Traveling can be quite stressful. Especially if you really want to maintain the health regime you’ve created for yourself. My approach today is more lenient than the strategies I implemented a few years ago.
For instance, years ago I was curious on how I was going to manage my nutritional ranges while traveling to a wedding. During this time I was experimenting with Intermittent Fasting. I thought to myself, "How am I going to do the least amount of damage to my progress without falling completely of the wagon?”
Upon departure I brought along almonds, assorted vegetables and a coffee. I felt pretty good about my eating “time frame” for fasting and the food I brought with me. But hours later I found myself out of food, getting tired, hungry and irritable. I felt bad for my family (haha).
Over my headphones I heard the consensus is to stop and get McDonalds. I was annoyed, but I went with it. Taking out my phone, I Googled the McDonald’s menu to see what the healthiest options were. After deciding on a salad variation, the decision was made to thenpull into a parking lot of anotherfast food joint.
This added to my frustration as I thought, “I took the time to make an educated choice, then only to have it changed last minute”. Looking back on the situation years later, there were some clear signs where I needed to do some mindset work, as I was perpetuating a victimhood mentality, but I digress.
I walked over to a nearby sandwich shop and ordered a healthier alternative. I had a proud moment when my brother and his fiancé followed my lead. I thought to myself, “Disaster adverted still on track!”
We checked into the hotel hours later and the wine started flowing in celebration of the nuptials. I admit I felt fantastic having only one glass of wine before going to bed early. Weddings with too much celebration the night before are brutal. I knew it was going to be a hot day and I was still 100% on my nutritional guidelines.
The day of the wedding we stopped at the restaurant across the street. I ordered a chicken pecan salad, a coffee and a glass of water. I was still proud of myself for remaining on track (even with the fasting time frame). The day went well - the wedding was fabulous and the bride, beautiful.
I knew the reception would be the challenge. What and when food is served was out of my control. The buffet had assorted meats, fruits and vegetables. After dinner came desert. I distinctly remember looking at my watch seeing I had 30 minutes of the “eating window” left. Cheesecake was in sight.
I did it. I dove in last minute and enjoyed every piece of it. I thought to myself, “given the circumstances I have done well. I am still proud of myself for only indulging in this one piece of cake and some wine.” At midnight, Trouble struck or you can call him Doug, my "second father" and father to the groom. I was passing by Trouble when he grabbed me to put a plate in my hand and told me to eat. After I declined, we debated for a while. I will say, if you ever try to explain to a Ukrainian man whose been sipping Moonshine, that you're now fasting, so you’re eating window is closed, is a losing debate.
So I caved. I broke my fast by having another meal at midnight. Did I feel bad? Sort of. Was I feeling succumbed to peer pressure? Sure. But then I reminded myself of the great job I did going into this weekend. The plan was fairly well executed. So I let it go and gave myself the win.
The following morning, we all hugged and reminisced about the event then headed home. What I learned that weekend is when traveling you need a plan to be somewhat successful.
You need to give yourself some options. Was I 100% all the time? No. I am not perfect, but I had a plan and did my best.
It’s important to note, having a plan will set you up for greater success, but even the best-laid out plans can crack. Go with the punches – it’s life. Life is not perfect. Neither can be your diet or fitness regime - especially while traveling or on vacation. All you can do is plan ahead, think of some strategies and put the odds in your favour.
The above situation was a special scenario where I was experimenting with a new eating pattern, so I tried to be more regimented. However, my preferred style is to enjoy myself. I still continue to do my best, but realizing my best can change from day to day (or even hour).
It’s not the end of the world if you indulge a bit or miss a workout while you are traveling. I mean I did test the waters here. I ate after midnight and I didn't turn into a pumpkin. Yeah, I woke up as a less glorified Cinderella, with both my shoes, but it’s a win.
Here are some traveling tips to help plan for success:
If driving, plan where you are going to make your rest stops for food. Look at the menu for the restaurant beforehand so you can make an educated decision.
Not able to look up the menu beforehand? Narrow in on your restaurant options, so you know which are healthier choices.
Bring food with you - food you enjoy. You will save money as well. Everyone loves saving money.
Water - bring and drink lots of water.