You have your health routine all figured out. Maybe you run three miles every morning, pack a nutritious lunch for work, or go for a brisk walk after dinner. But when a conference or business trip comes up, you regress to eating unhealthy meals, skipping workouts, and shorting yourself on sleep. The good news is that there are many ways you can adapt to stay fit and healthy — even when you’re away from home.
Adaptation Is the Name of the Game
Tweaking your routine for travel isn’t as exhausting as it sounds. If you make it a priority and plan ahead, your health routine will fit seamlessly into your trips. Consider the following tips:
1. Schedule workout time. Before you leave for the conference, examine your schedule to find a time each day you can use as an exercise break.
2. Use hotel facilities. A lot of hotels have great gyms, and some even offer guests workout clothes. If the equipment is limited, the pool is always a great option.
3. Walk. Bring some comfortable walking shoes and explore the city. You’ll be amazed by the unique places you’ll find on foot.
4. Ditch the bulky equipment. Leave the kettlebells at home and pack a jump rope instead. If your hotel gym doesn’t have dumbbells or machines, body weight exercises such as push-ups and squats are nice substitutes.
5. Tune in. Toss a workout DVD into your carry-on or find an exercise video on YouTube. If you’re feeling traditional, there’s yoga. Want to move to the beat? Try Zumba. Super nostalgic? Good old Billy Blanks is there for you with some Tae Bo.
Plan for Eating and Drinking Challenges
Exercising while you’re away from home is only half the battle. What you ingest is just as important as how many push-ups you do, and restaurants are hard for the business traveler to avoid. Here are four things to keep in mind when you’re at a restaurant:
1. Go grilled. A small steak or piece of fish with a side of grilled veggies is a healthy option that will leave you feeling satisfied.
2. Restrict yourself. Know what you’re not going to eat before you leave home. Restrict certain menu items, such as carb-heavy or fried foods.
3. Keep it light. Most restaurants have tasty options on their light menu. So, turn to that page first. Also, try to choose something similar to what you might cook for yourself at home.
4. Consciously cheat. Plan on when you’ll indulge in a cheat meal to keep up your health routine. This will make restricting what you eat easier because you’ll know when you can look forward to a reward.
Overall, aim for the 80/20 rule when you’re eating out. Eat right 80 percent of the time, and relax the rules for the remaining 20 percent.
You might want to figure alcoholic drinks in as well. People who travel for business often take clients out for drinks, and there’s usually a mixer or two at conferences. A night of drinking can wreak havoc on your caloric intake, but it doesn’t have to. Here’s what you can do to socialize responsibly:
1. Ditch the sweet drinks. Frozen drinks and cocktails mixed with soda are loaded with sugar and calories.
2. Make liquor your friend. Stick to low-carbohydrate liquors, like whisky old fashioned or tequila,
and sip — don’t shoot — the night away.
3. Try the vino. Wine is usually a very calorie-friendly drink (about 20 calories per ounce). Drink a classy beverage while being kind to your waistline.
4. No beer. It’s just too easy to drink, and it’s loaded with calories and carbs. But if you must, choose a light brew.
Finally, it’s important to keep your immune system healthy when you’re traveling. Make conscious decisions to sleep well and eat agreeable foods, even when trying new places.
• Get enough sleep. It’s tempting to work late into the night to finish a report or presentation, but you should try to get as many hours of shut-eye as you can. Not sleeping enough impairs your immune system.
• Don’t eat bothersome foods. If you’re lactose intolerant in New York, you’re going to be lactose intolerant in Kentucky. Eat accordingly.
• No meal-skipping. When you plan your exercise times, also plan your meal times. Your immune system needs to regularly intake healthy food.
• Get those vitamins. Prepare your body in advance for the new environment by loading up on colorful veggies — especially the green stuff. If you don’t think you eat enough vegetables, take a good multivitamin with zinc.
• Defend against diarrhea. Advanced supplements that fortify your immune system with immunoglobulins, like those made with hyperimmune egg, have been proven to help travelers. Hyperimmune egg was shown to provide protection against many types of bacteria that attach to the digestive system and cause several forms of diarrhea, including travelers’ diarrhea.
Don’t Make It a Guilt Trip
Travel is disruptive, so it might seem impossible to perfect your health routine. Keep in mind that one unhealthy meal or a few skipped workouts will not destroy your progress. In fact, scheduling in rest days and cheat meals is a great way to keep you motivated.
No matter where your trip takes you, you should be able to squeeze in a few of these tips when you’re away. Certainly, you might even find that they enhance your travel experience by giving you the comfort of routine. A healthy life leads to productive work, so take it seriously on and off the road.
FX Marino is the President of IgY Nutrition. IgY Nutrition’s mission is to help athletes perform radically better and provide them with a safe, effective, and legal way to compete at the highest level with IgY Recovery Proteins. As a former competitive athlete, FX enjoys being a weekend warrior and sharing his expertise on how athletes can recover faster. To learn more about IgY Nutrition and IgY Recovery Proteins, check out their website and Twitter.