Today’s topic may sound as impossible as staying sober at Octoberfest, or picking up a chick at a pharmacy, or doing loaded sled pushes up a volcano.
The reality is: any type of nutrition is hard.
But when traveling enters the picture, things get much more challenging.
More often than not, traveling presents a plethora of obstacles that hinder people from maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Some of these may include:
1. All-inclusive alcohol.
2. Buffets and unlimited food.
3. No access to gym.
4. Unlimited access to the best Guinness in the world.
Certainly, during my travels in Ireland, my self control has been put to the test.
However, I’m never going to deprive myself especially when given the opportunity to drink the smoothest, most velvety beer in the world here. But at same time, I’m not going to go overboard and drink as many pints as I can to prove the Irish I’m not a sissy American.
So how do we maintain some degree of “healthy” while traveling? Let’s find out.
1.) Don’t deprive yourself of local specialties.
You’re in Ireland and you enjoy Guinness, fish n’ chips, and a traditional beef and potato stew. You’re in Italy and you enjoy pizza, gelato, and pastries. You’re in Spain and you enjoy paella, empanadas, and churros con chocolate. Great.
Never deprive yourself of the food that is special to the area you’re visiting. It’s okay to enjoy the local delicacies, but don’t stuff your face with food you can find at home (McDonald’s, fries, burgers, doughnuts, etc).
Also, can you find healthy local specialties? Beef? A certain vegetable? Fish? Fresh spelt bread? Fresh poached eggs over toast?
I’ve found that in other countries there are plenty of delicious foods that are also healthy. Make an effort to seek these out.
2.) Find time to move.
Everywhere you go, there’s always an opportunity to move. Whether this is from walking in a city or on the beach, or getting in a quick workout in your hotel gym, or hiking a natural wonder of the world, you’re still moving.
In fact, you may find that while traveling, you’re doing more walking than you’ve ever done. Or you’re doing activities that you wouldn’t normally do at home, such as cycling, swimming, or rollerblading.
Give yourself credit any time you move. But also, be sure to give your body the nutrients it needs to stay energized while participating in these activities. The last thing you want to be is an asshole when you’re on a gorgeous hike with your wife.
However. None of this is to say eat kale salads with pumpkin seeds every day. Just be sure to eat at least a big serving of fruits or vegetables each day to stay replenished, as well as adequate protein so you stay satiated.
3.) Pay attention to volume of exercise.
If you find yourself walking more than usual, you may have wiggle room to incorporate extra calories into your diet. But if you find yourself plopping on a beach chair, it may not be best to drink extra that day. Or, if you do drink copious amounts of alcohol, you should opt for a meal high in protein and vegetables that evening, or skip the extra calories from dessert.
I like to follow the model of drink more – eat less, or eat more – drink less. If I’m binge drinking one night, I skip the 5am food run. Or if I have a day of trying the local eats and consuming more than usual, I back off on the alcohol.
4.) Figure out your priorities and mindset.
Maybe you don’t give a shit if you’re lazy and hitting up the open pool bar for a week straight. And maybe you don’t care that you’re bloating up with beer.
Just don’t complain nor be surprised when you come home and you’re disappointed with your weight, body fat, or the way your clothes fit.
Moreover, if you truly care about your health, weight, and body composition, you’ll find ways to stay somewhat healthy on vacation.
Health is all about priority. What do you value most? How important is eating well to you?
These are hard questions to ask, but we have to be honest with ourselves. A good book to check out is Motivational Interviewing.
5.) Seek out hotel gyms or local gyms for a day pass.
If you’re dying to get in a gym workout, most hotels have a gym, or you can find a guest pass at a local club. You may not have all the equipment you’re used to at home, but as long as you have free weights, you can get in a good chunk of work.
Here is a simple workout I did with just free weights at the gym in Dublin:
Goblet Squat 5 x 5
Pull Up 10 x 1
Backward Crawl 2 x 30 yards
Dumbbell RDL (eccentric) 3 x 5
Renegade Row + Push Up 3 x 6
Lateral Crawl 2 x 20 each way
Hip Bridge 2 x 12
Dumbbell Dead Bugs 2 x 10
Hollow Holds 2 x 30 seconds
I also went as far as doing one of these complexes. Because, fish n’ chips.
The best part: a workout like this took me no longer than 45 minutes.
I was able to get in my resistance training as well as conditioning and enjoy the rest of my day sightseeing.
6.) Don’t beat yourself up if you have a few “bad” days.
Look. Shit happens. You may start one of your vacation days with good intentions, but maybe your “chill” night turns into a pub crawl with a 30 man soccer team from England. <— Yes, that happened. And yes, I survived. ;-O
Vacation can be beautifully spontaneous and unpredictable, so don’t beat yourself up for taking a detour once in a while. Just try your best to hydrate, eat better, and move more the next day.
Again, take these tips with a grain of salt.
I won’t judge you if you’re one of those people who is totally okay with letting themselves go while traveling. Just don’t be infuriated when you get home and you feel crappy, and struggle to put your favorite pair of jeans on.
Hope this helped.