Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Staying Fit While Traveling

Whether you're traveling for work or recreation, it IS possible to maintain your fitness level and return home feeling like you torched calories rather than the midnight oil. Inspired by a recent teaching vacation to Punta Cana, I have come up with the following suggestions and resources so you can enjoy your time away from home while still feeling fit and strong. Soak up these fit tips along with the warm weather and lift more than that poolside drink!  Interested in learning more about my online fitness programs and challenges? Click here to stay hot and get healthy!

Planning Ahead
Before you arrive at your destination, make sure you're prepared for activity. Set yourself up for success. Research where you'll be staying and find out if you'll have access to a fitness center. If not, is there a local gym with a daily rate? Even without access to any equipment, it is still possible to complete a full body workout using equipment that's easy to transport.

I would suggest packing the following:
Resistance bands
Jump rope
Gym shoes
Water bottle (I carried my Cellucor shaker with me EVERYWHERE in Punta Cana)
Sports bras, tanks, shorts, etc.

While I was in Punta Cana, the resort offered group exercise classes. This is a great way to stay accountable to your workouts. When there is a time and location, there's more commitment. With that being said, who are you traveling with that may want to join you? An accountability partner increases the likelihood that you will show up, work hard, and be glad you did! Even when classes are not an option, if you can recruit someone to workout with, you'll be more likely to do it and it will be much more fun. Now's not necessarily the time to "increase your strength, lose weight, push yourself harder than ever"...if you're on vacation, it's more about experiencing something new and enjoying where you are and who you are with.

So what if there is no gym? What if there are no classes? Well, it's time to step outside ("the box") and get creative! Your workout doesn't have to consist of sets and reps. Along with planning ahead, find out what activities are available.
Many destination resorts will provide bicycles, kayaking, stand up paddle-boarding and more. If you typically run on the treadmill challenge your body and stimulate your senses with a run along the beach. You'll engage your body in a new way and fire up more stabilizing muscles. Just because you're not tracking your heart rate doesn't mean you're not burning calories.

Body Weight Circuits
Workouts can take place in a hotel room, on the beach, maybe even in an empty parking lot! Keep in mind if there's a university or high school nearby, you may be able to access the track and/or bleachers! (1 lap, 1 time up/down the bleachers, 20 squats, 20 pushups...REPEAT!). The following exercise demonstrates a version of the plank that targets the obliques along with the entire core. Most people think planks are an abdominal exercise (rightfully so, as your abs are working!), the upper body, particularly the shoulders, are engaging as well. Squeeze your glutes and you'll increase the amount of muscle activation.

Here is a sample routine that requires nothing more than your own body. Complete 30 seconds of each, rest as needed and then repeat for a total of 3 rounds. This should take approximately 30-35 minutes.

Jumping jacks
Alternating forward lunges
Jumping jacks
Alternating reverse lunges

Mountain climbers
Squats with alternating knee lift and rotation (right knee up, rotate to right as you stand)
Mountain climbers
Side to side squats

Full arm plank hold

Run in place
Lunge with left foot in front, right leg kicks
Run in place
Lunge with right foot in front, left leg kicks

Jump squats
Sumo squats
Jump squats
Squat with alternating forward kicks

While on vacation, you have the chance to experience new foods and a variety of options! Keep in mind that "all inclusive" is not a green light to have a free for all. Moderation is key. Rather than deprive yourself of something that is "too sweet" or indulgent, have a little bit of everything. Avoid going to meals hungry by eating healthy snacks throughout the day.
Protein is a great source of muscle fuel and stabilizes your appetite. Some of my favorite sources include nuts, nut butters, cottage cheese, Quest Nutrition bars, and whey protein from Cellucor. These are great foods to incorporate between meals. If you arrive to dinner with an empty, screaming stomach, you will potentially end up eating more. Plus, by staying fueled throughout the day your metabolism will stay fired up.  Purchase your Quest bars from Vitamin Shoppe.
Here are some fantastic tips from

-As a beverage choice, ask for water or order fat-free or low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, or other drinks without added sugars.
-Ask for whole-wheat bread for sandwiches.
-In a restaurant, start your meal with a salad packed with veggies, to help control hunger and feel satisfied sooner.
-Ask for salad dressing to be served on the side. Then use only as much as you want.
-Veggie kebobsChoose main dishes that include vegetables, such as stir fries, kebobs, or pasta with a tomato sauce.
-Order steamed, grilled, or broiled dishes instead of those that are fried or sautéed.
-Choose a small" or "medium" portion. This includes main dishes, side dishes, and beverages.
-Order an item from the menu instead heading for the "all-you-can-eat" buffet.
-If main portions at a restaurant are larger than you want, try one of these strategies to keep from overeating:
Order an appetizer-sized portion or a side dish instead of an entrée.
Share a main dish with a friend.
If you can chill the extra food right away, take leftovers home in a "doggy bag."
When your food is delivered, set aside or pack half of it to go immediately.
-Resign from the "clean your plate club" - when you've eaten enough, leave the rest.
-To keep your meal moderate in calories, fat, and sugars:
Ask for salad dressing to be served "on the side" so you can add only as much as you want.
Order foods that do not have creamy sauces or gravies
Add little or no butter to your food.
Choose fruits for dessert most often.

Rest! One of my favorite topics! Lately, there's a lot of talk about "clean eating" and working out. It seems as though a lot of people are doing both of these but without the results they are hoping for. Although there could be a number of underlying issues, I always ask "how much sleep are you getting?" Sleep is underrated and is such a vital component of a healthy lifestyle and successful weight loss (fat loss!) program. Did you know that when you're sleep deprived your levels of leptin go up? These are appetite suppressing hormones that tell your body when it's full. As if that wasn't bad enough, levels of ghrelin increase! These are appetite stimulating hormones! Maybe that explains why when you're sleep deprived you're more likely to reach for dense, sweet, and salty foods.
A lack of sleep also affects your cortisol levels, immune system, and your brain. Remember your reason for taking a rest, relax, and enjoy yourself. While activity is important, use this time to help your body repair with adequate sleep. I typically aim for 7-9 hours per night as recommended.


When it's time to bag your bags and head home, take the time to recall your favorite moments of the trip. Whether it was trying something new at dinner (yucca plant is amazing!), attempting to stand up paddle-board (it's MUCH different in the ocean vs. on a lake!), or taking a nap under the palm proud of yourself for prioritizing your health and making the commitment to continually improve the quality of your life.

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