When I take serious vacations, those spanning longer than three days that are typically international, I don’t worry about what I’m eating and don’t try to workout. I feel that a vacation should be a full vacation, one that allows you to eat dessert after your meal or have a burger without any guilt. I’ll typically work extra hard in the weeks leading up to these vacations, so that if I gain five pounds, it’s no big deal. And taking off a week of working out is actually a great break for your body and can give it some much needed down time.
However, on short trips, I like to keep things some what in check, so that I don’t come back feeling bloated and like I’ve undone a lot of hard work in a short amount time. It used to stress me out immensely trying to plan how I was going to make this happen. But I’ve done enough of it now, that I believe I have it figured out and I travel with ease, knowing I will be able to enjoy myself and still stay on track. Here are the guidelines I follow:
First, I let go of the notion that the only foods I could eat were chicken and vegetables. It’s just not realistic. What is much more realistic is keeping an eye on overall calories by tracking the carbs, fat and protein you’re consuming. Yes, you should be mindful of your food choices when at home, but when traveling, it’s not near as easy. So make the better choices when available, but if not, don’t sweat it. Look at your labels and keep your numbers in the general range of where they should be. You don’t have to be perfect.
Realizing that my diet wasn’t blown because I had three crackers, significantly changed my mindset and enabled me to travel stress free without gaining weight. When you think you’ve already screwed up (by eating three crackers), it’s easy to eat whatever you want from that point forward, because you tell yourself that you’ve already messed it up. Letting the reins lose a little on your food choices will actually keep you more on track.
Also, download Myfitnesspal. If you haven’t been turned onto this great app, then you’re missing out. I use this tool to keep track of what I’m eating when I’m on a road. Often times, you grab a handful of this and then a handful of that and when you’re not mindful of those extras, you don’t realize you’ve just eaten 600 calories in almonds. This app will let you track everything you put in your mouth, so you can be sure you aren’t overeating.
Planning ahead as best as possible serves me well when traveling. The hardest place to eat healthy when on a trip is the airport which is for two reasons: one, you’re bored and want to do something, like snack. And two, most airports appear to still not offer many healthier options. Even when I’m looking for a protein bar, which is a last resort option, the only ones I can typically find are sugar laden ones such as PowerBar. Now, I usually take a meal with me to the airport, which at least handles that leg of trip. Ground turkey meat in a plastic bag, hard-boiled eggs or deli meat are some of my favorite options. And I don’t keep them in my purse for hours. It’s something to snack on when I get to the airport and while in flight.
I pack as many portable options as possible to keep myself on track. It doesn’t mean I have to eat them, but they are options and things that can be great to throw in your purse when you’re having a long day out in the city. Also, I find that non-health conscious individuals have no concept of eating more than once a day. So for them, eating a donut for breakfast and then a huge dinner is typical. When you’re with a group, rather than expecting them to accommodate you, it’s easier to bring some snack options with you. There are a couple of different protein bars that I do endorse nutritionally, and typically as a part of my planning, I would bring a couple of those to keep in my purse. When you’re running around doing touristy things, hours can fly by without eating anything. And going to a restaurant starved is the best way to over eat.
Other portable options include almond butter, rice cakes, oatmeal, fruit and protein shakes.
I’ve found that drinking lots of water when I’m traveling is the key to keeping my system moving and not feeling swollen. Flying already causes water retention. When you couple that with eating foods that your body may not be used, you have a recipe for bloating. Also, even if you’re ordering a grilled chicken breast at a restaurant, they may be preparing it with sauce or extra sodium that can cause an overall slowdown. If you keep your body hydrated by drinking a ton of water, you will help flush your body and keep the water retention to a minimum which will enable you to feel more back to normal when you return home.
I try to stay in a hotel room with a fridge at my disposal. I don’t always end up using it, but knowing that I have the option puts my mind at ease. Protein shakes are not good warm, I promise.
I do research on good restaurants in the area that will meet everyone’s requirements. If I am by myself, obviously I can go where I want. But when I’m with a group, I’m going to go where the group wants to go. But if I can research restaurants in the area and find something with great reviews that offers healthy options, then it’s a win/win.
And, like at home, I keep the drinking to a minimum. In general, I like to indulge in more alcoholic beverages when on vacation. But on these mini-vacations, I don’t let it get out a hand. A glass or wine or two at dinner is about all I will allow.
Remember that if you’re going to partake, stay away from sugary drinks that contain liqueurs like a Sex on the Beach or Mai Tai and stick with a glass of wine or champagne or a straight liquor (like vodka) with a non-sugary mix in like soda water.
If you’ll follow these strategies, I promise they will work for you. Traveling does not have to be stressful. It should be a fun time where you can enjoy yourself without going off the rails and returning home feeling bad about yourself. Remember to plan, pack and most importantly, allow yourself some freedoms. You deserve it!