I love the holidays, especially the opportunity to take a road trip to see family. I always come home with wonderful memories. But I’d also usually bring back a bloated, hurting tummy and an extra five pounds. On the road, there aren’t many healthy food options as it’s a couple of states of a mostly rural route from my house to my hometown. Being off my regular eating schedule, dining at restaurants, a big holiday dinner, and other delicious home cooked meals richer than what I’m used to always left me in quite of bit of abdominal discomfort. And my whole body felt out-of-sorts and achy from days of missed exercise.
I was tired of feeling that way after trips, so I decided to do something about it. I started using the following simple strategies to help me to stay as much on-track as I can with exercise and healthy eating. It worked! The next trip, I felt great during and after, and no tummy troubles. It’s worth the extra effort.
But it can be a challenge to eat healthy and to exercise when traveling. Your days are packed with visiting or meetings, meals prepared for you, and not much alone time. You’re also away from your usual routine and familiar surroundings. Despite a busy schedule and long hours, it’s still possible to say fit and healthy on the road.
Try these tips the next time you’re on a car trip, staying at a hotel, or visiting family or friends.
On a car trip
Plan your route. Scope out restaurants that offer healthy options; and parks, malls and other opportunities for a walking break.
Eat as you normally do. If you’ll be eating out, eat smart. Try to stay as close to your normal diet as possible.
Take a cooler. Pack lunches, water, cold drinks, and plenty of healthy snacks. Every meal you don’t eat out saves calories, time and money. Things that pack well for a trip include sandwiches, salads, cooked chicken, granola bars, fruit and nuts.
Tip: To avoid soggy sandwiches and salads, put cut tomatoes and salad dressing in separate ziploc baggies. Pack food in ziploc bags rather than containers when possible, and use disposable utensils, so you can travel light.
Enjoy your meal outdoors at a picnic table at a rest stop or park. If it’s too cold or raining, eat while parked in the car.
Take regular walking and stretching breaks at rest stop areas, a trail, mall, or a local park. Factor in additional time to take these breaks. Stretch against your car.
At a hotel
Choose a hotel with a fitness room. If the hotel has a pool, even better. A swim will feel great after a long day on the road.
Don’t forget your gear. Remember to pack all of the accessories you normally use for a run or walk — running shoes, workout clothes, earbuds, armband, water bottle, etc. Be sure to pack a swimsuit and flip-flops for the pool.
Ask for a running map. Why stay indoors, when you can take this opportunity to explore on foot? Many hotels offer local running and walking maps, if not complete running programs, so be sure to inquire. It’s a great way to get out and experience a new city, and the time will fly.
A few examples of hotel initiatives:
- Residence Inn by Marriott partners with the MapMyRun app. There’s a search box on the RI Runs page to find local routes.
- Run Westin – Westin has a website especially for runners, and has a “Run Concierge” in some locations.
Exercise in your room. If you prefer to exercise in your hotel room, bring lightweight, easily packable fitness tools such as a resistance tube or a resistance band, and have a workout video bookmarked. Some hotel chains now offer in-room fitness equipment and videos on request, so be sure to ask about these amenities.
Book a room with a microwave and refrigerator. With those, you can make or store many of your own meals, drinks and snacks. Stop by a local grocery store instead of eating every meal in a restaurant.
When staying with family or friends
Get an early morning run or walk in. Going home for the holidays? Go to your old high school and do laps on the track. Or pound the pavement downtown, in a neighborhood, or park.
Don’t be guilted into eating or drinking something you’d rather avoid. Simply say, “No, thanks.” You can make a polite excuse such as, “That looks great, but I’m not hungry right now.”
Bring a heathy dish or two to family gatherings or potlucks. If eating out, suggest a restaurant where you know you’ll be able to get something healthy.
Keep some snacks in your suitcase.
But do enjoy yourself. A few indulgences won’t wreck you if you’re committed to staying on track.
If you overdid it on your trip…
It happens to the best of us. One of the most important things I’ve learned on my fitness and health journey is to immediately get back on track after a trip or anything else that sets me back. Things like the holidays don’t have to derail your weight loss and healthy lifestyle, as long as you are diligent about getting back to your normal routine right away.
See my post on “5 easy ways to lose 5 lbs. after the holidays” for some easy strategies to get yourself quickly back on track.
©2017 Michelle Rogers, Inc.
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