Travel Itinerary – Keeping it Healthy
It’s amazing how stressful planning a trip, be it for business or pleasure, can be. It seems that most of us always have that sinking filling in the pit of our stomach that we forgot something (which we usually did). Now, imagine that you are well on the way to achieving your health and fitness goals. You’ve upgraded your daily routine to include exercise and a healthier diet. But, what happens when you leave the security of your routine and travel? In Vacation Diary, I wrote about health and wellness while on a vacation/road-trip. It was a fantastic learning experience, but we were able to influence our environment since we were visiting family. Being able to goto the grocery store and prepare our meals made this task must easier. What happens when you aren’t able to control those things? Well, it just so happens that I have a business trip coming up and what better time to write about staying healthy while traveling?
What to Pack?
Not to complicate things, but you’re packing list is going to get a little more complicated. Not only do we have to pack our normal clothes, we also have to include clothing and items for exercise. The great thing is that workout clothes typically don’t take up that much space and are easier to pack than collared shirts, dresses, suits, etc. Some quick tips:
- Make sure to pack plenty of undergarments and socks.
- Have enough workout clothes (shorts, shirts, etc.) for every day you will be at your destination.
- Bring some form of snack during the flight, drive etc. I prefer LARABARS, which are all natural and great tasting. Order a sample pack here.
- It’s great to have a Filtered Water Bottle to stay hydrated (and save $$$ vs. bottled water). I currently use this model from Brita, which can be purchased here.
- Don’t forget a pair of athletic shoes for your workout.
- Pack any vitamins or dietary supplements.
At the Airport
One thing about airports is that there are always people late for their flight. I advise that you arrive to the airport a little earlier than you normally would. The reasons for this are so that you can walk around the airport and not use the escalators or people-movers. This will allow you to get a least a little extra bit of exercise and not be rushed or frantic in the airport. Most Americans do not take enough steps during the day and if you’re flying, there’s going to be even more sitting than in a typically day; so plan your exercise accordingly.
Another pitfall of airports is how they can wreck a diet. It’s easy to find food, it’s not easy to find food that won’t expand your waistline. Look for places that offer a salad as an option and be weary of packaged dressings. Opt for no dressing, or simple oil and vinegar. It seems that larger airports are offering healthier options, it just takes some looking to find them. If anyone has any questions on other foods for airports or specific places; please discuss in the comments below.
At the Hotel
So, you’ve arrived and checked into the hotel. What’s first on the agenda? Nine times out of ten it’s finding something to eat. So what do we do for a meal? A lot depends on what the hotel offers and what places are in the vicinity. Worst case scenario, there is nothing but fast food and pizza places close by. That would be one of those “lesser of two evils” moments. Most fast food places offer a salad, although I question the nutritional content of any meat in the salad or what’s contained in the dressings. If possible, plan your accommodations around what food options are available. A quick word on vacation: Enjoy it! Eat a great meal at that fabulous, multiple star restaurant. A meal here and there is not going to wreck your health. A whole week of indulgence however, will have some negative consequences. For my situation (a business trip), I was fortunate that the hotel contained many amenities and had a full service restaurant on site.
So what the best course of action when most of the food options are provided? The great thing about this trip was that three meals a day were included. The not-so-great thing was that I had no input into what was offered. The trick, is to make a catered meal healthy. Breakfast was my favorite meal of the day and also the easiest. It was a buffet style breakfast with an omelet station and a cold bar. Here is my everyday breakfast (minus the omelet).
A high protein breakfast is a wonderful way to start the day. On the plate we have salmon covered with eggs and capers. I absolutely love bacon so I had to include it. I also had some blackberries, strawberries, and cucumbers to round out the meal. For beverages, I had coffee (no cream or sugar) and water. My omelet contained spinach, mushroom, onions, bacon, and tomato (how awesome would it be to wake up to an omelet station every morning?). All of this was much more satisfying than the traditional high carbohydrate breakfast that many consume (bagels, cereals, etc.) and helped me sustain energy throughout the day.
Lunch was also buffet style, with a different theme everyday. It was also more challenging, as many of the foods provided I was not able to include and had to improvise. By far the most challenging lunch was italian themed. The main options were fettuccine alfredo, lasagna, chicken parmesan, and a caesar salad mix. Since I don’t include pasta in Physique Rescue Plan, that knocked two of the options out, leaving the chicken parmesan. Luckily we were able to remove the breading:
From there I was able to take the chicken and incorporate it into the salad with some zucchini.
That was a challenging example; here’s one that was much easier. There was a mexican themed lunch which began with tortillas (hard and soft) and was more or less a “taco bar”. By incorporating both meats and salad, I was able to create a delicious lunch. A bonus was that I seemed to be the only one at the conference who liked guacamole. This meant more for me!
On a lighter note, there was dessert provided after every meal. It just so happens I have a weakness for cheesecake and this turtle cheese cake was no exception:
As I mentioned above, one meal or one slip up isn’t enough to wreck your health. So if you happen to come across a turtle cheesecake (or whatever your dessert weakness may be), feel free to enjoy it.
Aside from eating healthy, there is the challenge of figuring out how to exercise. The best philosophy is to structure a workout based around activities, exercises, machines, etc. that you normally do not use or have access to. I was very fortunate that the hotel had great fitness facilities with a variety of cardio machines, weight training machines, and even a free weight area. For some morning cardio, I chose the stationary exercise bike and completed a high intensity hill workout for 30 minutes. The key is to just do SOMETHING. If you’re not as fortunate in your accommodations I have great news for you! Going for a run or walk doesn’t require any equipment that you don’t already have with you (legs, running shoes), neither does this great hotel bodyweight workout. It’s all about using the tools that are available to you. It’s possible to get a phenomenal workout with only your bodyweight as resistance and it could also be the change you need to push you through a training plateau. To recap, here’s some keys for exercise:
- Use the tools you have available.
- Do something you normally wouldn’t do during a workout.
- Change up your training format (tempo, body parts, resistance, exercises).
- Try something new.
- Make time for your health (find that 30-60 minutes a day).
- Use downtime to your advantage by walking between sessions or after your lunch.
- Have fun and enjoy yourself.
Travel for business or pleasure can be a difficult time to stay on track for the lifestyle that you’ve chosen. But, it can also be a fantastic opportunity to change your routine, try something new, and break through any training plateaus you may be experiencing. If vacationing, use this time to experience the sights of your destination in a new way and exciting way. Go for walk, a hike, a bike ride, just explore! When on a business trip, exercise is a fantastic way to decompress and “escape” to clear your mind. These things are generally a lot of material crammed into a small window of time. Exercise does wonders for stress and the intense downloads that you’re experiencing. Make it your goal to come back in better health than when you left. With careful planning, the right packing, and viewing it as a challenging opportunity, you can have a successful trip and support a healthy lifestyle.