Weight loss weightloss weight loss programs weight loss foods weight loss tips
- Sticking to a fitness regime or getting into a routine with healthy eating is extra hard when you travel a lot for work.
- However, it is still possible to make progress even if you’re on the move frequently, and you don’t have to deprive yourself of everything either.
- Small, healthier choices can make all the difference, but it’s not wise to change your whole routine at once, behavior change specialist, weight loss psychology expert, and habit coach Dr Heather McKee explained to Insider.
- Read more Working it Out here.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
I travel A LOT for work. Because of this, I’ve used it as an excuse to not keep up routines when it comes to eating right and exercising regularly. I truly believe that food is one of the best parts about traveling so it’s hard for me to say no to delicious things! Plus, I’m usually traveling with a large group and our schedule is crazy, so finding time to work out seems impossible.
When I’m back in London, though, I try so hard to eat healthily without restricting myself because I love chocolate and wine. I work out four times a week doing yoga and spin classes.
I’m still not seeing any changes. In fact, I feel like I’ve gained weight or at least gotten less strong. I would love some advice on how to keep that healthy lifestyle when you’re constantly on the go, dealing with jet-lag, and hectic travel schedules.
— Jet-Lagged Yogi
Ah, I feel your struggle with this, my friend.
I too LOVE travelling, both for work and personally, and for me food is a huge part of my adventures. Life’s too short not to eat the ramen, tortilla, and pasta, am I right!? (Not to mention drink the sake, sangria, and prosecco.)
For most people, indulging more than usual when on holiday doesn’t have any major health implications — if anything, I’d argue it’s good for you to relax and just enjoy yourself — but if you’re travelling all the time, it can leave you feeling sluggish if you indulge like you’re on holiday each time, and it can hinder your fitness progress, too.
“Travelling a lot for work is hard. You’ve got to contend with a lack of control of your time and circumstance,” points out Dr Heather McKee, a behavior change specialist and habit coach with a PhD in weight loss psychology.
The physical act of travelling is exhausting too, so mixing that with a lot of rich, heavy foods and more booze than you’d usually drink can leave you feeling less than tip-top.
So how do you find the balance?
Dr McKee recommends changing your mindset from thinking about trips as hurdles to overcome on your quest to live a healthy lifestyle, to thinking about them as opportunities.
And as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing when you travel — you don’t have to do 6 a.m. workouts in the hotel gym and order undressed salads, but you also don’t need to eat yourself into a state of pain every day and fail to move at all.
There’s a middle ground, you just need to find it.
Weight loss weightloss weight loss programs weight loss foods weight loss tips Making healthy choices starts at the airport
You can start making these healthy choices before you even arrive at your destination.
“If you travel a lot then there is a routine to be salvaged within that,” Dr McKee points out. She recommends taking control of what you eat by choosing a healthy meal at the airport or take on board with you, rather than being at the mercy of what’s available on the flight.
Of course, bringing healthier travel snacks from home is smart — although if you’re anything like me it’ll be a mission not to eat them all on the way to the airport.
Dr McKee recommends keeping an eye on your step count too, as you might be surprised by how far you walk from check-in to your gate.
Weight loss weightloss weight loss programs weight loss foods weight loss tips Fit exercise into your working day while abroad
There are ways to keep active when travelling for work, and Dr McKee points out that movement usually helps with jet lag, too — a 2019 study into circadian rhythms conducted by Arizona State University in Phoenix showed the same thing.
If you haven’t already asked your company if it might be possible to stay in a hotel with a gym, give it a try.
Can you get out for a walk every day? Even just 20 minutes will make you feel good, and it’s a great way to get a feel for a place, too.
If you’re going to be stuck in meetings all day, consider taking 15 minutes to stretch and do some gentle movement in your room before hitting the breakfast buffet — I always travel with a resistance band, as there’s so much you can do with one and they take up next to no space.
Dr McKee also suggests seeing whether any of your meetings can be done while walking.
“I often find clients are very obliging to want to show off their city,” she told Insider.
Weight loss weightloss weight loss programs weight loss foods weight loss tips Make wise food choices and eat the things you enjoy most
When it comes to eating, I really think you’ll only regret it if you deprive yourself of all the delicious and new things on offer when travelling — I would simply advise being a bit more mindful about your choices.
For example: Do you need a second piece of bread when there’s equally good bread everywhere in the world and you’ve got two, if not three, courses still to come?
If it’s the best bread of your life, then go for gold and chow down on it, but don’t let yourself feel guilty afterwards.
Order the food you really want, but try to check in with yourself as you go rather than mindlessly shoveling it into your face, as that’ll make it easier to stop when you’re full (I accept that this is easier said than done, though, as I often find myself noticing I’m full but wanting to carry on because it’s just so damn delicious).
Dr McKee recommends choosing certain meals to indulge more than usual, and make lighter choices the other times.
“Choose breakfast or lunch or dinner,” she said.
“Which of these experiences are most important to treasure and savor from a food experience point of view, and which will not be a crazy amazing experience and instead would be an amazing opportunity for you to continue to nourish yourself?
“Choose one meal a day that you are going to enjoy to the utmost, savoring it, eating it mindfully and slowly and getting the most from that experience.
“Research has shown that this can not only help us enjoy our food more but often results in us eating less at the current meals and also not overcompensating later due to feelings of missing out.”
Similarly, if you’re concerned about gaining weight, qualified personal trainer and author of the upcoming “Not a Diet Book” James Smith recommends looking for ways you might be able to save yourself some calories.
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“Social circles, travel and working away make ‘dieting’ difficult,” Smith told Insider. “My advice would be to try your best but to implement simple ways to eat less, like skipping breakfast.
“If that doesn’t work, perhaps look to diet in periods where you’re not busy with work. We can’t diet all the time.”
Weight loss weightloss weight loss programs weight loss foods weight loss tips Be kind to yourself
No matter what you do, don’t beat yourself up — travelling makes it really hard to reach your fitness goals.
“Sleep cycles, rhythms and consistency are huge elements in living a healthy lifestyle,” Smith points out.
“Melatonin is good to help with jet lag symptoms but ultimately you’re going to struggle to lead a successful weight loss journey with optimal health if you’re constantly jet-lagged.”
That doesn’t mean it isn’t possible, though. You just need to make smart choices.
But at the end of the day, try and keep things in perspective: It’s very cool to travel for work, but that’s exactly why you’re there — to work.
“Ultimately work is always more important than your physique, especially seeing as chances are you’re not getting paid to be in good shape,” Smith said.
“Most people in good shape barely make ends meet with their six-packs so I wouldn’t worry too much.”
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It’s totally possible to live a healthy lifestyle while travelling AND still enjoy yourself, but it’s not wise to try and completely change your whole travel routine in one go, advises Dr McKee.
“Choose what feels easiest first then each trip you can experiment with adding in a new opportunity each time,” she said.
“If it feels too tricky or difficult or unmanageable try something else from the list.
“Repetition is what breeds a habit so we want things to be as easy as possible so that they are easy to repeat — if it’s too difficult or you try and do too much then it’s not going to be repeatable.”
An extra 50 steps here, one fewer slice of pizza there, piece of cake.
Wishing you well,
As Insider’s Senior Lifestyle Reporter and a self-confessed fitness fanatic, Rachel Hosie is fully immersed in the wellness scene and is here to answer all your burning questions. Whether you’re struggling to find the motivation to go for a run, confused about light vs. heavy weights, or don’t know whether you should be worried about how much sugar is in a mango, Rachel is here to give you the no-nonsense answers and advice you need, with strictly no fad diets in sight.
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