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Many people struggle to maintain adherence to fitness and nutrition schedules while traveling. This is true for vacation and business travel. While each travel type presents its own unique challenges, we will explore several tips to staying on track with proper food management and prioritizing exercise.
1. Commit Unconditionally to Your Plan: This may sound pretty obvious, but if you do not decide to fully commit and plan your fitness and consumption into your workout plans, then you will likely struggle. Contemplation is only part of the equation. You must take action by considering your travel schedule, distance between meals, availability of space or fitness center on the road, food availability and the quality of food sources. I also recommend you look at your travel schedule and add workouts into spaces or places most likely to accommodate the need and mentally resolve to make it happen. The commitment concept of fitness & nutrition planning for travel is true for vacation, holiday celebrations or business.
2. Prepare Snacks for Transit Time: This is a simple strategy to avoid missing meals or making a poor food choice. By planning your schedule and packing some travel friendly snacks, you can ensure you are not in a situation where you get overly hungry, loose energy or consume something that you would not otherwise choose to eat. Not to mention, the selection may not be ideal or in-line with your regular nutrition plan. Aside from not being miserably hungry on a trip, another benefit to snack planning is you maintain full control of your nutrition. I suggest you pre-plan snacks and separately portion according to your needs and travel situation. Instead of bringing a whole warehouse club jug of nuts, simply potion out your ration and put into a baggie or small meal container. This will also help you avoid over snacking. Some excellent travel snacks include portioned nuts, fresh or dried fruits, raw veggies, boiled egg, jerky and whole food snack bars. You can also prepare smoothies or protein shakes ahead of time and keep in your cooler if travel accommodations allow.
3. Research Destination Meal and Fitness Options: Whenever possible research your way-points and destination to see what the food scene looks like or if there is a fitness center available. I always do an online search and investigate all the food options around my travel spots or where I know I will stop or stay. This is easy if you are on a train or in a car and also makes the trip a little more fun knowing the layout of some destinations. I do the same thing for fitness centers as well. Most hotels have some kind of gym but more often than not, they are pretty pathetic. The good news is there are over 200,000 fitness centers world-wide, you will probably have an option beyond the hotel. Nearly all gyms allow single day use for a nominal fee and I always find it fascinating and fun to explore different gyms across the world and stay on track with my workouts. Speaking of gyms.
4. Prioritize Some Form of Daily Exercise: I suggest you prioritize your workouts and schedule them like you would any other travel event. Even if there is not a fitness center available, you can and should plan a short body-weight workout. Many of my clients travel with resistance bands or I send them follow-along workout video they can do right in their hotel room with minimal space. I also recommend you try and keep workouts close to your normal schedule when you can to increase the likelihood of adherence. Moreover, prioritizing tour fitness comes back to commitment to your momentum and I have never had anyone tell me they regret keeping discipline and on plan when traveling.
5. Remain Hydrated and Well Rested: Travel can be its own kind of exhausting and it is easy to neglect hydration and rest. Whenever possible, carry water with you so it’s always accessible and plan rest times. This is especially true for air travel because of air humidity, dryness and pressurization. Dehydration and lack of rest can interfere with the enjoyment of travel and make working out even more difficult and daunting. Low energy is fast track to skipping workouts and you need every advantage when you travel to keep to your plan.
6. Balance Indulgence with Moderation: Whether your travel is for business or pleasure, balancing indulgence with moderation is highly recommended. If you are traveling for business and going to a cocktail reception with clients, then simply plan for this and have already completed your workout in the morning and choose lower calories cocktails. Wine, beer and low or no sugar drinks are ideal. If you are on vacation, then day-drinking or some overeating is just fine…if you moderate. Make sure you have adjusted your workouts to balance this and avoid consecutive days of overindulgence. We often spend so much time preparing our physique for a vacation and then come back to reality and then have to repair damage. Instead, I recommend a nice healthy balance to enjoy aspects that make vacations so enjoyable.
People are occasionally surprised by my philosophy on sustainable lifestyles and applying moderation to enhance the quality of an experience but still maintain control. This means that I do not subscribe to the popular Mainstream Media, Personal trainer or Nutrition Coach approach of promoting deprivation, guilting people or creating absolute restriction. Fitness and nutrition should be a sustainable practice and there is room for moderation on special occasions. If you follow these 6 steps, then you will be managing your fitness and nutrition lifestyle which I hail as a success. Further, managing this lifestyle while traveling is just part of the process and your fitness success doesn’t pause when you travel, you have to take it with you.
So, Commit. Plan. Execute.
Michael S Parker
Forge Online Fitness & Nutrition Coaching