How to maintain a healthy lifestyle while traveling
One of the hardest things to do when trying to lose weight and get fit is to maintain your new lifestyle when you're traveling. On this episode, I share my best tips and tricks for staying healthy and fit when you're on the road.
Let's Say Hello
Note: Because I'm traveling, and we recorded this episode on the same day we did episode 502, there won't be a hello section for this episode.
I want to start today with a little story. If you've read my book, The Wellness Roadmap, then you've heard this story. But maybe not as much as I'll try to share today. When I first started wanting to get healthy and fit, I had a basic problem. I traveled about 90% of the time just to kind of put that in context. So it kind of makes sense to you what that actually means because people will throw out those percentages, the travel percentages and not really kind of get a grasp of it.
I was on the road almost every single day. I made it home roughly about three days per month, and it was kind of sickening because I had a mortgage and a house I was trying to upkeep and it really wasn't working out for me. I just wasn't there. There really wasn't a reason for me to have that house. But the other thing that was happening was I was using that travel as an excuse. I was using that travel as a reason why I couldn't be healthy.
I would get on the road and, of course, get into a hotel, and I'd find myself in the bar having my dinner at the bar, having some drinks at the bar. And I really wasn't doing myself any favors because I was letting the travel direct what I was doing in my life rather than directing what I was doing in my life and looking at travel as a challenge, something that was potentially going to stop me from being successful, but only if I let it. So today I want to share with you some strategies, tactics, some things to think about.
If you find yourself traveling and you're concerned that travel is going to mess up your desire to get healthy and fit because it can be done. And today I'm going to share how that happens. So the first step when you're looking at a trip is to what I call outline the trip. And so you want to know the duration of the trip. The locations are going to be the purpose of the trip and the constraints. And I'm going to go through all four of those briefly here.
So you understand what I mean? The duration is pretty simple. How long are you going to be gone? If you're gone for a few days, maybe that's not a big deal, but if you're traveling for a few weeks like I am, as this episode is going live, then you've got to think about the long term of this. You don't necessarily want to take off the whole time, and I'll get into that in a little bit more detail in a minute. Second is the locations. If it's a trip to one location and you're going to be in that one location for a while, that actually may be pretty good.
If you're traveling to multiple locations, then this becomes a little bit more challenging and we have to look at our strategies and tactics a little bit differently. The third thing when you're looking at outlining a trip is what is the purpose of the trip is this holiday is vacation. Is this a work trip? Is this maybe a mix of all the above? And because of the purpose of the trip that might define some of the choices that you get to make more things might be out of your control depending on the purpose of the trip.
And the final thing when you're outlining the trip is to go through some of the constraints. So if you know that there's going to be business dinners and things like that happening or, you know, there's going to be family get together and that's going to make it very difficult for you to maintain your eating habits and things like that. You just want to know what those things are knowing and having a plan is going to help you. We're going to get into the planning in a minute, but outlining the trip gives you kind of the filler details so that you know what's possible and what's not.
And that takes us to the second step of this. And that's mindset, there are going to be things when you're traveling that will be just completely outside of your control. And there's really nothing you can do about it. Perfect example was this I was on a flight expecting to get home or actually get to my location on my hotel. I figured about 02:00 in the afternoon. I said, okay, I can go check into the hotel and then go across the street to this gym and I can get my work out in and we're golden only to have them come over the intercom and say the flight was delayed for at least an hour.
So I decided, okay, what can I do? And I started walking around the airport. Now the previous me would have found myself in a bar not far from my gate monitoring when the flight was going to take off. And that particular flight didn't take off for six more hours. So you can kind of see the difference. I decided to walk the airport instead of heading to the bar and having a few drinks. So having the right mindset to understand that things are going to happen, there's going to be constraints is really, really important.
And there's going to be things that you actually do have under your control. And that's where you want to start setting a reasonable pace. So as you get into the concept of making it work when you're outside of your routine, sometimes the things are going to hold you back, and sometimes things are going to work out in your favor, and you have to take the pace and do it the way that you can do it. So it's better to do something than to do nothing. And so finding the pace and being comfortable that your pace may change throughout this trip, under your control or not under your control is really important.
And next week, we're going to talk a lot more about pace. But I just wanted you to understand that the reason that we want to focus and understand pace is that really defines how we look at things. And if we don't feel like we're making the progress we need to a lot of people will quit. They'll say, oh, well, flights delayed. I'm not going to get the work out in and they find themselves sitting at the airport bar, set a reasonable pace, a planned pace. But at the same time realize you have to be flexible or things that are outside your control and be comfortable.
That's okay. But the other side of that coin is focus. So don't let the travel and the excitement and all the different things going on turn you away from what you really want to do, what you really need to do. And sometimes that's when you want to bring in accountability, find a friend, find a trainer, find somebody who can help you stay accountable to the plans that you make for those trips. When I'm working with my clients and they say, hey, I'm planning this trip.
I'm like, what's your plan? And when the client comes up with a plan before they take the trip, I can tell you almost 95% of the time they're going to come back from that trip, happier about what they accomplished and what they didn't do wrong. Then if they didn't have a plan at all. So that takes us to the next stage of this. And that's the planning. Now we've already outlined our trip. So we know a lot about where we're going to be, how long we're going to be there and some of the things that might constrain us or get in our way.
So now we need to do a little bit of research. And one of the types of research that's really, really important is understanding where you're going to be and what's available to you. So the first available to you thing is the room amenities. Maybe you can stay in a room that has a kitchenette or just a refrigerator or something that will help you. Also, you can research local grocery stores. Often I find if you go to the deli section of a good grocery store. They have prepared meals, and now I actually won't shy away from saying I will eat an entire rote chicken in one go.
I don't have a problem with that, but they often also have prepared salads with maybe some grilled chicken. Or you can get some boiled eggs. They often have those available and veggies and canned meats and all kinds of stuff. So if you're really smart about it and you know there's a grocery store right by and maybe you don't have a refrigerator, but you can buy food for that night. It's going to save you from messing up in the hotel bar. Go for it. Next is to research local restaurants and get online and check out their menus.
Oftentimes you'll find there are choices that you can make substitutions and things like that that you might be able to make to make most restaurants work for you, focus on the protein and then fill in with vegetables and then try to avoid the starches and the things that you know you wouldn't be eating. Otherwise. Just do that. Now, if you have some questions. For example, there's a restaurant in Pensacola. We're about to go back to that area in about a month, I guess. And when I get there, I know there's a restaurant and they typically have this pork dish.
Now I love it, but they glaze it with this glaze. Now I can order it without the glaze. But what I found is it's not nearly as delicious as it would be with the glaze. So I'll just look at their menu and find other things. They sell a lot of different fish dishes. They often have specials of the day, so I just make sure I know what's available around me so I can go into that restaurant and I can have a healthy meal.
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Finally, is gyms, and this is important. Yes, you can do a workout in your room. You can do body weight work, obviously. And you do a lot of other things. And I'll talk about that in a minute. But if you're working out at a gym, if you're doing resistance training at a gym, sometimes it's really hard to find something that's exactly like what you had.
So it's worth doing the research to see what is available. Many hotels have a gym, although many of those gyms are not really up to standard, they may not have the equipment that you're used to working out with. So knowing that, okay, I'm going to this. They have dumbbells and they have a machine cable machine so I can do these things and then you plan a program. So you know what your program is going to be when you get there? Because you've looked at the hotel gym.
Also, a lot of gyms will have drop ins, or they'll have free trials. And so that's important to check out because I've paid as much as $15 to get a workout in because that was their drop in rate. And then I got back to my room. And I noticed when I was looking at their website that I could have signed up for a free week trial and probably gotten that workout for free. So do a little bit of research to make sure that if a gym has a drop in rate, what the drop in rate is, and if there's any kind of opportunity for you to get a free trial, and then the other is, if you're already a member of a gym, it's possible that the gyms in the area you're going to might have some form of reciprocal agreement.
I had a membership at Anytime Fitness, which entitle me to work out at Anytime Fitness just with the same key Fob. So I literally could go anywhere and work out in Anytime Fitness. And that served me quite well because they had one in Calgary, Canada, along with the one I did at home. And that just made things really, really easy for me to continue my training because there was a gym roughly a mile from my hotel. That was an Anytime Fitness that had reciprocal use.
So I was able to go in there and get my workout done and off hours. Because this was a 24 hours gym. Again, another thing to check out. If you're looking at the gym, what are their open hours? And how does that fit into the schedule that you have for this trip so that you can see that you can actually get in there? And then the other thing is to look for things like trails and tracks and other safe places to walk and run. Now there was a time when I said I was stuck and I walked the airport.
Airport's a very safe place to walk. But this was a very small airport, so I found myself going from end to end. And yet people are going to stare at you. I don't care. I needed to get something in. I needed to do something. The flight was delayed. I was not going to get my work out. So don't exclude doing things that a little bit odd walking around the parking lot of your hotel. If you don't feel that the neighborhood outside side of that area is safe, don't go there.
But trying to find tracks and trails and things that would be a safe place for you to go get in a walk or run will also be a good opportunity for you to explore and find new things. I remember walking around the city of Houston and I found myself in a park and they had these wonderful statues back there. The park was overgrown. It wasn't very well maintained, but the statues were just fantastic. I enjoyed that walk more than any other walk I ever made in Houston, but just finding safe places to be getting things done.
That's the name of the game. So looking for gyms and opportunities for you to do the different things that you're going to want to do. Do the research. Now, once you've done all the research, now it's time to kind of map out a plan. And maybe when you're at home, you're working out six days a week, some strength training, some stamina training and maybe some mobility work and things like that. Cool, right? You're like. Yeah, that's great. But be realistic if you know, you're going to have business dinners and those tend to run until 11:00, and you've got to go to the next meeting the next day at 07:00 or 08:00 in the morning.
You shouldn't realistically plan to wake up at 05:00 in the morning and get your workout in. You need your sleep. So be realistic about when and how you're going to get your training in and just realize you might not get it all in. Be realistic if you go in there thinking you're going to be able to do every day, it's probably not going to work. And I'll give you a perfect example of the trip I was planning and I'm on now. Okay, we're driving most of it.
If you've been on my face on the Facebook, you've probably seen my track that I'm going to be taking. And there are days when we're driving for seven or 8 hours and then we're going to stop and then we'll drive the next day to finish that trip, that actual leg of the trip. And so as I'm driving down, I'm obviously not necessarily going to get a workout in. But one of the things that I've kind of planned a little bit of upper time is that if I feel like it, I might just go ahead and say, every 2 hours I'll stop at a rest stop and I'll just walk around for 15 minutes.
And if I do that a few times over the course of those two days, I'm going to get a good half hour, 45 minutes, maybe an hour each day of walking in. And that's going to actually be pretty good. Also, I'm looking at the hotels I'm going to arrive at to see if they have gyms there. So if I arrive early enough in the afternoon, I go in, get a workout done, have my dinner later, shower and have dinner and work good. So I'm being realistic about it as I want to fit this stuff in.
But if I don't get an hour's worth of walking, I'm not going to beat myself up about it. I just know what's possible, and I'm going to try to get it done. The next is kind of build in contingencies. So yeah, maybe there is a hotel gym, but the reality is that they don't let you in the gym until 800 in the morning and they close it at seven. And that doesn't work for your schedule. A true story. Actually, some gyms will do that even though you're using in your electronic key to get in the room.
Get in the gym. It doesn't work until 08:00 until they have someone available to come down there and clean it and look after it. So just realize that you might have to build in some contingencies. So maybe you're bringing some resistance bands with you. That's a good thing. You pack those in your bags, you have those. You can do a workout in your room if you need to and carry food. Well, also with it brings some ten issues. If you're going to do some running walking, make sue, you have what you need and you want me to carry some food.
I would always get some really weird looks when I was going through checkouts when I was trying to do this stuff because I would carry sardines with me. I would carry smoked salmon in little packets. I would carry tuna, and I would carry protein powder in little Baggies. And sometimes they thought that those little Baggies in the powder were wrong and they would say something and I'm like, okay, it's protein powder. And I'm making a bicep muscle. One point, my bicep and muscle muscle protein. And they look at me and, yeah, there's a language barrier and there's an expectation I might be trafficking drugs.
And I was not trafficking drugs. It was protein powder, but just recognize some of those things are gonna happen. And one time I was in Hong Kong and I was traveling with my Club Bells is £1 club Bells when I had them in my carry on and they wouldn't let me carry them on. Once I was leaving Hong Kong, I had flown there with them, but they wouldn't let me fly home with them. And they said, you can ship them home. And it was like $120 to ship them home.
And I'm like, I could buy three more pair for that. Unfortunately, I lost my Club Bells, so just realize that there's going to be contingencies. Things are not always going to work out the way you want to, but to the extent that you can plan and map it out, make sure you do. So make sure you have some contingency plans. If things don't go as planned and then the final thing is action. Sometimes we come up with a plan. It all looks really good on paper.
And as Mike Tyson says, everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face, you've got to hold yourself to the plan. And whether that's having an accountability partner or marking things on your calendar or however, you motivate yourself or keep yourself engaged in this journey, you have to to really be diligent while you're traveling to make sure you don't fall off and you don't stay off. That happens more times than not. It did for me when I was first getting into all of this because I would get on a trip.
And invariably I'd have a great plan. I was going to work out at LA Fitness across the street. My hotel was great. I could get the foods I wanted locally. Everything was exactly the way it was supposed to be. And then I just didn't act on it. So I'm only saying that because if you don't do it, it doesn't happen. You have to do it. No one can do it for you. And then the final bit before we end this episode is be kind to yourself.
Nobody's perfect if you slip up if you decide, okay, I can't do this. I plan to do this. I'm not doing this. Don't beat yourself up. It's not worth it. Be kind to yourself. Show yourself compassion. Actually, don't let travel be the excuse. Don't tell yourself I can't do this because I'm traveling because I was traveling 90% of the time and I felt like there was no way on Earth I was going to be able to do it until I did it. And then once I committed myself and again, we get back to that word commitment.
Once you get back to that word: commitment, excuses don't seem to make that much sense. If you had told your spouse that you were going to call them every night and wish them good night, guess what you're going to do every night because you're committed and you love them. You're going to make that phone call, even if you didn't necessarily want to spend that 30 minutes on the phone with them every night. But you told them you do it. You're traveling. You need to do it.
It's part of your relationship. Make exercise, make a sustainable lifestyle, make nutrition, make the things you're doing, a part of you do it out of self-love. Do it out of commitment. And then don't let travel be the excuse.
[00:22:43.180] – Allan
Hey, Ras. [00:22:45.190] – Rachel
Hey, Allan. How are you? [00:22:46.480] – Allan
I'm doing well. So, yeah, today's show, I am traveling as this goes Live, and I think I'm in Indiana. Maybe on my way to North Carolina somewhere in between. Probably. Yeah, maybe. I think I'm on my way to North Carolina. I haven't memorized this trip, but I do know where I'm going, and I know I'm there a place for about five days as we go, but yeah. [00:23:15.150] – Allan
So when we're traveling and I used to travel a lot, like 90% of the time. And as I said in the episode earlier here, 90% sounds like this weird number. It's not like just four days out of a week or five days out of a week and you come home for weekends, I quite literally would be home maybe three days a month. [00:23:36.300] – Rachel
Wow. [00:23:37.650] – Allan
And so I'm staying a lot of times in the same hotels because we had offices in major cities around the world, and so I would be somewhere. And it was just a function of me knowing the place well enough, doing the research to find the right way to do it. For many, many years, I used travel as an excuse, and I didn't do what I was supposed to do. I was in the hotel bar having dinner and some drinks, and that was not the course I needed to be on. [00:24:07.220] – Allan
So I started staying in better hotels with nice gyms, and I started avoiding the bar at night. And if I needed to eat something because it didn't plan properly to go to a restaurant. I knew some things on room service that were on the menu that I could order. That would give me what I needed without busting up what I was trying to do from a food perspective. [00:24:28.980] – Rachel
Perfect. Traveling is so hard for both keeping on track with your dietary habits, but also with working out. It can be such a distraction because on the one hand, you've got literally anything at your fingertips restaurants, room service. And sometimes when you have that you feel like, well, you might as well take advantage of it and eat all this yummy, not healthy for me foods. But then, on the other hand, I know when Mike travels quite a bit. It makes it almost easier to choose the foods that align with his eating or your eating. [00:25:06.970] – Rachel
So it's kind of a tough decision to make. [00:25:11.110] – Allan
A restaurant eating is a tough one because they're going to find the foods that you enjoy there. They're going to have outlandish sized portions, and they make a habit of giving you the things that people want to see. So you sit down and restaurant and they plop a basket of bread in front of you. And the first thing they ask you is what do you want to drink? And so it's automatically assumed that you're going to have a beer or wine or a Martini or something. And if your company takes as an expense account item, then who cares? I'm going to expense a couple of martinis. [00:25:52.800] – Rachel
Sure. [00:25:52.800] – Allan
that kind of thing. But it's a problem. It can be a problem, because if you're traveling a lot, it's all the time. And even if it's just a one off. So you're going on a trip for a couple of weeks with friends or whatever. Maybe that's time to do that as a detour. And just say this is my detour. But what I've found with my clients that are traveling a lot or even when they're not is that if they set some boundaries that they know they can do because they've done the planning, then they do much better. [00:26:28.610] – Allan
They come back from trips saying, you normally when I go there, I put on 5 pounds, but I went there this time and I didn't put on any weight. And those are huge wins when you're trying to lose weight and you take this huge backtrack in the middle of that journey because you were traveling. [00:26:46.270] – Allan
So just having some basic research and planning done so you know where to go, you know what to do and you know, you have access to the equipment or you don't. You know what's there. Some hotels I'd stay in. I had to run through neighborhoods because it really wasn't a good way for me to work out in their gym. It was this little rinky dink thing with a yeah, there was a treadmill in there, but I didn't want to just sit on the treadmill and look at a TV, so I would get out. And I'd run these neighborhoods that were behind the hotel. And after a while, you kind of learned in the neighborhoods and learn loops. You learn where things are over a course of a few days, and if you ever go back there, you can already know. Okay. This is the safe neighborhood. It's well lit. I don't have to worry about twisting my ankle and a pothole or anything on the sidewalk. [00:27:32.290] – Allan
So you start planning that trip and you mentioned something was we were getting ready to come on. Just how sometimes that's pretty exciting to you to be able to do something new, go someplace new or try a different piece of equipment that maybe you don't have at your gym or at your home. [00:27:47.320] – Allan
Right. [00:27:47.950] – Allan
There huge opportunities to make this fun, to make this exciting. And I read it somewhere was that most of us don't enjoy vacation as much as we love thinking about the vacation that's coming up. It's the anticipation of the vacation that brings us the most joy, maybe even more so than the vacation itself. So think about it. If you're going on a trip and here's your opportunity to say, okay, I get to look at all these menus and see what I have the opportunity to eat that's going to be healthy for me. I get to look around and find hotels that have really nice gyms, or you stay in a hotel that's a mile or so away from the office. [00:28:32.510] – Allan
And I would do that in Calgary. They have this thing. I call it a Habitrail, but it called the 15+, and it's basically bridges above the roads that go from building the building. And then there's all these little shops and things in there, a jewelry store, a C-store, and all this kind of stuff through there. Anyway, I had to walk half a block to get into this thing, a block to get into this thing. And then I figured out how to walk all the way to our office without ever having to go outside, which is valuable when you're in Calgary and you don't live up there and you don't like the cold. So this was a way. [00:29:11.430] – Allan
Now what it meant was, if I took the short route and I went outside a little bit more, I cut it down to a mile. But if I got in there and went ahead and went all the way from point pretty much point to point, it worked out to about a mile and a half. So the walking to work in the morning and the walking back was comfortable, wasn't cold, and I didn't have to deal with snow and ice and everything. [00:29:34.830] – Allan
And it was already 3 miles of walking just added to my day because I chose to stay in hotel. Now most of the folks that worked with me, they would stay in the hotel that was right around the corner. And so they quite literally walk across the street kind of thing. And I would stay in this further hotel and do this walk every time. [00:29:55.550] – Allan
So just recognize there are ways if I could do it with 90% travel, you can do it. [00:30:02.280] – Rachel
That's awesome. What a good thing that you found that little Habitrail to extend your walk. [00:30:07.800] – Allan
I'm sorry if you're from Calgary. I know you probably hate hearing that, but when there's just a bunch of people walking through tubes from building the building, it's a Habitrail. [00:30:19.040] – Rachel
That's awesome, though. That is convenient, though, to keep people out of the snow and the bad weather. When Mike travels, he's got a new facility he has to travel to fairly often. And he found this really neat trail. It's asfault paved for the bikers. And on the side of it, there's about a foot foot and a half of a more rubberized surface for the runners to go on. And the way he described it to me, it goes through some breweries and some restaurants. And so he'll do his run in the morning before work. [00:30:49.670] – Rachel
And then when he's done with work and comes home, he has a place to walk to for dinner and walk back to the hotel. Now that he runs a lot more, he finds these little places where he could get some exercise in and some helpful walking around dinner time. It's pretty neat. [00:31:07.680] – Allan
Yeah. And that's another cool thing about this. If you're in a town that you're not that familiar with is sometimes these walks can just be wonderful ways to discover things that you never would have seen from a car. [00:31:20.090] – Rachel
Absolutely. [00:31:21.050] – Allan
I remember walking through Houston and I came upon a park, and so I said, okay, I'll just walk on this park anywhere. So I'm walking through this park and they've got these wonderful stuff, this angel statue and no one would know this was here, this park. You couldn't see it from any major road. And I was like, this is crazy. I could have come here and then this close to something that's cool and not knowing it was here. So getting out and doing these things, walking around, again in a safe place. You want to make sure safety first, but there's opportunities. If you take some time to do some research and then just get out and explore. [00:32:01.680] – Rachel
That's awesome. I love that. [00:32:03.740] – Allan
Alright. Well, Rachel, I'll talk to you next time. [00:32:06.610] – Rachel
Alright. Take care.
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