You’ve been looking forward to it for months ... packed perfectly ... taken time off from your daily life ... it’s finally time for your summer vacation! With everything you’ve put into it, don’t you want to feel your best and have enough energy to really enjoy yourself? After all, if you overindulge you may end up with stomach distress, headaches and/or achy joints. Plus, foods that are rich, fried or sugary can make you (and your kids) feel exhausted and moody – and who wants that when you’ve planned for paradise? Or maybe you're a road warrior and you travel for work. You especially need that energy and a clear head to be at your best, and to fend off the "traveler's bulge" when your only choices are fast food or Applebee's. Yikes! Here are my tips for feeling your best while traveling:
• Prepare for the unexpected. You can’t control a flight delay or long lines at museums or amusement parks, but you can control what you eat. Keep your blood sugar levels even and happy by packing your own low-sugar treats. I fill several small snack bags with a ¼ cup of nut mix (almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds). You’ll get the benefits of zinc, magnesium, fiber, Omega-3s and healthy fats to keep you full! Ialso pack a blender bottle and individual packets of meal replacement shakes (I like Vega One, Amazing Meal or Shakeology), and some snack bars like Vega Vibrancy or YouBars.
• Drink water instead of soda, fruit drinks, Gatorade, or tea/coffee. This is the number-one health tip for frequent flyers, because airplanes are extremely dehydrating due to the pressurized cabin air. Bring water bottles (or bottled water) everywhere you go and plan to drink 8 ounces every hour or one 16-ounce bottle every two hours. Your goal is to drink AT LEAST half your weight in ounces of water a day (more on very hot days or when you are exerting a lot of energy.)
• Eat a protein-packed breakfast. At a hotel restaurant, it’s tempting to select a bagel and cream cheese or French toast—but that’s like eating cake for breakfast. That’s right – to your body, this kind of breakfast metabolizes the same way as cake, spiking your blood sugar then setting you up for an energy crash and sugar cravings later in the day. Instead, opt for an omelet with sautéed broccoli, red pepper, onion, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes – fill it with veggies to keep you full longer. Or for smaller appetites, order one egg any way you like it, skip the hash browns and ask for sautéed spinach on the side. Another great option is oatmeal with blueberries, sliced almonds or crushed walnuts. You can even get oatmeal at Starbucks!
• Sip smoothies. When I have room, I pack my Nutri-Bullet or use a Blender Bottle (with a spring or metal ball) and make my own smoothies or protein shakes as a morning start and sometimes an afternoon snack, too. I blend single-serve chia seeds, single-serve almond milk, single-serve Vega Protein Powder, and bottled water; then I toss in whatever fruit and veggies I can buy nearby or get from the hotel restaurant. This gives me a TON of energy and regulates my blood sugar and mood (which makes my husband very happy.) In airports, you may be able to find Evolution Fresh Juice at Starbucks – add your protein powder, shake well and you’ve got a healthy substitute for your homemade smoothie.
• When dining out, have it YOUR way. If an item is fried, ask for it grilled. If it comes with french fries, ask for a side of vegetables instead. Request a green salad with veggies instead of coleslaw. Tell the waiter no bread basket, please - you won’t fill up on empty calories, and you won’t have to nag your kids that they’ll “ruin their appetite.” Check http://www.happycow.net/ to find some healthy restaurants in whatever area you’re visiting. Some of the best choices may be off the beaten path!
• Don’t go by the menu. Ask how the food is prepared. For instance, does the salad dressing contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup? Do they use hydrogenated oils for cooking? Also, “lite” necessarily mean light in calories - it's usually code for less fat but more sugar which is even worse for you. When in doubt, ask for your food to be simply steamed or grilled and request olive oil and vinegar for salad dressing.
• Order a salad, but skip the extras. The typical restaurant salad is loaded with croutons, cheese, and sometimes dried fruit (very high in sugar). So get the salad, but ask for only greens, vegetables and some nuts. Use oil and vinegar and lemon juice for dressing, or do the fork dip: ask for your dressing on the side, in a small bowl. Dip your empty fork into the dressing, then skewer a forkful of salad. You’ll be surprised at how this tastes just right, and how little dressing you’ll use.
• Skip the alcohol and caffeine. These drinks really dehydrate you, deplete your natural energy and make it more difficult to get a restful night’s sleep.
• Don’t take a vacation from fitness. Go for a walk, do yoga stretches, fit in a series of push-ups/sit-ups – do some form of exercise every day. I make it a first-thing-in-the-morning ritual, before the day gets too busy. Also, plan activities that are unique to your vacation – waterskiing, surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking, wakeboarding, hiking, tennis, horseback riding, salsa dancing – whatever your destination offers, go for it! I love to visit yoga studios and local gyms if I have time, too; I meet some locals, learn the favorite non-touristy spots, and I usually discover a new tip to add to my hometown exercise routine. I search for nearby studios online and check the online reviews to make sure I pick one that’s high quality.
Wishing you a safe, happy and healthy start to summer!