It is no surprise that my gym routine here in Charlotte is, well, a little scattered. It’s consistent for a little while and then, wheels up! I’m scooting off to another city to, well, do my job.
I am grateful for a career path that I love…it’s true. I am a meeting planner.
I love organizing things. I really do. Call it the type-A in me, but I also love providing for other people. My background in hospitality combined with my Italian background lends to taking care of others.
When I travel for meetings, I am usually gone for an extended amount of time: two weekends in a row flank 5-days, so it’s typically 8 to 9 days on the road to be exact. Upon starting this job 18 months ago, I decided to look at this time away as a challenge to see how I could literally “health hack” my way through my hotels, unknown restaurants, and foreign gym spaces.
People ask all the time how I manage to eat healthy on the road and stay motivated. There are moments where it’s simpler than others…and I have really hard days. Eating well on the road isn’t always easy, but there isn’t much option to avoid or “give up,” on my goals or skip the steady routine established at home.
I have been tracking my macros on a pretty constant basis since February which has lent to easier eating habits instead of just seeking out “clean” or “healthy” food because it has allowed me to approach meals, that I do not cook myself, with more balance than “avoiding all carbs,” (i.e. what I used to do on the road). I’m a wizard at eyeballing portion sizes now, and while it’s not perfect, it’s CONSISTENT. I keep the habits I have started at home when I am gone and that is what counts.
Because I am gone for more than five days at a time, it’s critical to maintain momentum. Sure, I have moments of attrition (a fancy hotel word for slippage), where the chocolate bowl wins over the stress. I rarely drink on the road and look forward to a week or more without alcohol. It helps with sleep patterns, for obvious reasons, and with a traveling boyfriend as well, when I’m home I get to enjoy that cocktail so much more.
I realize the general consumer isn’t always traveling and detoxing. It’s likely the opposite, and when I go away for fun, I’m not far from the kombucha – it’s just mixed with my tequila. When traveling for fun, I do try to maintain a balanced approach and often choose memories over macros, make smarter choices to not through my body into haywire with too much extra fat, and ensure to keep my workout routine alive.
Regardless of your reason for hitting the road, I have five health hacks I’d like to share so that you can take them with you wherever your plane, train, or automobile is headed.
- Know … and find your volume food and always include it in one meal a day. For me, this recently became chopped cucumbers. In many ways, it replaced the cauliflower rice so many of us are used to eating at home. Multiple restaurants and hotels always have cucumbers. I was fortunate enough that I had control over my last meeting’s larger buffet so I requested chopped cucumbers on every lunch. Guess what the base of my meal was? Not salad. Cucumbers. They are also a great added source of water, something that we don’t usually consume enough of when traveling.
- Speaking of…hot or warm lemon water is up next. The bloat is real, y’all. I am very sodium-sensitive which sucks. I see it in my face and in my tummy but drinking warm lemon water throughout the day also helps to combat that gluttonous feeling and can help to calm upset tummies. Asparagus is also a great add and usually can be found at many steakhouses globally. Both lemon and asparagus are very alkalizing so it can help to balance out your body’s pH with water retention.
- Plan and pack ahead what you can. If you’re eating at a restaurant later in the day, scope out the menu to make a choice before you go to the restaurant (and if you’re tracking macros, it’s helpful to pre-log this information so you can backfill your meals up until this point). Protein packets, or portioned Ziploc baggies ARE carry-on friendly. Almond milk is available at almost every coffee shop in America now, so just ask for some. Oatmeal is great and you can pre-portion as well. Just ask for a cup of hot water at any restaurant or coffee shop and you’re good to go. Be wary of jerky and meat bars, as many contain so much sodium that the protein isn’t always worth it. Personal fun fact: cheerios are my go-to breakfast food along with a plain Greek yogurt in lieu of milk and I’ll add some fruit on top to make a great filling parfait.
- Manage your workout calendar prior to leaving. Schedule your workouts FOR THE MORNING and decide what days you will commit to movement. This will ALSO help you pack so you don’t over pack clothes and can bring the right training shoe. Scope out classes that are close by and you might even find something that isn’t offered here in Charlotte (and tell your SweatNet gals about it so they can lobby for it ::cough RiseNation cough::). You’re likely walking more than usual, so your legs might be tired and your sleeping patterns might be a little awry so don’t be discouraged if you feel more tired than usual. You’re doing a really, really good thing by starting your day with a sweat.
- Coastal travel? Here’s what I have learned. Book whatever travel will get you to the destination at a main meal time. So from CLT to the West Coast, that is likely lunch or dinner. Eat that meal as close to the “normal” time that you can. Example, if you land around 4:00 p.m. PST, sure, have a snack since it’s 7:00 p.m. here, but go to dinner at 7:00 p.m. and push on to a “normal” bedtime at 10:00 p.m. PST and I guarantee you’ll sleep past 4:00 a.m. On the flip side, if you are coming back from the West, I do my best to eliminate caffeine one FULL day prior to coming back as to not have my body rely on stimulants. I do try to schedule a flight in a similar fashion as to leaving, but I prefer to leave as early in the morning as I can. I’ve done the red eye thing, and as long as you don’t have a layover and can sleep okay on a plane, it’s not a bad way to go. Just don’t think you’re going to bounce back into a full day of work—and workouts, when you land at 7:00 a.m.
I hope you have learned a new hack, or two! Stay tuned for more tricks to keep your body humming along when you travel, and I guarantee when you get back, it will be all worth it.