I don’t know about you, but travel brings out the worst in my eating habits: concourse food en route to the gate, excessive caffeine intake while trying to keep up with a hectic schedule, being away from my favorite group fitness classes, and in the case of business travel—meals with colleagues that include rich foods and alcohol.
For many of us, especially those with a newly-adopted fitness regimen, being taken away from the routine you created is enough to derail days, even weeks of positive progress. If fitness hasn’t become engrained in your lifestyle yet, too much time away will lead to disappointment. That’s why I compiled a few tips on how to avoid letting your routine go awry.
1. Drink water. This is one of the simplest things you can do to stay on track. Personal trainer Kali of HipHopHardbody.com says, “If I'm eating something savory, I'll sip a lot of water before and during. I also like to make sure that I get to the good [food] first. Taste it, savor it, and resist the urge to over-indulge.”
2. Mind your portions. You’ll notice that at some fast food joints, the small drinks are the mediums of 10 years ago. Portion sizes in the United States are just too big overall. Your food should not arrive on a platter—and then cover the entire surface. Generally speaking, no items on your place should exceed the size of your fist. Read nutrition information on packages. You’d be surprised that you’re more often than not, you’re probably eating two or three times the suggested serving size.
3. Snack smart. I am a big-time post-lunch snacker, but instead of scarfing down the brownies and cookies that are available during the meeting breaks, I seek out fruits. Bananas and apples are usually pretty accessible. WeightWatchers.com also suggests baked potato chips (be sure to check the serving size on the bag!), pretzels, and light yogurt. When it comes to beverages, water is best but if you absolutely must have a cola, opt for a diet soda (or their male counterparts like Pepsi Max and Coke Zero which taste just like regular colas). In the rare case that I do drink soda, I choose an eight ounce can instead of a 20 ounce bottle.
4. Dine out with discretion. So, it’s time for that corporate dinner and the boss decides he wants to go to a steakhouse. Great. You might think you’re doing the right thing by choosing a cobb salad, but considering it's chock full of bacon, cheese and dressing, Weight Watchers says you may as well have had the steak. When ordering, read the food descriptions and beware of the buzzwords that usually indicate higher calorie counts: pan-fried, cream of, dipped, au fromage, au gratin, battered, crispy, and double-baked are just a few of them. If you do end up with a high-calorie entrée, try to immediately ration off half to either take home for another day, or forsake. Alcohol is also very high in calories, so it would make good fitness (and professional sense) to limit yourself to one or two glasses of wine or light beer. If you prefer cocktails, stay away from fruity drinks and those made with mixers—they’re high in sugar. A vodka with tonic or cranberry juice is less fattening than a frozen margarita.
5. Make time to move. Not all hotels have gyms, so that’s your cue to rise a little early, strap on those running shoes and go for a run or brisk walk around the area. If you don’t know the city well, just circle the hotel block a few times. If you have access to Amazon video or iTunes, you can stream a fitness video and just do the moves in your room. Yoga doesn’t require any real equipment (use a towel for a mat or spring for a pair of Yoga Paws), and videos like “8 Minute Abs” and the “30 Day Shred” will allow you to squeeze in a workout without too much of a time suck. P90X instructor Jamila M. Williams also suggests traveling with resistance bands if you want to step up your in-room workouts. For a soundtrack, she looks to the Fit Radio app which has playlists designed for working out.
Travel doesn’t have to get in the way of your fitness goals. Use your calorie counters (available for free on MyFitnessPal.com and SparkPeople.com), stay active, eat smart, and keep your end goal in mind.