Staying Fit on the Road

Traveling isn’t an excuse to let go

Plan ahead and take advantage
of simple ways to keep healthy

(April 2012)
Read previous Heather Foy columns!
Heather Foy

A long airport layover is perfect for some good people-watching. For me, a recent business trip and a long day of traveling gave me a chance to spy on food choices at an airport food court.
I spend my days teaching people about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, so I should not have been surprised by the choices I saw travelers making. I was also overdue for grub, and walked by each food venue, scoping at my “healthy” options. I decided in the airport that there must be a hidden ingredient in the heavenly scent that magically allows the Cinnabon’s to call my name, whispering “buy me – buy me.”
It’s difficult to walk past and not purchase. Temptation is tough enough when you are in the comfort of your own home, office and daily routine. I traditionally try to make smart choices at home and while logging travel miles.
Yes, many times I have hit the drive-thru for a fast-food sandwich in my car while traveling. I also hang my head in shame to admit that I HAVE consumed an entire Cinnabon (just once). Please note, that 80 percent of the time while traveling, I snack on trail mix, choose soy milk in my skinny-latte and still try to faithfully follow my 80-20 rule.
When I finally arrived, exhausted, at my hotel after a full day of traveling, I realized that I would not even attempt a midnight workout. As a frequent traveler, I started thinking about how difficult it can be to squeeze in exercise and make healthy dietary choices while going from point A to destination B.
Traveling in general simply brings changes to our routine. When out of town for more than a day, you might miss one, or an entire week’s worth of regularly scheduled workouts.
There is nothing wrong with taking a break from your exercise routine. But there is also nothing wrong with planning exercise opportunities while traveling. Your legs will be grateful for movement after sitting for long stretches in the car or the plane.
A justification for physical activity while traveling is due to the changes we experience in our eating habits. A quick day trip by car might bring additional fast food stops or mindless snacking. A short business trip could bring airport food or missed meals. A fun family vacation could mean meals centered on multiple restaurant trips.
Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with trying new cuisine while traveling, or splurging for something special. The problem comes with multiple, sedentary 3,000 calorie days.
Your priority list for a beach vacation might include sleeping until 10 a.m. and working on your tan line. You don’t have to stop the car to do 100 jumping jacks, but consider packing a good pair of walking shoes. When you reach your destination, consider seeing the sights, by foot, as much as possible.
Many popular tourist spots even rent bicycles for the day, which is a great way to burn calories while sight-seeing. Another great tip is to seek the stairs. Your only opportunity for physical activity might be to avoid the escalators and elevators and climb a few flights. (Even hotels have stairwells. You just have to look for them).
Not every hotel workout room is as nice as the Biggest Loser ranch, but you can surely find a pair of dumb bells or a cardio machine if you make the effort. Smart phone apps offer quick easy to follow workout routines that require no equipment at all. As a runner, I have a perfect exercise outlet when I travel. My running shoes are never left behind.
I will admit that my husband and I travel for extreme hiking adventures, and a fun family vacation for me is hitting the slopes and skiing all day. As a group fitness instructor, I welcome the opportunity when I travel to find local health clubs and enjoy being a student by taking a group exercise class.
Yes, vacation can mean time to take a break. For me, it allows me more time to do what I love, which traditionally includes physical activity. Even if you desire to “veg-out on vaca,” consider squeezing in some form of exercise the next time you travel.
When it comes to food choices, don’t ditch the “diet” completely when traveling. I’m not a fan of the dreaded four-letter word diet – but completely letting go and eating whatever, whenever on a vacation, is simply not smart. Gaining five pounds in a week while traveling will only create a huge setback when reality hits upon returning home.
A helpful, healthy travel tip that can be a calorie and cost saver is to use a cooler. A day at the zoo or amusement park might help you accumulate miles on the shoes but can also drain the wallet when it comes to meal, snacks and beverage expenses. If facilities allow, pack a picnic lunch with healthier options instead of filling up on foot-long Coney dogs, funnel cakes or $3 sodas. International travelers will warn you that soda oversees is considerably more expensive than water or even wine. Travel with a water bottle. There is a great likelihood for dehydration when traveling, which gives reason to increase your water intake and save a few dollars for that special souvenir.
Another nutrition travel tip is to hit up the grocery store when possible. Even if you plan to dine out on fine cuisine, consider grabbing staples such as skim milk, a box of healthy cereal and fresh fruit for breakfast. Pack healthy snacks, like quality granola bars, for the car, plane or hotel.
Having a healthy snack bag might keep you from grabbing a king-size Snickers. Snacking will also help to avoid skipping meals, which can lower metabolism and increase likelihood of splurging at the all-you-can-eat buffet (by the way, another healthy tip is to simply avoid all-you-can eat meals).
With effort, it’s possible to find a good balance of smart healthy choices and treating yourself (on occasion) while traveling. Keep these tips in mind next time you hit the highway.

• Heather Foy is a 20-year coach and group exercise instructor in Madison, Ind., who has been in the Wellness field for nearly 20 years. Email her at hnfoy@yahoo.com.


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