I am often asked how I maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle when traveling (for work and pleasure). I've been traveling for business for just over 10 years now, and it definitely has taken conscious effort and planning to take care of myself when I’m away from the comforts of home and my normal routine.
1) Be a Sherpa. Disclaimer – don’t bring everything, but definitely don’t be shy about bringing your go-to healthy stapes from home. Whenever I begin to pack, I tackle room by room. Here are a few highlights:
Closet: I’m sure to lay out enough gym clothes for a daily workout, even down to small comforts like my favorite headbands, lifting straps, Beats by Dre and barre socks (you never know when you’ll find a great studio!). My sneakers are literally the first thing I put in my suitcase – every.single.time.
Kitchen: Snack me up, buttercup!! I go to town packing my kitchen before a trip. I bring a shaker cup, protein powder (it’s hard eating a HEALTHY protein-rich diet on the road), bcaa’s, vitamins, and protein bars. Sometimes I’ll also pre-measure almonds (plain!) in little zip lock baggies so I have a quick snack high in protein and healthy fats in a pinch.
2) Make smart decisions. When we’re on the road, we have access to conveniences we often don’t (not sure about you, but I don’t have a mini-bar stocked with gummy bears in my bedroom… although the idea does sound quite tempting!). Just because you have access to something doesn’t make it okay to eat/drink it!! Repeat after me – airport calories count! When I first began regularly traveling, I nailed down a little airport. As I made my way to my gate, I’d swing into one of the airport convenience stores and buy a bag of twizzlers and an InStyle Magazine. Thanks to the marketing geniuses at Twizzlers, their slogan “A Fat-Free Food!” totally duped me into thinking I was making a healthy choice in the world of candy. Do you know how many minutes of running you have to do to burn off FOUR of those things? TWENTY. That’s right. Twenty minutes to run off four little pieces. Let’s not even discuss how many are the in the package – or the fact that sometimes, when they got stuck together, I’d eat two at a time! Long story short(ish) – airport calories count. Now I always pack a Quest Bar and a piece of fruit in my purse, and purchase a bottle of water with my InStyle mag when walking to my gate. When we fail to prepare, we prepare to fail!
3) Calories on the road count, too! Sorry for the redundancy, but it’s worth noting. For my fellow corporate travelers out there, how many times have you been lured in to eating a cookie the size of your head at an industry conference? I’ll admit that as a novice professional back when, I would succumb to those damn buffets way more times than not. Firstly, it’s free. Secondly, it’s tasty! Think about it: You travel to tradeshows – holed up in a hotel ballroom for 9+ hours a day – and they just roll in breakfast (pastries for days!), followed by a mid-morning snack (FULL-SIZE candy bars), lunch followed by dessert, an afternoon-snack (you guessed it, more sugar) and lastly, a happy hour chock full of sweet mixed drinks. If you’re not careful, you’re consuming double (if not triple!) your daily caloric intake without moving but a few feet through the course of the day. So remember – calories on the road count. Eat a protein-laden breakfast, make sure your lunch is jam packed with veggies and lean protein, and if you must indulge in a mid-afternoon snack, be sure you do so in moderation. Those calories add up fast, and once you factor in the fact that you’re barely moving during the day, it’s a dangerous and slippery slope if you’re not careful.
4) Work out. It really fires me up when people say, “Oh I can’t work out when I travel for work, I never have time.” Yes you do. We all do. The question isn’t do you have time, it’s will you MAKE THE TIME? Now, if I weren’t willing to make sacrifices – aka: drink less at night and wake up at 5am – sure, I wouldn’t have time either. When I’m on the road, my day is usually booked from 7am – 6pm followed by a work dinner. If I don’t squeeze in an early morning workout before my meetings, it simply won’t get done. So I don’t make excuses – I get up, put in the work, and feel amazing the rest of the day. Sure, sometimes I cringe when my alarm blares at 5:30am, but my metabolism and mood are boosted for the entire day. I think it’s worth the sacrifice of 60 minutes of sleep. Don’t you?
To eat healthy and stay active while traveling is hard, but so is being unhappy with your body. Choose your hard.
What about you? Any tips on how to stay healthy on the road??