This time of year brings upon travel, lack of routine, and stress. Jolene can relate, which is why we decided to have her guest post today on our blog on this topic. Her full time job requires travel- and not just to CT or NY where the time zone is the same, but to LA, Texas and the like. So not only does traveling in general throw a curve ball to someone who is trying to eat healthy and plan ahead, but the time change doesn’t help much either. Read below for some tips on how to stay turn to your health and fitness goals, even on the road.
As my job requires a fair amount of travel, and I also love to travel in my spare time (and feel so grateful to have the opportunity TO travel quite a bit!), I wanted to share some tips I’ve mentally collected as I travel, for business, and for pleasure. As I was going through the inaugural 60 day challenge, one of my biggest fears was how on earth I was going to stay in my number, fitting in workouts and steps, and focused on continuing the lifestyle I was cultivating for myself. (I started my job about 6 months before the challenge began) But as I’ve continued in this lifestyle for the past year and a half, I’m always amazed at how much easier and more ingrained it becomes, especially when I travel. Because let’s face it, when you have all of the tools (hello barre n9ne® classes!), the access to the right foods and control over your schedule and meals, it’s relatively easy to stay on track…especially when you then compare that to traveling, where all of that routine is stripped away bare.
So here are my tips for staying in your number when you’re traveling, or otherwise out of your (controllable!) routine (a lot of these tips also apply to when you’re out to dinner with coworkers etc, where you have less ability to control your food).
Restaurants should be a luxury, not an ‘everyday’ thing. But when restaurants become an everyday thing because you are traveling and have zero access to homecooked meals…look at restaurants and dining out as a ‘necessary evil’ and as I’ve said in a prior post, ‘be normal.’ It may be tempting to look at the menu, and going into it, having every intention of bypassing the bread, the appetizers and the sauce-laden entrees, but then, once amid the social atmosphere of your coworkers, you decide to choose a heavier than planned for entree. Instead, switch your focus and think of this meal as a necessity. You aren’t going out to dinner because of your choice to do so (where, when I go out to dinner, I go rarely, and take that occasion to pick one of my favorite restaurants, and really enjoy it, for the experience and atmosphere, combined with a good, real-food meal), you are doing it because you have to. So, if you were at home and making dinner for yourself, would you make the sauce-laden curried rice and beef dish or would you go for the piece of grilled chicken or steak with light vegetables and a salad, maybe a baked potato? You’d probably go for the latter, or at least I would, so switch your focus and choose smartly. And save that perhaps heavier meal for a time when you truly want to, and plan ahead for it.
Be prepared. When flying (or driving or any sort of travel where you’re hours away from your destination, with at least one meal to contend with), be prepared. It sounds ‘no-duh’ but it truly goes hand in hand with the above tip, if you plan ahead and ‘be normal’ – would you really go somewhere where you know you’ll be away from your own food options without packing something sensible? Probably not. So do the same here. Pack fruit (apples, bananas, pears are good options with lots of fiber), 90 calorie peanut butter packets, 100 calorie nuts, even packets of oatmeal that you can make easily with hot water. Pack Healthy Bites (if you’re me!) for a quick 50-calorie pick me up that will surprise you with how long it sticks with you. You’ll more easily bypass the snack tray on your flight, filled with empty calories – Fritos, chips and cookies – and be more satisfied, longer, with your own options. This is one of the only times I also suggest an energy bar as a meal replacement, if you’re traveling through a meal. Choose one that has real ingredients listed first (or the only things listed!), that has anywhere from 170-230 cals and 10-15 grams of protein for the most staying power. Kind, Simply Bar, Larabar (these have less protein, however, more fiber!), and some of the Zone Perfect bars (natural varieties) are some of the options I go for most. When you get to the airport, scope out a snack stand that has yogurt, and choose an all natural, organic, or Greek yogurt style. These pack protein, fiber and calcium that will also sustain you longer. And soon enough you’ll realize you just endured a long flight without a) blowing your calories on empty snacks or b) being forced to choose higher calorie breakfast or lunch options at the airport or drive through because you have no other option (other than starve…and who wants to do that?!).
Get on a (revised) schedule. For me, when I travel, it’s typically cross-country and across three time zones. Where suddenly, I’m thrown into a limbo of hunger at the ‘wrong’ times – immediately when I wake up (because my body things it is breakfast, which I typically eat around 9 am), yet it is only 6 am, to lunchtime cravings at all of 9 am Pacific time (when it feels like noon!). And suddenly, you’re faced with figuring out how to quell your hunger cues, while balancing the fact that you have three extra hours in your day to contend with, and your meals are all thrown off. The best advice I can give is to try and ‘get on schedule’ with whatever time zone you are in, as fast as possible. For me, that means spacing our my breakfast as slowly as possible so I am not starving by the time lunchtime rolls around (feeling like 3 pm in my brain!), while also balancing out my calories so I’m not ‘out’ of calories by mid-afternoon. Instead of one ‘bigger’ breakfast of my go-to oatmeal that I enjoy at home, I’ll instead eat a two-step smaller breakfast, essentially half my calories for breakfast at around 7 am Pacific time, and the other half around 9 am Pacific time, so I quell my hunger but also ‘get on schedule’ with the time zone I am in. This usually means a yogurt or nuts or a banana and peanut butter around 7, and an energy bar or packet of 100 calorie unsweetened oatmeal with peanut butter (about half the calories of my typical oatmeal goodness made at home).
When traveling or out of your routine, and out of your control, don’t let that become your excuse for not eating ‘normally’ – empower yourself by being prepared and choosing wisely, and staying within your number when traveling or out to dinner with coworkers etc., won’t be nearly as difficult as you may think.