By: Kelsey V.
Imagine yourself out to dinner at a nice restaurant, dining on the company’s dime, and the waiter asks: “Would you like the Prime Rib with a loaded baked potato or the house salad?” Which would you choose? If you’re anything like me, there’s no question here other than medium or medium rare.
My first post-college job was in internal audit working for a multi-national corporation and traveling all over the world for two-week time periods every month with teams of 4-5 individuals that quickly became some of my best friends.
After 4 years in this job, the number on the scale spiked by about 55 pounds because of eating out 3 times a day for weeks at a time and being unable to make the right choices. Bottle of wine? Yes. Appetizers? Of course. Dessert? Duh. This became my norm and is such an easy habit to fall into when traveling for work.
One day, I finally decided to break myself of these terrible habits and do something about my ever-expanding waist-line. I found a program that worked for me called Nutrisystem where food is delivered directly to your door. While Nutrisystem worked flawlessly for me while I was at home, I did have to make some changes to make it work for me while traveling. I couldn’t always bring my food with me so I had to change the way I was eating while traveling to stay on track and not lose all the progress I’d made while at home. I started challenging myself to find healthy options and make better decisions. Most hotels I’ve stayed in have a breakfast buffet which I previously viewed as a smorgasbord of food that I didn’t have to cook.
I had to change my way of thinking in situations like this. I began looking at the breakfast buffet as a chance to build a unique healthy creation with minimal effort rather than a chance to fill my plate with everything in sight. I would try things like building a fruit and yogurt parfait or a loaded oatmeal with cinnamon and walnuts to make healthier breakfast options. I also would take advantage of the fruit that hotels put out at breakfast and bring it along to the office for a mid-morning and afternoon snack to help keep my hunger sustained throughout the day.
For lunch, I would check out the menus of the places we would go online beforehand and try to pick out one of the healthiest options on the menu so that when we arrived I would be prepared. It’s a lot easier to choose the healthy option when you’re just looking at a menu online versus when you’re on the spot in the restaurant and the smell of tempting treats is swaying your opinion. I would follow this method for dinner, as well, and even voice my opinion on which restaurants were chosen if I had the chance.
Dinner was my real challenge. I had to completely change my way of thinking about a restaurant’s menu. Rather than looking at all the items I’d be missing out on (the wine, the loaded baked potato, etc.), I viewed the menu as a chance to explore and try something new. Rather than a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, I noticed a lot of restaurants had a vast selection of teas so I would order a different one to try each time, hot or cold. I started avoiding the pre-dinner bread basket and appetizers and focused more on the conversation with my dinner companions.
For my main entrée, I stopped being afraid to ask the waiter for modifications – even if there were many. Sometimes I’d even choose an appetizer as an entrée as the portions are typically smaller and you can find some great options from the appetizer section of the menu. I’m a sweets lover so skipping on dessert wasn’t always easy, but again I’d take advantage of ordering a hot tea or coffee after dinner rather than an unhealthy dessert.
Eating healthier in foreign countries can be a challenge. Often you may not be sure of what’s in the food you’re ordering or how it’s prepared especially if the menu is in a foreign language. In these situations, I would often utilize my waiter or at the very least, watch my portion sizes. You may not always be in control of what food is put in front of you while traveling, but you are in control of the portion size that goes into your mouth.
Once I was able to start making better decisions with my food choices, I started to take opportunities where I could while traveling to be more active. I’ve found that waking up a half hour or an hour earlier to get in a quick workout in the hotel gym would help set my day off right.
The best time to get in a workout while traveling is definitely in the morning so that things like working late or long dinners don’t take away the chance you thought you would have to do so in the evenings. Not every hotel has a gym which I found to be especially true while traveling abroad. Rather than letting this limit me, I began taking advantage and using this as an opportunity to explore the new area I was visiting by jogging outside or going for a walk.
If the weather was bad, I would stream a workout on my cell phone or laptop and do a short workout straight from my hotel room. Small changes like taking the stairs in the hotel rather than the elevator also began to add up. It can be very tempting to just lay in the hotel bed and watch TV or pull out your laptop and continue working once you return to your room for the evening especially after a long day, but this is also a great time to get in a workout if you didn’t get one in the morning. I wear an activity tracker and I often use this time to walk around my hotel to get my steps in to meet my daily goal if I’m not already there.
Making healthy choices can be a real challenge while traveling for work. Don’t be afraid to ask the waiter to make modifications to your meal, to speak up about which restaurants you eat at, and to utilize online menus and nutrition information where possible. Challenge yourself to find ways to stay active even if it’s not by lifting weights in a fitness center or gym. Stay focused on your goals and don’t let traveling for work become an excuse to not continue to strive to achieve them. Remember, even small changes can add up to big results.
Now that you’ve read the story of how I put on all of this weight checkout My Nutrisystem Lean 13 Success Story