Leisure Travel vs Your Goals – 6 Tips

How to keep up your fitness now that you can travel again

Staying fit while traveling
Now that we are all have the travel bug again, many of us will be booking holidays, either to see friends and family after far too long apart, or just to enjoy the luxury of being in different or more exotic surroundings for a while.

It can be very tempting to push your health and fitness goals to one side for a couple of weeks and dive head first into the hotel buffet (if you’re on holiday) or have 3 helpings of delicious homemade dessert (if your mother is anything like mine).

But actually it can be easier than you think to have a fantastic time away without derailing the achievements you made in the months beforehand.

We’ve put together some simple strategies for you to adopt during the holiday season, starting with the flight itself, right through until you’re back in your own home.

Although some trips can be a stressful mix of social obligations and meals you haven’t chosen, with a little forward planning there is no reason why you can’t maintain or even make progress this Christmas and New Year.

1. Before you leave

Before you even head for the airport, think about when you first get home. It might be late, shops might be closed, and your refrigerator is likely to be empty.
Why not throw together a couple of healthy, protein-rich simple meals for your freezer so that you have something to hand upon your return? Chicken or salmon and vegetables, a frittata or even something more substantial like a bolognese sauce all freeze well and are excellent choices.
If that sounds like too much to think about before your trip, just make sure you have some frozen spinach, broccoli and berries in your freezer as well as some protein powder so that you can make a nutritious smoothie.

2. At the airport or on the flight​

There are 2 approaches here;  one is to try and stick to your current plan as much as you can and controlling all the variables by having a meal before you leave home and bringing your own snacks for the plane.  You can drink water at the airport and on board and either fast for the duration of the flight or pre-order a low calorie meal from the airline website.

The other approach is arguably a little more ‘festive’. Allow yourself a little flexibility (for example one glass of something in the airport lounge or before takeoff) and be very mindful of your choices when selecting food.

Opt for lean proteins and lots of vegetables, while keeping anything you can’t easily identify off your plate (by this we mean any sticky sauces laced with sugar or fat, or creamy pasta sauces in which the ingredients aren’t immediately obvious).

3. The golden rules of nutrition

First things first. No meal, no matter how decadent, will cancel out months of hard work and consistency with your fitness and diet. However, one meal that turns into a weekend and then a week of poor choices will definitely have an effect on your progress.
When faced with an important family event or the chance to dine at the restaurant of your dreams, simply ask yourself if you feel it’s worth it to delay your body composition goal by a month or 2. In some cases, it might be! The important thing to remember is that you are making the choice.
For every action, there is a reaction, and as long as you are aware and confident in your choices we will support you all the way.
For those of you who may find it difficult when faced with food choices you aren’t used to or who have limited say in the grocery shopping (perhaps staying with the in-laws or friends of friends), here are some very basic guidelines that will help you make sensible choices:
  • Protein at every meal or snack. This might mean eggs for breakfast or oatmeal (you can bring your own protein powder and add a scoop to your oatmeal or even make overnight oats). For lunches or dinners go for lean meat or fish; vegetarians or vegans can opt for tofu or black beans if available.
  • Pack your protein powder. That way, if you know you haven’t been able to get close to your daily protein goal you can have a shake at any time.
  • At any meal out, choose high carb OR high fat, not both! (and don’t forget that protein)
  • Consistency is key – what you eat most of the time will determine your body composition, not what you ate for 3 days out of the year.
  • At a buffet, allow yourself 2 trips; one to make a plate full of lean proteins and vegetables (you can think of it as the plate you’d be happy to show your trainer!) After the first plate, wait for 10 or 5 minutes and enjoy the company of your dining partners.
    By the time you go for your second plate you will be more full and less likely to load your plate up. But this time, allow yourself a serving of whatever you like the look of. If something doesn’t taste as good as it looks, leave it. If something is amazing, enjoy it – but don’t make another trip to the buffet!

4. Sleep and jet lag

No article claiming to be about health should ever omit a section about sleep. Getting enough sleep is one of the single best things we can do to improve our overall health. Sufficient sleep of a good quality also helps to regulate our weight, keep stress and anxiety at bay and boosts our mood, not to mention the wonders it performs for our productivity levels.
A good rule of thumb is to try and get on to the new time zone as soon as you can. A very good way to do this is through simple daylight.
Getting outside first thing in the morning and also later in the afternoon helps to set our circadian rhythm so that our bodies know what time of day it is and when we should be asleep or awake. Daylight itself filters into our pupils and the light changes slightly throughout the day, helping us to feel more awake in the morning and ready to wind down towards dusk.
Some people like to supplement with melatonin to help them feel sleepy, and we highly recommend Proteus Nutrition’s TranquilSleep for this purpose: https://proteusnutrition.com/collections/sleep-supplements

5. Working out in a strange place

If you have been training for a long time, you are probably well-versed in modifying exercises for the equipment available to you at whatever gym you find yourself using.
But for those of you newer to training, the thought of being away from your regular gym can be quite worrying. Ideally, speak to your trainer before your trip and ask them for alternative exercises in case certain specialist equipment is not readily available.
If you know you won’t have access to weights at all, invest in a set of resistance bands and plan to do some bodyweight exercises. Pull ups, push ups and lunges require no equipment at all, and you also have the option of high intensity uphill sprints or going for a walk or run – all you need is to make sure you pack your training shoes!
It should be some comfort to know that you won’t lose a significant amount of muscle in a week or 2 and you may not even notice any changes in your strength when you come home.

6. Own your choices

No matter how much training you end up managing or how perfectly you manage to stick to your diet, remember why you are taking this trip. After the last couple of years many of us are suffering from poorer mental health than ever before, and enjoying meals and time together with our nearest and dearest can be better than any kind of medicine.
Ultimately, any small steps towards better health and fitness are better than none, so if all you can manage is a 30 minute walk 3 times a week before anyone else wakes up then so be it.
But ask yourself how you will feel when you get back home to reality. Will you wish you had been more active on holiday? Perhaps that you nominated one or 2 days in which you ate whatever you wanted but were more mindful on the other days?
Whatever you choose, make sure it is a choice with which you are content. If you know you will have a niggling feeling of ‘I really wish I’d eaten better” or “I really could have got my 10,000 steps in but I didn’t”, then perhaps think about telling your family you’ll be out for an hour each morning and then you’ll be able to be more present with them for the rest of the day. You never know, they might just be your biggest cheerleaders.

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