On the Road Again

As if consistently making healthy choices isn’t hard enough at home, traveling can really make things challenging.  The focus of this post is on business travel, where you don’t need to ensure anyone but you is making healthy choices.

It had been almost a year since I’d been away for work for an entire week, so I knew I needed to take more time than usual to prepare for my recent work trip, both mentally and physically.  Based on how my calendar was shaping up, I knew that I wouldn’t have time each day to break for lunch, much less the frequent bio breaks I was used to.  Right off the bat I knew this would affect my ability to stay hydrated, so I decided I’d have to drink as much water as I could early in the morning and then again between dinner and bed.  This wasn’t ideal but was my best strategy at the time.

Exercise and dehydration don’t go together well, as I learned after returning home at the end of the week and participating in a rigorous workout the next day.  But what did help throughout the week was meditation and stretching in the evenings with moderately vigorous exercise in the mornings.  I planned the next morning’s exercise the night before, knowing that I couldn’t trust myself to come up with a decent plan right after waking up.  The workout facility at this particular hotel didn’t interest me, so I worked out in my room, doing different combination of situps, pushups, burpees, air squats, and lunges.  This made a significant difference in my mood after sitting in meetings and at the computer for 12-14 hours each day.  I slept much better the nights that I stretched and did some meditative breathing before going to bed, which made it easier to work out the next morning.

 

Exercises

 

Another strategy that I regularly use is taking plenty of snacks with me: nuts, dried fruit, granola, fresh fruit, and dark chocolate.  I usually pack oats as well, as it’s easy to find hot water or a microwave to make oatmeal.  After the first day of this trip, I had already eaten over 1 cup of nuts (almost half of what I had packed for the entire week) and both apples due to a very early breakfast, no lunch, and a late dinner.  Fortunately my meals were more regular the rest of the week, and I was able to restock my snack stash with hummus and pretzels and another apple.

 

Portable_Snacks

 

If you are not choosing the locations of your meals, as may be the case for business dinners, it can be challenging to find a great plant-based meal that is both devoid of animal products and not swimming in oil.  If you’re lucky enough to be at a restaurant with a legitimate chef, let the waiter know what your dietary needs are and hope the chef is feeling creative.  If not, don’t think twice about making special requests loosely based on the menu.

Through their 21 Day Kickstart program, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine offers tips for finding plant-based dishes in different types of restaurants, plus common ingredients you want to ensure are not included in your dish.  The 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart book by Neal Barnard provides recommendations on what to order at common fast food chains.

 

Restaurant_Tips

 

One easy approach is to order a salad with every dinner – it’s such an easy way to increase your daily servings of veggies.  I’m not advocating eating ONLY salad, unless you find yourself at a restaurant with fabulous salads, which are not as common as you would think.

Although it may not be the most comfortable thing to ask for veggies and whole grains without butter and a dry baked potato or just a plate of vegetables in front of your colleagues or business partners, keep in mind that your health is a priority.  You can do hard things and you’re not giving up anything — except the risks of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes associated with the standard American diet.

A healthier lifestyle is the most loving gift you can give yourself.  Start now.

On a lighter note, traveling can be a great opportunity to try out a new vegan/vegetarian Philly_Cheese
restaurant.  Before departing or even after you arrive you can use an app on your smartphone like Urban Spoon or go to Happy Cow and search out what your destination has
to offer.  Who knows, you might even be able to convince a colleague or two to join you for what is usually a fantastic meal.  Like vegan Philly “cheese steak” at Hip City Veg in Philadelphia or a vegan “Twinkee” at Source in San Francisco!

Twinkees