Friday, February 27, 2015

Tips To Stay On Track While Traveling

Staying on track with your meals can be hard enough when you are at home, at work, or out running errands. But when you go out of town thinking about meals can be a huge headache. I've found a few ways to make staying on track while traveling a little easier. 

Hey Fit Fam,

Next week I am going to The Arnold next week for the very first time! It was watching the show on my laptop in my living room last year that I decided FOR SURE I was going to make the commitment to see how fit I could really be and start competing!

I can not wait to actually go this year and walk around the expo, spend some time with my #FitFam, maybe even meet some of my fitness idols and of course watch the competitions! I'll be there observing and dreaming, but also cheering on part of my Physique Empire team! My coach/mentor's husband is once again competing this year!! GO BRANDON CURRY!!

The only thing I dread is packing. Trying to decide what to take, how to mix and match stuff so I don't overpack and at the same time make sure I don't under pack -- it stresses me out worse than almost anything! I'm not talking about food prep either. I'm talking about just packing clothes and necessities, lol. I am a horrible packer. It's a huge downfall of mine. I've gotten better about it and hope to keep getting better! However, add in MEAL PREP and the stress is ten-fold! I will never forget the first time I tried to pack with my meals .. I thought I was going to die!!

I am not on any kind of "official" prep right now which will make things SO much easier, but I still try to only eat whole foods and measure out all of my foods (this is KEY for anyone..not just competitors.) Here are a few things I do when traveling. What food I take depends on the trip, how close I am to a show, if it is a show weekend and how long I'll be traveling. Some of these are WAY more extreme than you may need! Some may be a little to "lax" for competition travel. So pick and choose what works for you!!

First .. you will need to check with your hotel. If they have a microwave & fridge life will be easy. If they do not .. it won't. I've found most do NOT have microwaves but I've never been to a hotel that hasn't been able to provide a fridge. Why? Because they have to be able to provide MEDICAL fridges (I've been told at no cost) for those that have to refrigerate medications, etc.  Since I have Celiac Disease .. I don't feel bad about saying I need one for medical reasons. You all use your own judgement on that one :)  But another tip, I prefer to use AirBNB when possible so that I can rent a house with a kitchen! In this case, I will only pack a few of my favorite seasonings, baking necessities and 1st Phorm Protein (stuff I may not be able to find where I am going) and then I make a grocery store trip upon arrival!

Second -- Invest in a ROLLING COOLER and some sort of six pack bag. I suggest the totes or backpacks from 6 Pack Fitness because they double as your "personal item" you can take with you and you can put your laptop, etc., in them - not just food (like some of the 6pack bags.) Here is what I mean by rolling cooler.
You can get them many places. Sometimes they are hard to find when it's not "tailgate season" - but they have them online everywhere year round -- like Target, Walmart, Amazon, etc. I got mine at T.J. Maxx during tailgate season last year! I wish I had ordered one online though because there are many better ones out there. I wish I had taken the time to shop around! No matter which one you get, they are great because unlike 6pack bags (which are really designed to carry meals already prepped and portioned) these can fit TONS of food in them (if you pack like I explain below) and they can be your carry on luggage item if you are flying! Just make sure any liquids and some condiments are packed in your checked luggage instead so they don't toss it!

Assuming you have a fridge wherever you are going. Here are some suggestions!

Lean Meat Options:

Chicken:  Just bake some up in the oven or however you choose. If you are going to be on a LONG flight or LONG car ride I would suggest freezing it after you cook it.  If it's a shorter trip as long as you keep it really cool there is no need to freeze and will make life much easier (it can take a while to thaw.) The key is to put the chicken in a big ole GALLON freezer bag, not individual containers! Much easier to pack in a cooler and you can fit SO much more!!

Tuna Packets:  These are easy and require no cooking!! Just stir in some rice, seasonings and/or dressing (I love fat free italian or low sugar bbq) and you are good to go!

Pre-Made Burgers:  Same as chicken. Make ahead and freeze (if needed) and put in gallon freezer bags. You can patty these or made into ground meat. Your choice depending on how you plan to eat it.

Carton of egg whites: Always sealed & unopened so it doesn't spill everywhere. and remember this can not be put in your carry on bag because it's liquid. I take this with me so I can make my microwave mug breakfast, waffles at night, etc. However, this can be left out if it's too much of a hassle to pack. You just substitute protein powder & water in most cases! Not all protein powder bakes well without egg though... that is why I suggest 1st Phorm brand Level 1 for baking. Well .. and cause it's the best :)

Carb Options:
Sweet or Red Potato rounds:  I make these into "rounds" in the oven (like usual) and just put them in a gallon bag. They are good hot or cold. If I don't have time to prep food, I will pre wash them and them and pack whole potatoes raw and bring my microwave potato bag! Side note, you can steam veggies in the potato bag as well! I discovered that on one of my trips!! So if you wanted to bring raw veggies (great if you have no time to prep before you leave) .. there ya go!

Rice: Make ahead and put some in a container OR buy the little microwave cups! If you don't do the cups don't forget to bring a measuring cup!

Homemade Chips: I blogged about these a while back. Unlike the store bought fatty/greasy ones - these don't last very long without getting soggy/stale. But they will be good for a day or two after making! You can just make a bunch and put them in ... you guessed it .. a gallon baggie. Just put on top or somewhere else in luggage so they don't get crushed!

Veggie Options:
I roast a bunch of green beans and put in a gallon bag. They are easiest and are delish cold! So I usually just stick to green beans! Second option I go with is roasted broccoli or asparagus - also pretty good cold! I also sometimes bring some pre-cut red bell pepper.

Fruit Options:
I typically stick to bananas because they are the easiest to travel with! But I will also do apples on occasion because they are also easy to travel with. I use the fruit in my Mug Muffins, which is why I prefer banana. Can't travel with blueberries (my fave in my muffin) so this is easiest!

Seasonings - I usually pack one of my Flavor God seasonings, Cinnamon, Paprika, Baking Powder, Stevia and sugar free coffee creamer (they now make these in those little squeeze bottles which makes it so easy. if not just get the little single serving ones).
Waffle Maker - You can do many things with this aside from the obvious. Heat up chicken, make an "omelet", etc. I use it for my night time waffle that I just can't live without! I've always packed this in my carry on and never had issues.
Magic Bullet (or other small blender/processor) - Sometimes I PRE grind my oats and put them portioned out into individual sandwich bags. Other times I take the Ninja with me .. depends on how much room I have in luggage and how much time I have to "pre" prep my food before I leave. This is also good if you want to make actual smoothies instead of just protein and water in a shaker!
Ceramic Bowl (for microwave mug muffins. disposable paper plates don't work)
Food sScale and Measuring Cup/Spoon
Walden Farms Syrup (because you can't find it everywhere and it's good on everything)
Unopened Peanut Butter (if it's opened and in your carry on they MAY toss it. but i learned if you tell them it's for dietary reasons they will instead "test" it with their little wand)
Almonds or other healthy nuts 
Extra Container(s) (for when you portion out your meals)
Plastic Utensils 
1st Phorm Protein (usually portioned into bags so I don't have to pack the big container)
Quest Bars or other healthy meal replacement bar
Rice Cakes

If you DO NOT have a fridge here are a few things I would suggest packing these staples
Rice Cakes
Peanut Butter
Packets of Tuna
Brown Rice Crackers (these would be good with your tuna)
1st Phorm Protein Powder & Shaker (for a shake or also to stir into your oats. most hotels have plain oats on their menu, so if you add this you have a more compete meal)
Quest Bars (or other good meal replacement bars)
Seasonings/Dressings -- so you can order food out. Ask for it PLAIN, baked/steamed, with no butter, no oil, no seasonings and just add your own seasonings/dressings.

Couple of travel notes. I have NEVER had problems with my "gel packs" when traveling -- even out of the country. But I've seen where MANY people have. Not sure why as long as it's FROZEN solid! If they tried to toss them, I personally would and ask for a supervisor before you just say okay and let them. Most the time if you stress you have dietary needs and have to travel with food .. this won't be a problem. But if this is a concern or you don't want to deal with the possible hassle ... just freeze ALL of your food! Or you can not freeze it and bring some empty baggies or containers and as soon as you get past security .. go get some ice and then pack it in!

That said. Freezing your food really is the safest route. But it really just depends on travel time. If your on a short flight or short car ride and have lots of ice packs in your bag (and aren't opening it up a lot) you don't really need to (unless you are afraid they will toss your ice packs.) If it's a long flight or car ride you should freeze it to be safe. BUT that is where it gets tricky. It seems to take forever to thaw in a fridge! In fact, I had to eat 1/2 frozen chicken at Olympia last year! My room didn't have a microwave and I was fine with eating COLD food .. but not frozen!!! But guess what worked pretty well ... a HAIRDRYER!!!! I had my waffle maker with me and at that time didn't think about using it. But totally could have!!

I put all the "food" in the rolling cooler and then I put the meals I need for the day already portioned in my 6 pack bag. Those are my two "carry on" items! I keep my seasonings, coffee creamer, stevia, etc.,  and at least one power bar (in case my flight is delayed) in that carry on bag as well and then pack all the other stuff, specifically condiments over the allowed ounces, in my checked bags.

These are all tips for traveling WITHIN THE U.S. The only time I've ever had food thrown away was when I arrived in Mexico. I had one meal left in my 6 pack bag and they tossed it at customs (they tossed my cooked fish and veggies, but didn't toss any of my protein or bars.) If you are traveling out of the country you will need to finish all your food on your flight! Also remember that eery country has different rules as to what food is/is not allowed to be brought in and brought out .. so you will want to check before you travel! I can't help you there :) I usually just pack a few sealed basics and take the grocery store route when traveling out of the country!

Hope this helps in your quest to travel clean!! If you have any tips to add ... please comment below!!!

Eat Clean. Train Dirty.

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