How to Navigate Travel Without Gaining Weight

While most people claim to love to travel, it can actually be a stressful time for many of us.  From airplane anxiety to lack of sleep, scheduling issues to keeping your exercise and diet routines in check, stress levels can boost and send our digestive tract into a tailspin.  Keeping those essential oils handy for stress-inducing situations should be your first line of defense against the trials of travel, but enjoying your adventures while leaving time for self-care also must be a priority.  Easier said than done, right?

Why do we gain weight when we travel?  The answer is different for everyone depending on the type of travel, your routines and metabolism, and what is happening during your time away from home, but there are several reasons to which most of us can relate.

Let’s take a look at the details behind the adventure…

SEDENTARY SITUATIONS

Road trips that require lots of driving and time spent in the car decrease our amount of physical activity.   When we fly somewhere there’s a pretty good chance there will be layovers, delays, and longer flights that can also increase our time sitting.  And if it’s a vacation we’re on, we tend to spend time relaxing by the pool or on the beach than we normally would have at home.

While these can be great times for journaling, indulging in a good book, practicing deep breathing, or just destressing in general,  most of us think, ‘VACATION!’ and take a break from everything in our normal routine.  Sticking to your exercise routine or trying something new to get your body moving will only help to keep your body in check.

Move More!

Don’t forget that your body needs a routine just as much as your mind does, so abruptly stopping your normal exercise routines is not a great idea.  Find some time to move your body in a new way while on vacation or take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Anything that gets you moving will help!

Plan Ahead!

If you’re staying in a hotel with a fitness center, take advantage and go walk on the treadmill for 20-30 minutes or lift some weights.

If your accommodations don’t come with an on-site fitness center, pack appropriate clothing and shoes, and find a place to walk or hike.  Your body will thank you.  All that sitting around can make you sleepy, and a quick walk or workout session will help you get over the slump.

If you’re on vacation, well then you most likely will have an easier time getting in some physical activity.  Get out and see the sights.  Go for walks on the beach.  Go for a hike, a swim, or a bike ride.  Wherever you go there are opportunities to squeeze in some physical activity.

Creative Movement!

I used to have an excuse for everything exercise-related, but now I’m the devil’s advocate.  I can always find a way for my patients to get their bodies moving even if they think that it is impossible.  Here are some of my tricks to get you creatively moving:

  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Find an exercise video online that you can do in the privacy of your hotel room
  • Do CPR on yourself – crunches, push-ups, and running in place.  Or if you have other favorite exercises, try to add those in but keep your body revived and be sure you are getting that heart rate up.
  • Dance Party wherever you are…pump up the jams and get your booty shaking.
  • Yoga.  Just yoga.  Find an app to guide you and get your stretch on while using deep breathing and mindfulness meditation.
  • Walk instead of taxi or bus.  Enjoy nature and the adventure on your way to your destination.  Getting a local map or using real-time maps on your phone will help you get there.

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DIETARY DISASTERS

We eat later.  Often, we don’t stay well-hydrated, and sometimes we drink more alcohol than we would if we were just at home.  When we’re traveling, the easy way is to indulge a little…ok, maybe a lot…more than we normally would.  We tend to eat more food on-the-go, meaning calorie-laden and high-carb comfort food in airports or fast food along the way.  And all of these tiny adjustments can lead to big issues for our bodies, so trying to keep your body regulated with healthy snacks, hydration, and moderate indulging can help your weight and sanity stay on an even keel

Hydrate!

First and foremost, make sure that you’re staying adequately hydrated.  Bring your water bottle with you and refill it regularly, adding a drop of Lemon or Grapefruit to curb those cravings. Watch your alcohol intake.  Those fancy drinks and cocktails that make work events so enjoyable can both dehydrate you and fill you with extra, empty calories.  Here’s a trick to try:  if you say yes to the drinks, say no to the dessert.  Balance it out.

Mindful Eating

Fast food or on-the-go options are not always avoidable, but making healthy and mindful choices when you do eat can help to keep your waist trim.

Planning ahead is key.  If your itinerary is somewhat flexible, search ahead of time for local places to eat that offer more healthy options instead of just the traditional greasy, fried foods that so easily tempt us.

Order some vegetables with your entrée instead of French fries.  Not only will your waistline thank you, but your digestive system will rejoice for bogging it down while you’re away from your normal healthy options.

Pack your own snacks. There’s nothing worse than being on the road or a late-night flight with a hungry belly and no good food options.  Packing your own healthy snacks will keep you from getting to the point of starving, leading to unhealthy choices or binging.  Here are some healthy options to throw in your travel bag:

  • Apples or bananas
  • Trail mix
  • Dried fruit
  • Protein bars (be sure to check the label to avoid added sugar or soy)
  • Pretzels or pita chips with hummus or peanut butter
  • Greek yogurt
  • Carrot sticks or cucumber slices
  • String cheese
  • Single packets of tuna fish with crackers

Obviously, some of these suggestions require refrigeration so depending on where and how you’re traveling you can pack yourself a little cooler or invest in a lunch bag and an ice pack. Easy peasy.

STRESSFUL SCHEDULES

Our schedules sometimes drastically change when we’re traveling, especially if we change time zones which can throw off our eating and sleeping schedules.  Anything that doesn’t go our way when traveling can set off crazy levels of cortisol in our system, reintroducing or reinforcing the chronic stress levels that we are so desperately trying to avoid.

Be sure to keep your essential oil kit with you at all times to roll or whiff your way out of stressful situations and allow your body and mind to calm amidst the potential disasters or disruptions.  Lavender, Bergamot, and dōTERRA SerenityⓇ Restful Blend and BalanceⓇ Grounding Blend are my go-tos for travel, but I also keep several rollerball blends with me at all times as well.  Try this one for a calm in the middle of stress:

DESTRESS ROLLERBALL BLEND

Ingredients:
12 drops Lavender essential oil
8 drops Bergamot essential oil
8 drops Wild Orange essential oil
5 drops Frankincense essential oil
Carrier oil of choice

Directions:
Add essential oils to a 10-mL glass rollerball bottle and top off with a carrier oil of your choice.  Apply blend to bottoms of feet, back of the neck, or pulse points for immediate stress relief or simply inhale the aroma from the bottle.

Even if all of your plans go normally, traveling and spending time in new places can be stressful in itself, so oiling yourself up before bed or taking an aromatherapy shower when you arrive can also help to keep those cortisol levels in check.

SERENE SLEEP

Jet lag can be a real problem, and late-night parties and activities can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule.  Nevertheless, please try to get some shut-eye.  As I’ve said before, sleep deprivation puts stress on your body which affects your eating habits and makes it much easier to put on weight.

Limit the late nights if possible.  If travel and jet lag leaves you with trouble sleeping, try using some Lavender or Roman Chamomile behind your ears or diffusing it bedside to help you relax and wind down.

Even better, use the Sweet Dreams Blend that I always carry with me to support restful sleep when I’m away from home:

SWEET DREAMS BLEND

Ingredients:
10 drops Lavender essential oil
10 drops Vetiver essential oil
7 drops Marjoram essential oil
4 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil
Carrier oil of choice

Directions:
Add essential oils to a 10-mL glass rollerball bottle and top off with a carrier oil of your choice.  Apply blend to bottoms of feet, back of neck, or pulse points to help your body find calm and drift into a restful sleep. Just be sure to set an alarm!

THE BOTTOM LINE

Even though it’s unavoidable sometimes, traveling overall should be a fun experience.  Worrying about weight gain shouldn’t be an issue for you if you have a firm foundation on your eating, sleeping, and exercise habits and have trained your circadian rhythms into a healthy nighttime routine.  Indulging a bit in food or alcohol is fine as long as you make mindful choices and continue to support the foundational health decisions that you already have established for your lifestyle.  And keep that stress in check!  Nothing wrecks your body quicker than chronic levels of cortisol!

Need help finding support in building a healthy foundation or wondering how essential oils can help you?  Contact me and we can figure out a plan!

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