This month’s Health & Fitness Dealbreaker is a busy travel schedule. Not having your usual resources, a change in schedule, as well as time demands can throw you off track. Here are a few nutrition and exercise strategies to keep you focused, fit and healthy when away from home.
COME PACKING: Pack snacks from home in your carry on bag or buy some from an airport shop. Some good ideas include nuts, trail mix, dried fruit, energy bars, meat sticks, and oatmeal packets. All of these things are durable and can stay in your bag for days or weeks. And don’t forget the water!
OBSTACLE OR OPPORTUNITY? Some of my corporate clients who travel a lot tell me it’s impossible to eat healthy when traveling. I like to think of room service and restaurants as my personal chefs who will prepare what I want, how I want it, and in the portion size I need. I don’t have to shop, cook or clean. You are the customer – get what you want, how you want it. Ask for substitutions and healthier cooking methods.
LEAVE SOMETHING BEHIND: Restaurants and room service portions can be substantially larger than what you need. Watch portion sizes by leaving food on your plate, asking for less food, or taking excess in a to-go box. I don’t advocate wasting food, but would you rather waist it or waste it? Practice leaving food on your plate.
WATCH THE COCKTAILS: Enjoy them in moderation and don’t over do it. They can add up to a lot of extra calories and wreak havoc on your self-control. After a few drinks you may not care about eating healthy, throw caution to the wind, and over do it, only to regret it later.
STAY HYDRATED: Flights are very dehydrating (even more so when you add large amounts of caffeine or alcohol) and even a small dip in hydration levels can impair your energy and performance. Keep water with you at all times and sip on it frequently throughout the day.
TO GET EXERCISE
GET ON THE INTERNET: Before you leave, go to your hotel’s website and look up whether it has an on-site fitness facility and if so, what type of equipment it offers. Start thinking about what you’ll do as your workout.
ORDER IT FOR YOUR ROOM: Several hotel chains offer “fitness baskets” that can be delivered to your room that contain things like DVDs, exercise bands, weights and mats. The gym comes to you!
GET IT TO GO: Many hotels have running/walking routes mapped out (complete with distances) and printed on small cards for you to take with you. Go out the front door of your hotel and start your workout. I was just in Hong Kong and this map on a string (to conceivably wear around your neck) was hanging in my room. The back of the card has jogging tips on it.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE A GYM: Maybe your hotel doesn’t have a gym, you don’t want to go, or it’s too crowded. Use your own body weight to do things like squats, lunges, push-ups, dips, or crunches. Find the stairwell and do sprints – run up several flights hitting every step, skip a step, go 2 steps up/1 step down, etc… then quickly walk back down. Do as many reps as you can.
PACK IT: Throw a resistance band into your bag for resistance training or bring your favorite exercise DVD to do in your room.
SCHEDULE IT: You’ll most likely have a full schedule on your trip and finding time in the day can be challenging. First thing in the morning is when you have the most control over your day – wake up early, work out, and get it checked off your list. You won’t have it hanging over your head and you’ll ensure it gets done.
NO ROOM FOR SHOES? As a woman, I know how difficult it is to devote room to workout shoes instead of another, cuter pair. Depending on what you’re going to do for your workout, get a pair of travel sneakers that are lighter and smaller. They wouldn’t be good for long-term every day use, but can get you buy for a few days. Also use your shoes as packing receptacles – don’t leave them empty! Fill them with smaller articles that have to go in your suitcase to utilize all possible space.
VISIT A LOCAL GYM: Almost all fitness facilities offer day or guest passes and chains allow you to use their gyms wherever you are. There may be a nearby gym you can visit to do your workout or take a class.