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Make Healthy Choices This Holiday Season without Counting Calories

healthy while traveling

Tis’ the season for good food, time with family, giving thanks, celebrations and traveling. I love this time between mid-November and the end of the year. However, with so much packed into a span of several weeks, it can be tough to keep your fitness goals on track, especially if you are spending hours in the car or on a plane traveling from one place to another.

A few years ago, when I lived in Florida, I spent a lot of time around the holidays at Southwest International Airport, either the Atlanta or Charlotte airports for a layover, and Reagan National Airport. In addition to purchasing a celebrity gossip magazine, I would also treat myself to a pack of my favorite candy – sour patch kids. Add in some less than healthy airport fast food options and, needless to say, these were not the healthiest trips.

What are some simple things you can do to help maintain healthy habits over the holiday travel season or anytime you travel for that matter? Full disclosure – I love to eat and I can eat a lot. When I’m sitting down for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, I really couldn’t care less about the calories because I don’t want to think about that. I just want to enjoy the festivities. But, to counteract this, I have a learned a few tricks to make healthier decisions when traveling.

  1. While you’re grabbing a celebrity tabloid at the airport newsstand, also grab a fitness magazine. A lot of times, these will include a ‘do anywhere workout’ because they take into account the time of year you’re traveling. I am way more motivated to workout while I’m on vacation if I have something new to try. I have no interest in going for a long run while I’m traveling. Magazines very frequently have a 3 to 5-move workout you can easily fit in right when you wake up and before you have to start celebrating with family. Many of these workouts do not require equipment and can be performed practically anywhere.


  1. Pack workout clothes when you travel. Pretty much every hotel has a fitness center. If you go prepared to workout, you are much more motivated to do so. Lay out your clothes and shoes the night before. Make a basic plan for activities you want to do the night before so you’re not wasting too much time at the gym. When I travel, I never plan to do more than a 30-minute workout because I want to spend as much time as possible with my friends and family.


  1. Bring food with you when you fly. I didn’t know this until very recently, but you can pack a lunch and bring it through security and onto the plane with you. The last few times I’ve flown, I have made myself a sandwich and packed fruit from home. This way, I save money and I’m less tempted to splurge on candy.


  1. Traveling in a car? Wear comfortable clothes and bring your formal clothes to change into. Not only will you be more comfortable sitting for several hours but you will also be ready to take a walk and do some squats while you are at a rest stop or filling up the gas tank.


  1. Before you stuff your face, know your body. I already mentioned that when I’m eating holiday meals, I don’t worry about the calories. My one rule of thumb though is, if I am eating later in the evening, I know that if I have very heavy food closer to bedtime, it will affect my sleep cycle. I toss and turn and don’t feel great the next day. If this sounds like you, spring for a salad over pasta. You’ll sleep better and have more energy for holiday celebrations the next day because you didn’t eat a heavy meal right before bed, which can disrupt your digestion.


  1. Participate in a holiday race. There are plenty of opportunities this time of year to support various causes in an active way. These could be 5k runs, walks or even marathons that support local homeless shelters, food banks, or the Salvation Army just to name a few. Find a cause that resonates with you and sign up! Not only will you be supporting a great effort but you also have a reason to be active before you load up on delicious food.

By Sarah Herndon

At Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, we want to make sure you are able to enjoy your holiday season. If you need to address pain or soreness before that long drive or flight, don’t wait! Call us TODAY at 703450-4300 so we can help you have a pain-free holiday! Know someone who could use these tips? Send this article to them.

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