How To Stay Healthy While Traveling
Want to stay healthy while traveling? I know I do.
It’s really important to recognize the need for both fun and flexibility and consistency of habits on the road.
How do you stay fit and lean while traveling? How to do you keep from succumbing “just this once” to whatever shows up and stay on target, keeping your body in peak physical, emotional and spiritual condition while you are in an unfamiliar place? What if you don’t speak the language? What if the local culture and customs dictate what you can eat and drink?
These were the questions I found myself asking on a pretty regular basis when I started living in Valencia, Spain a few weeks ago.
For example, when I was living in California, it was all about them greens. I would make smoothies consistently, hitting up the local sprouts and farmers markets. Here in Valencia, you have to find an analogue, and somehow miss or selectively ignore the piles of cheese, meat and bread that is ev er y where.
This can be a challenge as I want to keep my energy high and since the next series of colonics might not be for months, I want to be kind to my body and keep things moving to boot. I’ve adapted my eating plan a lot over the years, but the older I get, the better I want to feel more consistently so I have the energy and focus to achieve my goals and make my dreams a reality. It all starts with the physical body, what you eat, how you move and what you do to manage the various crap that comes up.
So how do you manage all this and manage to still have a life?
Well I wouldn’t consider myself short on willpower. I’m not a saint or a monk or an enlightened master with no cravings or anything like that as well.
But I have found a few key strategies that anyone could implement to stay lean while traveling. Here are a few of the strategies (mental, physical, emotional and spiritual) that I employ to stay healthy on the road.
I’ve been to 30 states and about 2 dozen countries so far, so mileage may vary, and I’d love to hear from you, dear reader, any tips or additions you might have. Without further ado, here we go!
How To Stay Healthy While Traveling
Don’t go where it’s slippery if you don’t want to slip
It’s as true for alcoholics as it is for everyone else. If you go to the all you can eat fried hunks of meaty cheese bread buffet, what are you going to eat? Same with tapas. Not all tapas are created equal. Or the meat and cheese place (yes, there is a restaurant called Meat and Cheese here, as well as one called Taste of America that sells Snyder’s pretzels and sugary cereal) but that being said, there are a LOT of healthy food options on the road, provided you’re willing to seek them out. Google Maps has been my go to to find what I need. We were all able to prioritize what we wanted so I said fast internet and a workable kitchen. I got one! The kitchen has been a godsend. I prepare green smoothies and bulk snacks and meals for several days ahead so I know I won’t succumb to decision fatigue. I’ve picked out a handful of healthier restaurant options as well and mapped out all the grocery stores and markets so I don’t have to guess where to go to get something decent to eat. Making peace with your environment and setting yourself up for success is the keystone that keeps the whole thing from crumbling. Because you don’t tend to slip when you are perfectly content, you need to have options when you start to get overwhelmed, stressed, or just crave variety, which we all need as humans.
Try to find analogues and go tos that help you fill the gaps and eliminate decision fatigue
Before I found any Kale at the supermarket (mostly because in a rush and not recognizing a lot of the options that were right in front of my face the whole time, I started subbing more spinach in my green drinks. These are the magical elixirs that make my day amazing and consistent each and every day. I’m drinking one right now as I type this actually. I update the recipe every so often and here is the link.
Let’s be honest: nowadays as the world moves toward globalization, and tastes and demands become more prevalently widespread, you can find most popular types of food in most places. That doesn’t mean it will be any good. Pizza at Maur Mantener in Barcelona was a definite exception to this rule. Holy crap their caprese is amazing. Arugula, perfect thin crust, hunks of cheese and cheese and more cheese. Holy moly, what a pizza, and I’m from New York! Also it was enough to feed two. But any pizza can be a personal pizza if you believe in yourself and try real hard. So I took it down like a wounded gazelle.
Anyway, pizza aside, finding stand ins for things you would normally eat is key. Stepping outside the bounds is great and encouraged, I mean were traveling to try new things and have different experiences than we would have normally had, but ultimately if you want to keep your energy high and keep from getting sick you should limit to 1-2 days a week where you go off, if you’re in great shape. If you’re not, once a week max. Have your cheat day, make yourself sick eating everything you want, and get back to the program. My trick: write down every craving you have and wait til cheat day to eat your face off. Eat all of it, hunt it down. Which brings me to my next point:
Be a hunter not a gatherer, learn how to plan.
Failing to plan is planning to fail. Most slip ups can be avoided with simple lists. Going to the grocery store? Make a list. Update it infrequently. Make sure you have your staples and needs covered. I use the same one all the time and try to match it to reality as best I can. I sub when I have to, but if it’s not on the list, generally I don’t buy it. I hunt down the things I want, and try to have blinders on everything else. Exceptions include one item that’s a treat each time I go to the store. Like dates. I loves them even though they’re basically pure sugar. Or grapes, or an orange. Nothing processed. Except sometimes I buy ice cream. But there’s another funny thing that happens. I eat exactly the amount that I buy. So I try to wait to go out to buy it, because I basically don’t stop eating until the spoon hits the bottom of the container, no matter whether it’s the itty bitty ones, the pint or the gallon. Don’t judge me, I can do that to myself just fine, thank you!
Remember and remind yourself of your why…
Why are you doing this? Why do you want energy? Who are you? What do you value? Who do you serve? Who counts on you? Who do you love? Why do you want more time on this earth and more energy and attention to do the things that you love?
These are all great questions to learn about who you are, what you value and most importantly, your reason why. Why do you do things? Why do you do things the right way? How you do anything is how you do everything, so you must give your all and do your best in every area of life. And it all starts with prioritizing your health, energy, attention, vitality and more.
There’s a great saying by a Tony Robbins trainer named Loren, “If your why doesn’t make you cry, then it’s not your why”. For me it’s giving people the support, encouragement and small tweaks in perception that allow them to change the world and do great things within it. I want to create a world where basic food, energy, water and shelter is available and affordable to every human being and no person has to go without. This isn’t something I can do alone or something that comes from well wishing. But I have set my intention and that brings opportunities to me to shift the world in important ways that would never be possible or I could only partially capitalize on if I wasn’t operating at my highest capacity.
Learn to say NO
Do you want a drink? No. How about a beer? A wine? No? I’m making margasangtequilaritas? NUUUUPE. You’re good. Drinking is fine in moderation but most people can’t moderate. I know I can’t. And the effects can be far reaching into every area of life, affecting sleep, sex, digestion, the amount and type of food you get, performance and more. Plus (and this is entirely anecdotal, I admit) I just FEEL BETTER when I’m not drinking.
I detail the challenges that alcohol presents to peak performance. It’s a very popular post (for me) and the top result for quitting alcohol on YouTube. I get several emails a week about it. People quitting drinking, feeling better than they’ve ever felt and feeling the ancillary benefits as well. Since it seems I said everything that needed to be said there, head on over and check it out.
Same goes with food. Be comfortable in your choices and politely decline when people offer you things that are not on your plan. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, and you shouldn’t launch into a lengthy diatribe about it, defending yourself. Just say “no thank you”, smile and move on.
It’s ok to be yourself and do what’s best for you
This is a hard lesson to learn and must be learned consistently throughout life. Most important ones are like this. IT DOESN’T MATTER what works for everyone else. You have to experiment and find out what works for you! And once you know what that is, stick to it, but don’t be afraid to try new things out. 30 day challenges are great for this. I started out eating pretty well when I was doing sports, football, lacrosse and rowing, then started eating whateverthefuckIcouldgetmyhandson when I started working in NY. By the time my dad passed away in 2010, I was in awful shape. I started doing the 4HB slow carb diet, and that helped me lose a bunch of weight, but I kind of plateaued.
Then later I had a bit of a testosterone crisis and switched to straight paleo and did John Romaniello’s program which I talk about in detail here.
After a couple years of that, I was in really decent shape but I found myself getting really tired throughout the day again for no reason. I had been in an emotional funk as well, so I started seeking answers again. A lot of emotional crap had been heaped on me all at once, a breakup, a business or three that went bad, and dwindling savings. Tony Robbins entered my life at about this point. He wrote a book called Money: Master the Game, which was right in my wheelhouse. My first thought: WTF does Tony know about money? Isn’t he the motivational speaker guy?
Talk about speaking from ignorance. But luckily I always suspend disbelief and read the book anyway. I actually tore through it (700 pages) in two sittings. It turns out that Tony not only has one of the best networks of financial experts in the world. People like Paul Tudor Jones came to him for coaching every day for 20+ years. Ray Dalio, John Templeton and Charles Schwab all weigh in in the book. It’s a who’s who of financial genius.
Tony is no slouch himself, running 12 companies that turn a combined $6 Billion a year, he has amassed a personal net worth of over $500MM.
This lead me to pay attention to Tony and his work (his book had been sitting on my shelf for a year) and I go into more detail here. Short story long, I ended up going to 7 events in a year, meeting some amazing people and my life has shifted drastically and completely. I’m currently writing this from Valencia, Spain, one of 12 cities I’ll be living in and visiting countless others in the next year. One of the events which is relevant to this post is Life and Wealth Mastery, a nine day event where they beat you, starve you, hood you, handcuff, taser and waterboard you for their sick enjoyment…
Umm… wait I’m getting my intensives crossed. That was another story for another time. THIS event (at least the Life portion) was a bit out of my comfort zone. The vegan cleanse was a little uncomfortable to me (no solid food for 5 days) but what really pushed my fear button was the colonics. I resisted heavily. I even texted Roman (he and I have become friends since and I’ve gotten over 100 people to do his ETA and other programs) and asked him “bro… I don’t know about sticking a water hose in my ass. I can see doing some veggie cleanse or whatever but I think is where I get off this crazy train.” He responded in seconds that he also gets colonics from time to time. I was surprised but I ultimately had to trust the experience and if I’m going to be a guinea pig and try anything that could confer some benefit once (not heroin) then I couldn’t be leaving this one experience out.
I still resisted and hemmed and hawed until day four, then I worked up my nerve and scheduled 4 on the following four days. Which lead to a lot of other funny and serendipitous events, but the most pertinent of which were that I lost 7 lbs in compacted fecal matter. I learned that the average adult carries around between 5 and 15 lbs of undigested “stuff” in their colon. When John Wayne died, he had 28 lbs of T Bones in his pooper. The King (Elvis) had 35 lbs in him when he finally keeled over on the toilet. Holy shit, literally.
Anyway, once I was cleansed and cleaned out, I felt like a new man. My energy levels were insane. I’ve kept colonics (I know, it sounded crazy to me too) in my routine ever since. Usually about 1-2 per quarter, and especially when I’m just feeling backed up, stressed or funky. I recommend the open system over the closed. The Angel Of Water (if you can find one) is great. Before we move on from this less-than-pleasant topic, I’ll make one final recommendation. Invest in a squatty potty to help you eliminate. It’s the best $25 you’ll ever spend. I wish I could bring one with me on the road. Humans weren’t meant to poop on a toilet, we were meant to squat. This helps you to achieve this more natural posture by raising your legs so that everything comes out alright.
Anyway, sorry about the long poop diatribe, but if you’re full of shit, it’s really hard to be in tip top shape. I’ve had some other insane ancillary benefits from moving to a plant based diet and eat way less meat than I ever have before. I’m stronger than I was, need to work out less, sleep better, and have less pain and breakdowns in my body. After that cleanse a frequent pain I had in my arm had all but disappeared, and with the help of ART I’m beginning to work out all the kinks.
SO all in all I’ve tried almost every way of eating and I’ve seen what works and doesn’t work for me. Now I eat out when I want, I work out hard, I keep the basics in check, make sure I’m getting my greens and staying clean, and I don’t overdo it on meat, cheese and gluten, which can all back you up something awful and make you smell like you’re rotting from the inside, which you are.
I know. Meat is delicious. I still eat it from time to time. I’ll definitely never give up bacon completely. I pick my battles now though. But now that my body doesn’t have it all the time you can definitely tell the difference. Buy quality and eat it less, you’ll notice a difference.
It’s only hard in the beginning
Like most things in life, they only require willpower for a short time. Once you’ve formed the habit (usually anywhere from 21 to 60 days depending on what science you read, call it 30 because I’m a big advocate of 30 day challenges) it becomes much easier and you don’t have to think about it or fight your cravings as much anymore.
It’s very likely that you’ll go through many phases in your journey as well, based on what you know and what you value at the time you make those decisions. I did what was right for me at the time I did it, and I encourage enjoyment and exploration. Eventually, like me, you may begin to value energy in abundance so you can grow and contribute more to the world. But that’s just what I value. Your values are not wrong and there’s no judgment here. I just want to share my story to show you how someone could end up here. I’m not some hippy dippy woo woo either, I have a degree in Molecular and Cell biology and was studying to become a doctor. So I understand the scientific method and approach my life like a scientist. The funny thing about life however is you just don’t know what you don’t know and you can only be certain to a certain extent, so constant experimentation and testing for variables is really important. Results speak louder than words and stories.
What’s the most important thing, however? Trying it for yourself, and finding what’s right for you. I’m not here to advocate one path or another, as I’ve said, and I have no dog in this fight. I just want to share what my experience has been in case it can help inform your journey. That’s what Make More Marbles and Brad The Nomad are all about… they scratch my own itch and the itch of many others who like the way I lay things out. They allow me to grow, contribute and get my thoughts out of my head and into the world where they might do some good.
Do with that as you will.
You can have whatever you want, just not all the time.
A note on food: I eat everything. Just not a lot and not all the time. 6 days a week (sometimes 4 or 5, sometimes 10 in a row) I’m on point. Healthy AF. But there is always that day when I crave variety and I let myself have it. I just don’t let it drag into a 2 or 3 day event. And I don’t recommend you do either. It’s really easy to want a result, then when the going gets tough, quit. Then you blame the system. You’ll say it doesn’t work or that person’s genetics are better or they’re on steroids. That may even be true, but it doesn’t account for your results or lack thereof. SO don’t fall off the rails too often. Once a week should be enough of a mental reprieve from keeping it on point and you can recover quickly and get back to peak performance without too much down time. Also, having a huge caloric spike from time to time keeps your body guessing so you don’t down regulate important hormones like leptin that keep you burning fat.
Be kind to your behind— see the part on colonics and the squatty potty above.
MOVE! MOVE MORE! KEEP MOVING
I work out about 6 days a week. I run, I lift weights, I do yoga, I swim, I play volleyball and run around after the frisbee. Exercise does not need to be a solitary activity or a boring one. I like to lift heavy to keep my manliness up. Too much cardio will torch your testosterone so I avoid that. So lately I’ve settled into 3 days lifting heavy and doing complex movements (full body) and 3 days running. Two short and one long. Then one day (either Friday or Sunday) of complete rest. Sometimes by Friday I just hit a wall between work and working out and I take the day. Sometimes I make it until Sunday. But that’s me. Find the cycle that works for you. I just know if I don’t work up a sweat everyday I feel shitty and get less done. I also don’t sleep well and kind of suck to be around. Plus building muscle and endurance allows me to eat what I want more often and still burn it instead of having it hang out on my gut or my ass.
This is a simple strategy: move every day, as many days as you can. Do something. Work your way up to it. 6 days is brutal. It might take you several months to get there. But you can absolutely get there. No excuses, play like a champion.
Stretch, meditate, hydrate.
Getting injured SUCKS. So make sure you stretch (dynamic, moving stretches before workouts and static elongating ones afterward) and several times throughout the day. If something is tight, I stretch it out. Even if I have to stop exercising. The alternative is usually injury. Make sure you’re getting enough water (AND SALT, pink himalayan is my fave, most people don’t get enough because they don’t eat processed food anymore and forget they need to supplement)
One of my clients called me up and complained of lethargy and after we had eliminated a lot of the possibilities, we realized that he does a shit ton of hot yoga and sweats constantly. He wasn’t replacing salt and felt amazing after he just put some on his tongue. Sometimes the simplest remedies are the best ones! So make sure you get your salt. You won’t have to worry about high blood pressure provided you’re also eating well and exercising. Most people get that due to overintake from food.
So I could go on and on, but these are a lot of the things that you will likely encounter along with strategies to overcome them. I hope this helps. Enjoy!
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