I travel, therefore, I eat out. It is a fact.
There are no kitchens in Sheraton suites. When you eat out, you are much more likely to eat more and less healthful food than you would if you ate at home. Reasons include but are not limited to: larger portion sizes, you cannot control the amount of butter or oil added to the dish, the bread basket (need I say more), the temptation of the dessert menu, and the peer pressure to try some (or all of the) appetizers.
I am not complaining. Traveling to Boston (and Kansas City/Indianapolis/North Carolina) has afforded me the opportunity to try tons of great restaurants and eating with a group is great for meeting the people you work with, and growing friendships. However, just months after I started traveling, I realized that I had to make some lifestyle choices in order to enjoy the food on the road and not show the signs. For me, I am not going to sacrifice the food, so I make a bigger effort to work out. Full disclosure, I am not perfect, and I do not aim to be, but I do want to be healthy, and feel comfortable wearing what I want to wear.
Working out while travelling is not easy. It takes an extra determination because travelling itself is stressful and tiring, so why add more stress? Excuses are abundant, and it is hard to establish a routine going from hotel to hotel or city to city, but my “future self” is always grateful for the work out.
It has been a lot easier in some cities (Boston) than others (Gary, Indiana), but below are some tips from 4 years of experience living the Road Warrior dream, on how to stay active and healthy when you are travelling. I would love to hear your tips too!
1. Plan ahead and keep the commitment – Making a plan for how you are going to achieve your workout goal, whether travelling for work or pleasure, is key. If you know you are going to have a day full of vineyards, plan to go for a run in the morning, or if you know meetings tend to come up in the afternoon, set your alarm earlier. Especially when travelling for work, making the effort to carve out the time for yourself is essential. Put it on your calendar, mark it as sacred, make sure you take the time.
2. Do your research – If running is your style, use mapmyrun.com to find some good paths in your area, and figure out where the best places in the city are for a jog. If spin or barre is your thing, research studios are near where you are staying. I went for over a year not knowing that there was a spin studio NEXT DOOR to my hotel (thanks Matt), and now I go there often. I wish I had known earlier. Signing up for classes at a studio rather than a self guided workout is great, especially if you are someone who is really good at finding excuses to avoid working out (not that I know anyone like that). If you pay for the class, you are way more likely to get there to take the class.
3. Find a buddy – When you are on vacation, recruit your travelmates. If you travel with a group for work, find someone who wants to run or go to class with you. Finding a friend to hold me accountable is one of the best ways I have found to ensure I will get my workout in. Plus, if you are a running in a new city, it is good to have a buddy, in case you get lost.
4. Bring the right equipment – The best excuse for not going on a run or to a class is that you don’t have a necessary piece of equipment. Have a checklist handy: sports bra (for the ladies), headband, shirt, spandies, socks, sneakers. Reuse what you can, and you can always sink wash some of your dirty clothes. Set yourself up for success by thinking ahead.
5. Fit in what you can – If you cannot go for a long run, so what! Get out and stay active. Walk to work, take the stairs, pick the Starbucks that’s a bit out of your way. Walk the A terminal in Detroit instead of tramming it. One day in NYC, my dad and I walked over 10 miles because we refused to cab. There are plenty of ways to get some extra movement into your day.
Regardless of what your fitness goals are, get out there and move when you are traveling. In the end, “you will feel better and have more energy”. At least that’s what Hal Higdon tells me on my morning half marathon training runs.