I’ve recently begun a consulting engagement which requires business travel. As such, I’m reminded of the challenges in exercising and eating well when the comforts of home are miles away. Though it’s nearly impossible to replicate healthy, home-cooked meals, there are ways to curtail the amount of junk food one consumes on the road! Likewise, the exercise routine may not be as lengthy or intense as the one(s) you enjoy at home, but you can still find time to fit it in. Here are a few tips and tricks which have worked for me when I’m away from loved ones and beloved routines.
Get up early. Often when you’re travelling, you never know where the day is going to take you or what last minute requests you’ll get from employers or customers. That’s why it’s better to work out before the workday gets underway. Even if you have to run three miles instead of six, it’s better than no run at all.
Think out of the box. As much as I like to explore a new city on foot, sometimes it’s not feasible to jog if it’s still dark outside. Or you may not be in an area suitable for running (like the time I ran down a highway in LA – never again). Hotel gyms can be great, especially if you’re staying at a fit hotel. Other options might include yoga in your hotel room, a jump rope or Journey Gym, the world’s first truly portable universal gym.
Go for a walk. Whenever you have a break during the workday, it’s easy to fall into this trap: go to the bathroom, check email, make phone calls and grab a cup of coffee. What if you took a walk outside instead? Not only might the fresh air and sunshine provide a well-needed boost to the day, but you’ll burn a calorie or two while you’re at it.
Stretch. I realize that the downward dog pose may not be doable in the middle of a meeting, or during a bathroom break, but try to squeeze in some stretches in the morning, at lunch or in the evening when you get back to your hotel room. It’s a great way to mend a tight back from the hours spent sitting on a plane or in meetings. You might even try some airplane yoga the next time you’re mid-air!
Skip happy hour. If you can’t drag yourself out of bed in the morning, then you may have some time before dinner to squeeze in a jog or visit the hotel gym. Sadly, you may have to miss cocktail hour, but you’ll burn some calories and have more energy as a result.
Watch the breakfast selection. It’s so easy to snag a pasty at the coffee shop to start the day, but you’ll experience a serious crash after you enjoy enjoy a sugar high. Instead, try to eat something nutritious like oatmeal, a bagel or eggs, or even yogurt and fruit. If you can’t afford room service, toss some instant oatmeal in your suitcase and add boiling water from your room’s coffee pot. If you’re looking for fast food options, I am a big fan of Cosi and Noah’s Bagels. (Another good excuse to walk around the block before you start the day.) This article by Health includes a number of healthy, fast food options for breaky.
Eat more veggies. I always find it challenging to eat enough greens when I’m away from home. One way to help circumvent this problem is to eat more vegetarian meals. Particularly for lunch, a nice salad or vegetarian sandwich can be filling and healthy at the same time. And it’s not so rich that you’ll need an afternoon nap or another cup of coffee to keep the head up.
Skip dessert. There’s something about dessert that makes me feel bloated, fat and tired when I’m on the road. As good as it tastes at the time, it seems to sit in the belly like a lead balloon afterwards. Just say no to sweets and you’ll feel better as a result. If your sweet tooth is as dependable as mine, then try some yogurt or fruit. Or have a piece of hard candy or a small chocolate.
Eat smaller portions, especially at dinner. How many of you eat a huge dinner then go straight to bed when you’re travelling? Everything gets thrown out of whack when your schedule is not really your own. Eating earlier can improve digestion; but whatever time you eat dinner, try NOT to clean your plate. You won’t die of starvation and you’ll probably sleep better, too.