How To Stay Healthy On The Road
So, it’s 2016. Around January 1st, you and I probably thought of a similar healthier New Year’s Resolution. Now it’s the first week of February…. how are you doing on that one?
I’ve been thinking about penning this for a while, but honestly haven’t been a shining example of what I’m about to tell you. As my family and coworkers will attest, eating and staying healthy has not ever been my strong point. I am a junk food/slothing CHAMP.
Recently, I’ve been working out of town more often. I genuinely love travel. On the road, I bring my sewing machine and a few tasks that I want to accomplish each week, ranging from studying to responding to GARB inquiries. But, while I’m being honest, I have struggled with creating structure for myself in terms of diet and exercise while on the go. It’s been particularly difficult because I’m usually in small towns where there aren’t many health food options/am working long days.
All this being said, I have now done some research and there are truly a plethora of ways to stay healthier on the road. This past week, I tried many them out, and let me tell ya, I haven’t felt this good in a while. I’m sharing these ideas with you for that next weekend road trip, or that remote month-long business project. Whatever reason you’re traveling, these thoughts will be good to pull out of your back pocket.
Like I mentioned before, I really am a terrible eater. I can easily down a pizza, hamburger, hotdog, and go for brownies afterward. No joke, Domino’s sent me an email earlier this week that read “We appreciate you” in DJ Khaled fashion. That being said, I do like some amount of health food - I just never eat it, nor crave it when I’m on the go.
After reading a ton on the interwebs about what to eat/not eat while traveling, I’ve come to a simple consensus of what to aim for (and really this is what we should be eating when we’re at home too - just home cooked, less-buttery versions of these green beans.)
a. DRINK ALL THE WATER. ALL THE TIME. Like seriously, drink a ton. It improves cognitive function, and just makes you better overall. I went out and bought a gallon jug to refill every day and committed to drinking one jug each day this past week. People are shown to be cooler/smarter/more awesome when they drink more water and less soda (Just kidding on that fact. But just do it.) Hydration=Happiness.
b. At the risk of sounding like a super crunchy geologist, I am going to say forms of trail mix are a great idea to take on the road with you. Nuts and dried fruits are fine and dandy, but I always go for something to curb my sweet tooth, like this with a bit of cocoa. Believe it or not folks, a little dark chocolate in your trail mix is much better for you than that Chickfila Peach Milkshake. It will fill you up, and mixes are almost always available at gas stations or corner stores if you need a quick fix.
c. Black Coffee isn’t that bad for you, actually it can be quite good in moderation. Try to stay clear of all the sugary additives though. Coffee drinkers rejoice!
d. Always go for the green when you can (veggies, fruits, protein-rich leafy salads, green shakes, veggie soups, etc.) Fruits that save well, like ‘nanas, apples, or oranges, are also a great thing to throw in your suitcase. Thankfully, tons of fast food restaurants like Chickfila, Zaxby’s, Wendy’s, and McDonalds now offer delicious salad/fruit choices.
e. Stick to your guns when you’re eating out with co-workers. “Peer-eating” is a strange phenomenon where you feel you need to get the same or similar order as your colleague. This has probably been this most difficult for me, since I work with mostly men who can eat 3X the amount I can and have generally a much higher metabolism than I do. Just because your buddy can woof down two double cheeseburgers doesn’t mean you should, or that it will affect your body in the same way. Suggest places you know will have healthier options, and don’t feel the need to indulge just because your coworkers are.
f. Welcome to Middle-of-Nowhere, USA. You’re only options are Bo’s BBQ or Burger King. When you don’t really have an option, pick the healthiest one. Grilled chicken is better for you than beef, and high carb items like fries or Texas toast (um, Zaxby’s, I’m lookin’ at you) aren’t great, so do your best to steer clear. When in doubt, look up nutrition facts on Google. People know a lot about what fast food options really are the best of the bunch.
2. Wind Down and Sleep.
Seems simple, right? And my guess is that you’ve heard this a dozen times before. But it’s particularly important when you’re on the road for work. If you’re working 12hrs + every time you’re traveling, it’s that much more important. Your body really needs sleep to fight off illness and rebuild after a long day. Being fresh for work and putting your best foot forward is never something that will be frowned upon. If you’re traveling for pleasure, this will ensure that you don’t get too groggy to enjoy the fun, or worse - get sick!
Pop a melatonin if needed, light a travel candle to mellow out (I’m dying for these here) and relax before you hit the hay. It will make for a better night's rest and you’ll feel like a new man/woman the next day.
3. Be Mindful Of Your Free-Time.
This one is mostly for those who are out of town on business (when your out of town for pleasure, I hope you're out and about doing awesome things!) When you’re on the road away from family and friends, there really isn’t a reason to indulge in copious amounts of Netflix, Hulu, and HBO-Go.
Yep, I said it. Although, I know I could certainly watch every episode of Friends and thoroughly enjoy myself. Point being, save these types of ‘leisurely’ hangout activities for the weekend, or while your sharing them with your friends and family at home on a weeknight.
Is binge watching Game of Thrones really going to make you feel better afterward, than, let’s say, walking on the treadmill? Let me let you in on a secret, it won’t! And if you’re anything like me, you won’t stop at just one episode when you’re out of town. You’ll stay sedentary and watch 10, and stay up way past 12. So check your watch and say, “Is this a leisure activity I do at home? How can I better use my time?”
One of the best quotes I’ve ever heard and remind myself of often is “it takes energy to do the things that best feed our being.” This means the things that make you feel more content or accomplished require energy on your part. Creating good habits on the road will bleed into other areas of your life, especially in what you do when you’re not at work.
Do something that feeds you. Check off stuff on your to do list. Get a haircut. Turn off social media and sleep. Create something awesome. Write thank you notes. Knock out your taxes.
Do things so you can better enjoy being with the people you love when you’re at home, rather than fretting about things you could have gotten done on the road.
Almost every hotel/inn has some form of exercise equipment. While exercising really isn’t on my top five things I love to do, it IS essential to staying healthy. Get your heart rate up in some way. 30 minutes of sustained exercise is all it takes each day to start feeling (and a side effect, looking!) better. If you knock out workouts while traveling, you can spend that much more time with your people when you’re at home.
Examples on how to commit to this: Google workout plans while you’re en route to your destination. Set an alarm for that evening to make sure you get your booty to the gym. Set a tangible goal, like a number of lbs to lose during a given month or race you’d like to train for.
If no workout equipment is readily available at your locale of stay, you still don’t have an excuse! Bring your running shoes and hoof it at a local park, or do exercises like this one or this one in your hotel room. The added bonus of exercising on the go? It doesn’t matter how you look at the end of it - you probably won’t see the other people in the weight room ever again!
5. Set Structure.
Ask yourself a few questions, list your answers, and make it happen. I’m a list maker, but people can do this many different ways.
a. What tangible thing do I want to achieve while consistently being healthy on the road? How much time am I giving myself to achieve this goal?
b. When will I have 30 minutes of time for exercise daily (or where can I carve this time) while I’m traveling? What form will this take? How can I prep better at home?
c. What will be the biggest roadblocks when achieving this healthy on-the-go goal? What items might I have to leave at home next time I go out of town?
d. How will I get my nutrition while I’m on the road, and what should I bring with me when I head out of town?
e. Write down a schedule and do your best to stick to it. Remind yourself of why your keeping healthy, and set new, small goals for yourself as time goes on. You’ll be thankful you did!
Hope this help! And feel free to send more examples on how you are healthier on the go.