Three evil enemies can prevent you from eating healthy on the road if you let them:
• Gas station convenience stores
• Donuts and muffins on the boardroom table
• Hotel vending machines
If you’ve tried sure will power to eat healthy while travelling, stop wasting your time. It takes more than just stubbornness. Nutritious eating while away from the office calls for a plan.
Traveling took its toll on me
For a period, I was traveling to the city almost monthly for meetings. I’d hop in the vehicle the day before for the 6-hour drive down. The following morning I’d arrive at the meeting, and along with my colleagues, I would snatch one of the “healthy muffins” to start my day.
Mid afternoon, I’d munch on the cookies brought in by some well-intentioned administrative support. I was fatigued as much as hungry by then. The sugar rush kept gave me short-term alertness as the afternoons dragged on.
By the end of the day, my defences were completely down, and I’d grab a Mars bar from the conveniently hidden vending machine in the alcove in the hotel corridor before bed. On the road home, the following day, liquorice and a can of Coke were my weapons of choice for me to fight against driving fatigue.
On the road eating, coupled with unending pressures of leadership resulted in a steady increase in my weight. I reluctantly noticed it each time I went to buy new dress pants and found they needed to be a size bigger.
I'd finally had it
One day I had enough and decided to do something about it. Research, a lot of determination and focusing my will power helped me to turn things around. As I changed my overall eating habits and diligently kept up with an alternate on the road system of eating, I lost over 30 pounds and found my self-esteem.
It felt soooo good
One of my most proud moments was walking into a restaurant with a few months between seeing some of my colleagues. A peer stared at me exclaiming, “Where did you go? Only half of you came!” I can still see the pantsuit I had on in a much smaller size than I was used to. I’d felt good before I walked into the restaurant, but I felt elated after. I knew my hard work was paying off!
The way I looked was truly only a small part of it
The change in how I felt was a marvellous piece. Instead of feeling bloated and uncomfortable after lunch, I felt engaged in conversations. Rather than being sleepy on the drive home, I strategically made rest stops, had health snacks planned along the way and found the trips more enjoyable.
If you are eager to switch up your on the road eating style, try these three steps.
1. Be Prepared
a. Use Containers (Lots of them!)
Get over yourself. Eating healthy may look nerdy!
b) Shop Ahead of Time
c) Prepare your Food in Advance
2. Be ready
a) Pack Ahead of Time
Don't be doing the packing a few minutes before you run out the door. Non-perishables can be packed the night before or on the weekend.
b) Plan when and where to eat
Know the drill; what time, where and what you are eating. I used to plan bathroom stops on the road and my eating times. Know what will happen. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Delaying eating leaves us unable to resist urges, like the bag of chips at the till when you fuel up.
c) Plan what you will say
Figure out the language you need to say to others and more importantly, in your head.
Someone is going to ask you to go for lunch. If you have planned to eat your packed lunch, what will you say?
“No thanks, I’m really into this great Thriller I’m reading and want to get 10 minutes in over lunch.”
In your mind, you will need to be clear on what you are saying to yourself.
I will eat out on Tuesday, and this is what I will allow myself to eat. AND when those other delicious things show up on the menu, this is what I will say to myself.
When I traveled to management meetings in the city, we traditionally ate lunch at an Italian restaurant. You know that that mean right? Warm, fresh, soft, amazing, delicious buns! The kind you soak down on butter. OMG! These are my enemy! Bread is not good for me.
I had to psych myself up before going to the restaurant. You are not going to eat buns, Kathy. When the buns come, head to the bathroom. Just pass them on. Being prepared was the best option!
3. Be Kind to Yourself
It is hard to be different than the rest of the crew at a meeting. When the gang is munching on the cookies and ordering the fattening specials, it’s easy to feel like you are getting the short end of the stick. Don’t beat yourself up.
Talk to yourself in a loving and kind way. Kathy, you are sooo good to your body! You can do this, I believe in you. I am taking care of me and will feel better for it in the long run.
Also, allow yourself the occasional treat. Some trips are special, and the chocolate mouse is a well-deserved delight. The trick is simply to decided when you will sway off the and not do it willy nilly. Know in the morning, that you will allow yourself dessert at lunch. Don’t decide when it’s coming around at 12:45…oh just this once won’t hurt.
When you fall, and you will, give yourself a hug and get back up and try again. Eating healthy is worth it, but I won’t lie to you and tell you it’s easy. It’s not.
Healthy eating on the road doesn't have to be so challenging
When you commit to changing your eating routine, remember to make a plan. Be prepared. Be ready. Be kind. When you take the time in advance to plan out what to eat, when and how you will deal with enemy co-workers and enemy voices in your head, you will be much more successful.
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.