When a client comes to me to “get abs” there are several factors that I address with them to take action toward their goal. Of course, proper nutrition, cardio and training technique are a given when it comes to “what to do.” The other part is “what not to do.” I could write an entire book of things not to do in order to have abs, but one seems to be a common topic that I would like to address today: Traveling without a plan. Many of my clients diet for 2-3 months early in the year, but find that seeing their six pack becomes elusive with work related trips away from home, or vacations. They do so well and work hard when they are in their comfort zone, but it’s common to feel overwhelmed and out of control when it comes to food choices on the go. I myself have been traveling more this year, and have to practice these very things….because to be honest, I want to see the world, and be ripped too. It’s challenging to be perfect, but here are some pointers to decrease the damage and setbacks while living your life.
1. DECIDE: The first mistake that can ruin your efforts is to be indecisive about what exactly you will do to eat clean on the fly. It’s a little harder than you would think to find good meal choices in an airport, of in a city you aren’t familiar with. As soon as you book your trip, start to research airport restaurant menus, surrounding restaurant menus for where you will land, and nearby grocery stores. Even better, start to research what food you can bring you, and plan out your meal prep of items that you can keep on hand through the entire trip.
2. PACK: This varies to the degree of which you are serious. When I am in contest prep, I do a full on meal prep in tupperwares for however many days I will be gone. Cut and dry…no extras, no omissions. But if you plan a cheat meal over the weekend, or you are sure that you can order meals that fit your macros, you can pack just a day or two for the flight/car ride, and enjoy yourself or be a bit more flexible once you reach your destination. To cut down on Tupperware/cooler space, I will exchange my meals for as many non-perishable items that I can. Some good examples are protein powders (measured and bagged), nuts, rice cakes, tuna packets, almond or peanut butter packets, jerky, low sugar trail mix/granola, and many other options to get you through a flight. You may even order sample or trial packs of different proteins or supplements, and 100 calorie packs of healthy food choices to keep in your carry on.
3. PACK ANYWAY: You may think you don’t need these extras, but when you need to book it to your next plane boarding, you may not realistically have time to grab a bite at a restaurant. Beat the pitfalls, and pack ahead.
4. Plan your diet style: Are you planning a very active trip? Carbs and Proteins can fuel a hike or activity filled trip. If you will more likely be walking around a city than lifting in the gym, it may better benefit you to drop some carbs down to a low-carb/ketogenic diet with higher proteins and fats and less carbs. You could also pack a variation of carb cycling menus, and adjust the use based on whatever plans come up. The idea is to have flexible, yet beneficial options, and to stay balanced with your calories.
5. Use your tools: There are several cooler companies out there now that make functional bags with cooler pockets to keep your meals fresh. Check the camping sections in stores, 6packbags, or make other brands for purses, backpacks, briefcases, or duffles that fit your style and needs. I load up on plasticware and stick them in each of my bags just in case I need them. Another option is to bring a food scale and your own containers, if you plan to hit up the grocery store when you land. It’s also a good idea to book a room with an efficiency kitchen, microwave, fridge, stove or oven. Track what you eat on an app so you can realistically see how many calories are adding up. All of these things can make a major difference in how easy it is to recover when you get home.
6. Enjoy yourself: If you are NOT strictly dieting for a specific event, I encourage you to PLAN a cheat meal or two while you are on your trip. That being said, I also encourage you to stay as tight as you can on your diet for all other meals. If I know I am going to the city with the best donuts in the world, you had better believe that I will be shoveling at least one of those in my mouth….but you can also bet that I have followed my regime all week to allow for that. I don’t go all out and binge all day while I am out of town, but at least 3 of my 5-6 meals will be as clean as possible. The same goes for alcohol. Let’s be honest…if you are going to a romantic exotic location with your lover, or a dude camping/fishing trip, there is a high chance that alcohol will be in your face. If you think you’ve cave, then you had better diet right up until you start indulging, and even make as many wise drunken decisions (Oxymoron) about what foods you eat while you are consuming adult beverages. (You know that a grilled chicken salad is better than endless smothered nachos….).
7: Plan for AFTER your trip: Part of what throws me off, is that I meal prep on the weekends. If I don’t get home until Sunday night, that means I will have to go to the grocery/meal prep during the week, which is difficult with my lifting and work schedule. Before I leave town, I cook some bulk chicken, sweet potatoes, vegetables, or whatever else I may need, and stick it in the freezer. As soon as I get back, I thaw them out or put them in the fridge so that I can use them the next day. A meal prep service is a great resource when you have to hit the ground running after your return. Just place you order before you leave, and pickup or have delivered to you at the beginning of the next week! Live near Louisville KY? Check our Macromanmeals.com and use my discount code "cleveland5" on your order!
*Tip: Taking advantage of a meal prep service that delivers to your destination can make traveling significantly easier. Just make sure that your hotel room has a fridge and microwave so you can keep them fresh all weekend!
This type of lifestyle takes practice, but it CAN be done. Do your best, and use your better judgement.
And if all else fails, get your ass back on track for the following week! Don’t let one week of poor eating choices turn into 3 weeks.