A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel for business, which is not something that I do very often. This may come as a surprise, but Healthy Momma Bee is something that I do in my spare time to help others achieve their personal health and fitness goals. During the day, I am a clinical leader with a company that manages various employee benefits.
There was a time in my career when I traveled very often and I used that as an excuse for it to be an eating free for all because I was away from home. Travel translated into a ‘no holds bar’ approach to food and there were no restrictions. I could eat anything and in my mind, it was justified because I was not sleeping in my own bed. No wonder I was overweight, I had an excuse for everything!
Since I started my weight loss journey, my perspective on travel and diet has changed considerably. I have taken several vacations and several business trips over the last two years and I have found that it is much easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle than I originally thought. The key is to go into it with the right mindset and prepare accordingly.
When planning a trip, you have A LOT of options:
Research local restaurants and choose venues that have healthy choices on the menu. You may not want to make those choices when there, but you know they are available, should you want them.
Understand that you will deviate from your plan and give yourself the permission to do so, but make sure that do not do it for every meal. Plan ahead to determine when you want to indulge and determine if it is worth it. Sometimes just having a bite or two will satisfy your craving.
Plan to exercise. Whenever I go away on business travel or vacation, I pack my sneakers and workout clothes. I am always prepared to exercise no matter the circumstance. Most hotels have a gym and I will opt to run or walk on the treadmill early in the mornings. When on vacation, we usually do a lot of walking so I will burn additional calories without even realizing it.
Bring Protein Bars. Whether I am on business or vacation, I always have protein bars on hand for meal replacement. They are great when I am hungry and need something to hold me over OR when I have a craving for something sweet but do not want to go off plan.
When taking a road trip, pack your food. Road trips are notorious being unhealthy because of frequency fast food pit stops. You can avoid that by packing your own sandwiches and snacks. You know exactly what you are eating, how many calories you are consuming and you can feel good about making healthier choices.
Keep in mind that you do not have to clean your plate. Despite what your Mom used to tell you, you do not have to finish your meal. Eat until you are full and either leave the rest or take home the doggy bag.
Split the meal with a friend or family member. Most restaurant portions are more than double a normal serving size. You can save money and calories by splitting the entrée. Add a salad with low calorie dressing if you feel you need more nutrients/fiber to fill you up.
Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated will keep you from becoming ravenous.
Plan your days around activities and not around food. Do research around the culture and the places to tour/visit rather than just the restaurants. Plan your days so you don’t get bored. Boredom tends to lead to food.
Gum. Sometimes we just want to chew. Pack gum and this will help considerably.
No matter how much you plan, it will all be meaningless if you are not in the right headspace. If you tell yourself that vacation and/or travel equates to a vacation from your healthy lifestyle then you need to reassess. LIFESTYLE means for LIFE. It means changing the way you perceive your relationship with food. It also means learning how to balance enjoying yourself (and for many people – enjoying themselves means being able to eat whatever they like without restriction) with good health. Ideally, it means that you incorporate the two.
Know that there will be days when you will go off plan completely. When that happens, it’s NO BIG DEAL. You are entitled to enjoy yourself from time to time. Just make sure that you get back on track with your next meal. Too many people get derailed and use that as an excuse to self-sabotage.
There are times when plans are out of your control. For example, when I was in Texas this week, we had several meals catered in which means that I had very limited options. Breakfast was bagels and fruit – so I had my protein bar at the hotel and then had a fruit salad and coffee at the office. Lunch was Italian food – pastas and salad, grilled chicken and garlic bread. It was delicious. I had a big salad, some grilled chicken and took a tiny spoonful of the pasta and a small piece of the bread. I wanted seconds because the food was DELICIOUS, but I refrained. Instead, I had a forkful of the key lime pie – and some of the brownies for dessert. Did I go off plan? Absolutely. Did I go crazy? Absolutely Not. I had the opportunity to load my plate up but I opted out.
So even when things are out of our control, we can still make good choices. Opt for smaller portions of the carbs and cream based options and load up on the veggies and proteins.
I will admit, that I did go a little crazy with the coffee machine and likely drank my fair share of calories by way of Vanilla Latte’s, but it was an indulgence I don’t do often and I’m back to the gym on Friday.
Bee Healthy. Bee Happy.