Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Challenges of Travel

I just got back from a 2-day conference out of town. These trips are always challenging, and, to be honest, I allowed for a few more calories than I'm comfortable with this time.  That said, I'm happy overall with how I handled it - excess calories notwithstanding.

Here is what I did to keep it under control:
  1. Snacks: I packed some of my own snacks on which to munch should I get hungry between workshops. A couple pieces of portable fruit (apples and oranges), a couple of bars (HMR), and three low-calorie muffins that I made at home (blueberry yogurt).
  2. Breakfast: I packed my own breakfast. I packed the muffins for breakfast on day 2, because I'm always a sucker for the breakfast at these things. Usually, they offer bagels, cream cheese, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, sometimes waffles, pastries and fruit. Simply eating the fruit will not satisfy me, and I'll be snacking at the first break on whatever bread product they offer. So, I used to just eat what they put out - a bagel, maybe some eggs and a sausage with fruit. The food isn't great at these things (bagels are generally dry, eggs are pretty gross, particularly when they cool off, sausage is greasy...) so that is lots of calories for no good reason (lots of calories I don't love).  This time, I ate my muffin in the room (about 150 calories, and relatively filling) and then I filled my plate with fruit at the buffet table (another 120 - 150 calories). Not bad. I avoided the juices offered, but I did have coffee with a little cream (about a tablespoon of half and half - 20-30 calories).  This breakfast did the trick.
  3. Breaks: I avoided the snacks at break.  First, there were no fruit and veggies involved in these break snacks at all (not that I saw). Second, most of the snacks were bread / fat. They had fried hush puppies (or something similar and fried, I saw floating around on plates), warm pretzels with cheese, popcorn, cookies...and soda. I grabbed a water and made my way into the next room to chat with others. At one point, I went up to my room for a couple of minutes at the break (and ate some of my cheerios), just to avoid the snacks - which looked and smelled great.
  4. Lunch: The lunches at this particular function were buffet-style, which made it a lot easier for me. I loaded my plate up with a lot of salad, put a small amount (about 2-3 Tbsp) of balsamic vinaigrette dressing on my salad. I usually like dressing on the side, but that wasn't possible here. Then, I took a very small piece of roasted chicken (about 2 oz), a slice of roasted potato, and a cup of minestrone soup.  I avoided the gravy, the breads, the red meat, and the desserts. All in all, more calories than I would have liked, but not so bad, considering that I was at a conference.
  5. Exercise: I arrived a couple of hours before the conference began, so I made sure to look at the hotel information book in my room to find the fitness center. I then went down and found it prior to my first meeting. After all my meetings, I made sure to visit the fitness center for 30 minutes on the elliptical. It's less time than I usually exercise, but it's better than nothing. Then next morning, I made sure to wake up on time to put in another 30 minutes before breakfast because I knew that with travel and meetings, I wouldn't have any more time to exercise and I knew I would be so wiped out when I arrived at home that I wouldn't want to exercise.
  6. Travel snacks: I packed a couple of cups of cheerios, some extra muffins, and HMR bars to eat on the train on the way up and back. In business class, Amtrak offers muffins, apple juice, coffee and other snacks for your trip, none of which are really very diet friendly. Therefore, on the way up, I had two of my muffins and a coffee for breakfast, that worked really well. And on the way back, I had an HMR bar and a diet soda. This helped to satiate me and to avoid the snacks that Amtrak provides, which, again, aren't that great and just add a lot of unnecessary calories.
My slip up: I am certainly not perfect, and I did have 2 meatball sliders (those small hamburger-type appetizers) and one chicken slider at the reception on the first night. I was hungry and this was what the conference organizers offered up for dinner. I figured it was the sliders or room service, which really didn't offer any very low-calorie options. Still, I probably should have stopped at two and a salad from room service would have likely been a better choice.

So, all in all, I think the trip went pretty well - and there you have my travel tips :-) 

1 comment:

  1. You did great!! Travel, particularly business travel, is one of the harder food environments to deal with, I too have gone up to my room to avoid snacks at times too. Business travel and conferences are a constant thorn in my side for weight management!