For years I have been working with my professional clients in developing strategic tips for staying healthy and fit on the road. In my new role as the Director of Marketing and Business Development at Clifford Law Offices, I now find myself in a similar position. Here is a guide featuring my favorite hacks that will help you stay on track wherever your travels take you.
Stick to Your Routine
We all have staples in our daily routines that keep us feeling and looking our best. For instance, each morning I start my day with warm lemon water and a green smoothie. While I don’t generally have access to a high-speed blender and fresh vegetables, I always take with me a BlenderBottle, individual packets of my go-to protein powder, fiber supplement, greens supplement and MCT oil to mix in. And it goes without saying that I can almost always find a lemon wedge!
Think about what you do every morning, afternoon and/or evening that is a non-negotiable for you. Maybe so much a habit that you dismiss it. Find a way to make it a part of your travel routine and pack for it (i.e. supplements, protein powders and bars, gym shoes, workouts, downloaded apps, journal).
The number one rule is to always be prepared. You can easily scope out the food and restaurant climate online before you arrive at your destination. Always read the restaurant menu before dining and commit to your meal selection. This will help you deal with peer pressure and unwanted cravings. Never be afraid to ask your server for a different preparation, order an appetizer as your main course, or only eat half of your portion.
I generally advise my clients to follow a lower carbohydrate diet on the road and stick with protein sources, unlimited non-starchy vegetables, fruits in moderation and healthy fats. For example, at the breakfast buffet, choose fruit with eggs or a vegetable omelet. Stay away from the breads, bagels, sweet rolls and croissants. When snacking, forgo the mini-bar and choose fruit, trail mix, nuts, string cheese, jerky or protein bars, as opposed to chips, pretzels and cookies. On arrival, you can visit the local grocer to stock up on water and healthy options.
I also instruct my clients to be mindful and track everything they eat and drink in an app like MyFitnessPal or a journal. I personally do this as well anytime that I travel for business or pleasure. This will keep you accountable, on track and allow you to balance your calorie intake. The warm cookie on the airplane or candy bar at the sundry store does count after all. Eating a healthy diet will not only keep your weight in check, but it will give you energy and a clear mind, so you can rock your meetings.
Watch your alcohol intake when traveling. Overconsumption can lead to bad food choices, a loss of sleep, hormonal imbalances, weight gain, and bloating. While I know this is extremely difficult for professionals who wine and dine clients, you can be strategic by sticking to a two-drink maximum and consuming one glass of water per alcoholic beverage. In addition, choose a drink that is lower in sugar and carbohydrates, such as red wine or hard alcohol (solo or with soda water). When you return home, avoid alcohol for a few days to help your body detox from your trip.
You need to keep your body moving on your travels. This may even be one of your nonnegotiables at home. Striving for 30 minutes each day (only 2% of it) will have benefits for your mind and body, whether it is hitting up a cardio machine in the hotel gym, doing a quick strength training workout on an app like Peloton, or taking a yoga or Pilates class at a local studio. You can also get your 10,000 steps in by exploring the city.
Managing your stress levels when traveling is pivotal. Stress has been linked to almost every ailment imaginable: heart disease, high blood pressure, colds, depression, obesity, migraines and even cancer. The World Health Organization estimates that stress alone costs American business $300 billion each year.
Therefore, when you are on the road be sure to take a moment for yourself. You can easily download a mediation app, such as Calm or Headspace, and commit to one short meditation a day. You can also practice a simple breathing exercise: In the ratio: 1-4-2 (inhale for 8 seconds, hold for 32 seconds, exhale for 16 seconds). And if you find yourself with a free afternoon, relax by getting a massage, watching a movie or reading a book.
Do not underestimate sleep. On average, you need 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. It is not only essential for stress management, but protects against disease, and gives you energy and mental clarity. Think about how you feel after a sleepless night. You may pump up the caffeine to stay awake, crave salty or sugary fare, and then use alcohol to unwind. All of which in fact disrupts your sleep further.
In addition, a sleepless night disrupts your metabolism and hormones. Ghrelin is the go hormone that tells you when to eat, while leptin is the stop hormone that tells you when you’re full. Thus, more ghrelin plus less leptin equals weight gain.
Thus, be sure to make time for sleep, whether you’re on an airplane or at the hotel. If you have trouble staying or falling asleep, talk to your health professional about supplementation, such as melatonin, valerian or CBD oil. Chamomile tea or Nighty Night tea are always great options that pack well.
Get Back into Your Routine ASAP
Once you arrive home, you need to get yourself back into your normal routine immediately. As my wise father always says, “You are here and it is X time here.” Accordingly, stay awake if you need to and get your body clock back into its normal routine. In terms of food, cook (Instacart and Amazon Prime deliver) or get a healthy dinner delivered (don’t order a pizza). Further, get up and go to the gym the next morning. And if you don’t have a healthy diet and fitness routine established, work on putting one together. The healthier and fitter you are, the better your body will be able to adjust and bounce back after travel.