In my experience, unpredictable routines are the death of proper fitness and nutrition. We spend years of our lives trying to establish a healthy routine. For many who read this blog, it finally happened when they found CrossFit, were berated into cleaning their kitchens of junk food, and found a time to hit the gym or their garage 5-6 times a week.
You’re in a groove, getting fit, looking good, feeling awesome, and then you go to a conference. At the morning session, you are treated to pastries and maybe a little fruit. No protein to be seen. You go out to lunch with colleagues and have a basket of chips placed in front of you and nearly all of your meat and veggie dishes include beans and rice. The dinner reception is passed appetizers of pastry dough wrapped around some unidentifiable but delicious filling and an open bar.
Your immaculate kitchen? Gone. And notice I didn’t mention an hour or two for the gym. I use the example of the business trip but a trip home to see the family (and the food you loved as a kid that your mother would be devastated if you didn’t eat) or a vacation can be exactly the same.
It is hard NOT because there are no options. There are. Some may involve funny looks from co-workers, but so be it. It is hard because you RELY on your routine. In fact, it is reasonable to say that your routine is not a result of your new found devotion to fitness, but rather your fitness is the result of your new found routine. Break the routine and watch all of your discipline crumble.
I write this to you from a plane … and plane with flight attendants that brought around warm gooey cookies. As I stared at this cookie (something I would never eat at home and don’t have in my kitchen) I wondered why it seemed so reasonable to eat it here.
I am not a food Nazi. I believe in appropriate forays into beloved, if unhealthy, culinary delights. But an airline cookie? One I will be served again on the plane ride home. Totally not worth it. Yet, here the cookie sits. So instead of eating it, I decided to write a post on how to deal with a loss of routine when traveling and the subsequent poor habits that develop.
I see three basic strategies.
1. Strive for perfection.
2. Overcome and adapt.
3. Hold on for dear life.
I would love to hear how other people do it, but what I have found works best for me is a combination of the three. I pack as much food as I can, stay in hotels that are either close to CrossFit gyms or at least have a passable fitness facility in the hotel, and avoid going out to eat. Inevitably, while this is what I shoot for, I fall short. If there is a punch-line to this post it is the following
DON’T LET A LACK OF PERFECTION BE YOUR GATEWAY TO THE ALL YOU CAN EAT PIZZA BUFFET AND HOTEL ROOM PORN!!!!!!
Fall back to strategies two and three. You can’t pack your food? Find a grocery store. You can’t find a grocery store? Order a salad. Use this as your opportunity to go for a run if there is no gym. Use it as your opportunity to stretch and do handstands. DO SOMETHING!
One of the last trips I took resulted in midnight Subway run with a 6 inch double meat chicken breast sandwich. I was tired I slept through my gym time and ended up doing a 4 minute Tabata push-up routine in my room. That is pretty feeble, yet better than 98% of most travelers. Don’t be in the 98%.