It can be tough to stay on track with your health and fitness goals when traveling, but with a little planning you can actually make progress during your vacay! read on for my tips on how to be successful on the road or on holiday.
It's all about planning! Pack or buy healthy snacks so you're prepared for the unexpected. Sometimes things don’t go as planned or you just can't find healthy food options wherever you are. If the trains, planes or automobiles are delayed … if hotel check-in isn’t for hours … if your family is getting “hangry” on the road or at the parks, fast food and gas stations might start to look like a good idea (ewwww!). See the list of my favorite packable snacks below. And, if you find yourself empty-handed, look for the best choices possible, such as single-serving nut butters, hard-boiled eggs, cut-up vegetables, low-sugar fruit, or nuts and seeds. These healthier snacks will help get you through the unexpected without derailing your goals. Be sure to pack a shaker bottle to mix on-the-go protein drinks and a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated!
Go to the local market as soon as you arrive at your destination. If your hotel room has a mini-fridge, you’re golden - just ask them to empty it! Stop by a local market and pick up fresh berries, single-serving hummus cups, mini carrots, nut milk, you name it! If you have room, pack a foldable cooler and fill it with ice! (I’ve even kept smoothies stored in an ice bucket at the hotel!) See more on my list below.
Keep moving! Physical activity doesn’t have to go on vacation when you do! Whether you use the hotel gym, join a fitness class, or take it outside for a paddle, run, bike, swim or walk, try to be active for 30 to 40 minutes a day. (My strategy is to get some form of exercise first thing in the morning before my day fills up with vacation activities!) You'll look and feel better in that swimsuit, have more energy, end up drinking more water, and be more motivated to make healthy food choices. We are also under less stress while on vacation (at least we should be!) which means your body will burn fat more readily, so take advantage of this and stay active!
Water, water, water! As soon as you’re through security at the airport, purchase a bottled water or fill up your personal water bottle and sip it throughout your trip. (I never travel without my BPA-free Bobble filter bottle). The pressurized air on planes can dehydrate you quickly, and if you’re on the road, pack a cooler with plenty of water for everyone you’re traveling with. (I also pack sliced lemons, limes and oranges for some variety.) And please remember: very few of us get enough water. A great guideline is to drink half your weight in ounces of water every day (and more if you’re in hot weather or participating in lots of activities outside).
Drink smart. Be mindful about your alcohol consumption and follow these simple steps to avoid overdoing it with the booze. You'll reduce the empty calories you drink and you'll avoid that nasty hangover the next morning. First, avoid alcohol on an empty stomach. Have something to eat before enjoying a drink and it will help prevent the all too common sugar crash and subsequent poor choices that follow (like one too many cocktails and that nacho platter that sounded amazing at 2am). Drink a full 8 ounce glass of water between drinks. This dilutes the alcohol and gives that lovely liver of yours less work to do. And finally, try to limit yourself to one drink per day except on your "Strategic Indulgence" day or days (more on that below).
Dining out doesn’t need to derail you! The thing is, when you’re on vacation, the last thing you want is food-related symptoms like stomach upset, diarrhea/constipation, headaches, or low energy. Try some of these ideas:
- When they come with the chips or bread basket, just say no. A simple wave of the hand and a “no thank you” works. If you want to start with something, ask for fresh veggies or a high protein, low-carb appetizer.
- No matter what your order, get a side salad or extra veggies too. Greens will do your body good -- the fiber helps you feel full (and can keep you “regular,”). Just remember to skip the sugary dressings (e.g. balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette) and cheese dips. Better choices include less sweet vinaigrettes, or olive oil and fresh-squeezed lemon juice with a little salt and pepper.
- Don’t be shy! Fortunately, today’s restaurants are accustomed to accommodating special requests, what with gluten-sensitivities, low-carb diets, paleo, vegetarian, and/or vegan customers. It’s usually not a problem to ask for your fish to be grilled or broiled instead of sautéed, for example. In most places, it’s easy for the kitchen to swap potatoes for spinach or Brussels sprouts. And of course, you can ask for no sauce, or no whatever-you-want-to-avoid. Hopefully, your server will be happy to accommodate you!
- And MOST IMPORTANTLY! Practice what I call "Strategic Indulgence". This means that you mindfully choose special meals and/or treats that you'll enjoy to the fullest with no restrictions. You'll do this on specific days versus indulging in anything and everything over your entire trip. I find that 1-2 really special, indulgent meals (including appetizers, drinks and dessert) over the course of a 7-10 days will not stand in the way of you reaching your goals, but diving head first into sugary cocktails and rich meals every day will. You shouldn't totally deprive yourself, but exercising a little discipline and strategy will go a long way!
If you have concerns about an upcoming trip, let’s talk! Together, we can plan for potential challenges that you foresee; research and review local options, and put together a plan so you can be prepared, feel more in control, and enjoy your vacation looking and feeling your best!
Some of my favorite to-go snacks:
What are your favorites? Which of those listed do you think will work for best for you and your traveling companions? The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to stick to your goals and feel your best on vacation!
- Trail mix. Combine walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, dried unsweetened coconut flakes, Goji berries – whatever you like best! Just go easy on the dried fruit since it's loaded with sugar Store in small serving containers or re-sealable bags.
- Chia and/or flax seeds. It’s a good idea to have some extra fiber on your travels, in case your “regularity” goes on vacation! Pack in re-sealable bags (and don’t forget to pack a teaspoon or scoop.) Sprinkle seeds into your cooked oatmeal or your smoothie once a day.
- Single serving hummus with raw baby carrots and/or apple slices.
- Grass-fed organic jerky or smoked wild salmon in a shelf-stable, sealed package. REI is a great place to find these.
- Nut butter single packs. Delicious spread on an apple or the crackers/crisps above. Justin's or Once Again brand squeeze packs are great options.
- Fresh, low-sugar fruits that are easy to eat on the road, such as apples, berries, grapefruit, and avocado (yep, it's a fruit). I bring a paring knife to slice my avocado in half, then I salt it a little and eat it with a spoon. Delish!
- Mary’s Gone Crackers Super Seed Crackers and/or Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers. These are some of my favorite lower carb, gluten-free crackers and even pro-gluten people enjoy them!
- Protein powder or meal replacement shake powder. You can find lots of choices in single-serving packets, or scoop some into a reusable container or re-sealable bag. Don’t forget to bring a Blender Bottle or other shaker cup and a scooper or spoon!
- Protein bars. Choose those with the least amount of sugar, such as Primal Kitchen Collagen Bars, Bulletproof Bars (my personal favorite), Thrive by GoMacro Bars, or GoMacro Minis.