ROADMAP TO HEALTHY: TIPS FOR STAYING HEALTHY-ISH ON VACATION
THE TIPS: HOW TO STAY HEALTHY(ISH) ON VACATION
- Be prepared. Bring a probiotic to support gut health and take one daily. Order a box of your favorite low-sugar protein or snack bars and throw 3/4 of the box in your suitcase with a few other healthy snacks to have on hand throughout the trip. (I am OBSESSED with these Urban Remedy Bars and have been trying out Bullet Proof snacks too.) Toss the rest of your bars in your carry-on with some dry-roasted unsalted nuts, a piece of fruit and some raw veggies. Minimizing processed foods grabbed during hangry gas station stops or sleepy airport layovers is always a win win.
- If you have time before you go, scout out healthy eating options and ways to move your body in your destination. I usually hit up Yelp! or just google "healthy restaurants + location" or "farm to table + location" for food ideas and I use Class Pass for workout inspo. I also love Goop City Guides, Clean Plates, or even Cooking Light for health-focused city guides. I usually alternate choosing restaurants with my husband or travel buds so we all get a little bit of what we want on the trip!
- Salty fried airport food or processed snacks from the newsstand can start a slippery slope early in the trip and they're seldom "worth it" anyway. The night before you leave, make a smoothie for your on-the-go breakfast and if you’re really feeling crazy, a mason jar salad for a yummy to-go lunch (then use the jar as a water bottle on the road). If you don't have time to do this, no worries, you have plenty of healthy goods from step number 1!
- Pick something from your daily routine that is grounding and keeps you connected to your desire to be healthy, and bring it on the road with you. For me this is journaling and meditation. I set my alarm about 30 minutes before my travel companions wake up to squeeze this in.
- After you arrive, scout out a local health food store or Whole Foods in your destination and hit it up for pre-made picnic goodies, salad bar lunches or any lighter alternatives to restaurant dining. I even grab a chocolate bar or something like these Hail Merry raw snacks to keep in the room for lighter but yummy desserts. If you can swap a couple of restaurant meals for the fresh salads or even wholesome sandwiches found here, you'll save money and give your gut a rest from all the superfluous sodium and cooking oils in restaurant food.
- Commit to some kind of movement everyday. It's an easy daily reminder that it simply feels better to be good to your body. You don’t have to make everyone wait for you while you hit the gym. Ask your travel buds if they’d be interested in a hike or other active group thing. No go? Set your alarm early enough to do a little yoga or even light stretching in your room. Not your thing? Try a walk after dinner or lunch. Or play games in the yard or pool with the nieces & nephews. There are a million ways to make movement happen and you won't be sorry you did. "Getting my heart rate up and releasing endorphins is awful," said no one. Ever.
- If you plan to indulge because you're in a food-centric destination like Italy or San Francisco, a great way to balance foodie heaven with healthy is to focus on making clean, simple choices at breakfast and then give yourself more leeway the rest of the day. Breakfast tends to set the tone for the day so you might be pleasantly surprised with how this sets you up for more mindful indulgences. Think protein + healthy fats+ fiber, (like avocado toast with an egg on top or a plant-based protein smoothie or a hard-boiled egg with toast and nut butter and a little fruit).
- Croissant or smoothie, burger and fries or salad, whatever you choose off your menu, just try to be mindful before, during and after eating. Being aware of the choices you make, why you make them and how they make you feel afterwards is REALLY powerful. If you can do one thing on this list, I suggest this because it tends to influence your lifestyle choices pretty positively over time, and in a natural, relatively effortless way.
- Do your best and be ok with whatever that looks like. (This one is always REALLY hard for me.) Whether you're on a business trip, a vacation, or even at home, beating yourself up never helps. I try to remind myself that it is a waste of valuable time and energy you could be investing in experiencing the trip you've been looking forward to fo-eva!
- Prioritize sufficient rest. Not only is sleep super important for detoxification, regeneration, cognitive function (and so much more,) it will also help you be mindful and enjoy your experience to the fullest. We tend to make poor choices when we're sleep deprived (like those chili cheese fries I split with my husband in Red Lodge, Montana,) so best to keep your mind sharp and body well-rested. I pack ear plugs, a blackout mask and a sleepy playlist for any red-eyes or long drives. Sometimes I even bring an extra pillow. And back-up sleeping aids obvi.
- Ooh and hydrate! Traveling is extremely dehydrating. Drink 8 oz of water for every hour on an airplane, more if you can handle the frequent bathroom trips. Your skin, digestion, eyes and entire body will thank you! You're also less likely to snack mindlessly when you're body is hydrated - no confusing thirst with hunger.
I’ve learned that structure & stability make it FAR easier for me to make the “right” choices for my body and overall wellness. At home, I set myself up for success in a way that allows me to be my best self and live my best life. I stock the fridge with nourishing foods, gently ask my husband to hide his peanut M&M’s, and plant post-it notes around the house reminding myself to be mindful, present and grateful for all the good in my life. There’s a dry-erase board in the kitchen with a list of enriching activities I try to check off daily, weekly, monthly to make sure I’m nourishing my mind as well as my body. Sounding a little crazy yet? Cause there’s more. I also stick to a productive schedule bookended by journaling and meditation, movement and time outdoors. Sound tiresome? It can be. But truth be told, without laying this foundation of wellness each day, I’m still not immune to making the short-sided, unhealthy choices I made for the first 23 years of my life. I know the toll they take on my body, I know the slope can be slippery. But take me out of my routine, away from home or into unpredictable and stressful circumstances long enough, and I eventually find myself neck deep in champagne or brownie batter. Or both.
Vacation or business trips have a funny way of making me want to forget why I’m putting in all that daily effort to “choose health”. Think about it. Extended travel is essentially a big fat cocktail of temptation, lack of control, stress, and/or the desire to escape problems. So basically, a cocktail that could be called, “All the Reasons You Used to Eat Your Feelings and Occasionally Still Do”. There’s also a part of me that just wants to let go once in a while. Like any reformed hot mess, I do grow tired of trying so hard to be healthy. Most days the benefits are clear and present so it feels ALMOST effortless (I’d be full of it if I said it was entirely effortless). But a few times a year I’m ready and waiting for an excuse to go hog wild (pun intended). Wave an ice cream cone in front of this former chubby kid enough times on 1 vacation and it's not going to be long before I’m thinking “Git it gurl! Who cares about that face rash you get from dairy!”
Needless to say, I am still working on finding the right balance between staying healthy on trips and living in the mint chocolate chip moment. Perfectly healthy can boring and restrictive but daily french fries and saucer-sized cookies leave me feeling awful mentally and physically. I don't have a fool-proof answer to striking the best balance 100% of the time while traveling, but above are the things that have helped me get a little closer to that balance each time I’ve packed my bags in the past year or so. I’m hoping that just as they have at home, all the little mindful choices will eventually form a happier roadmap to healthy.