For folks who love traveling, or who travel for their job, it’s one of the downfalls that goes along with the luxury of going to wonderful new places: traveling is disruptive to even the best intentioned person, when it comes to their health.
I recall when I started my first job where I would be traveling 100% of my time; I knew that business travelers often gained weight. I was already bigger than I felt comfortable with, and didn’t want to gain more.
I was young – in my late 20’s. I had never exercised before in my life and my diet was terrible. I knew my diet was bad. I loved bloomin’ onions, burgers, fries, and beer.
I knew that I should be eating more vegetables, but I didn’t know how to do that – so I did it the only way I knew how – I became a vegetarian.
Becoming a vegetarian was a terrible idea for me, for reasons that I won’t get into in this article, but the internet was still young, and there wasn’t a plethora of information out there. I didn’t know where to turn, and this was the only thing I knew.
Far too often, when we travel, whether it’s for business or leisure, we get ‘vacation brain’ – the term I use when we hold the belief that what we eat or do doesn’t count; we don’t have to suffer the consequences of the poor choices that we make when we are out of town. Or maybe we feel that we deserve to splurge, because ‘we’ve earned it’.
And as much as you DO deserve a reward because you work hard, rewarding yourself with food and alcohol, although it feels good in the moment, in the end, it makes you feel worse.
So, I have 3 tips that will keep you feel good while you’re traveling as well as when you return home.
Unless you’re staying in an AirBnB or a hotel with a kitchenette, chances are that you’re going to be eating many of your meals in restaurants. Since restaurants are more concerned with how much you like the food, your experience, and not your waistline, meals eaten at restaurants tend to be higher in fat, calories and sodium than homemade meals.
Although we can’t change that, we can be discerning when it comes to what you choose to consume. And you don’t have to cut out entire food groups: carbs, alcohol, meat, or desserts.
In addition to eating to satisfaction versus overeating, there’s a simple solution to not allow dinners out throw everything out of whack: Prioritize your treats. At each meal, choose one: alcohol, starch (bread, rice, chips, potatoes, corn, beans, etc.)
It’s easy to use the excuse that your AirBnB or hotel doesn’t have a fitness facility, or that you can’t go for a run because you feel unsafe in your temporary surroundings (I totally get that). But you can easily workout while you’re on the road using minimal equipment, or even just your bodyweight.
I know that I used to have the mindset that if I couldn’t get a full gym workout in, that . . . well . . . what was the point?
But the truth is that ANYTHING and EVERYTHING helps.
Plus, what it does, is it keeps us consistent. It keeps us in the habit of exercising. It’s always so much more difficult to start (or re-start) an exercise habit than it is to keep it going.
So, whether you’re on vacation or traveling for work, be as consistent as you can – even if it’s working out for 20 minutes a day.
Adopting a consistent workout schedule will also help you sleep better – avoiding the feeling of being wired, but tired.
I recently attended a conference in Asheville, NC, and I wasn’t feeling great. I knew that I needed to get up at 6 am on a Saturday morning, so counting backwards, I made it a priority to go to bed earlier than normal on a Friday night. But the ladies in the room next to me were having a good time.
I had forgotten to bring my earplugs with me, and as a result, got too little sleep – which made me tired the next day, and potentially I didn’t absorb as much as I had wanted to at the conference.
So, as much as sleep seems to be under-rated, it is a biological necessity. There are studies that illustrate that in just 4 days of not getting proper sleep, our body starts to exhibit signs of pre-diabetes!
But sleeping on the road can be a challenge – new environments, sounds, time-zones, too much alcohol, and an unfamiliar diet are all things that can influence the quality of sleep that we get when we’re traveling.
And the fact is that when we don’t get good sleep, we’re more likely to make poor eating choices, and not feel like exercising. So, sometimes making sleep a priority can pay off in other ways.
So, what can you do to get good sleep?
In addition to taking melatonin, or using earplugs to help you sleep, exercising will help a lot to better sleep, as well as a diet that is lighter. So, try to avoid eating large meals close to bed-time (this can definitely be a challenge when traveling and entertaining).
Yes, I understand that these tips aren’t revolutionary, and that they’re things that we should be doing when we’re on the road. However, when we’re traveling, we need to be hyper-vigilant about taking care of ourselves – because if we don’t, we’ll for sure pay the price when we return home.
Originally published at elizabethsherman.com