Many of us travel - some just as a short work commute, while others have international flights on a weekly basis. Can you really be ‘healthy’ and have a balanced diet if you’re never at home in your kitchen?
To answer this, I turned to Luke Koval, a personal trainer for the Wounded Warrior Project, who travels most days of the week, even internationally, for his job. Let’s see how bendy flexibility can really be!
MYTH: It's impossible to eat healthy while traveling.
FALSE: Bullshit. I’m blunt, sorry. But that is my response to co-workers and friends who try to use this card. It’s a myth, but what is fact is laziness. Take a second to look at the menu of restaurants, make smart choices (i.e. veggies over starches, avoid the unlimited bread). Before getting to your destination, check the area for grocery stores that have prepared foods, such as my go to Whole Foods, or restaurants that you know have good options.
MYTH: If you don't take all of your food with you when traveling, staying on track is never going to happen.
THE TRUTH: I generally leave my house on day one with 1-2 meals because it is cost effective. After that, I use my brain and eyeball the protein source for 5 ounces, go with salads, and look up menus/nutrition info online to "fit my macros." I track everything, which might seem tedious, but it allows me to eat what I want. I use myMacros, but there are countless others in the AppStore. Upon touching down, if there is a grocery store near that is my first stop. I know if there is a grocery store by utilizing my good friend Google Maps. I get a few meals taken care of with already cooked protein and vegetables. I'll grab some starches too but usually I save my carbs for local favorites, such as doughnuts.
MYTH: You have to pay ridiculous one-time-use gym fees in order to get your workouts in on the road.
FALSE: I'm always traveling with bands and a TRX in case I can't get to a gym or to add resistance to the Dumbbells in the hotel. There is always a gym nearby and you can usually talk nicely to them to let you in for a lesser rate or utilize a free week pass. If you do have to pay $10/ day, is it really that big of a deal? The money you'll save by not eating lunch out will cover it. But I usually only hit a gym for my big lifts when prepping for a powerlifting meet. Other than that, I put together some workouts utilizing the equipment at hand to target the muscle groups I want. You can definitely get a good bodybuilding style or "functional" training workout in with some bands and dumbbells.
MYTH: You can't take your Tupperware meals on the plane.
FALSE: You can't have liquid sitting in the bottom. As I am writing this I am actually on a plane and just finished this meal that I brought with me :)
MYTH: Lifting equipment can't be taken through customs.
THE TRUTH: Unless it doubles as a bomb, has a blade, shoots bullets, or contains more than 3 ounces of liquid... you're fine. I travel with a PVC pipe (as a ‘foam’ roller), bands, and my belt (when I have max effort days scheduled).
Luke's answers confirm that we can make traveling as hard – or as easy – as we want to. It all begins with planning: “Today’s preparation determines tomorrow’s achievement.” Putting in a little prep work up front will pay dividends throughout your travels. I can personally attest to this strategy as being effective for maximizing output when out of my comfort zone: the more prepared I am, the more comfortable I become.
About the interviewee:
Luke Koval is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. in Kinesiology. He began competing naturally in bodybuilding competitions in 2008 at a small show at Slippery Rock University where he began the epic disaster we all know as restricted/low calorie diets consisting of little micronutrients and lots of bland food. As he became more intrigued with nutrition he took more courses in the subject and went on to focus his M.S at Pitt in Wellness and Human Performance.
He learned how to account for macronutrients in his diet, focus on nutritious foods and fit in the fun food. Currently, he has his dream job with the Wounded Warrior Project where he can spread his passion for fitness and nutrition to these heroes to help them get back to normal post injury and service for this great country. Luke has the opportunity to travel throughout the country to educate and put programs into place, but this also means a lot of time away from home. Sometimes he is gone for as long as two to three weeks, and does this without breaking his "diet" or falling off his training routine.