It’s really just a matter of paying a little more attention
If you’re like most people, you’re probably familiar with the ‘vacation five’ – you know, those 5 (or 10) pounds you put on when you’re on holiday and not able to regulate your meals or portions they way you would at home.
Five or ten pounds doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you’re taking one or two vacations a year, plus traveling regularly for business, those pounds can start to add up. The worst part isn’t that your clothes don’t fit or that you don’t like what you see in the mirror – it’s that travel, especially for business, can take a lot out of you, and it’s even harder when you’re heavier than usual and not in good shape.
Of course, part of the fun of traveling is eating great food, so we’re not suggesting you take a melba-toast-and-grapefruit diet with you everywhere. But a few simple habits will help ensure that traveling doesn’t take more of a toll on you than it should.
1. Eat a good breakfast, and don’t skip right to a big brunch.
When you’re on vacation, there’s a tendency to sleep late and then fill up on brunch; when you’re travelling for business, you may just grab a coffee and then fill up on the pastries offered during morning meetings. Neither of these will set you up for a productive day. Instead, try to make time for foods that will set you up for success: Oatmeal, milk, fruit, even a handful of raisins and nuts (which you can bring with you) will provide the protein and fibre you need to get you through the morning without being tempted to snack on high-carb or high-fat items. (PROTIP: Rolled oats takes only about 2 minutes in the microwave and will leave you full for hours. Really – only 2 minutes.)
2. Skip the big dinners.
On business trips, you may have to go out for dinner with clients or co-workers, and that can often mean a big meal at a steakhouse or Italian restaurant. On vacation, it’s tempting to try all the great restaurants in the area. But several big dinners in a row are a ticket to weight gain, poor sleep, and general sluggishness. By all means, go out to dinner – but look for the lighter options on the menu. You don’t have to eat steak every night, even if it is on the expense account.
3. It’s okay to say no to coffee sometimes
You may feel like you’ve been drinking coffee all day, but coffee’s a diuretic, so you’ll end up feeling dehydrated and exhausted (but jittery). Limit your coffee intake, keep water handy, and consider ordering a green tea with soy milk (for extra protein if everyone makes a Starbucks run.
4. Get some exercise.
This doesn’t mean you have to do calesthenics in a hotel gym. If you’re on vacation, make time to walk (instead of taking a cab or driving) to see the sights. If you’re on a business trip, try walking to the office or taking a stroll after dinner. You’ll sleep better, too.
5. Limit the alcohol.
For some people, ‘vacation’ is synonymous with ‘drinking’ (this can be true for some people on business trips, too, though this is less common these days). But when the margaritas start at noon and continue til midnight, you’ll not only gain weight, but you’ll feel too exhausted to exercise the next day.
6. Make your own meals.
If you’re staying a regular hotel, this can be challenging. But if you’re staying in a furnished corporate apartment with a full kitchen, it’s much easier to ensure you’ve got access to healthy breakfast foods and that you aren’t ordering pizzas at 10pm.