Game On!

Posted: April 23, 2012 in Fitness, Food, Goals, Healthy Living, Nutrition

Spring has sprung! Although, as I am writing this, it feels anything but Spring out there today. There is just something about Spring and the weather that has everyone (me included) in a panic that summer is almost here which means bathing suit season and traveling.  Neither of those are a bad thing. In fact they both represent times of relaxation and freedom from the everyday routine.  But it should not be a free pass to forget all that is vital for good health unless you want to come back from your trip with more than memories and souvenirs.  Let your pictures serve as memories – not the extra pounds you have the possibility of bringing home with you!

There is a misconception that all bets are off when it comes to traveling and sticking to a plan.  But that’s just it – it is a misconception – it doesn’t have to be that way.  It is a choice!  With a little forethought there are quite a few things that you can do to make sticking to your goals a real possibility while on vacation.  There are some hurdles that people face, so I am going to address what I view as the top three and hopefully you will walk away feeling more confident that you CAN stick to a PLAN!

Let’s start with potential hurdle number one: nutrition on the road.  For those of you who are road tripping it for summer vacation here are a few tips to help you.

  • Prepackage snacks for the car:  apples, bananas, baggies of grapes, almonds, sliced peppers, etc.    
  • Pack a cooler with water (of course keep in mind that could increase the amount of pit-stops along the way and if you are like me that means more pit-stops = less sanity! I want to get where I am going! 
  • In your cooler you can also pack ham/turkey/cheese roll-ups for an easy finger food that won’t leave crumbs in your car.
  • Hard boiled eggs already shelled in your cooler make a great snack.  Yes, I do realize the potential for the smell!
  • When you stop for gas keep in mind that most places have nuts and some even carry fruit.
  • Pack a small container of your own salad dressing so that if you do stop at a fast-food place you can get a salad and top it with your dressing.  Try to get some protein on that salad for the extra satiety factor.
  • Feeling like a burger than just leave the bun. Take the burger.  “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli”.  Sorry!  I couldn’t resist!
  • If you are staying at a hotel – call ahead to find out if they have a fridge and/or a microwave.  Once when staying in a hotel I asked the front desk for a local super market, went there and bought a pre-cooked chicken roaster and kept that in my room to eat.
  • No matter where you stop – think protein and veggies first followed by some fruit!

Air travel may be less out of your control, but once again all is not lost.  If you only have time for fast-food while waiting for your flight then find some type of protein whether it is a grilled chicken sandwich or a burger and you know what to do with the bun.  Again, think protein first with veggies or fruit if you can as grab and go veggies may be harder to come by.  It is easier to grab an apple or banana than it is to grab an order of steamed broccoli!  You get my point.  You may have more options if you have more time and are able to order from a restaurant. It is very easy to be lured into buying some of those great smelling snacks that have now made their way into airports.  Cinnabon – really?!  They know your defenses are down.  You’re either tired and cranky from dealing with air travel, or you are on such a vacation high that all rational decisions are left behind. 

Now on to exercise – potential hurdle number two… all is not lost here either.  Your own body can be your greatest piece of gym equipment when traveling.

  • Push-ups, jumping jacks, sits-ups, dips, burpees, air-squats, lunges, etc. can be really effective for getting something in.  Pack a jump rope if you have one or resistance bands that take up no space at all.  I have been known to do lunges down the hallway of the hotel.  Again – call the hotel ahead of time to see if there is any kind of equipment on site. 
  • If you are going to the beach – the beach makes a beautiful setting for exercise.  Last year my son joined me for some sprints, burpees, air-squats and push-ups on the beach.  I would just caution you to scout out the area for your sprints before you start running.  Wouldn’t want to twist an ankle when you step into someone’s left over hole from an afternoon of digging in the sand!
  • Don’t forget that walking on vacation is a great form of recovery exercise especially if you have been overloading your workouts trying to prepare your body for vacation.  Walking will help to reduce stress and your stress hormones and will also help to balance you out.  The type of walking I am referring to is at a leisurely pace, not power walking.  Please don’t save this type of recovery exercise just for vacation.  Try to include something like a walk or some other form of recovery exercise everyday.

The next potential hurdle – hurdle number three – when it comes to travel and vacations is the mind-set that usually takes up residence in our head and wants to tag along for the trip.  I am speaking of the “I don’t care. It’s my vacation”, “I deserve it”, and the “I need a break” thoughts that are being packed along with your luggage!  Please don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying that you shouldn’t go and enjoy yourself. If you know me then you are probably familiar with my utter disdain for cooking.  I will look for every opportunity to get out of it and vacation fits that bill perfectly.  But just try to enjoy yourself in a manner that will not throw you completely off your game.  Eventually that vacation will come to an end and reality will set in.  If you find that your choices were less than stellar – DO NOT beat yourself up.  Wipe your hands of it and move on.   

This mind-set is not only evident on vacations, but is also ever-present for some on the weekends as well.  “I don’t care.  It’s the weekend.”  Yup –so it is.  Health is not important on the weekends?!… “I deserve it.”  You deserve to be healthy!… “I need a break.”  A break from your health?!  I am not perfect and don’t claim to be.  It is taken me some time to get where I am now. I have made many mistakes along the way both in exercising and nutrition, but have learned from them and used them as a catalyst for change in my life.  Those mistakes and the lessons I learned ultimately brought me to where I am now, and it is in a really great place.  It has been, and continues to be, a learning and growing process.  I love the quote from Maya Angelou that says, “When you know better you do better”.  I truly believe that. 

Since I have been asked by countless people how I personally deal with vacations and weekends (and holidays and birthdays for that matter), I will share with you my line of thinking.  So here is how I look at all of those things (aside from using many of the strategies above)…  If we are blessed each day to keep putting our two feet on the ground in the morning then part of that is dealing with all of those things.  It’s called life!  We have to learn to make peace with those things, embrace them as part of life – a very good part of life, be thankful for them and most of all – enjoy them.  Enjoy them in a way that respects who you are and who you want to be.  Don’t let those events control you.  You control them!

As you make your summer plans (or just your plans for the weekend) – remember to do just that – PLAN!  I have given you just some of many good tips to employ.  Have any others?  Please share!

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