Although it’s easier today than it was 10 years ago, staying fit while traveling is still a challenge. At home, I don’t keep a small refrigerator stocked with liquor and snacks next to my bed. But my hotel room has one, and the Snickers candy bar calls out my name around ten o’clock each night.
And when I breakfast at home, I am not surrounded by glazed doughnuts or luscious pastries too beautiful to eat. Nor does my evening meal tempt me with two or three of my favorite foods in quantities that even a lumberjack would have trouble polishing off.
Since I prepare most of my food at home, I am aware of the caloric content of my meals. But how do I calculate the calories in a macaroni and cheese casserole where the steamed macaroni is first coated with bread crumbs and then deep-fried?
Since I’m determined to eat healthfully and exercise while traveling, I’ve been forced to develop ways to cope. What I’ve discovered through trial and error is the importance of planning. Here are six strategies that I’ve found useful:
1. Travel: If I am leaving from home, I pack my own lunch and include extra fruit to snack on during the day.
2. Accommodations: I check to see if the hotel has a swimming pool or fitness center, and I pack the appropriate sports clothes and shoes.
3. Meals: At restaurants, I choose seafood or lighter-fare entrées that are prepared simply and without sauce. I ask the waiter to double the vegetables and skip the french fries. If I am eating with someone, I’ll share an order because I know that most restaurants serve twice the amount of food I need.
4. Exercise: I use the time waiting for a flight departure to walk around the terminal. I also check with the hotel staff to learn local (and safe) walking routes nearby. If I’m stuck in meetings all day, I walk during the lunch break. If I’m traveling by car, I stretch and move around at rest stops.
5. Water: After I clear security at the airport, I fill my water bottle so I don’t mistake thirst for hunger.
6. Popcorn: If my hotel room has a microwave, I bring packages of microwaveable popcorn so I can enjoy a healthful snack during the late afternoon hours when my energy declines and my craving for sugar rises.
Traveling is always an adventure. Sometimes everything works out beautifully, and my schedule matches the printed itinerary. Other times weather conditions interfere, flights are canceled and airplanes (and sometimes automobiles) require unexpected repairs. Having a plan for coping, however, minimizes the stress when dealing with the unexpected and keeps me walking straight ahead on my path to fitness.