Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Traveling without Falling Off the Wagon

I’m going to be honest here- now that I have changed my nutrition and exercise habits, going away for a weekend or on a vacation freaks me out a little.  It is not that I do not want to get away (trust me, I LOVE vacations and traveling) but I have gotten into such a dedicated habitual routine that going into a situation where I will not necessarily have 100% control over my food and exercise makes me a little nervous. The good news is that I have learned that it is possible to go on vacation or on a weekend getaway without sacrificing your entire diet and exercise routine!

Carrie's top ten tips for how to enjoy your vacation without completely falling off the wagon:

1. Plan ahead: Even though I sometimes drive my family crazy with this, I have found that if I plan ahead of time, I am able to have a much more enjoyable and relaxing vacation. I try to have a basic game plan of an itinerary that way I have an idea of which meals I will need to pack or what days I might have more time to squeeze in a quick run. Also, it allows me to look up healthy, local or organic restaurants I may want to try and have that information on hand so I do not have to waste precious beach time trying to find a place to eat!

2. Be flexible and adapt to the circumstances: No matter how much planning you have done ahead of time, you cannot control or plan for every situation. As an example, in February I was a chaperone at a youth retreat- since I would be missing running group, I brought my shoes and running clothes and planned to run the scheduled 5 mile run on the hotel treadmill.  When I arrived at the hotel, there was a big sign stating that the fitness center was under construction. Instead of letting this roadblock sabotage my run, I decided to run laps outside of the hotel.  Now was this the most fun run that I have ever had? Not by any means!  But I still did it and now every time my youth group goes on another trip, my youth girls always laughingly ask me whether I’m going to run laps around the hotel again- to which I respond, “yes, if that is my only option, that is what I will do!”

3. Make educated choices: If you are going on a business trip or vacation where you are unable to select the restaurant (or if you are at a convention where the food is served to you) do not worry, you do not need to starve yourself or only drink water. Most restaurants have their nutrition information online- so grab your smart phone and quickly look up some healthy options (fyi this might surprise you- I have found that a lot of the entrees I actually wanted were a lot healthier than the salads I almost ordered because I thought they were “healthy”). Simple choices such as only eating the chicken breast and vegetables and skipping the white bread dinner roll/margarine can make a big difference.

My pre-packaged and labelled snacks prepared for youth group convention
4. Pack snacks: This has been a huge life saver for me! Before I go on a trip, I make sure to stock up on some tasty snacks that do not require refrigeration.  That way, if I am faced with an unhealthy meal that I do not want or get hungry during the middle of the afternoon, I do not have to resort to the vending machine.  I try to find snacks that offer protein (for energy) and other nutrients that my body may not be getting while I am away.  Some of my favorite traveling snacks are pistachios, single serving packs of Justin’s almond butter, Suzie’s Spelt Puffed Cakes (like rice cakes, but packed with more nutrients- on a recent trip I would use these and the almond butter packets to make an almond butter sandwich as a meal replacement), granola, pita chips, sweet potato chips, Clif Mojo bars, and Lara bars.  Also, if you get the individual serving size packs of organic milk, they do not need to be refrigerated until you open them- so you can buy a couple of those and bring with you for cereal.

5. Pre-package/label snacks: Even when you bring healthy snacks, you have to be mindful of how much you are eating- but while I am on vacation I certainly don’t want to be measuring out my food or trying to figure out how many calories are in something.  So before I go, I divide and package all of my snacks into individual portion sizes and label it with the number of calories it contains.  Trust me the 30 minutes it takes to do this ahead of time will be well worth it!
Elizabeth and I- yes we did get up super early and run the next day!

6. Make time for exercise: Even if it means exercising at odd hours, do not sacrifice your exercise routine. If you can, connect with someone else who wants to get their exercise in- recently while chaperoning a youth convention, my friend Elizabeth and I got up 45 minutes early and went running together. Not only did we get our calorie burn in, we also got some extra time to talk and catch up! If you are not a runner, check out the fitness center at the hotel, bring a work out dvd to play in  your laptop, or if you are desperate walk up and down flights of stairs. As they say on Project Runway, “make it work!”
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want: It is perfectly acceptable to ask for a mini refrigerator in your room or for a healthier dinner entrĂ©e (also registering for vegetarian meals at a convention is a great way to get healthier options).

8. Don’t give in to peer pressure: Be prepared for other people to try and convince you that you do not need to exercise or that you can eat whatever you want because “its vacation.”  Make the choices that are RIGHT for you and what you WANT.  If you want to take a day or week off from exercising- that is completely fine, as long as you are basing that decision on what you want, rather than because everyone is convincing you that is what you should do.
9. Indulge/splurge:  After all it is vacation! I have found that the best thing to do is to have an idea ahead of time of what I would like to splurge on or what day(s) that I will allow myself to have an extra treat. That allows me to not deprive myself, but at the same time prevents me from buying into the “I am on vacation and I can eat whatever I want the entire time” mantra.

10. Relax: At the end of the day, one week out of a year is not going to make or break your life.  Vacation should be about restoration and enjoyment- not about guilt or stress.  Even if you totally fall off the wagon for a week, do not beat yourself up over it- just refocus and hit the ground running when you get back so that the vacation mentality does not become permanent:)
Do you have any tricks or tips that have helped you survive vacation? If you do please share,  Lexy and I are going to Baltimore and the beach in a few weeks!

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