There’s No Place Like Home: Why Exercising & Staying Fit 7,716 Miles From Home Just Isn’t The Same

May 29, 2012

(My flight schedule from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.)

Dorothy had it right.

There simply is “no place like home.”

Exercising and staying fit while traveling in a foreign land is challenging.

My wife and I just got back from a 10 day trip to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (Don’t worry. I just spent over a week there and I still had to look up how it was spelled.)

It is a beautiful city. We were blessed to have visited.

Why I Traveled The Equivalent of 294.5 Marathons To Kyrgyzstan

The primary reason that we went was to teach English as a second language to a group of students in Bishkek. Below is a picture of the beginner class that my wife and I taught. The students were incredible. I have never met a group of people so eager to learn and appreciative for what we were doing for them.


Incredible Food That Led To My Wife Noticing My Love Handles Growing (Ahhh!!!)

So… mid-week while getting ready for class my wife makes the comment, “You better lay off the meat, you’re definitely gaining some weight.”


Gaining weight!?

I can’t be!!!

I run a fitness blog and am a health advocate! How could I be gaining weight?

The picture below is the reason why.

We had heavy meat pretty much for breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with complex starchy carbohydrates. It was the perfect recipe for increasing the circumference of my midsection.

(This is a picture of our first meal in Kyrgyzstan: Meat and Carbs – Oh so good…)

Yes, the meals were amazing.

Though wouldn’t it be ironic for someone that lives in a country with an obesity rate of over 30%, but stays fit, to increase my body fat in a country with an obesity rate of less than 9%?

Hmmm… the correct answer is: yes.

Well, after my wife made that comment I decided to take 3 specific actions to jump start my dedication to fitness. Below are my…


3 Actions Steps I Took To Reboot My Focus For Fitness In Kyrgyzstan

1. Got Challenged By An Orphanage Boy To A Standing Arm Wrestling Bout (Yeah, I guess he gets the credit for the action step.)

We visited a state-run orphanage that housed over 100 young children. It was a powerful experience.

I may be smiling in this picture but this boy was incredibly strong and had his standing arm-wrestling technique down. You can see his feet, legs, and upper body in the perfect position to use his body weight to try to topple me over.


2. Refocused My Commitment to Natural Whole Foods

When I am at home, I typically eat whole, natural based food. Yet, when I was in Bishkek, I fell into the habit of eating a ton of processed foods. We mostly ate at restaurants which was convenient but a poor choice in terms of nutritional quality.

One day we went to the Osh Bazaar in Bishkek. I was blown away by how many healthy foods they had. We bought some raisins and apricots (the apricots we specifically bought to help with constipation and move things through our digestive tracts more quickly. If you want to learn some other foods that help, here’s a great list of foods that help with constipation.).


3. Went Swimming With My Kyrgyz Students In The 2nd Largest Salt Water Lake In The World

The last 2 days of our trip, we spent at Lake Issyk-Kul which is the 2nd largest salt water lake in the world. It was surround by mountains that absolutely took our breath away.

After a long game of soccer (yeah, definitely not my sport) we jumped in the lake to cool off.


So What The Heck Did I Learn From All Of This Anyway?

I learned a couple things…

1. I am definitely a home-body.

Never before have I realized how much of a home-body I am. Traveling is fun for a bit but I learned that I thrive on routine. My routine for exercise… for work… for eating… everything.

2. It’s good to have a game plan before stepping out of your house.

Next time I plan a trip of any serious length of time or distance, I will certainly also be planning exactly what I will be doing as a fitness routine. I will have established goals and written action steps that will need to be completed each day.

It is important to also have a game plan in terms of nutrition. I think my biggest problem was that I got into the mindset of “When in Rome, Do Like the Romans.” This was quite the mistake. Having a plan for nutrition is essential to keeping those love handles from growing.


A Big Thank You For All Of Our Supporters

(My wife and I standing among two of our teammates and the teaching staff at the English school. And yes, I am wearing a Kalpak. ;))

Allison and I would like to extend a huge thank you for all of you out there that have supported us with your donations and prayers. We are eternally grateful.


King Shot Administer

Show/Hide Comments (5 comments)
  1. love spells

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  2. Dan

    Good on ya for going off to help people, I’m doing something similar in orphanages but in Ukraine … I have noticed one thing in these eastern block countries the kids are sooooo strong, and if they get a hint that you are remotely athletic or the like they always want to challenge you. Pull ups seems to be a favourite as well. I’m hoping to get my push ups above par I’m on day 2 of your challenge and I was absolutely useless!! 😛 so I want to get good enough and challenge the kids with it in Ukraine! :)))) thanks for the great website by the way, you are truly inspiring!!

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Thanks Dan!

      That’s great that you are going to the Ukraine. Are you going with a group or by yourself?

      Yes, the kids are very strong. I know that as the boy above pulled on me he had way more strength than I thought he would have.

      Great job on the push up challenge. It is a doozy. Can’t wait to hear how the kids in Ukraine do with it. I bet it will be a piece of cake for them. 😉

      Keep up the fantastic work! Let me know how I may help you reach your goals.


      • Dan

        No I’m going there by myself, I have done similar things in Siberia for the last few years and it has always been fun…I have no doubt that the kids will breeze through it 😛 Last time I was in Russia the kids were averaging at least 20 pull ups each O_o A little worrying when I am a karate instructor and I am being beaten by 10 year olds! I’ll let you know how Ukraine goes, maybe even get some photos or videos of the kids trying your challenge!

        • Todd Kuslikis

          Hi Dan,

          Wow! That would be great! I would definitely write a post about that.

          That’s great that you are dedicating yourself to serving those in need. It is truly admirable. And I am super impressed by the strength of those kids. Wouldn’t want to meet them in a dark ally or my karate skills would be useless too. 😉

          Have a great trip!


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