You’d think two weeks in a foreign country would be a recipe for diet disaster. No more! I recently found myself in Peru, land of lomo, rich ceviche, and papas fritas morning, noon, and night, and I lost five pounds. Here are my seven steps to coming back from abroad a lean mean machine.

1. Lose your voice.

You heard me! [Or maybe you didn’t.] Losing your voice is a fantastic way to use up all those pesky calories you consumed in french fries. You see, when you lose your voice, you’re forced to communicate How to Set Up a Tent by waving around your arms. When you fall over trying to pull out an erroneously-pegged tent stake and you cannot get up again and you still cannot remove the stake, you have to resort to clicking, clapping, and whistling to get help. All of these things burn calories!

If you can manage it, try to lose your voice twice over two weeks. This will ensure maximum calorie burn.


1a. Cough.

Coughing will kick-start your way back to the six-pack you had in college. Coughing uncontrollably three times a night over ten days should do it. Be smart: maintain good posture while coughing. Otherwise, you may pull your diaphragm muscle, which will sideline your weight loss.

2. Translate!

Your brain burns calories, too. [Why do you think we all fell asleep in algebra class? Exercise is exhausting, that’s why.] So when you are forced to translate everything you say from your native language to your second language and then into the third language that you are inadvertently picking up, guess what? You’re a calorie-burning furnace! Woohoo!

Hiring the right translator (you know, for the fourth language) can help with this. Having to repeat everything five times is a fantastic extension for advanced weight loss. Don’t do this more than once every two-week period. Insanity is not good for weight loss.


2b. If you’ve followed step 1, above, whispering is a great way to firm up your vocal cords and sneak in a few extra calories.

3. Throw things.

Forget kettlebells. Big green boxes the weight of your best friend are the new lifting regime. Fling them until your arms go rubbery. Repeat.

Treat with care, though. They might be weights to you, but they’re lifelines for someone else.

Height and repetition are important here: When swinging the boxes, aim for the truckbed, at chest height. And for God’s sake, get a spotter. Seriously.

4. Let ’em chase you.

When you look around and realize that you’re being followed by a group of schoolchildren, employ this handy workout:

a. Pretend you don’t see them.

b. Gradually lengthen your walking stride.

c. Ignore giggling; any Quechan comparisons to the [Peruvian?] Ministry of Silly Walks.

d. Break into full-on sprint. Cease ignoring giggling. Giggle yourself. [Mustn’t forget abs, obliques.]

e. Return to big stride, so as to let them catch your backpack straps.

f. Drag them a bit.

g. Remember suddenly that you are a swamp-level dwelling city person, while they apparently breathe pure oxygen, since they live at 3200 meters.

COOLDOWN: Never let ’em see you sweat. Grin. Wheeze. [Related to 1b, above.] Giggle some more.

5. What’s a trip to a foreign country without local cuisine? Sample it con gusto. Here’s a brief guide.

a. Sopa a la criolla, or sopa a la minuta

These lovely soups are rich in vitamins. They also all come in soup tureens the size of your head. You will feel full just looking at them! If visual stimulation is not enough, don’t worry: each of these soups comes with a clump of noodles the size of your entire stomach. One meal a day of Sopa might just do it for you.

b. Papas fritas

They show up at every meal, these french fries. Soon you won’t even see them anymore. Therefore you will not eat them.

c. Guinea pig

Two tiny drumsticks will satisfy even the biggest appetite.

d. local cheese

This stuff has the potential to be your downfall. Restrict self.

e. Ceviche

Lovely, fresh seafood in citrus juices. Potentially damaging to diet. Never fear: Travel with someone who hates sushi. That’ll do it.

6. Worry.

Ceaseless worrying will whittle your waistline in no time flat! Normally nothing will come of the worry, and you will have done it for no reason but to slim down. Perfect.

If something does go wrong, though, feel free to dash about like a madwoman to fix it. Bonus calorie burn!

7. Debrief.

By which I mean, talk it up. Every night. With your teammates, dissect the day. When you get home, dissect the weeks. You’ll find yourself sleeping like a baby. When you’re not coughing, anyway.

Hey, a good diet never rests.




  1. Yes!. Travel can be slimming. Sounds like you made the very best of a tough trip. You do good work, Woman! x0 N2

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