For business or for pleasure, traveling is always hard on the body. For many of us we thrive on routine, so when that routine gets thrown out, things take a turn for the worse. The daily routine and rules are different, and we often give ourselves permission to do whatever we like. Then by the end we feel as though the weeks and months of hard work training and dieting have gone down the pan. Unfortunately for many corporate travel can be part of the job description. And for holiday makers it’s a chance to let loose from work and most of life’s responsibilities. Either way both travel for business purposes, or for pleasure have some things in common. Similar obstacles and often unwanted weight gain at the end of it are things to look forward to.
So here are some of the most effective tips found to help you maintain shape and fitness while traveling:
Flying is a different ball game
Have you ever felt in pretty good shape in the few days leading up to your trip, only for the feeling to disappear as soon as you jump off the plane the other end? You suddenly feel like you’ve gained 5-10lbs of fat. Well you’re not the only one; this is a really common problem for a lot of people. Whether traveling for 2 hours or 20hours a combination of altitude and radiation exposure while flying reaps havoc on the body.
Flying from New York to Los Angeles exposes you to roughly the same amount of radiation you’d get from eight dental X-rays
Unfortunately there’s not much you can do about the radiation. But the visual 10lbs of fat you appeared to have gained shouldn’t be anything to worry about, is mostly water retention. And will usually go away in a day or two providing you’re eating the right things. You can help minimise the effects by limiting your temptation to overeat on the plane, and keeping your feet moving. Definitely avoid the aeroplane food as the high salt and carbohydrate content will make the water retention worse. Take your own food or just live off healthy low carb snacks and water for a while. Drink lots of water to help flush the water and keep your digestive system ticking over too.
When you get off the other end be on the lookout for local restaurants, supermarkets, health food shops and even chemists. Where can you eat out at that’s not going to be too far from your normal eating routine? Where can you buy healthy snacks from so you’re always prepared? This leads to the next point…
The key is to make sure you’re always prepared, so there’s never an excuse to grab something you wouldn’t have eaten normally. It’s quicker, more convenient and less expensive when you’ve done your homework or prepared beforehand. For snacks grabbing on the go shouldn’t be a thing, instead grab ‘before’ you go. If you have to grab on the go many mainstream stores are now selling things like protein bars, jerky, nuts and trail mixes, natural bars (eg naked bars, dinosaur, paleo bars, bounce balls, or similar), or at worse packets of cooked chicken or boiled eggs.
Skip meals if necessary
If you’re not hungry then just don’t eat. Be an intuitive eater. If you’ve over indulged at breakfast then do you really need to be having lunch because society dictates that we ‘need’ to have lunch, and we shouldn’t skip meals. Listen to your body; You’re not going to starve if you skip lunch after having a full English for breakfast.
Low-energy conditions such as dietary restriction and intermittent fasting have actually been shown in research to promote healthy aging. Although the underlying mechanisms aren’t fully understood yet.
Avoid the drink, or go for these options instead
It’s far too easy to drink more alcohol than we’d normally allow ourselves when traveling. We usually drink for either pleasure or comfort from stress, so it’s easy to see why we do it in these situations. Alcohol in moderation isn’t going to set you back too far as long as you can control your calorie intake. Fancy a beer? Try drinking half-pints and see if you can make them last just as long as a proper pint. Or even better try to resist completely and opt for sparkling water instead. Prefer wine? That’s fine, just remember to moderate and consider the size of your glass. If spirits are your thing then good news, they’re generally the lowest calories and carbohydrates. But in most mixers and cocktails should be limited. A gin or vodka and slimline tonic however, no worries.
Always be prepared if you’ve got an opportunity to workout
Don’t give yourself an excuse to make an excuse. Pack your gym kit, and know where the local gyms are. Or better yet do your research when booking your hotel and make sure it has some kind of exercise area, or walkable distance to a local gym. No gym though, no problem. Your body is your gym, there’s always plenty you can do with it. If you ever find you’ve got half an hour spare at any point during the day it’s easy to throw on your gym kit and fit something in.
Many of my busy clients that travel frequently in their cars, find it useful to always have a small gym bag they keep in the boot of their car. Almost like an emergency gym kit. It usually contains some very basic workout gear, a pair of trainers (usually an old pair rarely worn so they can stay in the car), a towel, a bottle of water, and either a shaker with some protein powder stored in, or a ready to drink shake or even protein bar. No excuses.
All you can eat buffets, here’s how to tame this belly bulging beast…
Pick up one plate or bowl, fill it up with a ‘normal’ size portion and NEVER go back for seconds. If you’re still waiting for the rest of the family to finish and you want extras then either keep your mouth and hands busy with some coffee, or get some fruit. It’s way too easy to overeat when you’re presented with an unlimited choice and amount of food right in front of you. See the food for what it really is, you’re not exactly saying no to gourmet cuisine here a lot of the time.
A traditional English breakfast can have over 1000 calories and 5g of salt. And that’s before the extras you’re having.
Try to walk everywhere and see if you can avoid public transport. It’ll help you burn extra calories, and help you digest some of that extra food you’ve been eating. Also if on vacation try organising activities that’ll make you sweat. Hiking, surfing or skiing lessons, even water parks can be quite physical. Lots of swimming is also good.
Keep workouts short, and use them as an opportunity to try new things
When traveling don’t expect too much of yourself, but expect something. Something is much better than nothing. Too often we programme ourselves to have on-off switches, where either we’re on-it, and food and exercise are on point, or off-it. We allow ourselves to literally eat anything we like, and to sit on our butts all day. Stay active, and on top try and do at least a 20 minute workout nearly every day. Nothing too heavy or intense, and use it as an opportunity to try some new stuff. Don’t worry about your training splits and what muscles you’re working. Full body workouts work best on this occasion. The hard training starts back again when your schedule allows.
Don’t get thrown off from your trips main objective
There are an infinite amount of tips to use whilst traveling, but we’ve found these the easiest to implement. Have fun, or if its for business focus on your priorities, but keep things simple and don’t let the routine throw you off. Follow these simple rules and you’ll be ready to continue your body mission as soon as you return.