Firstly, I’m amazed that I’m even writing this post. I never thought of myself as a “fit” and healthy person until recently, and I’m really proud of the changes I’ve made because I’ve grown a lot as a person over the last year. As some of you might know, my primary fitness routine and eating philosophy comes from Tone It Up, a fitness brand and community for women that I first got into around August 2014. (You can read more about them at toneitup.com if you’re curious).
Now after a full year of pushing myself and learning what works for me, there are so many lessons worth sharing! I’m hoping to write more posts on this, but this first one is focused on how to stay on your routine and meal plan even while on a trip or traveling. I’ve learned through trial and error over many trips in the last year. Some of the trips were visits to my parents’ home, others were work trips, and others were vacation trips with friends. So this is a mix of things that have worked for me. As you’ll see, the key is having a plan.
- If possible, workout before your flight or car/bus ride: If I have a really early flight then I can’t manage this, but anytime my flight is in the afternoon or later, I make sure to do at least a 30-minute session before. Cardio, weights, or even quick yoga, fit in what you can and you’ll feel so much better for it. It’ll release endorphins and it’s one more day that you’ve stayed on track. That mental boost just makes heading out on your trip even better!
- Pack Meals and Safe Snacks! : While packing your suitcase or bag be sure to grab snacks that can travel with you and help you stick to your diet. I pack small zipper-top bags of nuts, seeds, trail mix, or dried fruit. I make a few salty mixes as well as some sweet ones so that no matter what craving I have, I know I can reach for something light and healthy and not give in to fast food. You can even make a batch of healthy popcorn from fresh seeds (rather than the microwaveable stuff) and then sprinkle with a little salt, pepper or other seasonings you like. I also love keeping some Luna bars or other healthy granola bars in my suitcase. Be sure to keep some in your purse or backpack too so that these Safe Snacks are within reach.
- Plan ahead for the Destination: If I’m going somewhere new, I’ve gotten into the good habit of looking up the hotel or accommodation to see if they have a gym onsite. Most hotels do have at least a small gym with a couple of cardio machines, some weights and a stretching area. Even if you can only fit in 15-20 mins there, that’s still 15-20 mins of extra exercise you got in! Especially when I was first starting out, consistency was a huge building block for me. So although I wasn’t going to lose 10 pounds through that extra 15 minutes, what I was really getting out of that session was the learning that I CAN do it, I AM capable of committing to something, no matter what. It’s one step I took toward making a new habit, and that is valuable.
- Prepare your Travel Mates: When I was first starting out, I had a fun girls trip already planned for San Diego. I was very nervous about the trip and how to stay on track, being just 2 weeks into my new lifestyle. I took a chance at being vulnerable and totally opened up to one of my friends who was also going on the trip. I was very afraid to admit that, I was trying this new fitness program and that for me, this was a long-time struggle. I felt embarrassed but I still wanted voice my worries and ultimately, ask for help. Can you guess what happened? She was very supportive, said she knew I could do it and that she’d even help me chose wisely at restaurants and not tempt me with treats! I felt so much better about going, just knowing that I had some support and at least one person cheering me on. Once we were on the trip, our other friend quickly caught on, and also started quietly suggesting good choices on the menu. Not only that, but she got those choices herself, reinforcing that it CAN be done. It meant a lot to me, because these friends are people I consider healthy and balanced, and friends that I always admired for it. And now, I felt that with their support I could finally be like that too, and be a version of myself that I’ve wanted to become for a long time.
- Pack the Right Stuff: Even on work trips now, I make myself a priority. The first things I pack are my workout clothes, socks and safe snacks. Then whatever room is left has to be shared among work clothes, shoes, makeup, etc. I used to do this the other way around and there would never be room left! But now I see it as, literally, making space for my goals and dreams in that suitcase.
- Water, Water, Water: It’s so easy to get dehydrated while traveling. If you’re out in the sun, walking a lot, or even on a flight, you should make sure to have lots of water. Be sure to always bring an empty bottle with you for flights that you can fill up after security. I’ve even seen flat-folding styles now, so there’s no excuse!
- Stock Up Once You Arrive: Do a quick search around your hotel. Chances are there’s a small drugstore near by where can stock up on water, instant oatmeal, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and bars for your room.
- Make Morning Plans Before Bed: I learned this from one of my fit friends, Amanda, who NEVER misses a run, even on the many vacations and girls’ trips we have taken together! While we’re all getting ready to sleep, she asks us all what time we should plan on heading out tomorrow morning. Then without fail she says, “I’m gonna wake up a little before that, I’m gonna go for a run.” Yep, just like that. And you know what I’ve learned? I too can be that nonchalantly fabulous, and let everyone know that I need to workout in the morning. And then everyone helps keep me accountable! So I too have started declaring that I’m going to hit the gym, or get up 30 mins early. And the most amazing thing has happened. Now Amanda will get up and workout WITH me, and even other friends have asked me to show them some moves while on trips! I’m so proud because it’s proof of how much I have changed, not only in my eyes, but in the eyes of friends that I admire and respect so much.
- Hotel Room Workouts: If you haven’t looked up some YouTube videos of these yet, you are missing out! There are so many simple, classic moves that you can complete in your hotel room! Want a lighter routine? A quick yoga video requires no equipment. More intense? How about a quick round of burpees, jumping jacks, sit ups, push ups, squats and lunges? You can do each one 10x, and then repeat the whole thing one or two more times and I’m sure it will get your heart rate going! Only have 1 minute? Let’s do a 30 second plank and then 30 seconds of laying on your tummy and air swim! It’ll at least heat up your core and also your back muscles so you’re strong and balanced in posture!
- Plan to Get Back to the Routine: Before the end of my trip, I like to think through the next week and how I will jump back into my routine. Did I maintain a decent diet and activity routine? Then getting back to normal should be easy. Or did I let myself take more of break during my trip? Then perhaps an extra cardio session or two will be good once I’m back. If you did take more of a break, be sure to stretch a lot, and maybe do yoga on the first day back so you don’t overdo it and hurt anything. The same goes for diet, if I had a lot of treats over the trip then I just try to plan out really healthful meals, and maybe even less meat so that I can eat as clean as possible once I’m back. Also have lots of water once you’re home so you can flush out your system and get back to being fully hydrated.
These might be feel hard when you are first starting out a new exercise and meal plan, so be gentle with yourself. It’s all about bouncing back when you have a slip up. There will always be special occasions, vacations, work trips and celebrations, so it’s not realistic to completely cut out all cakes, cookies and chips for life. Remember that each week, day and meal is a chance to make a great choice, so YOU are the one who is in control. Good luck!