Despite the continued uncertainty with travel you may find yourself on the move again for work or potentially in the near future so now might be a great time to consider how things used to be for you before you fall back into old patterns. In times past I spent many days every year travelling for work. It meant a huge amount of time seated - take my car to the airport, sit in the airport waiting for the plane, sit on the plane, sit in the rental car at my destination, sit at the hotel. Then sit for hours behind a booth to speak with potential customers. Or sit at a restaurant/coffee shop with clients, before returning to my hotel to lay down and start it all over the next day.

To make matters worse much of that seated time would be spent gazing into my laptop answering emails and such. I was almost never seated in a place that enabled correct posture. Frequently hunched over, stomach and lungs compressed, neck at an odd angle it was not conducive to the long term health of my body.

Now picture the food. That tasty restaurant food loaded with salts, fats and sugars as its only meant to be a once in a while meal. No one expects the average person to eat at restaurants for three meals a day, day in day out. But on the road that's what you do. When you entertain a client that's what you do.

The first few years were fun. All new experiences and new places and people. But it starts to take its toll. The novelty wears off and you find yourself with less vitality for the day. Aches and pains will set in. Around the same time that my relationship to this type of travel was diminishing I had already started my shift towards a different way of living, my first faltering steps towards eating better and moving more was underway. Let me take some time to set the stage for you on what the changes were. Before I do please understand that I don't offer this as a prescription for you, I have no concept of who you are, what your experiences to date have been or why you may be reading this. I only offer this to show the choices I made, how they affected me and perhaps give you some guide posts as to a path forward that will no doubt need to adapt as you journey along it. I don't believe for a second that my experience is the best for everyone. I do believe there is some under pinning universal truths that will work for basically everyone. Nourish yourself with health promoting foods and move your body. But only you can determine how to best achieve these for yourself.

I had made the switch to what is commonly today called a Plant based diet. For me it was Plant exclusive, which is to say I cut all animal products out of my diet. No eggs, no dairy of any form, no pig, chicken, beef, fish etc. I was moving more and starting to put myself into very uncomfortable situations.

First my food. Plant Based / Vegan offerings even four years ago when I started (2017) were not as common as they are today. It was typical that my only option was a salad of some kind. I should note I am gluten free (for allergies - I have no issue with gluten as a part of a healthy diet for those that can tolerate it). So even pasta dishes were out of the picture at that time. I don't mind salads but its not my preferred way of incorporating vegetables into my diet.

This reality started to make me reconsider where I would stay. I used to stay at your standard hotel where the room was your place to sleep and not much else. You would eat at the restaurant in the hotel or go to an external one. But with breakfast often being a bowl of canned fruit, occasionally fresh it should come as no surprise that by lunch I was famished and salads at lunch plus salads at dinner were not a healthy way to go. I did some googling and found out that the hotel chain I typically used had another brand that were designed for longer stays (but you can still book it for a night if you want). Every room comes with a small kitchen, generally a two ring hotplate with a sink, fridge/freezer and microwave. Plus all the basic cutlery and utensils you need to cook and serve a meal. Even better they were cheaper rates than the standard hotel options I more commonly stayed at prior to this.

So how did this help? The first evening I was in the hotel I would stop at a local grocery store and much like at home would buy the items I needed for the duration of my stay. There would still be times where I would entertain clients or opt to eat "out", but the ratio was shifting in favour of my meals being home made. I could also make a packed lunch to enjoy at the different conference events I might be at if I wished. I will provide a sample day of meals for you at the end of this post for you to consider for yourself if this idea resonates with you. What this did for my health though was significant, it allowed me to dial up what I was doing when at home, which in turn began to build my health back up, my mental wellness increased and this meant less time sat down waiting for my food to come to me. Instead I was in motion creating my meal, it might not sound like much but let me tell you that it all adds up.

With that said lets continue with that thought around motion. Now that I was better fueled I was more inclined to want to use the energy I had in reserve. Let me start by saying when this all began I could not run even a half a kilometer without being out of breath. At first I started to use the various gyms, pools etc that many hotels offer and that is all well and good. If that works for you awesome. I get really bored in those environments, I found that venturing outside was a better solution to keep me motivated. In Canada we have become very used to using the car to get around, in many places its really the only option due to poorly designed cities and/or the extremes in winter weather. But as with many things the use of the car often extends beyond the necessary to the everyday.

So how did I start to adapt? Simply put by walking more. Often times the various locations I would be visiting were all within a walk of one another, but the old me would have driven to each location regardless. So instead I would drive to the first office and then plan my day such that I had the time for the 5 or 10 minute walk to the other places I needed to visit. Sometimes I might need a ride to a second hub area and then plan the day around that new area. Other times (and there were plenty in some cities) I had no option but to drive everywhere, so be it. Other ways of adding some additional walking were to find grocery stores within walking distance of the hotel, I would walk there and carry my supplies back. All of these smaller opportunities built into bigger ones.

Most of the time prior to this my evenings would find me back at the hotel watching tv or on the laptop, now that I had started a base of fitness I began to go for longer walks might be as much as an hour at first. I would explore the area around the hotel, I might drive to a park or other appealing location and explore that on foot. All of this was easier in the warmer months, but I also found that during the brutal cold of winter if it was really cold I might just go to a large mall and join the ranks of the mall walkers. Or at times I would accept that the treadmill or pool at the hotel was the best fit for the day even if it wasn't my preferred method. The added bonus of the exploration aspect was I started to learn first hand about the places my clients lived, it gave a different set of things to talk about. Shared experiences are often of value in building a relationship.

So I appreciate this is running a little long already. I could go on for pages and pages to try and teach you about all the things I learned and experienced but that presumes you the reader will have the same experiences and outcomes as me, which is unlikely. I will tell you that it built me to the place I am now, much fitter, more healthful (by no means perfect) and a bit more resilient physically and mentally than when I started. I have a ways to go, but its closer than it was at the start. Hopefully it gives you a few ideas to consider, to perhaps implement yourself if you desire to make some changes. You can tinker and tailor them from there as you learn from your first hand experience. I wish you only the best of luck on your journey, but known there will almost without fail be hurdles, pains, discomfort, lack of belief, set backs etc. But I suspect you will discover as I and many others have that growth is not linear, it frequently back tracks and what is true today for you may change tomorrow. Its all ok, try not to hang your hat on any one thing as the only way, or the only truth. Be adaptable and allow yourself to pivot as experience guides you. You are likely to come out stronger, happier and fitter in all aspects if you don't set your hopes on a particular outcome.

In closing I will leave you a sample of a breakfast, lunch and dinner that I would make frequently when using the hotels I described above, plus an option if you simply need to grab and go. Remember to bring a simple container or two from home when you pack so you can take your lunches with you on days that is the option. These are all plant based/vegan but if you prefer to have animal products you can add those as you wish to any of these. I would encourage you to consider making those a condiment however instead of the star of the dish, but that is for you to determine. All the best.

Breakfast: Go check out the organic aisle in your store you should be able to find either pre-mixed bags of rolled oats with dried fruits, seeds and nuts. Go for the ones without added sugars these are quick and easy to heat up on the stove with just water. You can opt to add your preferred milk option after also. Or if you have an early sales meeting and limited time here is a very easy to do overnight oats where you can buy all the items individual to suit your tastes.

Place 1/2 cup of Steel Cut Oats or rolled oats if preferred into a suitable container (Glass if you intend to reheat in a microwave)

Add 2/3 cup of preferred milk or plant based alternative. You will be able to play around with this until you find the ratio you prefer. Mix together with a spoon. If you intend to heat the oats then seal the container and place in fridge overnight. If you plan to eat cold you can add any of the toppings you like before placing in fridge otherwise add the toppings after heating.

Suggested toppings: Berries such as blueberries and raspberries are excellent and if you are using rolled oats will help to blunt the higher glycemic spike they have compared to steel cut oats.

Sliced Banana (best if added right before eating)

Raisins, Apricots, Cherries

You can add a moderate amount of nuts and or seeds if you wish such as chia seeds if you like a more pudding like texture. Nuts and seeds are very healthful but it is very easy to eat to many and they are very calorie dense. Try to only add a small handful at most. Flax – table spoon, Chia Seeds – Table spoon, Cashews, Walnuts, Peanuts if you like or even a spoonful of peanut butter

Feel free to experiment with spices also such as : Cinnamon or Nutmeg

The beauty of this dish is its simplicity and endless options. Play around with pretty much any whole food toppings and as organic and natural as you can. Don't be afraid to use Frozen berries either, they are often cheaper and usually retain more of their nutrient content compared to fresh berries shipped long distances and picked before their peak ripeness and highest nutrient content.

If you opt to make a larger container you may find you are full before you have finished it. This is fine you can finish the rest later or as a substitute to your regular snack foods if you like.

Lunch: Salad and Sandwich

Salad – While there is value in more traditional salad mix such as romaine and iceberg lettuce it is also a great opportunity to add greens to your daily diet in particular if you don't use them at breakfast or dinner. In this case I would opt for Spinach / Kale / Chard. All three are readily available in many stores and can be bought separately to prepare yourself or in ready bags sometimes as a mixture. You can always bulk out the salad with say Romaine if desired.

Although it is tempting to buy ready made salad kits the dressings that come with them are often loaded with salts, fats and sugars so it is usually best to make you own.

Use however much salad mix you desire to create a good size base.

This is where the fun and experiments begin. Salads can be savory or sweet and anywhere in between. Feel free to try any number of combinations that you wish until you find a selection that work for you. Below is a suggestion:

Base of Greens (as much as you wish)

1 Tomato

1/3 medium cucumber – leave the skin on to maintain the nutrient density

Perhaps some nuts or seeds if you didn't have them with breakfast. Cashews and walnuts both make great additions to salads, again limit to a small handful as they are easy to overeat.

1/2 or whole Bell Pepper

Feel free to add any of your favourite vegetables to the above which acts great as is or as a base to enhance.

For a dressing I would encourage something simple such as a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This will help to limit any additional fats which are common and add up quickly in dressings. It would be better to get your fat requirements from sources such as nuts and seeds or avocados instead of oils in dressings.

You may find some additional spices would be helpful such as a little bit of salt and pepper or I also frequently enjoy a mild curry spice sprinkled in. Don't be afraid to try anything, you can even break the salad into two containers and have a couple of flavour options if you want.

Sandwich:

Use a good quality Whole Grain bread. You can very quickly take some of the ingredients from the salad to create the base so add a few leaves of greens and maybe a couple of slices of cucumber for crunch then add some element of protein to keep you full through the afternoon.

Something as simply as a thick slice of firm tofu can be a great meat substitute if your going that way.

You may find that adding some humus to the sandwich will give it some additional flavour, protein and moisture if desired. Again opt for brands that contain limited added oils, salts etc. In time this is another food item you can learn to make yourself as your kitchen skills increase and time permits.

Dinner:

1/2 cup Quinoa

1 cup water

1/2 can of black beans drained and rinsed

The above form the core components, simply bring the water and quinoa to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Fluff once cooked. (your package will give you its preferred cooking times)

In a bowl mix together the black beans with whatever vegetables and spices you are in the mood for. You can add a little olive oil if you wish along with a touch of salt (use as little as possible). Combine the mixture with the quinoa and serve. Or pour it all into a suitable container and place in the fridge. You can take this with you to eat for lunch the next day and it will be great cold also.

A sample batch of vegetable and spices to include could be

1/4 cup of Sweet Corn – steam for a few minutes or cook as directed on package.

1/4 small Red Onion or green onions if preferred

1/4 – 1/2 bell pepper

1/4 to half a small lime – squeezed for the juice

1/8 teaspoon Cumin

1 tablespoon of fresh chopped Cilantro

You an also add some chopped greens such as spinach to this if desired. (Greens are always a great addition at any time of day)

Don't like quinoa then go for rice instead. Feel free to increase the serving amounts to suit your particular needs. Or double the recipe and have enough for the next days lunch as mentioned above. I sometimes would eat this for breakfast also. Its very simple to switch out the quinoa/rice etc for potatoes I frequently liked mashed or cubed & boiled then given a slight pan fry to crisp.

Grab and Go:

Some times I would get off a plane pretty late or just had a long day etc and to be honest did not want to cook anything. So instead I would source ahead of time options for as healthy as possible fast foods. One I really liked was Freshii. I would be able to get a build it yourself bowl with beans, rice, greens all manner of vegetables for a reasonable price and always felt full afterwards. I also found these to be perfect for the next day at a conference event, instead of eating the typical buffet foods served at those events I would order a second serving from Freshii and then pull it out of the fridge in the morning and take it with me. Because I don't have any meat or dairy in mine I really had no issues with needing to keep it cool until lunch. So you may need to adapt your choices to suit your situation.