Earning miles doesn’t mean racking up pounds – there are ways that you can stay on track and deepen your appreciation for putting fitness first, no matter what time zone you wake up in.
The idea of traveling—whether to visit family, vacation with the one you love or seal a business deal—is enough to make the average fitness-conscious woman sweat. We often ask ourselves, how will I resist the temptation to go hard on my favorite mint Caipirinha cocktail at the client happy hour? Where will I find the motivation to get my workout in after devouring my uncle’s insane baby back ribs and playing spades with my cousins until 3am? What will stop me from losing complete portion control after tasting that first bite of my grandma’s arroz con pollo at the family reunion?
Failing to plan ahead often means self-sabotaging your fitness regimen and healthy practices the moment you leave the comfort of home. But it’s not just lack of planning. Do any of the following sound familiar? “It’s too difficult to fit a workout into my schedule.” “A gym isn’t available at my hotel.” “My family is into partying and chilling, not working out, so it’s next to impossible to stay on track when I visit.” “I’m not in a good head space when I travel, I’ll get back on track when I get home…next week.” Many of us have been there—we wake up in a hazy daze of jet lag in a new bed and city and the last thing on our minds is taking our butts to the hotel gym for a 30 minute run on the treadmill. Instead, we hit snooze and leave the workout for when we get back home. Before we take off, it seems many of us psyche ourselves out.
“Women are creatures of habit,” says Jacquelyn Jackson, CSCS, CPT, LMT, fitness expert and owner of Chicago-based lifestyle fitness company, Triple Fit, Inc. “We have a hard time adjusting our workouts and food choices when we travel. Somehow leaving home, even for a weekend, gives us carte blanche to order anything on the menu, consume high calorie drinks or run ourselves ragged from meeting to meeting compromising our health and our long-term fitness goals.”
Jackson, who has been training for over a decade, has observed these travel lapses up close and personal. She says that some of her clients come back from a week away barely able to look her in the eye. Others have a false sense of pride for having made seemingly healthy food choices. “At the start of a workout, one client told me how proud she was that she ate salad every day while away at a conference. When we discussed what the salads consisted of, she was shocked to discover that these large restaurant chain salads are sometimes more than 1,500 calories each,” Jackson explained.
The bottom line is that you can earn miles, without racking up pounds. Eating the wrong foods or blowing off your workouts are sure-fire ways to send your routine into a downward spiral. With planning and positivity, you can eliminate the obstacles that prevent you from adopting a healthy lifestyle when you travel. Think carefully about your food choices, plan your workouts ahead of time and bring a little something from home as a reminder that the love you show yourself in familiar surroundings should be carried with you wherever you go.
“All women should develop a plan for their own success, especially when they travel and can’t stick to the routines they’ve developed at home,” says fitness expert Jackson. “Don’t beat yourself up. Instead, plan ahead and even create some type of mantra for the occasions when you know you’re going to slip up: ‘I’m going to enjoy this cheesecake or this cocktail, but I will spend 20 minutes doing a light workout in my hotel room and I’ll get right back on my routine when I get home.’ We have to hold ourselves accountable and to a great degree, it has to come from within.”
Are You Ready to Hit the Road? These tips will help keep you on track:
- No gym available? Grab a hotel towel, lay it on the floor and do a quick set of 20 tricep dips, squats, lunges, abdominal crunches and push-ups.
- If the hotel does not have a gym on site, it usually has a relationship with a nearby gym. Call ahead to confirm the hours and make special arrangements.
- Research yoga or spin classes native to that city or schedule a class with a legendary fitness instructor that you’ve read about and are dying to check out.
- Plan fun group workout sessions for your girlfriend getaway or family visits like hot yoga classes or a 30-minute sunrise walk. Or connect with friends in the area to find a local workout buddy.
- Mail yourself a care package of healthy snacks if retailers in the city where you are traveling do not carry them.
- When staying with family members who are couch potatoes, junk and fried food addicts, don’t judge. Bring or buy ingredients for a healthy dish and cook a delicious and nutritious meal. Sharing new healthy practices —from fitness tips to nutritious food—may be helpful (as long as you’re not over the top) and may rub off on the ones you love!
- Exercise moderation, embrace compromise...If you decide you don’t want to maintain an intense workout schedule while traveling, make smart nutrition choices like eating a hamburger without the bun, sipping a white wine spritzer instead of a full glass of wine or switch to a skinny cocktails, which often has half the calories of a regular cocktail.