Okay, I think I’m finally getting the message life has been hitting me over the head with for the last few weeks: Life is not predictable. You have got to be able to make healthy choices away from home, out of your carefully planned safe zone, because most of life takes place there.
This week, my grandma got very ill and was admitted to the ICU in St. Louis, so I spent three days there unexpectedly. Once again, I heard Myself whining to Me that this was going to be hard because I couldn’t take all of my healthy food up there and I was going to have to eat out.
But I thought back to some of the conversations Pamela and I have had since we started, and I survived. I made healthy choices (most of the time). So I decided that in this post, I’d share some strategies for living a healthy lifestyle when you’re away from home, expectedly or not.
5 Ways to Be Healthy Away From Home
- Pack a snack bag. This is something we always had growing up, but it was usually filled with Cheez-its, Cheetos, and Cornuts, along with some candy. For the new, healthy you, fill it with pre-preportioned servings of almonds, granola bars, popcorn (already popped for the ride, plus some bags to pop while your away), granola, and your fruits of choice. Pack a cooler with yogurt and veggies.
- Tuck some tea bags in a baggie in your purse. One morning, I ate at the hospital cafeteria and really wanted some Dr. Pepper. Then I remembered my tea—why spend money on something—and something bad for me!—when I have a drink with me? I grabbed a honey packet and filled a cup of hot water and avoided one of my worst pitfalls. Don’t drink tea? This is a great chance to start! There are other options too, like Mio or Crystal Light On the Go that provide a great substitute for soda and are very portable.
- Research fast food before you eat out. I had lunch out a couple days while I was in St. Louis, but I used my smart phone to make healthy choices, even though I was eating out. There are apps that have restaurant nutrition information in them, or you can just Google it. The chicken fajita pita at Jack in the Box is a great choice, full of fresh veggies and chicken. I definitely would have made an unhealthy decision if I just winged it. Don’t have a smart phone? I bet your niece or cousin does. Ask to borrow it, or see if your hotel or hospital has a computer station you can use.
- Cut yourself some slack. I drank Dr. Pepper while I was at the hospital overnight. My dad had already deemed the $0.50 ICU waiting room coffee “terrible,” so I allowed myself a couple sodas while I was there. As long as I don’t get in the habit again or go overboard, it’s okay to break a rule or two occasionally.
- Go for a walk. Especially if your emergency trip has you sitting in a building with hundreds of sick people, you need the fresh air, and you are surrounded by reminders of why you need to maintain a healthy body. Spend time with your sick loved one, visit with family in the waiting room, and then go stretch your legs and get your heart rate up. Because of my husband’s work schedule, I had to take our puppy with us, so I had a great excuse to be active, but isn’t your health a good enough excuse? If the weather is rainy or the neighborhood is sketchy, there are usually miles of hospital corridor and plenty of stairs. Use them! If you are staying in a hotel, don’t miss workouts by using the hotel workout room. You could even ask at the hospital if there is one on-campus that you could use.
It’s finally getting through my thick skull: life does not stick to my plans, and if I want to get fit and stay that way, I need to roll with the punches. Do you have any strategies for maintaining your healthy lifestyle when life throws you a curveball? Share them in the comments!