Monday, March 16, 2009

Stay Lean When Travelling With These 10 Travel Fitness Tips

If you struggle with your weight, you have probably found the most difficult times to be when traveling or on vacation. You may be like most people in that you let your health and fitness regress when on the road. It's too easy to tell yourself "ah what the heck, I’ve been really good, now it’s time to let loose!” I know as a personal trainer and boot camp instructor in North Vancouver how many other fitness enthusiasts out there battle the dangers that travel can pose to one’s midsection.

As you can agree with me, it can be upsetting to bring back vacation memories in the form of unwanted fat storage in trouble spot areas that makes you feel sluggish, bloated, and unattractive.

Today I am going to share my top 10 travel fitness tips to help you maintain your overall health, performance, and body composition when away from the structure of home:

1.) Commit to Performing Short 10-20 Minute Maintenance Workouts First Thing In The Morning Each Week

Don't let time be an excuse. You can squeeze in at least 10-20 minutes before you start your day. Trust me on this - this brief workout first thing in the morning will set the tone for the rest of your day. Besides being your energy pill to attack the day with vigor, this workout can serve as some damage control if you to decide to indulge in some foods that deviate from your nutrition plan. But they key is to do it first thing in the morning because I personally guarantee you that’s the only time you can count on getting it done when enjoying the sights and sounds of vacation.

2.) Use Body Weight and Resistance Band Exercises That You Can Do Anywhere

All you’ll need is your body and one resistance band to get the job done. During maintenance weeks for my boot camp clients, I highly recommend they do something whether its the Rapid Fat Loss Cardio Program they receive when they sign up. Another possibility is to use mostly bodyweight-based exercises with the exception of some resistance band exercises to get that pulling component in since it is often very difficult to access body weight rows and pull-ups when on the road.

Bodyweight-based exercises allow for some much needed rest and de-loading for the muscles and joints.

3.) Build Your Own Vacation Workouts for Fun

Let’s face it- working out with intensity can get old real fast! So, if you are wanting to be fit and look and feel good for the long run, you better find a way to mix things up as often as possible with your workouts to keep yourself motivated.

Being on vacation can allow for this as you can typically access a host of unique training locations and equipment! Maybe hit the beach and alternate between intervals of sprints and body weight strength exercises so that you can burn fat and get some Vitamin D in at the same time. Or hit up the local park and do a playground style workout using benches, monkey bars, etc. Let your mind wander and most importantly have fun deviating from the typical structure of your at home workouts!

4.) Bring Portable Fat-Burning Snacks

This may very well be the most important tip of all. At home, we all choose the foods that are most convenient, affordable, and accessible, which is why meal planning and preparation is so critical to being lean year round and why I emphasis it in my Rapid Fat Loss Nutrition System. This becomes especially important when traveling because the food choices can often be even worse for your body and being unfamiliar with your surroundings means you can’t always lean on the trusty fallback options that you can at home.

Here's a list of go-to lean traveler foods that you may want to use to maintain your fitness:

- Mixed raw nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, etc.)
- String cheese
- Protein Powder and/or Amino Acids
- Organic Deli Meat (unsweetened, low in salt)
- Fruit and Raw Veggies

Use these fat-burning, muscle-building foods to stay full and leave less room for all of the other junk food options that surround us all on a daily basis.

5.) Perform 30-60 Minutes of Daily Activity

Don't let a vacation turn you into a sloth. Rather, be the lean traveler who looks to be active whenever possible when on vacation to keep your body in check.

Look to walk as much as possible, sign up for local trips and excursions, and engage in some recreational sports with your travel buddies. Almost all of us naturally increase our caloric intake on vacation, so it is critical to intentionally maintain or increase our activity levels to offset the potential weigh gaining hazards that come with travel eating.

6.) Perform Daily Corrective Stretching and Self-Massage

I know this one may be a bit of a stretch, pun intended however we do tend to pay less attention to the small details that keep our bodies safe and pain-free year round when on the road. To keep your muscles, and thus your joints, healthy, it is critical to still do some daily flexibility work and foam rolling.

Keep it simple. Bring either a half foam roll, a tennis ball, and/or a rolling pin in your suitcase for all of your self-massage needs. Try to get in at least 5-10 minutes of some combination of rolling and stretching first thing in the morning and before bed for best results, however try to aim for at least once per day.

7.) Don’t Worry About Being Perfect All of the Time

My boot campers train with me for 4 weeks at a time with short 1 week transition periods throughout the year. In total, they are in full boot camp mode for 41 out of the 52 weeks each year.

What I try to instill in my campers is working hard and eating clean and healthy during those 41 weeks that we are together to allow for the desired flexibility during the 11 weeks that we are not. In other words, my clients move to maintenance mode during off weeks allotting themselves to eating a little more outside of the eating plan, performing a few short maintenance workouts each week, and focusing more on improving flexibility and tissue quality.

Bottom line, perfection most of the year allows for the desired flexibility at the times when you want it the most!

8.) Plan Your Reward Meals in Advance

Let’s not forget that you don’t need to be perfect and eat like you're training for the Olympics when on vacation. After all, the occasional indulgences are a part of living the good life we were designed to enjoy - especially those treats that are unique to certain travel hot spots. But, it is key to at least plan and prepare for them. In other words, I have found most people can allot themselves 4 free meals per week (or 10% of their weekly meals) and still maintain their results.

A free meal, cheat meal, or as some call it a reward meal, is basically a meal that deviates from ideal nutritional guidelines, but in moderation. This means that you eat the same healthy foods that you typically eat plus any other foods you may desire until you are satisfied, but not stuffed!

By planning out your 4 free meals in advance and eating well at all other non-free meals you will best put yourself in a position to maintain your frame.

9.) Limit Alcohol and Empty Liquid Calories

This may be one of the hardest tip to sell because of how indispensable alcohol can be for some people who want to have a good time and wind down while traveling. The reality is alcohol not only stops fat burning in its tracks, but it actually promotes fat storage. Alcohol also lowers inhibitions and opens the door to host of junk food cravings that will further set you back.

Plus, many alcoholic drinks contain high calorie sugary mixes that further tip the proverbial scale in the wrong direction so to speak. Consuming 2-3 alcoholic beverages per day could easily result in an extra 500 calories per day that would in theory result in at least one pound of fat gained in a week’s time just from booze alone. Not something you want, especially after working so hard to get it off!

In general, limit, if not eliminate, empty liquid calories since they provide no nutritional value. Rather, enjoy whole foods that actually give your body some nutrients and fill you up. If you must, try to limit alcohol consumption to 1 drink at most per day and at best 1-2 drinks (or ideally less) per week while on the road.

10.) Bring Your Supplements

Not to beat a dead horse here, but again, just because you are away from home doesn’t mean that you should abandon all of those healthy habits you have worked so hard to establish.

Take your daily multi-vitamin and fish oil supplements with you so that I can keep taking them every morning religiously. You may also want to bring protein powder and/or amino acid formulas so that you always have access to some high quality protein every 2-4 hours to best keep all of your hard earned lean muscle mass. This is especially important when traveling to any locations around the world that do not have as much animal protein (which contains essential amino acids) in their diets.

These 10 travel fitness tips will without a doubt allow you to “travel light” so that you can come back from your trip with souvenirs other than blubber and cellulite ;)

Resurrect your body back to life!

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