told me is so important I’m quoting him, with his permission, exactly:

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Lifestyle Mistake #1: Lack of Sleep. To put this simply, you need to sleep more. Most adults need an average of eight hours of sleep each night, and I know you aren’t getting that much. When you don’t get adequate amounts of rest, you’re more likely to be hungry, overeat, and gain weight.

How does this work? Something like this:

If you’re tired, you won’t feel like cooking a healthy meal, and you’ll opt for fast (fattening) food instead. This very same lack of energy will also likely cause you to skip the gym. On top of that, sleep deprivation causes your metabolism to slow down, and if you’ve not heard, that is not something you want when trying to shed a few pounds.

Lifestyle Mistake #2: Too Much TV Time: Many people are in the habit of sitting in front of the TV for hours on end after a stressful day at work. Yes, you may be worn out and need a break, but sitting on the couch, zoned out, watching TV is not the way to lose inches.

If you must watch the evening news or see your favorite show, use the time to burn a few calories. Keep some hand weights next to the couch and work your biceps and triceps. Stand up and do some squats or lunges to work your legs and buttocks. Get on the floor and do some sit-ups to tone your abs or push-ups to tone your arms.

Lifestyle Mistake #3: Skipping Breakfast. Want to know a secret to successful weight loss? Eat breakfast! Try cutting calories by skipping breakfast, and you’ll be excessively hungry by mid-morning. As a result, the healthy calories you would have eaten at breakfast are replaced with calorie-filled snacks and an over-sized lunch.

Once again, fitting breakfast into your busy schedule may mean dramatic lifestyle changes. But research shows that the habit of eating a healthy breakfast is key to losing weight and keeping pounds off. Get to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual and set your alarm 10 minutes earlier to give yourself time to eat breakfast

Lifestyle Mistake #4: Drinking Too Much Sugar. Lasting fat loss is about changes. Unfortunately, some of the changes one must make are difficult. If you’re one of the millions hooked on soda, alcohol, or other sweetened beverages then your fitness goals may remain out of reach until you replace these drinks with water. You should also know that your brain often confuses thirst with hunger. So at the first sign of hunger, don’t grab a snack or calorie-filled drinks. Instead, grab a glass of water.

Lifestyle Mistake #5: Not Doing the Right Physical Activity. Weight loss is about burning more calories than you consume. Therefore, it should make sense to you that dieting and exercise must go hand in hand. If you want to speed up weight loss and keep the weight away, add or increase the amount and intensity of physical activity in your daily life.

For many people, this is the most difficult lifestyle change of all, but the benefits are well work it. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of intense exercise on most days of the week. When exercise is a normal part of your everyday routine, it’s more likely to stick, and your body will become slimmer and more toned.

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My pain tells me Ron’s five points are right on. I’m too young to feel this damn old. I’m doing my best now to follow his five points. I gotta tell you, it is tough to change at my age. But it’s not as tough as limping around like an old man and giving up my vagabond lifestyle.

Workout 1 - Gar working hard

Workout 1 – Gar working hard

I’m leaving for Ecuador in another week. It is going to be another all-nighter. Thanks to Ron Krayewski and Super Senior Fitness Center I know it will be better than the last one.

Filed under: Exercise, Health, Senior Travel, Senior Vagabond, Travel Tips

About the Author:

Gar Williams liquidated his former life, sold all his possessions that wouldn’t fit into a 46 liter backpack, and left it all behind at age 63. He is now traveling the world, and, in his words, is finally doing what he wants to do. Gar stops by at VagabondJourney.com from time to time to offer his wisdom and advice on the Senior Vagabond series. has written 65 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Gar Williams is currently in: Ecuador

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