I've worked with dozens and dozens of athletes and fitness enthusiasts for nutrition, sport nutrition and coaching.
The human body can be a bit complex but I find that when individuals focus only on themselves, it's much easier to make changes that are effective and long lasting.
When it comes to healthy eating or training for an event, there are often many roads to take to get to the same final destination. Many times, athletes and fitness enthusiasts struggle in a spot of slow progression because many changes being made are in response to a change/result from someone else.
There can be something powerful in having a role model or someone that inspires you to break habits to move yourself closer to your diet, health or fitness goals but if you find yourself being too focused on what everyone else is doing.
I have worked with a variety of active bodies. Nurses, dietitians, teachers, stay-at-home parents, CEO's, engineers, aerobics instructors, the retired, sales, doctors, lawyers, military, etc.
With every career or life responsibility, there comes a lifestyle that is unique to the individual.
A meal plan or diet fad does not cater to the individual but instead to the masses. When you try to be perfect in a plan that is designed for everyone to adhere to, you will find yourself changing your life to follow the diet instead of the other way around.
Food and exercise should enhance your lifestyle. What you eat and the frequency of physical activity will not only improve overall heath and quality of life but can improve self-esteem, job productivity, self-confidence and a positive mentality.
Considering the many lifestyles that one can live in a lifetime, it's important that you remind yourself that you are living for you. You must keep your body in good health in order to live that awesome life of yours but there's no such thing as the right and only way to eat.
I am a firm believer that we must constantly look for ways to set ourselves up for success. Just like in training for an event, we must prepare ourselves for the upcoming journey. We can never find results in just wishing for things to happen but instead, being actively aware of the power of planning ahead.
Realizing that every individual reading this blog has a different lifestyle and different health/fitness goals, I wanted to share a few nutrition tips for situations that I find are common in today's society.
Traveling by plane for work/event/personal reasons
-Bring snacks with you on the plane/drive - some of my favs: fruit, yogurt, veggies, trail mix with Cheerios, nut butter (either in a container or Justin's), KIND bars, dark chocolate
-Follow food-safety suggestions if you are without refrigeration/cooler for more than 2 hours
-If flying more than 4 hours, bring one "meal" with you in case of a delay or being rushed. I always travel with a PB&J sandwich
-Look for places to eat that have a protein option with carbohydrates. If you are eating a salad, be sure your option has either a vegetarian (ex. tofu, veggie burger, edamame) or animal (chicken, fish, turkey) option to help keep you satisfied.
-If traveling to another time zone, aim for mini meals every 2-3 hours instead of 3 standard meals. You may find yourself eating an extra meal or snack for that day but you will be able to adjust easier to the new time zone rather quickly.
-Stay hydrated. Bring an empty water bottle with you through security and fill by your gate before boarding your plane.
-Bring hand sanitizer
-If you have a 90+ min layover, consider walking the terminals for exercise
Traveling to a race/event/vacation by car
-Review food places on the road before/during your travel
-Consider the cooking/food logistics at your final destination (ex. hotel, house, etc. refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, utensils, kitchen supplies, grocery store, etc) I typically try to look for Extended stay type hotels with a full kitchen when we travel for races for more than 2 nights)
-Consider bringing instant coffee when you travel (if hot water is available) if you can not get to a coffee shop (or hotel doesn't have coffee maker and you want to save money by buying local coffee - which may or may not taste to your liking). My European, coffee loving husband (who makes himself an espresso while he waits for the coffee to brew) will not pass on a Starbucks coffee or a highly-recommended local coffee establishment but he recommends NESCAFÉ for a good-tasting instant coffee)
-Consider grocery stores for places to eat on the road instead of fast-food chains (when possible - picture above is a grocery store salad w/ individual wrapped hardboiled eggs)
-Bring snacks for the road (optional: individual containers/bags to help with portions) in a sturdy bag and/or cooler - ex. trail mix, fruit, veggies, yogurt, cheese, deli meat, hardboiled eggs, bread, cottage cheese, edamame, rice cakes/wasa crackers, oatmeal, peanut butter, jam, popcorn, cheerios/granola, bars
-Bring sandwiches for the road or have your ingredients in your cooler for easy prep for a rest/stretch stop and picnic lunch (be aware of food safety if without a cooler)
-Consider bringing leafy greens/veggies to bulk up a fast-food meal
-Use microwaves at gas stations or coffee stops if you need to warm-up a pre-made meal (ex. stir fry with whole grains or oatmeal or steamed veggies).
-Don't wait until you are starving to look for food for you may find yourself choosing any next option instead of the best option for you.
-Recognize the difference between boredom and biological hunger when you are traveling to avoid oversnacking.
-If you are eating out on the road, do not neglect protein in your sandwich or salad.
-If you are planning to eat on the road, don't forget utensils and plates/bowls.
-Be sure to stay hydrated. It's easy to slack on drinking if you want to control your bladder but we don't want to confuse dehydration with hunger.
In a rush - quick/easy pre-workout snacks (less than 60 minutes until the workout)
-My personal fav: Wasa crackers + nut butter + seasonal fruit + maple syrup + raisins
-Rice or corn-based cereal
-Fruit w/ nut butter
-Jasmine rice and honey
-Raisins, dates, figs
-Rice cake w/ nut butter and honey
-Do your best to plan ahead if you have an idea of what will be served at your upcoming meal so that you can nutritionally compliment the upcoming meal throughout the day.
-Start your day with a small snack within 60 min of waking (carb + protein).
-Start your day with a satisfying breakfast.
-Do not neglect veggies throughout the day.
-Control blood sugar by eating every 2-3 hours.
-Order a salad before your entree is served.
-Have a small ~100 calorie protein or high-fiber snack around 30-45 minutes before the meal.
-Stay hydrated throughout the day.
-Monitor alcohol intake throughout the meal (recommend 1 glass of wine for women or 1 beer and 2 glasses of wine/beer for men)
-Move an extra 60 minutes that day to help with the added calories from a meal out of your control (or a yummy dessert). Plan a workout the next day.
-If you can order items or choose from a buffet, create a plant strong plate with ~50% veggies/fruits, 20-25% protein and 25-30% fats, sweets and extras.
-Enjoy your occasional meal without feeling guilty. Stop eating when you are 85-90% satisfied.
All day out
-Plan a variety of options to eat and snack on throughout the day.
-Start your morning with a high fiber/protein breakfast
-Plan for veggies or a salad to be the staple of lunch (with protein/starches/grains/fats to complete the meal)
-Invest in a quality lunch bag to keep items cold
-Consider logistics of eating throughout the day (ex. microwave, little time to sit down and eat, long hours without a meal, etc.) to better plan your day.
-Pre-chop fruits for easy snacking along with veggies
-Use trail mix for easy snacking between meals
-Plan sandwiches/wraps (cut in 1/2 or 1/3rds) for easy snacking as "mini meals"
-Consider individual portions for yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, milk boxes, oatmeal packets, nuts, etc. for easy meal prep
-If eating out for a meal, consider bringing options to compliment that meal (ex. if getting pizza or a sandwich, bring some veggies, a salad or if a vegetarian out-to-eat option, consider bringing your own plant strong protein like tempeh, veggie burger or tofu (cooked and heated at venue).