Maintaining diet and exercise while traveling – 2.0

By Tia Norris, May 2019 Issue.

We all know that diet and exercise are relatively easier to control when you’re operating from your home base. You’ve got your gym, your grocery store, your house, your world. And conversely, of course, diet and fitness are relatively harder to control when traveling — it’s much more challenging to stay consistent with food and routines when we’re out of our elements and off our schedules.

Still, traveling is absolutely not an excuse to neglect your fitness program! It will require more planning, and a little more creativity, but I promise you that it’s possible to have great vacations and stay on track with your goals at the same time. Here are more of my Trainer Tips to maintain all of that hard work you invest into yourself, while having fun on the road this spring and summer.

Ground rules:

Make your health and fitness a priority first — or it’s unlikely to happen once you’re on the trip. People who truly live that #fitlife already, habitually, build in workouts, meals, and recovery into their plans for their trip. They don’t magically stumble into great workouts or well-prepared snacks while traveling … it’s the result of research and experience. Don’t neglect this.

Your main goal on the trip is to not regress; progress is unlikely. Your only real goal is to not move backwards. Even the most seasoned athletes will agree that travel compounds the difficulty of any fitness program … so, surrender yourself to the fact that all you’re trying to do is hold on. Along these lines, your low-ball threshold is to exercise at least 50-75% of the days you’re traveling — so for a three day weekend, that’s two days!

Before leaving:

Prior to departure, you need to be nailing your program. This means 100% adherence to diet and exercise — you want to arrive on your trip needing recovery. This front-loading approach will allow for the inevitable travel days and downtime with reaching your destination.

Locate: a gym or place to do your workouts, grocery store, and restaurant options. Have a plan for where, when, how you’ll get there, what times they’re open, how much they charge, and all the other details you’ll need. All of this initial planning will make your vacation much more relaxed, if you go into it with these logistics squared away.

Research and book: classes, excursions, meet-ups with fit friends, massages, etc. Again, we need to start building in exercise into your trips. Are you going to do group hikes, group yoga, or a gym session with your friend? Figure out your options and make the commitment to layer in some accountability.

Pack: weather/activity appropriate clothes, supplements, shakers, and snacks. Pack all those little bags of supplements, put them in your shakers, and be sure that you’ve got more than enough bars, beef jerkies, trail mixes, or whatever else you like to snack on in your bags. There will come a time where you’re stranded somewhere on the trip — in the airport, late night at the hotel, or out on an excursion, where you won’t have immediate access to food. You’ll be needing these dry goods, trust me! And if you don’t use them, they’re perfectly fine to just come back with you. Hedge your bets and bring them.

While on the trip:

Never take more than 3 days off. If you haven’t exercised in three days, we’re in the danger zone! Get up off your ass and do something. This is a hard rule, never forget it. This applies even when you aren’t traveling.

Never eat more than two “bad” meals in a row. Do you ever notice how your energy crashes after overeating, or eating something low quality? That’s your body sending you a message about how much it liked that food. Food should bring you up, not down! If you indulge at breakfast or lunch, keep it light at subsequent meals. I personally like to save my cravings for dinner and dessert. Plan accordingly.

MOVE! Stretch, roll, get a massage, don’t just sit around! You know more exercises than you think. When in doubt, make a simple bodyweight circuit and repeat five times. For example: 10x each of lunges, squats, pushups, and backpack rows; repeat the circuit 5x. Don’t underestimate the power in these simple but effective sessions.

Remember, fail to plan = plan to fail! Make your health and fitness a priority if you really want to succeed. Focus on hitting the minimum thresholds and set your expectations accordingly. Plan, plan, plan — plan exercise, food, snacks, and build in as much accountability as you can. And take care of yourself while you’re on your trip, basic self-care will go a long way in keeping your energy high, so that you can really enjoy the most important part of this discussion — the vacation!