Hitting the road for Christmas? It can be a challenge to eat healthy and to exercise when you're traveling. Your days are packed with visiting, meals prepared for you, and not much alone time. You're also away from your usual routine and familiar surroundings. Despite a busy schedule and long hours, it's still possible to stay on track while you're away for the holidays.
Try these tips so that you can deck the halls without ditching your waistline.
On a car trip
Plan your route. Scope out restaurants that offer healthy options; and parks, malls and other opportunities for a walking break.
Eat as you normally do. If you'll be eating out, eat smart. Try to stay as close to your normal diet as possible.
Take a cooler. Pack lunches, water, cold drinks, and plenty of healthy snacks. Every meal you don't eat out saves calories, time and money. Things that pack well for a trip include sandwiches, salads, cooked chicken, granola bars, fruit and nuts. Enjoy your meal outdoors at a picnic table at a rest stop or park, if weather permits.
Take regular walking and stretching breaks at rest stop areas, a trail, mall, or a local park. Factor in additional time to take these breaks. Stretch against your car.
At a hotel
Choose a hotel with a fitness room. If it has a pool, even better. A swim will feel great after a long day on the road.
Don't forget your gear. Remember to pack all of the accessories you normally use for a workout - running shoes, clothes, earbuds, armband, water bottle, etc. Be sure to pack a swimsuit and flip-flops for the pool.
Ask for a running map. Why stay indoors, when you can take this opportunity to explore on foot? Many hotels offer local running and walking maps, if not complete running programs, so be sure to inquire. It's a great way to get out and experience a new city, and the time will fly.
Exercise in your room. If you prefer to exercise in your hotel room, bring lightweight, easily packable fitness tools such as a resistance tube or a resistance band, and have a workout video bookmarked. Some hotel chains now offer in-room fitness equipment and videos on request, so be sure to ask about these amenities.
Book a room with a microwave and refrigerator. With those, you can make or store many of your own meals, drinks and snacks. Stop by a local grocery store instead of eating every meal in a restaurant.
When staying with family or friends
Get an early morning run or walk in. Going home for the holidays? Go to your old high school and do some laps on the track. Or pound the pavement downtown, in a neighborhood, or park.
Don't be guilted into eating or drinking something you'd rather avoid. Simply say, "No, thanks" or, "That looks great, but I'm not hungry right now."
Bring a healthy dish or two to family gatherings or potlucks. If eating out, suggest a restaurant where you know you'll be able to get foods you prefer.
Be mindful of how much you drink. It's easy to forget that what we drink can easily contribute hundreds of calories (if not more!) to our daily intake. Be aware of how much alcohol, sodas or Frappuccinos you're consuming.
Limit portion size of high calorie foods. Enjoy treats in moderation. You don't have to necessarily refrain from eating holiday foods - just put a boundary on the portion size.
Keep some healthy snacks in your suitcase, so in-between-meal hunger doesn't get the best of you.
But do enjoy yourself. A few holiday indulgences won't wreck you, if you're committed to staying on track and you get back to your normal diet and exercise routine as soon as you're home.
Michelle Rogers is a Certified Personal Trainer who specializes in helping women over 40 improve their health and quality of life. Visit her healthy living blog at www.michellerogers.fit and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
How to stay fit and healthy on your holiday trip