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5 Tips for Healthy Travel

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I’m married now! Remember a couple weeks ago when I wasn’t?

The wedding was awesome but I’m not here to talk about that. I want to talk about traveling.

I did a Facebook Live video last month from California about the topic but since we have a lot of travel plans in the next few months, I wanted to do a post, as well.

I’m actually in the Outerbanks right now on a mini-honeymoon so this is super applicable to my current life and (thanks Hurricane Matthew) I suspect something many of you can relate to whether your travels are for business, pleasure, or somewhere in between.

Regardless of how (in)frequently you might travel, does it sometimes feel like a trip pops up just when you feel like you’re getting into a good routine and hitting your stride? Like having to go away and break free from your norm derails you sets you back so that when you do get home, you’re not making progress, you’re trying to dig yourself out of a hole? You’re not alone. Travel disruptions are one of the most common concerns I see in clients and something with which the majority of people struggle.

Here are 5 of my top tips for staying on track when traveling:

  1. Manage expectations.

Nothing kills a buzz faster than unrealistic expectations. While it may make you feel good leading up to a trip to tell yourself that you’re going to stick to _______ 100%, you and I both know that’s unlikely to happen. Unexpected things come up when you’re traveling and more than usual is out of your control. Rather than expecting perfection (something we should never strive for, anyway), falling short, being disappointed, and potentially falling victim to the “F*!% it” mentality, coming up with realistic expectations from the get go can help make you much more successful during the trip.

I suggest taking some time before the trip to sit down and do this. Map out as much as you can about how your days will be spent, where your meals will be coming from, and how much time you have to yourself.

How long is your travel time? Are you flying? Driving? Taking a bus or train?

Will you have access to a gym? Will you be bringing workout equipment with you? How long is your workout window?

Where are you staying? In a house or suite with a kitchen? In a hotel with a microwave? Will all your meals be eaten at restaurants? What kind of restaurants are in close proximity to where you are staying? Can you check out the menus online?

Will you be attending a lot of meetings? Will they be catered? Are you entertaining clients in the evenings?

Will most of your time be spent on the beach?

Are your fellow travelers going to be doing a lot of drinking?

The more you can visualize what your time away will be like, the better you can determine realistic expectations.

Once you have a better idea of what to expect from the trip, move on to #2.

2) Determine your Bare Ass Minimum’s (BAMs).

Based on what you’ve mapped out in #1, how can you adjust your behaviors to these adjusted travel expectations? These are the absolute minimum with which you’ll be happy with your effort. Depending on the trip, a couple BAM’s for a super busy work trip might be to have a veggie at each meal or make sure to take a walk around the hotel every morning. On a more leisurely vacation, a couple BAM’s might be to work out 3 times in the hotel gym or make breakfast each morning in the suite kitchen.

Essentially you want to be able to tell yourself, “at the end of the day, as long as I have ______, I will be happy with my effort.”

These are your minimums. They will vary based on you and your specific trip.

Will you work out the same number of time as you normally do but your workouts will look different based on what you have available to you? Will you work out fewer times but be happy knowing 1-2 workouts is better than nothing? Is structured exercise time out of the question but you can walk to various destinations each day and that’ll be good enough?

On a food front, will you bring any meals or snacks with you? Will you prepare any meals for yourself? If all your meals are at restaurants, which healthy habits will you prioritize? Eating slowly? Leaving some food on your plate? Making sure each meal includes a lean protein? A serving of veggies? Will you indulge in dessert on 1-2 nights instead of all of them?

We rely on BAMs because these are the absolute minimum that we can do, despite everything that might pop-up.

3) Be flexible.

Rather than being totally thrown for a loop when something goes awry, you need to be able to say, “ok, this isn’t going how I’d planned but that’s ok because I can _____, instead.”

We have adjusted our expectations and determined our BAMs going into it because there are more factors out of our control than there are under normal day-to-day circumstances. Being flexible in the face of the unexpected is the best way to make sure we stick to our BAMs instead of going down the all-or-nothing road.

Maybe you would like to check in to the hotel and head straight to the gym for a quick workout but your flight gets delayed and leaves you in a rush to get to an obligation. Maybe you thought the hotel room had a microwave but it doesn’t. You need to be able to roll with the punches and adjust your plans based on whatever might come your way.

4) Stop thinking everything is special.

This might be my favorite tip of all. Food is still food, regardless of where you are. Sometimes you’ll decide a particular thing is worth the indulgence but often times you won’t. If you don’t normally eat pancakes for breakfast at home, what makes you think that you need to eat pancakes every morning just because they’re part of the continental breakfast? Vacation food isn’t inherently special. Pancakes are still pancakes. If you want some, fine, eat them slowly, enjoy them, and stop when you are satisfied, not full. But don’t feel like you should get them just because you’re on vacation. Or that you need to get dessert every night because it’s vacation. Or that you can’t get a salad, even though you would enjoy it and feel good about it, because it’s vacation.

Sure, part of a trip might be about experiencing new food and drinks, but a trip should also be about the destination, the company you’re with, the activities you’re doing, and the memories that you’re making.

Remind yourself that trips are temporary and when you get back to your day-to-day life, you’ll appreciate having not strayed too far from your norm, as that makes it even harder to get back into routine.

5) Be kind to yourself.

Regardless of how successfully or unsuccessfully you employ these tips, don’t be too hard on yourself. It takes practice to do these things and the last thing you want to do is spend your whole trip stressing about your diet and exercise. Do the best you can and let that be good enough.

Especially when you return home, just get back into your normal routine as quickly as possible. Do not try to “make up” for anything that happened while you were gone by restricting your food or punishing yourself in the gym.

People who are the most successful are also the most consistent. So wipe the slate clean and get right back on track as soon as possible. (More on this in next week’s post).

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