Whether it’s going home to visit family in Ohio, who live 4 hours away by plane or traveling to a speaking engagement, travel is a part of my life. Most people throw in the towel on their health journey when it comes to “travel” or “vacation” with excuses such as
- “I don’t want to be a bother to the people I am staying with.”
- “I deserve to not think about my health for a few days or weeks.”
- “It’s too hard to eat healthy when I am going to be eating out all the time and living in a hotel.”
I get it. I have all the same obstacles and thoughts except I decided to challenge them instead of just passively accepting them. I have since found a bigger and more powerful way of thinking that says, “I don’t take time off from being my healthiest, best self.” Seriously, hear me out. There really isn’t any such thing as “time off” from your health. There isn’t any decision that doesn’t have an impact on our body and mind. We either build up our health or tear it down with every decision we make.
Think about that truth. Every decision has an impact. And it’s not just making decisions about eating fried foods, drinking copious amounts of coffee or alcohol or eating dessert after each meal. It’s about how these decisions are going to affect how we feel about ourselves when we decide to do these things. In the moment, it may feel like the freedom of vacation, but we all know those fleeting decisions made from the place of “what the heck, I’m on vacation” often end in guilt, bloating, constipation, hangovers and shame. Often, we make a “what the heck” decision and later ask ourselves, “what in the heck was I thinking?”
When I travel, often it is with my sweet daughter, Berlyn. She is three. She is not “picky”, but rather “particular”, like her momma. Of course, as a mom, I want my child to have good food so she can feel good, sleep well, poop regularly and have energy. It’s also so important to keep things as consistent as possible, including food. The same is true for us and our health journey. I know I am not going to be perfect and that is never my goal even when I am at home. But I can choose to keep my health a priority and be consistent on the things that give me peace and a healthy bowel movements daily. Simply shifting to this type of mentality as you go into a vacation or trip will automatically alter small decisions and choices that eventually compile into big wins in our physical and emotional health journeys.
Recently, I made a trip back to Ohio. I stayed with my Dad and step-mom who obviously know what I do for a living. I am sure there was a lot of unspoken stress leading up to my arrival since my eating and health habits are not the norm. They were kind enough to ask what I would like at the grocery store.
Has someone whom you were visiting ever asked you that question? Have you ever said, “nothing” or “I’m fine with whatever?” I am sure you have fallen into the people pleasing mentality that says, “I don’t want to be difficult or cause a fuss”. But the truth is people who are hosting you want you to be COMFORTABLE and HAPPY. They are asking, “what would you like us to get you?” because they TRULY WANT to make the experience great for you. Take them up on the offer! Wouldn’t you want to do the same for someone who was visiting you?
As my dad asked me what they could pick up at the grocery story, I thought about basic staples that would go a long way without being complicated like, “please get me some sauerkraut with water and live cultures, not vinegar” or “can you get some peanut butter without partially hydrogenated oils and added sugars” or over-the-top such as “eggs, please but free range, organic brown chicken eggs if they have them.” I can only imagine the look on my dad’s face if that is what I would have said. I think I might have been asked to stay at a Holiday Inn. Anyways, I thought fast and gave him the following list of basic staples that aren’t complicated:
- Coconut or almond milk
- Sweet potatoes
- Tortilla chips and salsa
- Coffee (of course)
I always pack my go-to staples in my luggage which includes:
- Organic fruit and vegetable pouches for Berlyn
- 100% rolled oats with cinnamon, raisins and coconut (for our no-cook oatmeal every morning)
- Applesauce cups for Berlyn
- Gluten-free pretzels with single serving guacamole
- Organic peanut butter (with just peanuts and salt)
- Nutritional supplements and gut health products
- Nut mix
All of these things I carry with me on the airplane or pack in my bag. I also found a delicious quinoa snack (pictured here) at the airport that was a great find for the long plane ride. With these staples and what they picked up at the grocery store, I set myself up with consistent staples.
For those of you who haven’t heard about my no cook oats that I do EVERY morning for breakfast, I simply mix together ½ cup 100% rolled oats, cinnamon, raisins, shredded coconut and 1 Tbsp peanut butter and cover with almond or coconut milk and let sit overnight in the refrigerator. You can really add anything you want to the oats, but these are my favorite things and easy to pack. Because I brought my staples and my step-mom picked up almond milk, I had a healthy breakfast every morning. I was even able to have some extra on my last morning to make for my dad and step-mom, which they really loved or at least they said they did.
We made sweet potatoes in the air fryer with fresh sweet corn and chicken on the grill one evening and eggs with leftover sweet potatoes and fruit for lunch on another day. My dad took me to dinner and lunch and I got delicious, AMAZING salads that were seriously memorable. I didn’t feel one iota of regret for ordering the salad instead of some amazing pasta dish.
I am not obsessed when I travel, I am simply committed to being healthy. I drink lots of water, I take my nutritional supplements. Sometimes I exercise. On this trip, I took a long walk around my old childhood neighborhood and did some floor exercises and push-ups while we watched television one night. Oftentimes when I travel, exercise is simply not on the agenda. I don’t exalt exercise to an unrealistic position of being the determining factor of my health - it’s what I eat, drink and think that determines how I feel every day. Exercise in this stage of my life is a bonus because I feel great and can move my body. It is not what my peace hinders on.
Usually alcohol is part of my vacation choices, but I am committed to no alcohol in 2019. Now, I could have easily made an “exception” - since family makes many of us want to booze, but I wasn’t even tempted because I had made up my mind that I was 100% committed. When you are 100% committed, the decision is easy. It’s when you are 99% committed that you will find yourself struggling and caving. The 1% will get you every time. I enjoyed some sparkling water and kombucha and I LOVE LOVE LOVE waking up with no hangovers. Seriously.
What about buffets? Ironically, I got invited out to eat with some old high school friends and they choose a buffet. I joked that I didn’t get the body I had by eating at a buffet, but I was up for the experience. I am celiac, so I immediately asked for some guidance on the dishes and they gave me a booklet with every item listed so I could see what was in it. I was able to navigate fairly easily and enjoyed salad, steamed broccoli, a steak, sauteed mushrooms, seasoned rice and even ice cream with hot caramel. It was so cool to be at a buffet where the goal wasn’t to gorge myself and unbutton my pants, but rather to enjoy great conversations with friends I hadn’t seen in years. We stayed for three hours, but we weren’t eating for three hours. I remember a time when a buffet would have been a major trigger for me and it was awesome to just eat until I was content and not with the goal to “eat to get my money’s worth”. It’s worth more to me to feel good and empowered than it does to feel uncomfortable and regretful, “but at least I ate my money’s worth”. It’s all about priorities and perspective.
What about coffee and sweet treats? My niece and I went to Starbucks. She was “buying” as a thank you for taking her school clothes shopping. I could have easily “talked myself into” (do you ever talk yourself into things or is it just me?) - a latte or Frappuccino or some other indulgence, but I know it would have made me feel off the rest of the day. So I ordered my half caf/half decaf Americano (black) and had a couple sips of my niece’s ginormous whipped Frappuccino something or other that was very tasty - but I was so content with two sips and so thankful I opted for the Americano. Sometimes we need to think past the decision we are about to make to the realistic consequences of the decision. I try to not make rash decisions when I am caught up in the “moment” of feeling like I deserve it because I am on vacation or whatever other crazy thought is spinning through my head to try to get me to do something that is only going to end up in regret. So I fast forward. I fast forward past the decision and I can almost always see where that decision will end up. Then I have a decision to make. Do I do what feels good in the moment or do I do what is going to feel good and powerful in the future? I’ve lived enough life and made enough mistakes to typically choose the latter.
Travel is a mindset, just like being healthy is a mindset. I keep the things that are most powerful in my life part of my day to day life regardless of where I am at. I spend time reading God’s word, praising Him and asking Him for guidance. I drink plenty of water and always enjoy my healthy breakfast. I eat snacks throughout the day to control my blood sugar which keeps me from acting crazy, getting grouchy and craving unhealthy foods. I can typically always find healthy options when I go out to eat or when I eat at someone’s house while also choosing small indulgences in moderation.
I want to encourage all of you who travel for work or pleasure. I understand that my scenario may not fit what you are experiencing. Please don’t miss the point of this message. It is to present a different perspective by putting on a different lens so you can look at your situation and circumstances in a different light. Many times we don’t know what is possible until we ask or question what we think is normal.
One last thought. Going on vacation doesn’t make or break your health journey. It’s what you do the other 350+ days of the years that determines your reality. But I have been on many vacations in the past where I acted like I had never learned the word “healthy”. I ate and drank whatever I wanted. I didn’t drink water unless it was from the melted ice in my favorite cocktail - and I felt horrible. Not only did I physically feel uncomfortable in my own skin, my bowel movements were jacked up - which will put anyone in a bad mood, but my mood was depressed, I felt anxious and all over the place and I came back to my life feeling like I got hit by a truck. I realize now that feeling good on vacation is a necessary part of enjoying the vacation. If food and alcohol is all you have to look forward to on a vacation - you can do that at home...just sayin!