On-Track, Off-Track – It’s a matter of choice

Travelling tests even the most devout exerciser to stay on track with eating and exercise. I start planning my trip weeks before getting to the airport. I find out if the hotel has a gym or one close by. I decide if I need to bring my yoga mat. I find out if there’s a fridge in my room and if not I ask if I can order one and pay extra. A few days before my flight, I get my portable blender, measure the amount of protein powder I’ll need for breakfast and put an extra scoop or two just in case I need a lunch.  I lay out an exact number of protein bars and snacks for the trip. I choose a variety of small containers to help with portion control for things like nuts.

I try and fly later in the morning so I have time to exercise before the flight. I pack plenty of snacks for travel day to avoid being tempted by all the goodies at the airport. (Right now I’m sitting at the airport and the biggest chocolate chunk brownie I’ve ever seen is staring at me as I write this.) I pack bars, nuts, homemade cookies and a salad or sandwich for the plane. I avoid eating airplane food. It gives me gas anyway, wonder why that is? If it’s a long trip I pre-order the kosher, vegetarian, low-sodium meal. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes, well it taste like sawdust. Once clearing security my first mission is to fill my stainless steel water bottle to stay hydrated. Mission two begins with a hunt for fresh fruit; there are always plenty of bananas, apples and freshly cut fruit to buy.

When I arrive at the hotel my first priority is to hit a supermarket where I can load up on fruit and vegetables. Then back at the hotel I cut everything up and place it in my small containers so I always have healthy snacks for a few days. I freeze some of the fruit for my protein shake in the morning. Or if there is no freezer then I use ice and fresh fruit.

For long trips it takes a lot of resolve to stay on track. Especially when it’s a business trip and I have to work all day. It’s easy to let the exercise go or the nutrition slide. Especially if lunches are brought into the meeting or there is dinner out afterwards.   This is all the more reason to eat healthy throughout the day then you can be a bit more flexible in the evening.

As I write this I am in Colorado Springs, Colorado for a business meeting. Last night I walked around for an hour trying to find a healthy restaurant for dinner but all I could find was Wendy’s, McDonalds, Taco Bell and KFC. I was eyeing up the all you can eat Chinese Buffet restaurant but decided I didn’t want the calories, fat and salt from the all you can troth. So I headed back to the grocery store and found some lovely salad fixings and had a perfectly satisfying meal.  

Looking around the grocery store it was obvious other people were not trying to make the same healthy choices. While standing at the deli counter trying to decide how old a shrivelled up baked chicken breast actually was, an older man with a significant amount of belly fat wobbled up to the counter. He ordered 24 double fried chicken wings. I guess frying them twice makes them extra crispy. I’m making a mental calculation on the amount of calories, fat and salt are probably in those wings and looked at his belly and just felt sad. When I looked around the grocery store I didn’t see anyone who was a healthy body weight. The store was full of processed, sugary, high fat foods and I think if I lived here I might have a hard time to stay on track.

Later that evening as I sat in my hotel room flipping through the boob tube I landed on the new Ophra Winfrey network. Since I don’t get the channel at home I decided to watch. The show was called The Heaviest Teens. I was transfixed. Billy was only 19 and he weighed 800 pounds! 800 pounds! What the @$#! 800 pounds. He doesn’t sleep in a bed but sleeps in a large reclining chair. His mother brings him junk food and hand feeds it to him.  I don’t understand why she would do that. Why would she continue to feed her son these bad foods which were killing him? I’m no psychologist and certainly no expert, but isn’t that child abuse? I watched in fascinated horror as Billy was admitted to a special weight loss clinic for treatment. His first surgery was to cut a large section of his abdominal fat in preparation for gastric by-pass surgery later down the road. They weighed this grotesque flap of skin and fat at just over 90 pounds. I weigh 120 pounds so they removed 75% of what I weigh just from his abdomen. Doctors’ report over 200,000 Americans are home-bound because they are too large to leave their houses. Plus the incidence of kids weighing over 200 pounds is on the rise. When they refer to kids they are talking about eight, nine and ten year olds.  In all likelihood, unless these children change their behaviour they will die before their parents from complications of their disease. I watched a double episode and my heart was so heavy by the end of it.

There are many choices you have to make when you choose to lead a healthy lifestyle especially away from home and it’s not easy. It would have been far easier if I didn’t care about what I ate or if I got any exercise. I could just eat whatever was at the airport, the food on the plane and at restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Perhaps if I could find healthier restaurants and be sure of how they are preparing their food, the caloric and nutritional content I would. But the sad fact of the matter is when it comes to eating out it’s a gamble and one I’m not willing to risk with my life.

It’s all a matter of choice. You can choose to eat an apple or have a doughnut. You can choose to go for a walk or sit on your butt in front of the TV. You can choose the foods you feed your children because you are the parents and in control. We all have the power to choose and if we want to stay on-track then we better make choices that allow us to do just that. The consequences of leading an off-track lifestyle can no longer be ignored.

I figure if I can make those choices while on the road then being home should be a piece of cake, rice cake that is.