Do you find that after you come home from a business trip or a vacation, your pants feel a wee bit snug compared to when you left?
Do you find it difficult to stay on track with your healthy habits when you're on the road?
Perhaps you find yourself eating out at restaurants more than you would when you're home or perhaps you find that you're more sedentary than usual from all that sitting on the beach or sitting in business meetings.
If you're a frequent traveler, check out my top 5 suggestions for preventing or minimizing the expansion of your waistline while you're away from home.
Tip #1: Drink Plenty of Water
Staying hydrated while traveling is especially important when you're traveling by plane. If you choose to drink alcohol or coffee on the plane, be sure to drink water in between so you don't get dehydrated. Headaches, fatigue, sugar cravings and eating when you're not hungry are some common symptoms of dehydration. What your body wants is water! If you want to stay on the healthy track when you're away from home, be mindful of how much water you're drinking (especially if your trip consists of enjoying mai tais on the beach or taking clients out for cocktails every night). If you're traveling by plane, buy a bottle of water as soon as you go through security or pack your own BPA-free water bottle in your carry-on (my favorite brands are Hydro Flask and Kleen Kanteen) and fill it up at the water fountain before you get on the plane.
Tip #2: Make Time to Exercise
Pack your workout clothes and make exercise a priority every day while you're away from home. Here are some options that are easily accessible no matter what your activity level is or how much time you have:
- Gym Goers: Check to see if your hotel has a gym or if you can get guest pass to a gym close to where you're staying.
- Into the outdoors? Go for a walk or a run outside first thing in the morning. The fresh air will energize you for the rest of the day. If you're away at a conference or a business trip, go for a walk during your lunch break. Visiting family during the holidays? Instead of taking a nap after your meal, rally up your crew and go on a group walk for both exercise and quality time with your loved ones.
- Yogis: Locate a yoga studio close to where you're staying and check their class schedule ahead of time.
- Only have 5-10 minutes? Do some body weight exercises in your hotel room. Try this simple routine: Do 15 push-ups, 15 crunches and 15 squats. Repeat for as many rounds as you have time for.
Do your best to move your body first thing in the morning as doing so will not only wake you up and give you more energy, but it will help you make better food decisions throughout the day. Plus, you'll get your workout out of the way and will be less likely to make excuses later for why you can't fit it into your schedule. Notice how much better you feel when you incorporate exercise into your day.
Tip #3: Get at least 7 hours of sleep each night
Have you noticed that when you get plenty of sleep, you have an easier time getting up in the morning, you're more likely to workout, and your cravings for caffeine and sugar are significantly reduced? Aren't you also less tired, less irritable and feel better overall? I know I am! If you want to make better decisions when you're traveling, getting enough sleep is essential. Keep in mind that during your first couple of days, you might experience jet lag or an adjustment to a different time zone which might alter your sleep patterns a bit when you first arrive at your destination. Reducing (or eliminating) sugar, caffeine and alcohol those first couple of days will help you get your sleep back on track.
Tip #4: Pack your own snacks
If you've been in an airport, on an airplane or set foot in any place that sells food off the highway (gas stations, rest stops, fast food/chain restaurants), you've probably noticed that the food selection isn't exactly top notch. What you'll typically find is highly processed and/or low quality food that is detrimental to your health. However, knowing this ahead of time means that you can plan ahead and bring your own snacks with you while you travel so you don't have to rely on getting them from somewhere else. Here are some easy, tasty, whole food snacks for you to try the next time you travel:
- Sliced veggies with hummus or almond butter
- Canned wild-caught salmon that doesn't require a can opener (mix with avocado...yum!) - Note: Probably best not to consume on a plane...I don't think your seat mates will appreciate the fishy smell :)
- Homemade trail mix (walnuts, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds)
- Portable bars with minimal ingredients (Larabars, Goodonya Bars, GoMacro Bars, Epic Bars)
- Go Raw Super Cookies
- 4 Ingredient Raw Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites
- Dessert Balls
- Easy Oatmeal Banana Bars
Tip #5: Plan ahead
Planning ahead will help you set yourself up for success. Some things to think about include:
- Making/buying snacks for the plane/train/car
- Checking with your hotel to see if it has a gym
- Locating healthy restaurants near where you're staying (this is especially important if you have food sensitivities or only eat particular foods, e.g. vegan, vegetarian, paleo, etc - www.yelp.com is a great resource)
Prior to leaving for a weekend conference, I went online to locate the closest Whole Foods because that's where I was planning on getting my breakfast both mornings. Their juice & smoothie bar, as well as a selection of healthy pre-made meals, makes this one of my go-to breakfast places when I'm on the road if I don't have access to a kitchen. I also packed my workout clothes so I could exercise first thing in the morning.
When I travel to New York in the winter to visit my family, not only do I make sure to pack workout clothes appropriate for the cooler weather, but I also go grocery shopping when I arrive so I have healthy options on hand.
Planning ahead doesn't have to take up a lot of your time and you'll find that it's totally worth it.
Bonus Tip: Strive for Progress, not Perfection
When you're away from home, it can be challenging to mimic your usual daily self-care routine. Don't sweat it! Do the best you can to make choices that make you feel your best, but don't obsess over being "perfect" and don't beat yourself if you make a choice that you deem "bad". Relax :) If you follow the tips listed above, you might be surprised to find that when you get home, your pants still fit and you're not that far off from your health goals despite having eaten out more often, eating foods you're not used to or deviating from your daily routine.