When you’re working hard to lose weight, the idea of leaving home can be scary. At home, you’re in charge of the food that lives inside your refrigerator. At home, you know where the nearest gym is.
But sometimes you can’t do anything about it. Business trips happen, and you don’t want to let your weight loss efforts derail vacation plans. And really, you don’t have to. While it may take a little time and preparation, you can still stay on track while you travel. In fact, you might even come home with some new food and exercise ideas!
Eating out is the wild, wild west for someone attempting to drop a few pounds. There are hidden ingredients, fatty cooking oils, butter and more butter. Even salad dressings can have as many calories as a chocolate milkshake. There is no question eating out is a problem.
But try not to panic. There are a lot of small changes you can make to keep your diet under control while still enjoying a dinner out. To start, always ask for your dressing on the side. You can also request that your vegetables are steamed and your meats broiled or grilled. These are simple requests that any restaurant worth its salt can easily grant.
Particularly on business trips, the schedule can be back to back. This leaves no time for your regular exercise routine. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get in a workout. You just have to be creative. Pack your tennis shoes. Walk everywhere you can. In fact, power walk everywhere you can. It may not be your hour on the elliptical, but if it gets your heart rate up, it counts.
When your schedule is tight, packing healthy snacks will help you avoid grabbing high-calorie snacks from the local fast-food joint. Pack some nuts or dried fruit, things small enough to fit in your purse or laptop bag. Quick protein will also help you avoid the late afternoon snacking that tends to happen at cocktail hours or around the boardroom table.
Jet lag can mess with your body’s natural rhythms, including your metabolism. If at all possible, take the first day or so slowly and try to get to bed at a decent hour. Push yourself to stay up a little later if you need to, or head to bed early if the time zone you’ve traveled has pushed the clock ahead. Avoid screens for at least an hour before you go to sleep. An eye mask can also be quite beneficial for training your mind to rest. Light can be a significant detractor from quality sleep.
Whatever you do, don’t rely on quick energy drinks, but do stay hydrated. Drink more water than you think you need. It may be tempting to munch on whatever is easiest, but try to stick to your plan for quick, healthy, protein-packed snacks.
And even if you don’t feel like it, you’ll be amazed at what a ten-minute walk outside will do for your energy levels.
If you’re staying in a hotel, they likely have an in-house gym you can use for free. These are great perks if you don’t mind working out in the margins of your travel schedule.
However, if you find your hotel doesn’t have a gym or you’re staying somewhere other than a hotel, there are other ways to exercise. One of the first things you can do is to ask around about nearby parks. Some hotels even have relationships with local gyms where you can work out for free or for a deep discount.
When You Get Home
The most important thing to know is that you may come home with an extra pound or two, and that is okay. Weight loss doesn’t work long-term unless we make it fit into our real lives, and our real lives include travel. A few extra pounds are not a failure, so don’t let them ruin your hard-fought motivation.
As soon as you arrive home, take stock and make a plan to move forward without succumbing to self-blame or shame. Those will only slow you down and discourage you. The less time you waste in reinstating your original routine, the easier it will be. Jumping back on the horse is always a success, and your ability to do so is a significant predictor for your commitment to losing the weight.
Very few people find losing weight an easy task. Traveling adds a layer of complication to the process, but it doesn’t have to be scary or worrisome. Plan ahead, bring along healthy snacks, put on your tennis shoes, and power walk to your next meeting.
Variety is the spice of life, after all. You might find you enjoy a walk in the park more than an extra twenty minutes on the elliptical. No matter what, you can always pick up where you left off. Remember that, and you’ll continue moving in a positive direction.
What about you? Do you have any tips for our readers? How do you keep your diet and exercise up while on the road? Let us know in the comments.