TIPS ON STAYING FIT WHILE TRAVELING
An article by Linda Byard
It can be a challenge to stay “in shape” while away from home unless we are talking about a balloon shape. Each kind of travel: business, vacation, or personal, has its own stresses and temptations. Plan ahead and make sensible choices while on the road. Be realistic. Don’t try to lose weight. Instead, try not to gain any. Don’t aspire to a greater level of fitness. Instead, try not to lose what you have already achieved. Here are some tips to help you stay fit while traveling:
DAILY WORK OUT: Plan where and how you are going to work out. If you are staying in a hotel, inquire before you leave home about amenities like a swimming pool or fitness center. Hotels which offer no amenities of their own, sometimes have arrangements with nearby fitness centers. If not, you can almost always buy a day or week pass at a fitness center. You might also ask about places to walk or to jog. Even if there is no fitness center or equipment available to you in your temporary residence, you can still bring an exercise DVD to play in your computer, or you can bring stretch bands. Or you can go to the internet, and find strength and toning exercises you can do on your own with absolutely no equipment. You can also fill in your schedule with planned walks. Clearly the most important thing to bring is motivation and a positive attitude. If you have that, you will find a way to exercise.
PLAN PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: When selecting vacation options, consider choosing one which revolves around a physical activity like hiking or biking or kayaking. Even if shopping is your favorite vacation activity, you can still include a lot of vigorous walking.
REGULAR EXERCISE: Schedule exercise into your day just as you would at home. If you exercise early in the day, you won’t have to worry about fitting it in later when you really would rather take a nap. Be aware that if you are staying in a hotel which caters to a lot of business people, there are usually many “road warriors” competing for the treadmills and ellipticals between 6 and 7:30 AM. Other times and especially on weekends, the fitness centers are often empty and you can choose your machine and favorite television channel.
PEDOMETER: Wearing a pedometer will help you know how active you are in an unfamiliar setting. If you are not already a dedicated pedometer user, try one for a few days before you leave, so that you will have some idea of how many steps you do at home. You don’t want your activity level to slip. If you have trouble eating the way you should while away, you can make the situation better by increasing the number of steps you take in a day.
WALK: If you are in a hotel, choose an upper level floor, and get in the habit of using the stairs every time you come in and go out. Leave your car at the far end of the parking lot. Choose your hotel carefully and it may even be possible to walk to some of your destinations. Never miss an opportunity to take some extra steps. Every single one counts!
BREAKFAST BUFFETS: Breakfast buffets are very popular in hotels these days. They are usually attractive and they are also loaded with fat and sugar calories. The danger is that if you don’t eat a reasonably good breakfast, you will likely indulge in a mid-morning snack you won’t be proud of, or you will gorge yourself at lunch. Look for things like oatmeal, whole wheat toast, fresh fruit, and low fat yogurt. If there is a grill you might be able to get an egg white based omelet stuffed with veggies. The problem might be the tempting displays of doughnuts and pastries. If you just can’t pass these up, can you seriously limit yourself to one mouthful? Think about it.
If you know you won’t be able to avoid the sweets, pack a bowl and some whole grain cereal. Go to the buffet, pick up a carton of milk for your cereal, a piece of fruit, leave temptation behind, and enjoy breakfast in your room. If you are feeling adventurous, explore the local supermarket for your food supply.
RESTAURANTS: We generally know what we should eat but even the finest restaurants may not offer enough in the way of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Make the best choices you can. Be charming and look to your server for information about the food preparation. Ask for salad dressings, and sauces to be on the side. Pay attention to portion size. This is no time for the clean plate ethic. If there are two of you, try some different strategies. For example, one person orders a main dish salad and the other orders a dinner, and then split both.
EAT SLOWLY: Don’t wait too long between meals or you may find that you are too hungry to make sensible choices. You might find yourself eating handfuls of chips or several pieces of bread before your meal even arrives. Drink a glass of water. Order a soup or salad to begin your meal. Eat slowly. It takes around twenty minutes before the brain and stomach can talk to each other to let you know that you have had enough. You can go through a heck of a lot of food in twenty minutes!
WATER: Let water be your main beverage. You can drink as much as you want, and indulge whenever you want it. There is evidence that drinking beverages with artificial sweeteners may actually make you crave more “sweet.” Not a good idea, right? Carry a bottle of water around with you during the day. It will help you stay hydrated, you will feel less empty, and less tempted by unhealthy snacks.
DESSERTS: Who doesn’t like desserts? If you plan to have dessert occasionally, you may find it easier to eat sensibly the rest of the time. But surely no one needs chocolate mousse cake everyday. Learn which desserts pack the most fat and sugar calories. When you do indulge, consider sharing dessert with someone else at your table. Can you take a pass on the whipped cream and still be satisfied? Some people talk about a special exercise which assists them in weight control. You do this just before dessert is served – extend your arms and push yourself away – from the table. This one sounds extraordinarily hard!
AIRPORTS: If you are flying to your destination, you may need some food while traveling. Most airports do not have very much available for health conscious foodies. But look around and undoubtedly some choices will be better than others. Don’t wait to buy food on the airplane. You can pretty much count on most airplane food to have too much sugar, fat, or salt or maybe all three. The best strategy of all is to bring food from home or buy food before you get to the airport. If you have time between flights, skip the moving sidewalks and walk to the next concourse. If you still have time, walk around and explore, and burn still more calories. Once strapped in on the airplane, movement may be difficult but there are some exercises one can do while seated. These help with circulation and lessen your chance of blood clots, a complication of flying for some people.
NO REGRETS: When you get home, if you are in a bit of a physical mess, don’t waste any energy on regrets. Just be glad if you can still fit into your workout clothing. Resume your normal exercise program the day you return or the very next day. Drive to the supermarket, or better yet, walk if you can, and load up on healthy choices. And start looking forward to your next trip!
More articles from Linda:
Driving in the UK Take your life in your hands
The Transatlantic Journey - Surviving Long Flight
Keeping fit while travelling Stay in shape while on overseas business or vacation
Be prepared for emergencies - For everyone, not just the Boy Scouts
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When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we
do not see the one which has been opened for us. -- Helen Keller