Traveling is inevitable…but unfortunately causes A TON of stress. Many, I’m even guilty of it, fear that one week of not tracking is going to derail your entire year’s worth of effort and consistency.
In reality though, it’s nearly impossible for one week (7 days) to ruin the 358 other days where you were on track and doing things perfectly.
In fact, most of you SHOULD enjoy 7 days out of the year to not track and to maybe have a little of fun. In almost all cases, I don’t have clients track macros or even worry about their nutrition (for the most part), while they are traveling on vacation.
But that’s easier to say…less easy to put into practice.
Because traveling inherently makes things difficult. Even if you could track and stay 100% on target, you likely will not feel 100% as if you would if you had stayed at home. You lose control. You lose routine. Being in a car or on a plane increases stress. You’re often dehydrated, even if only temporarily. You don’t have access to a gym regularly and activity goes down. If you eat out, you’re not 100% certain of macros and secret ingredients make tracking very difficult. All of this increases water retention and weight temporarily…which stresses you out…and prevents you from truly enjoying vacation.
That’s why I’ve broken down ALL parts of traveling for you so you can get the most out of your vacation: before, during, and after. This will minimize stress, inflammation, and weight gain. I follow these practices every single time I travel and encourage all of my 1:1 clients to do the same. They’re almost always met with success and enjoyment…so I encourage you next time you travel to follow this blueprint and reap the benefits.
There are a couple caveats to focus on with this blueprint. This blueprint is for people who travel/vacation less than 5x/year. Those who travel frequently (for work) don’t have as much freedom to just let things go. You can generally follow these rules (especially the before and after part), but likely will have to be a bit more consistent and strict during your travel. If you’re a 1:1 client, then you know this, and you know that I set all this up for you.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Before traveling is all about preparing and tying together loose ends. You have a couple things to focus on here.
1. Eat 90-95% whole foods. You’re going to be missing out on some fruits and veggies during your travel. This step will ensure you’re covering your bases and making up for the lack of come vacation time. It will also make sure your digestion/body is as healthy as possible so you can afford a break.
2. Clean out your fridge. Plan diligently with what you have left in your fridge and what you will need for the days leading up to your vacation. Have anything left over? Bring it in a cooler with you! They’ll work as good road trip snacks or lunches while on vacation.
3. Research where you’re going. Are you staying in a hotel? AirBnb? Do you have access to a kitchen? Fridge and microwave? Neither? If you have access to a kitchen, research where the nearest grocery store is so you can make a couple meals and save some money and also ensure you’re eating some good meals in there too. If you only have access to a fridge and microwave, then you can get a couple frozen options or microwaveable options (frozen veggies, deli-meat, pre-grilled chicken, microwaveable rice) for you to “meal-prep” for some easy meals. Research some restaurants in the area. Find some healthy, clean options for breakfast and lunch (easiest meals to keep clean and simple) and even some dinner options for you to enjoy and look forward to. You don’t have to plan everything. Still keep some spontaneity in there but give yourself stuff to look forward to and enjoy to get the most out of your vacation.
4. Cut your intake. Depending on your goal and your mindset, you may want to consider a 5-10% cut in your intake (via carbs and fats) in the week leading up to your travel. If you’re in the middle of a cut, where your goal is weight-loss, this applies to you. If you’re simply maintaining, building muscle, or not in any diet phase, this isn’t as important. The only reason you may want to do this is if you’re VERY stressed about the traveling process and this will help put your mind at ease and give you the freedom you need in the coming week of travel.
During travel, your #1 goal is to enjoy yourself. You’re not tracking macros (unless for some reason you need to – like if you frequently travel). You’re simply enjoying where you’re at with the people you’re with. Remember your why. Are you here to have no fun and enjoy very little? Or are you here to build a sustainable, lifelong diet so you can be healthy and happy? If you’re the second, then you can afford a week (or even 2) of a break here and there.
1. Intuitively eat. Eat when you’re hungry and eat the foods that sound nourishing. If you’re craving sugar, you’re likely needing some fresh fruit and veggies. If you’re shaky and hungry, you’re craving protein.
2. Reduce the number of meals. You’re likely busy anyways and can’t get in 4-5 meals/day. Instead bring that number down to 2-3. Rely on snacks when you get hungry. If you enjoy it, implement intermittent fasting and eat a later breakfast in the day.
3. Move your body. Go for walks. Find a gym to drop into. Wake up and stretch for 10-15 minutes. This is for you mentally as much as it is for you physically. Getting the blood flowing will help flush out any junk building up. We’ve all traveled and felt stiff and groggy…this step is going to help you.
4. Drink plenty of water. 100-150oz. That may seem like a lot… but it will help keep your body detoxing (naturally).
5. Save carbs for later in the day. Start your day with a meal predominantly protein, veggies and healthy fats. Egg scrambles, egg bowls, yogurt and fruit, etc. are all great ways to get in nutrients (which you’re likely deficient in) and save some carbs later in the day for when you’re going out to eat and opting for more unhealthy options.
6. Limit alcohol to once during the day. If you have brunch, skip that cocktail at dinner. If you’re at dinner and haven’t consumed anything all day, then use this time to get in those fun beverages. Don’t drink just to drink because you’re on vacation. Still find purpose. Alcohol is anti-fiber and causes serious bloat and makes you feel pretty crummy. It’s okay to drink on vacation, but do it appropriately and again, with purpose.
7. IF you are tracking, focus on protein amounts and calories only. The fats and carbs will play out if you’re focusing on calories. Protein is THE most important macro to prioritize while traveling. It prevents hunger, fights cravings, doesn’t spike insulin, promotes digestion, and keeps metabolism going. Remember your why, though. You honestly shouldn’t feel the need to track. If you’re in a cut, it may be an appropriate time (mayyyybe) to track these two things, but in reality, likely isn’t the case.
8. Control the meals you can control. You likely will be able to control breakfast and lunch. Make sure these always have 2 servings of protein and ample veggies and fruits.
9. Enjoy yourself and don’t stress. You may have NO access to healthy options and NO control whatsoever. This recently happened to me on my trip to Boston. I had everything planned and mapped out and when I got there, it alllllll fell apart outside of my control. Rather than try and force things, I just took a step back and focused on these things above and nourishing my body instead of hitting macros to a T. Stress only makes things worse.
This part is just as important as the other two. The biggest fault I see post-vacation is cutting everything and removing food from your diet to “make up for the crap you ate on vacation”. Guess what? This is going to make things worse! Why? Because you’re going to be stressing your body even more…so don’t do it. When you get back from travel, follow these steps to guarantee getting back on track and feeling good.
1. Don’t get on the scale. You are bloated. You are retaining water. You likely did gain weight. It will only make matters worse to confirm that and then have to deal with the associated stress.
2. Choose whole foods. We’re talking 95-100% whole foods and very little processed foods. This is to 1. make up for all you didn’t get while traveling and 2. start supporting your body’s detox system and liver function.
3. Meal prep the crap out of your week. This is the most important week to ensure accuracy. You may have some residual cravings. You’re likely not as hungry. This will ensure you’re getting in the calories you need while also getting back to the healthy food grind you usually follow.
4. The bloat is real. This is going to help! Choose light foods like fruits and veggies. Opt for basic food groups: chicken, rice, veggies instead of heavy voluminous foods. If you enjoy it, implement some intermittent fasting to help your gut and give your digestion system a break. IF is NOT necessary…only something to do if YOU like it.
5. Give it time and ease back into things. You don’t have to be 100% the Monday you get back. Start small and grow gradually throughout the week until you’re back to normal.
And there you have it…your blueprint for alllll your travel, before during and after. All are equally as important to ensure you’re staying healthy, on-track, and happy. Nutrition doesn’t have to be miserable. It IS possible to enjoy your vacation, NOT track a macro and still see the results you’re dying to see.
Because it is summer time and vacation is happening, I’m giving away THREE free strategy calls to prepare for your upcoming travel. DM me, comment on this blog thread or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.