Working full-time, training, and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life can be exhausting. Still, it's a path many of us choose to stay happy, healthy, and fit. We slave over the stove to make macro friendly meals and hit the gym most days of the week, all while holding down the fort at home. In short, we prep.
My regular schedule goes something like this: I pick two nights each week to prep my food for the next 3-4 days. I bulk-cook my chicken—either by baking it in the oven or tossing it on the George Forman grill—divide it into 4-5-ounce portions, steam my veggies, and put together my salads, each of which includes half an avocado and a side dressing. Sure, it's a lot of work, but this way, when I get up at 6 a.m. to hit the gym, I don't have to worry about what I'm going to eat throughout the day. It's packed and ready to go.
Add to all that the turmoil that comes with travel, and the three Ps—plan, prepare, and produce—become more essential than ever. No wonder so many fitness plans unravel on the road. You're tempted by fast food, lured by quick and easy pre-packaged meals, and you can practically hear the double chocolate chip frap at the airport Starbucks calling your name.
Sound familiar? Don't let a few miles traveled stand between you and your fitness goals. Follow my air travel routine to help bypass any nutritional away-from-home hurdles.
9 Road Rules
There are six little things I always bring with me just in case. Since none of these items need to be refrigerated, all can be easily stowed away in your checked luggage.
Keep some complex carbs on hand. It's better to bring along the right carbs than have to resort to scarfing down something unnecessarily unhealthy.
I typically pack enough for 3/4 cup every day as well as an emergency stash of a few additional cups just in case I need to use oats for my evening carb source.
Heart-healthy unsaturated fats are essential to a well-rounded diet. Pack a source of healthy fats so you know exactly where yours come from.
Quest bars are all natural, low in carbs and sugar, and high in protein. Double-check the nutritional information on your go-to protein bar to make sure it's not just candy in disguise.
This is a must. Scoop out enough for 1-2 servings per day, and store them in plastic baggies for easy access.
If you're anything like me, measuring cups will be handy for meting out your almond butter and morning berries.
Looking to take things even further? Pack an individual-sized blender to make super food smoothie.
Request Kitchen Staples
Call the hotel and request a room with a microwave and refrigerator.
Seek Out A Gym
Find out if the hotel has a gym, or where to find the gym closest to where you are staying. If there is no gym, go for a morning run or do a bodyweight workout in your room.
Go A La Carte
Customize the hotel menu to meet your macros. Most hotels have a restaurant, and you should be able to order a la carte items. My go-to breakfast at the hotel is a six-egg-white and veggie omelet with 3/4 cup oats and berries.
If you find yourself even more limited, mix a scoop of protein into your oatmeal and add some berries for a delicious concoction. All of these options are high in protein and offer up the right amount of complex carbs and morning sugars.
When ordering at restaurants, stick to lean fish, veggies, and complex carbs. Ask the chef to hold the butter and oils and get sauces on the side. Skip the wine and order an extra glass of water. If it's a special occasion, or you have a real hankering to indulge, stick to a glass of red wine or a vodka soda—just make sure it's not a regular occurrence.
Customize The Menu
When working long hours, I often have to cut my workouts short. Instead of being able to leisurely take my time, I'm often limited to one hour from start to finish. I make the most of my time by pushing hard, doing supersets, and sticking to a short 45-60 second rest period between sets.
I can't stress this enough: Plan in advance. Think about your trip, anticipate your environment, and bring what you need so you're not stuck without any healthy options.
Stay hydrated, and make sure you take in enough fluids. The stale air circulating in airports makes me super dehydrated, so I always bring an empty shaker bottle with me through security to fill up at the drinking fountain before boarding my flight. I pack all my travel day meals in my carry-on so I'm set in case of any delays.
An extra scoop of protein or a Quest bar is also a great, easy grab-and-go option. Also, make sure to pack supplements ahead of time and store vitamins in baggies so you know what to take and when to take it.
Clean Eating On Car Trips
While the distance might be shorter, road trips come with their own set of nutritional hurdles. But prepping food in advance, having easily portable snacks on hand, and choosing healthy fast food alternatives when necessary can help you avoid gas-station temptation.
Hug the curves of the road without packing unnecessary weight onto your curves with these road trip tips.
Bring a cooler full of goodies
Packing plenty of water and healthy snacks like your favorite sliced fruits and veggies, yogurt, almonds, Quest bars, and hummus is the best option. You'll be able to stick to your macros and have a strong line of defense against temptation when hunger strikes.
If you're gassing up and can't resist grabbing a snack from the attached mini mart, shop smart. Gas stations usually have pre-made protein drinks in the cooler. Buy one of those and a protein bar, if needed.
Plain (not movie theater butter) popcorn is another option to help satisfy that need to munch.
Redefine fast food
OK, so you're not going to make fast food healthy, but you can make healthier menu choices. Grilled chicken patties sans bun are a healthier option.
Also, salads with light dressing on the side—as opposed to salads doused in the creamy, full-fat alternative—are generally a safe option.