Business trips are often demanding of individuals' time and can derail their normal routine. With full schedules and important tasks to accomplish, it can be easy to choose unhealthy foods and create excuses to avoid workouts. TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, offers tips to stay on track and make healthy choices while traveling on business.
Eat healthy in transit.
To save time, money, and calories, bring your own food for the car ride or flight. "Pack plenty of healthy snacks. Foods like nuts and dried fruit, string cheese, bananas, and granola bars will keep you satisfied during long car rides or dreaded layovers," explains Maggie Thorison, Wellness Manager for TOPS.
It's important to stay hydrated during the trip. "Pack a reusable water bottle. Drink plenty of water, especially if you're on a plane. Flying can leave you feeling dehydrated and depleted, so water is a must," she says.
Rather than sitting at the gate to wait for your flight, explore the airport or take laps around the terminal. It's a great way to get moving before you are stuck sitting on the plane for a few or more hours.
Do your research and book a hotel that has a gym. Hotel gyms are often well-equipped and underused. It's an opportunity to fit in your workout while away from home – walk or run on the treadmill, lift weights, or try other equipment offered.
Although a hotel gym is an obvious way to incorporate physical fitness into your trip, it isn't the only way. "Map out a one- or two-mile route around where you'll be staying, so you can squeeze in a few jogs or brisk walks," suggests Thorison. "Also, if the hotel gym is full, try climbing the stairs. You can create your very own gym circuit by starting at the bottom of the stairwell, working your way up, and performing lunges or push-ups at each floor."
Travelers should also consider bringing easy-to-pack fitness tools. "Pack a resistance band. At TOPS, we prefer Thera-Bands®, but any resistance band can serve as a lightweight and very portable way to stay fit while on the go," says Thorison. Other ideas include fitness DVDs for your laptop, a jump rope, a pedometer, or anything you can easily fit in your carry-on or luggage.
Stay smart at meetings.
Do a pre- and post-meeting stretch. This will release tension and increase your circulation.
At your meetings, skip the pastry platter and choose fruit or consider bringing your own snacks. You can also curb the temptation to grab a donut by eating breakfast before the meeting.
If the meeting includes a meal, plan ahead and make a decision to eat healthier options. Choose the fruit and vegetable options instead of fries. If you're having an appetizer, consider a salad with low-fat dressing or oil and vinegar – and ask for it to be served "on the side." Practice eating small portions by bringing half the meal back to your room or sharing with a co-worker.
Watch portion sizes, but don't deprive yourself.
Use the half-plate rule. Make fruits and vegetables 50 percent of what you eat at every meal.
Don't skip your favorite dessert or fried foods. Eat smaller portions of these foods – and make it a treat, not a regular occurrence.
Business trips can be hectic, but don't skip meals. This can lead to eating too much later in the day or making poor choices.