Eating Healthy While Traveling

Vacations are often the kryptonite to a healthy diet. You’re doing good, sticking to your meal plan, counting your calories, and…bam! You go on a trip away from home. Meals consist of grease and deep-fried everything, and you head home bloated and five-pounds heavier just in time to do a 3-day vegan cleanse to repent for your travel sins.

I know this feeling all too well, and I know how disgusting I feel even midway through my trips if this is what my diet has become.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Even though “calories don’t count” while on vacation (or on holidays, or on your birthday, or on your friends’ birthdays, etc.), it is possible to keep up with your daily health and make healthy dining choices on each and every trip. Here are some tips to keep your gut from falling into the toilet during your next vacation:

Plan Your Meals In Advance

This is the most important step to eating healthy while on a trip. My friends and I have always planned our trips around meals, and not necessarily healthy meals. We will select in advance where we want to eat dinner each evening, and then we plan our trip around those dinner destinations.

Since we are in the age of modern technology, this also means that you will have access to each restaurant’s dinner menu before you even leave the comfort of your house. This is important. Pull up the menu for each of your dinner destinations, and create a Note in your phone.

Take a few minutes to look through each menu, and select your meal of choice from that restaurant. Look for grilled options or “healthy selections”. Create combinations of food that promote gut health and heart health. If you fancy an adult beverage with your meals, select that now, too.

In your phone, type the name of the restaurant and your entire meal (beverage and all) underneath it. You can also add the prices.

Now, when you are in the moment, smelling those crispy fries in the air, you won’t decide to just say “screw it” and order the fries. You can pull up your Notes app, read off your order, and feel sweet relief in knowing that you are eating the best meal for you.

Bring Healthy Snacks And Meals In Your Luggage

This is the second-most-important priority in planning your trip’s meals. You’ve already planned out your dinners, but what about breakfast and lunch?

Look at what each day has in store for you, and bring snacks and/or meals to fill you up for those.

If you will be at a conference or in an environment where you can go to your room for lunches, ask in advance to have access to a refrigerator and a microwave, or bring amenities like a coffee pot or a rice maker. Bring healthy breakfast and lunch options to eat in your room. This keeps you from running off to the food court for each meal. Even most TV dinners are far healthier than the standard food court meal (and they are a lot cheaper, too).

If you will be on-the-go, bringing full meals isn’t an option. Instead, load up with healthy options like granola bars, sugar-free Jell-O, and homemade kale chips. Snack on these throughout the day, and that will prevent you from pigging out when you finally are able to grab lunch.

Making Healthy Drive-Thru Decisions

If you are on the go, a fast-food drive-thru will likely be a given, especially while on a road trip. Since drive-thru experiences are typically spontaneous, there is not a way to plan that meal in advance. However, there are still some methods to the madness to make the best out of the instant window.

Look at the menu for grilled chicken options. If you’re not one for chicken, look for lean beef. Whatever you select, it needs to be unbreaded and come with fresh veggies on the sandwich. Order this.

Most meals come with fries. Instead, order your grilled sandwich as an entree, and look for options like fresh fruit, a side salad, or granola to substitute for fries. Select a medium-sized beverage that is uncarbonated like water, lemonade, or unsweetened tea.

When you receive your meal, remove the top bun from your sandwich and throw it away (or feed it to some ducks or something). Eat your sandwich with only the bottom bun. This leaves just a small piece of bread, grilled protein, and fresh veggies…which is a helluva lot less calories than a normal fried meal contains.

Bottom Line: It’s Not Just For Travel

These tips are not just for your next vacation; they are great for everyday practice as well. Plan out your meals in advance, whether they are homemade or in a restaurant. Knowing what you plan to eat before it is time to eat helps to keep you on track for your goals.

Once you know your dinner (a.k.a. the major meal of the day), plan your breakfast and lunch around it. If you know that your boss is taking you to a company lunch, select your breakfast and dinner to complement that meal.

And should you find yourself in a fast-food drive-thru, start selecting the grilled options and remove the bun! And select fruits, veggies, or nuts instead of fries. Your body, your mind, and your spirit will all thank you for selecting healthy options for your everyday living, no matter where you dine.

When The Aerial Arts End…

As those of you who follow my social media channels know, I attended my first aerial arts class in January 2017. It was a skill I had wanted to pick up since I had first seen Troian Bellisario’s Silks photos on her Instagram page. I scooped up my friend Dominique, and we took an intro class together.

The intro class was difficult, but so much fun! We instantly signed up for a 4-week training course, which taught us the basics of Silks, Lyra, Trapeze, Pole Dance, and Rope. Silks called to me just as I’d hoped it would, and following the training course, I started attending Silks I classes, along with some Pole classes and some Yoga classes.

I constantly spoke of Silks on social media, posting photos of my latest endeavours and sharing my progress with others. Most of my June was booked with travel, and I was sad that I would miss almost a month of training. Still, Nashville (for 30 Seconds To Mars), Owensboro (for OMGCon), and Anaheim (for VidCon) were calling my name, so I set forward for a month of road trips and flights.

So, why haven’t there been any new Silks photos since then? And why have I been speaking the praises of running and HIIT routines, and posting gym selfies?

When traveling to Anaheim, I had a lot of things to carry. My super-stuffed to max-capacity duffel bag was resting on my right shoulder. My purse was also stuffed to max capacity and was looped around my right forearm. I had to help my team carry some of their luggage, so I gripped the handle of a heavy suitcase with broken wheels with my right hand and dragged/carried it through the airport. Remember the location of all of these placements, boys and girls.

Around my third night in Anaheim, I noticed that my arm was tingling. Mainly in my forearm, but a little bit of everywhere. I didn’t think much of it and went to bed. The tingling continued through the rest of the trip in varying amounts (feeling better at the start of the day and worsening by evening), and it reached it’s ultimate annoyance and pain after touching back down in Louisville one week later.

After another week, I noticed that I was having tingling in my right wrist as I typed, that lessened or worsened depending on how I positioned my arm. My immediate fear was that I was developing the dreaded carpal tunnel, and I was relived to find that my symptoms and location of the tingling were not compatible with a carpal tunnel diagnosis. Still, I put off Silks classes for another week to allow whatever was going on some time to heal.

I eventually pin-pointed the radiating point of the tingling to be in my mid-forearm of my right hand, and it would radiate down to the wrist and up through my upper arm. A chiropractor friend listen to my description of the problem and my balancing act in the airports of California, and promptly diagnosed me with a pinched ulnar nerve.

Great.

Ever since the tingling had begun, I had had the overwhelming urge to do push-ups. It felt mostly like I needed to pop” my arm back into place, which my friend advised me was a result of essentially discombobulating my entire arm with the luggage. The other feeling was that I needed to get a knife and slice my arm open to relieve pressure, but I liked the push-ups idea far better.

I decided to attend one of the Yoga classes at the aerial arts gym to see if that would help to realign my arm properly. It was difficult at times, but by the end of the class I felt much better. Score one for my instincts! I figured I would continue with the Yoga classes only for another week or so and then go back to Silks and Pole.

Wrong.

Later that night, I was having dinner with my mother when suddenly it felt like I’d been punched in the arm. The bicep and shoulder region to be more specific. For reasons unknown, I couldn’t move my right arm above the elbow without excruciating pain. Forks aren’t that deadly, y’all.

After two days of agony, I took a trip to my friend Monica, who is a massage therapist. Without even telling her where the problem was, she immediately became alarmed at how tense and tight my right bicep was, along with a good deal of shoulder tension. After a painful 15-minute massage, my arm was at least usable, and at least the pain was making me forget about the tingling from the pinched nerve.

As someone who only visits the doctor when she’s on death’s door, to this day I still have no clue what happened to my shoulder and bicep. For the rest of July and most of August, I could not lift my arm straight up or straight out without intense pain and agony. When the arm would feel better, I would wind up overusing it, and I would wind up at square one again.

Luckily as October nears, I now have most of my range of motion back, and my arm (from top to bottom) feels fairly normal. Fairly normal because it feels different than my left arm and there is still occasional tingling, so my body has probably just adjusted to the weirdities of my right arm’s plight. But I’m not using Icy Hot and massages nightly at this point.

Unfortunately, my poor diet throughout the month of June and my lack of exercise throughout June-August led to a very squishy body. I had lost all toning and had gained a good 10, maybe 15, pounds.

A rave-themed 5K was coming to Louisville at the end of August, and I made the impulsive decision to sign up for it 3 weeks before the race.

Oy vey.

I began training immediately and was surprised to find that I was in better shape than I’d expected to be in. I ran the 5K (the Night Nation Run) with my good friend Laura, who is a nutritionist and is my go-to- person for health and fitness, it was really fun and they even had glow decoration for all the participants. The 5K went amazingly, and I had also lost around 5lbs from my training.

Throughout September, I’ve been working to reform my eating habits back to a diet of veggies, soups, and fruits. I am taking vitamins again. And I’ve been running for 20 minutes per day 3-4x/week and doing HIIT workouts in my townhouse 5-6x/week. My tone is coming back. The squish is coming off. And I feel much better 🙂

Will I ever go back to Silks? Maybe. I was enjoying it a lot, but I’m pretty positive that I’ve got some sort of permanent damage in my right arm now (which is also my dominant arm, go figure), and it would be extremely dangerous if my arm decided to go out while I was at the top of a fabric.

Running and online HIIT workouts are cheaper, more organic, and easier to accomplish with friends! So for now, I’m sticking with those while on my fitness journey.

If you have any questions about learning to run, HIIT workouts, at-home workouts in general, or what not to do with your arms when you go to an airport, let me know in the comments 😀