Planning, my friends. The most effective strategy to stay healthy while you're traveling this summer is planning. Like anything in life, when you foresee obstacles and prepare accordingly, you're more likely to surpass these challenges, learn from the experience and find the tactics that work for you. Planning doesn't mean you have to stick to a rigid scheme. It means you will have a framework to make better decisions.
Here are four ideas that will support your plan for healthy travel. Remember there aren't unique, right formulas for everyone! Writing it down will help. It will feel more real hence more likely to realize.
1. IDENTIFY TRIGGERING SITUATIONS
Draw two columns. In one column, write down the situation that may be difficult to manage, that is, a moment or event that could become an obstacle to making healthy choices. In the other column, write down an action (a realistic one!) that you believe could help you manage the situation. For example:
Situation >> Your flight leaves at 4:00 p.m. and you have a long layover in Panama. You don't like plane food and you tend to binge or go for unhealthy airport food.
Action >> You will make sure you have a good lunch before heading to the airport and you will bring a good amount of healthy snacks for the trip. Some ideas here.
2. IDENTIFY TRIGGERING PEOPLE
Prepare for people that could cause your anxiety levels to rise and consider what actions you could implement to overcome stressful moments. This happens to everyone! Not all of us have a perfect relationship with, say, our in-laws or siblings! To give some examples, are you traveling with your parents and your mom is critical of your body or the way you dress? Are you traveling with that friend that often makes you feel insecure? Are you planning to have a serious conversation with your partner? If these trigger anxiety, overeating or going to not-so-good foods, visualize how you would best manage the situation. Is it going for a walk? Is it not reacting and let the anger pass? Is it meditating or taking deep breaths? Only you know what would work for you.
3. IDENTIFY TRIGGERING FOODS
Vacation is equivalent to splurging. We often see it as a "no-rules zone". Before traveling, identify foods that could spark your desire to eat more or go to fatty, salty or sweet meals ("red foods"). Is it corn chips? Chocolate? Alcohol? White bread? Be honest with yourself. Write them down and create a plan. If it's alcohol, you could plan to limit your consumption and drinking water in between drinks. If it's corn chips, the plan could be to serve yourself a handful in a plate instead of eating from the bowl. Is it desserts? Then plan for just two sweets during the entire vacation, for example.
4. COMMIT TO SPECIFIC ACTIONS
The absence of a schedule or a routine is in the nature of vacations. Make an effort to "pack" some of your usual, healthy habits with you. It is possible and, I promise, it is rewarding. Committing to working out, drinking a good amount of water, eating greens or meditating while you're traveling are examples of actions you can include in your plan. It doesn't have to be extreme. If you'll be away for two weeks, for example, how about packing your running shoes and going for a run or power walk four times during that period of time?
As a Health Coach, I work closely with my clients to identify situations, foods, or people that could trigger overeating or binge eating, and plan accordingly. I've seen first hand the advantages of having a framework and visualizing future tricky situations. This exercise allows us to make decisions in advance without the time constraint, the stress and the anxiety. It's an effective strategy to healthy traveling and living. Contact me if you need support creating your plan.