2016

Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

Sticking to the program while traveling: is it possible?

In my home environment, I have a routine: regular exercise, healthy meals, and time to quiet my busy mind. In familiar territory, this works well. Whew.

Visiting in Washington, DC, I am experiencing the challenge of maintaining my typical healthful behaviors--I am out of my routine. For the past few days, I have thought often of how to enjoy this working vacation; how to balance sightseeing in the nation's capital, business meetings, humid weather, and restaurant meals.

Here are some of the strategies that I have utilized thus far:

1. Walk, walk, walk! Most urban vacations provide an opportunity to walk versus renting a car or taking public transportation. Take advantage of this whenever possible. We must have put in 5 - 8 miles each day. Although walking does not evoke for me the same "exercise response" as riding my bike does, it ramps up metabolism, maintains a high level of energy, and helps to burn the excess calories in case those restaurant meals are larger than usual. If you are enjoying a more rural vacation, there will be hiking trails to keep you active. Walking considerations include:

  • staying well hydrated
  • wearing comfortable shoes (do I sound like my mother?!)
  • being prepared for weather

This morning, I "went for a walk". This was an intentional exercise session: 1 hour of more vigorous walking in a lovely park near the hotel.  The other option is the hotel exercise area. All hotels have a gym nowadays; stationary bicycles, treadmills, elliptical machines. A half hour here will be a terrific contribution to your health and support your usual routine.

Eating out each meal may seem a bit daunting, but it need not be! I would encourage staying away from buffets, especially the breakfast buffets that offer white flour bagels, sweet rolls, commercial yogurt (check for HFCS in the ingredient list), and toaster waffles. These processed foods will quickly elevate your blood glucose level, leading to a "crash" a couple of hours later, that will leave you hungry, grumpy, or both. Not a pretty sight.

Try to find fresh fruit, whole grain toast, eggs, good quality yogurt, milk or cottage cheese, or a small bowl of oatmeal to start your day. Carry water with you to stay hydrated during the day as you are out and about. Stick an apple in your backpack to share with your travel mate mid-morning to maintain your energy, blood glucose, and metabolism. Look for a salad at lunch, with a protein added, such as a scoop of tuna or a half chicken breast. Or share a sandwich and add a cup of soup into the selection. Think about having a mid afternoon snack, such as an orange or fruit sweetened popsicle, to avoid over-eating at dinner. Dinner, ah yes, the big challenge. You might consider skipping the bread. A sacrilege, I know! Good bread is so, so delicious BUT we have a tendency to overeat if we have bread while studying the menu. I am merely suggesting this as a consideration, particularly if you are having an alcoholic beverage. Perhaps you would like to order a spinach salad or other greens before dinner. Suggest to the waitperson that you would like the dressing on the side or ask for olive oil. Sharing an entree is a possibility, as the portion size will likely be quite adequate. Eat slowly, savoring the flavor, enjoying the conversation, and after 10 (ten) minutes you will be delightfully pleased with how satisfied your stomach feels.

Dessert is an option of course. You are on vacation after all! Did you walk a lot during the day? Or have time to go to the exercise area in the hotel? What were the rest of your food choices like for the day? What's planned for tomorrow? These are but a few considerations to mull over prior to the dessert menu being offered. Sharing a dessert is an excellent strategy to minimize the calorie intake. Remember my suggestion of taking small bites, putting down the spoon, taking a long moment to roll the yummy flavor around your mouth, delight in the texture, and swallow completely before you pick up the spoon again!

Travel is a real treat. Whether you are in the mountains, at the ocean, in a sprawling city, or a national park, you can remain committed to your healthful routine of eating well, staying physically active, and taking a few moments to sit quietly and relax, without compromising a fun, lively, and interesting vacation.

Where are you going to travel to next?

Robin Mallery

Robin Mallery

Robin Mallery is passionate about food! Starting from where and how it's grown, to how far that food travels to the dinner table, to how it is prepared and savored...Robin blends shopping, cooking, and eating tips with her unique Kitchen Zen and mindful meals approach to enjoying real food.

While you are waiting for her to finish the upcoming book, "Kitchen Zen: The Journey to Nourish Body and Soul in Our Changing World", you can find Robin's sporadic blog posts here or on FaceBook.
Robin Mallery

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“Robin brings dedication, focus, passion, and intellect to whatever endeavor she is pursuing. She does not just talk about good health, she practices it thoroughly every day of her life. When she talks to clients about healthy lifestyle choices, they are able to see the effects of healthy choices by observing the woman in front of them!”
Arthur S., Client

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