What happens on vacation, stays on ... 16 tips to minimize weight gain while making the best out of
Spring break is here and with many of you traveling I thought it would be useful to share some tips on how to minimize the weight gain while you have fun.
First let's clear some things:
You are most likely not going to lose weight while you travel - unless you will have access to a full kitchen and a decent grocery store nearby, it is extremely unlikely that you are going to lose weight. Even when making good choices most of the time, eating out 2-3 times a day quickly adds up. Instead of freaking out about putting on weight, focus on not gaining any.
You are not going to exercise more than you do at home - if you think that way, you're lying to yourself.
You cannot outexercise bad eating choices, especially while you travel - if you're allowing yourself to eat bad things to then punish yourself at the gym, stop right now. This is not a sustainable strategy for health or weight loss.
No matter what the reviews say about your hotel's breakfast, it is going to suck - waffle machines and boxed cereal don't make breakfasts great, or even remotely nutritious, unless you're running a marathon later in the day.
You are going to eat (and drink) a lot more carbs than you do at home. Don't dwell on it, moderate it.
Healthy eating while traveling is extremely challenging and, when possible, very expensive - don't count on Whole Foods being any cheaper in CA where most organic produce comes from.
You are most likely going to eat fast food or some form of junk food.
Now, with all of these points above in mind, let me tell you how you can minimize the damage:
Bring your own food on the plane - instead of buying a sandwich or a burger at the airport, make your own sandwich (the night before for early flights). Use sprouted bread, nitrate-free turkey and load it with lettuce, radishes and pickles for moisture. Homemade food is always a better choice, and no, you're not going to get sick after eating a sandwich that's been in your bag for 4 hours.
Bring your own snacks - before I leave for any vacations, I put together individual snack bags of homemade trail mix (raw & unsalted almonds, walnuts, peanuts and raisins). It has saved me many times, from Grand Canyon, AZ to Newport, RI. They are portion controlled, light, won't melt or crush and stay fresh for days.
Bring powdered greens supplement - getting enough veggies while traveling is nearly impossible. Pre-pack individual servings of the greens powder and bring with you to mix with water later on during the trip. Helps to get things moving along too, if you know what I mean.
Buy water for the room - I understand the inconvenience of going to the bathroom while sightseeing or driving down the Pacific Coast Highway, so while you may avoid drinking water then, always have some for the room when you settle in for the night, and for the first thing in the morning. If you are at a beach destination, staying hydrated is no. 1 priority.
Most hotels have complimentary apples sitting somewhere in the lobby (or the gym) area. They are real apples, not decoration. Take them, wash them and eat them or save for later when you're on the road. They go great with the trail mix.
Drink water first thing when you wake up - this is a great everyday habit, but really important when you travel. Besides headaches, proper hydration helps to move things along in your intestines after a not so light dinner and wine the night before. Aim for at least one tall glass.
For every serving of alcohol, have a glass of water - this is a game changer and a useful habit to develop for any social gatherings. You will drink less and you will not have a hangover.
If jet lag is present, try to get to the gym as soon as possible or explore the attractions by foot. Exercise helps to reduce symptoms.
Don't kill yourself at the gym - you are most likely overfed and undernourished, tired and out of whack. Between jet lag, change of routine or stressful business meetings, your cortisol is already running high. When you hit the gym, prioritize exercise that doesn't add extra stress - foam roll, work on mobility, perform a few sets of body weight exercises (push ups, lunges, squats, planks) and finish with some incline walking. Do things that make your body feel good.
You can only control and worry about so many things - after being in a car for 5 hours, you pull into a hotel which is surrounded by only fast food places. You're going to have fast food. Get over it. Or your flight was delayed and you're stuck at the airport picking nachos over mcnuggets. Make the best educated choice and enjoy it for what it's worth.
Greasy, heavy foods will make you feel sluggish, tired and often sick - if you want to enjoy your trip, stick to soups, salads, and fresh fruits as much as you can. Avoid fried food at all cost. You will thank me later.
Don't turn your entire trip into a food binge - have pastries, pizza, wine and whatever else you may want, but in moderation. Don't eat it for the sake of eating it. Had a bad meal? Make a better choice next time. Move on as quickly as possible.
Pick your 'vacation meals' to be after you've been the most busy - eat as light as you can on the days when you're stuck in a car, plane or meetings for hours. You may be just as hungry after not doing anything all day as after walking 25,000 steps around San Fransisco but that pizza you want to have is most likely going to be stored not used for fuel.
Own your food choices - enjoy it and don't regret having it.
When you eat out of the buffet, first have a big plate of salad. Then have another plate full of cooked veggies. Then have whatever you want.
Try to walk as much as you can - that includes walking around the airport looking like a crazy person.