As you gear up for holiday travel and festivities, set yourself up for an easy return to your nutrition and fitness habits. This post has some helpful tips to help you readjust to a balanced routine following vacation, work trips, or holiday travel.
In their annual end-of-year forecast, the American Auto Association projected that 115.2 million Americans will be on the move during the 2023 holiday travel period.
That’s a lot of traveling. If you are one of these families hitting the road this year, your coaches at Graham Strength & Conditioning wish you happy and safe travels and want to ensure you are set up for success to rebuild habits and continue pushing towards your goals upon your return.
Success doesn't have to be anything elaborate. Continue reading for tips to re-engage your nutrition and fitness following travel.
Maximize Balanced Nutrition
The quickest way to reset yourself is through your nutrition choices.
1. Hydration is Key
Sip on that H2O like a champion.
When traveling, particularly on long car rides, we tend to not drink enough fluids, or when we do, it contains caffeine. Balancing caffeine with water will restore your fluid balance, keep migraines at bay, as well help you avoid dry skin.
Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT shares, "Beginning on your travels home, emphasize hydration… several travel-induced factors may promote dehydration: flying, eating out at restaurants—where the use of salts, sugars, and fats are typically excessive—and drinking alcohol all means your body will need more water. Guzzle water, sparkling water, and decaf tea on the plane ride home. This will not only keep you hydrated but will also force you to move your body by having to walk back and forth to the restroom a few times. You may want to try to reserve an aisle seat."
Many airports provide water fountains so pack that emotional support water bottle or refill a bottle you buy!
2. Plan and Prep Meals
Take some time before you leave to plan your meals for the week you return. Prepare healthy and balanced meals to ensure you're getting the right nutrients.
Prepping freezer bag dinners the whole family will enjoy is an easy and no-fuss solution to have healthy meals at your fingertips when you return home tired from traveling.
Take advantage of shopping services like InstaCart and schedule a grocery delivery to arrive the day you return home. This will help encourage you to make healthy choices and not reach for pantry items or order pizza.
3. Control Portion and Limit Processed Foods
Be mindful of portion sizes, especially if you indulged in larger meals while traveling.
Keep it simple and use the plate method! Focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
Minimize your intake of processed and high-sugar foods. Sticking to quality ingredients will support your overall health and leave you feeling so much better
4. Gradual Changes
Going zero to one hundred overnight is way more challenging to sustain. If you are coming back from a week of treats, fancy cocktails, and late nights, opting for progress over perfection will increase your chances of success. Gradually reintroduce healthier food choices into your diet, increase water consumption, and improve your sleep hygiene to make the transition more manageable.
Getting Back To Fitness
Taking a break from fitness while on a trip with loved ones or colleagues won’t cause you lose all your strength and endurance, but it can reduce some improvements made in previous weeks. Depending on how long you have been out of a fitness routine or the level of intensity you were able to maintain in workouts on your own will impact your transition back to group fitness classes.
To minimize setbacks, try to return to some sort of physical activity as soon as possible!
1. Set Realistic Goals
Unless you’ve maintained consistency in your training or fitness by attending classes at another functional fitness guy, or by utilizing Graham Strength & Conditioning’s Travel WODs, plan to start with achievable targets and gradually increase intensity.
If your schedule allows during your travels, maintaining light exercises like walking, stretching, or yoga is a great way to maintain some physical activity without overexertion and minimal equipment.
Once you are back at GSC, go ahead and scale down a level, or two, just to get movement back in. Let your coaches know that you’re coming back from travel so they can help support you as best as possible. Remember, it’s okay to scale!
2. Create a Schedule
Plan your workout schedule for the week you return. Having a plan in place will make it easier to hit your goal - even if it’s just to attend two classes that week.. Committing to a fitness class when you return from your trip will build some accountability for you to attend and start rebuilding that habit.
Physical activity helps us stay balanced, reduces stress and releases endorphins. And endorphins make you happy.
If you weren’t a 6AM’er before your vacation, you probably won’t be after, so just stick with the class time and schedule that worked for YOU and your life before the trip!
If you are worried you won’t have the same motivation to get to class after your trip, set yourself up with an accountability buddy before you leave. Set your goals, and help hold each other accountable. If you are not sure who would make a good accountability buddy, reach out to a coach!
3. Listen to Your Body
Pay attention to how your body responds to exercise after travel. If you feel fatigued or sore, give yourself time to recover.
If after day one back you wake up and feel like you can’t move, take that as a sign to rest the next day.
Maybe you went too hard and need to scale back further to get your body use to the workouts again, that’s okay! Go for a walk in the morning/evening and let your body recover.
4. Quality Sleep
Adequate rest is crucial for both recovery and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Most adults require 7-8 hours of sleep per night to fully recover. Traveling and late nights while away can disrupt your typical sleep schedule and make restarting a routine challenging once you return.
Lower sleep duration has been linked to an increased risk of developing obesity and weight gain due to imbalanced hormones that are released as you reach varying cycles in sleep and the disruption of those cycles.
Developing good sleep hygiene as a regular aspect of your bed time will help you improve your overall sleep quality. Create a cool, dark, and quiet environment for the best results. Going to bed at the same time every night, staying off technology 30 minutes before bedtime, journaling and reading, are all ways to improve your sleep hygiene and help your brain “turn off.”
There are a number of supplements that support sleep quality. Discuss options with a GSC nutrition coach to learn more about what might work best for you.
The key to a successful return to nutrition and fitness after traveling is to make sustainable changes that fit your daily lifestyle. It's normal to face challenges when getting back into a routine, so be patient with yourself and celebrate small victories along the way!