This article was written by Bob Kupniewski (guest blogger, competitive natural bodybuilder and ex-athlete) and talks about staying healthy and keeping with your gym routine and diet during the holidays. But this same advice is perfect for summer and all the vacations people take over this time. If you are like me, its really tough to keep the same strict diet and gym routine while on vacation as I do when I am at home. We hope this article helps you on your next vacation or holiday!
It is inevitable that once November rolls around you have to start worrying about traveling with family and friends, and spending lots of time away from home! For those of who are dedicated and consistent with the gym there may start to be some worry or doubt due to diet, training, and also how to stay in shape with so much opportunities of parties and meals out and away from you normal diet. While I have covered good ideas as far as training and diet go in my previous articles relating to the holidays, I am going to touch up on good things to consider or tips to help prevent you from falling 100% off the wagon during this time. With travel sometimes will cause a lousy gym, no ability to cook or prepare food, or no ability to find time due to spending a lot with family and friends. This is where a lot of us need to take a step back and also realize the big picture here and how much a few days will truly do to us in the long run.
First lets talk about traveling and finding a good gym. Like most people who are dedicated and consistent in the gym one of the major stress relievers or hobbies is to find a good gym and get in a good workout. This may not always be the cause due to a few reasons. First of all gyms have limited hours during the holidays. On Thanksgiving you may only see a gym open say 8-12, or 9-1, or even closed due to the holiday. Therefore you think to yourself now what? Well if all else fails schedule a rest day on a holiday so you can get right back on your routine the following day and adjust your diet as necessary. Some people like to use the holidays as a reefed or a cheat meal because of the amount of parties they will attend, or the amount of food that will be hard to calculate or eyeball into their daily calories or macros. When I personally vacation what I do is find the hotel or place I am staying and then simply call asking about local gym’s or if in a good hotel (like a suite) they offer a facility inside the department. Most of the times they will, but for most it will not contain a squat rack, a free weight bench, or Dumbbell’s to your desire. Locally you may be able to get in a 24 hour chain like a Gold’s, LA Fitness, or some kind of 24/7 All access, but this will not always be the cause. Most of the time I go to google maps and then click on the place I will stay and then search for “Gym or Fitness Club” then you get a good list of places that may be of your desire. Make a few phone calls, ask about their rates, ask about what they have as far as equipment goes, and also ask for their hours. Most of the time you will be able to get a 1-2 free day pass just for coming in, or sometimes even a week pass. I got lucky when I went to Colorado a few years ago for a wedding and had access to a powerhouse gym for the entire week that had enough equipment I could sleep the facility. All in all about finding a gym there is usually going to be something, but sometimes depending on location it may be a long shot. When I went to Idaho I was in the middle of no where, and to get to a grocery store I had to go to Wyoming and drive over 45 miles before I even saw signs of a village with a population of over 100 people!
Next after finding a good gym a good tool to consider is packing things to help prepare food. For some that do travel for say upward to a week this could be very valuable, for those who only travel say for a day, or for a few hours this may not be something you really need to consider because you could easily pack a meal or two and then save room for a feast or meal out. Myself when I had to travel for upward to a week for work I had to pack myself a George Foreman (Small one to fit into my suitcase) to help prepare chicken and other assorted poultry/meat in my apartment.
Another quality tool for those who do track calories or macros would be a food scale. While it is not very large it can easily fit into a duffle bag or a carry on bag if you are flying so when you do land you can easily weigh out your foods and continue to track macros and still stay on point. For most people that are not a few weeks out from a competition, in a contest prep, and just enjoy going to the gym because it is a hobby this may not even be necessary. I am a big person to practice and preach moderation, so I would state to eyeball foods to the best of your ability, move forward, and do not stress a thing. Another good tool is an electric skillet that you can hook up into a room to prepare small stirfry’s, vegetables, and also cook chicken or other kinds of beef on. This is great for me because I am big on bulk cooking chicken, beef, potatoes, rice, and also when I land I can buy bulk vegetables (frozen) and store them in my room. It does not take much to pack simple meals or cook simple meals when you have a skillet because of how diverse it truly is. Air tight bags are also life savers. People who may take vegetables, fruits, or other prepared foods already put into tight bags can easily be microwaved and cooked fresh on the spot. Not to mention this will help reduce the amount of bacteria or having the food spoil in a short time span when traveling. We all know that food poisoning can happen, and because of it people can become sick very quick and easy. This is a good precaution to help prevent the spoiling of food and making sure your health is not affected because of it during the holidays. The last thing you want is to get sick when trying to see friends and family then it knocks you on the backseat and will crush your plans.
The last thing I want to talk about or suggest especially for those who may be towards the end of a contest prep, maybe competing in a show and are traveling would be freezing your foods and then using it as a carry on for your plan or traveling a long distance in a car. I know IFPA pro Tommy Jeffers had to do this when he competed up in the north East and he lives in Indiana. All of his meals for peak week were basically frozen and then thawed out upon lading and all he had to do was microwave them and store them in a fridge/freezer to keep them cool for the time being. It may be easier to do this, and save you a fortune as far as trying to go to a store, car travel, and everything associated with standing in lines, which does take forever sometime!
If all else fails with food prep now and days there are a lot of online services which take everything for you and it comes down to going on a website and selecting what foods you want and then you would pay a good amount of money to have food prepared, cooked, and sent to you. While it may not be the most cost effective option it is something to consider. I also know that you can buy frozen meals off websites as well to take with you or just reheat to help stay on track which again is an other option.
Besides finding a gym, finding a way to keep food on track, another aspect to consider would be finding good restaurants or other places where you can grab or buy food. For most places you will find good chain restaurants that provide their online calories and macros for foods they do serve. Ones that are very popular would be Chipolte, and with that you can easily grab a burrito and track it, or grab a burrito bowl and track is based off what you want to put in that bowl or burrito. Another good place to consider would be applebees, smokey bones, subway, etc., which would be easy to go in, get a decent meal, and then move forward with your diet.
When I do travel some of my favorite places to go to are krogers (general grocery store), Trader Joe’s (more organic grocery store with great prices)< Wegmans (in the north east), and Meijer (food store), and lastly whole foods (which may cost you a little bit more money but offer quality things to buy). These are all great stores which can be a great place to stock up on the essentials you need when traveling. For those who have never been to a trader joes you can do an easy youtube search to see a few John Meadows videos with him shopping there and great things to pick up and can be included in your diet and the benefits behind some of them. When I shop at krogers their carb master yogurts are awesome and very low calorie, not to mention their own label of products, which can help shave cost (just like a wegmans brand) in the long run. Meijer may be a little more unknown, but they do offer a good amount of organic and non-organic foods for a good price and one of my first stops when I head into Ohio living in Pennsylvania. Even for those traveling Kroger and Meijer both offer gas stations, so if you spend some money buying your foods and other products you can save as the gas pump which in this day and age is not a cheap feature.
Overall there are many ways to overcome the traveling over the holidays. There is usually a very easy way to find a good place to get a workout in, and a small call can go a long way. Use your internet and phone seeing most smart phones will offer you to browse the net and use it to your advantage, call ask about the hours, and ask about deals about free days or passes. When it comes to packing accessories use what you will need and also make sure you have enough room in your suitcase or duffle bags to suit your needs where you are staying. If worst comes to worst you can always buy prepackaged foods, or buy a meal plan service offline to do the cooking and ship it to you if you have the money for it. Last but not least is the ability to use eating out to your advantage. While it does add up just like a food cost service and how expensive eating out is it can be a resort to turn to while in a pinch and for pure convenience. Try some of the grocery stores or places to shop that I suggested above. With the amount of things you can get it can easily help you manage your diet, and also find new sources to utilize in your diet while traveling.
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