Hey guys! Sorry it’s been awhile since I updated. I’m writing this article from atop a marble kitchen counter in Idaho Falls while visiting family. I figured writing about something I’m currently experiencing makes sense.
A little over a week ago, I hopped on a plane from Manila, Philippines and took a 13-hour flight to Los Angeles, CA where, soon after landing, got into a car for a 5-hour drive to Las Vegas, Nevada. To say it was exhausting is an understatement. Apart from jet lag, my main challenge on this trip is the fact that I’m prepping for an upcoming competition and anyone who’s ever prepped for a show knows just how daunting and difficult it is.
My main concerns were: eating on time, getting regular lifting sessions in, and getting enough sleep.
Being a city of lights and ‘sin,’ it was going to prove difficult being in Vegas and knowing I had to maintain my regimen. I was there for the Gold’s Gym Convention where my team and I represented the Philippine Franchise. Quick shout-out to the Dayrit family who won 3 awards under their franchise group and with whom we got to go onstage and take memorable photos with.
But while everyone got to go see sights, watch shows, eat and drink Vegas-style, I had to keep my priorities in focus. After a week out on the West Coast, it was time for me to get on a plane to Idaho Falls and be with family. Luckily, this time, I’ll be staying in a house with home cooked meals (and better ingredients for my meal prep) instead of a hotel surrounded by burger n’ shake restaurants, steak houses, and pubs (all of which, however, I’m a fan of when I’m off-season haha).
All that said, let’s talk about some challenges and ways on how you can avoid wrecking your prep while traveling.
Depending on the length of your flight, you’ll want to make sure you pack enough snacks and food so you don’t go hungry. Make sure you look up the requirements and rules about the kind and amount of food you are allowed to bring as carry-on and check-in. Typically you’ll want to keep your meals in a cooler bag as carry-on so you can reach for your own measured meals instead of rolling the dice on whatever food the airline will serve inflight. Zipped bags of nuts or rice crackers, single-serve packets of peanut butter, and protein bars can help tide you over as well. Measure them out by weight or calories so you don’t go overboard or lose track. Labelling them (ex: 1/c oats; 50g almonds/ 288cal; etc) will also help you track your macros and keep your calorie intake in check.
Cooked chicken, sweet potatoes, etc don’t keep for too long–about 4 hours at room temperature would be safe though, so make sure that whatever you pack gets consumed within that time frame. Check with TSA and the airline management to make sure whether they allow ice packs in carry-on items because that would be a big help in storing them for longer. Stuff like peanut butter, yogurt, applesauce, or any other liquid or gelatinous food items are not allowed by security if they are more than 3 ounces. I was devastated having to chuck an entire jar of peanut butter that a good friend had personally homemade for me because I tried to bring it as a carry-on item (amateur hour, I know. *eyeroll*). Obviously, I didn’t think that one through.
I also made sure to bring an empty bottle of water with me so I could stay hydrated during the trip (security won’t let you bring liquid through, so either chuck the entire bottle and buy new ones, or just empty it out and refill it–which is a better option for Mother Nature). It’s pretty crazy how an elevation of 5,000 feet above sea level (that’s in reference to Idaho Falls) can make a HUGE difference on my required water consumption. I’ve had to lug around a gallon-jug just to keep from getting parched (which I was, every five minutes), and more important than accessing food, is getting my water in.
At one point while in Vegas, we hit up Whole Foods and got to have a clean and nutritious dinner there. Choices like that help make it easier to stick to your meal plan/diet. I didn’t want to be a spoilsport and miss out on some team time, so I went with them but also managed to still enjoy eating out.
TRAINING SESSION/GYM LOGISTICS
The first thing I made sure of was that wherever I would be staying had a gym in order to stay committed to my lifting regimen. Luckily the gym at the hotel where we stayed in Vegas barely had people using it, so I pretty much had free rein of the equipment. If you happen to be staying somewhere (like a hostel, a motel, or an AirBnB) that has no gym, hop online and search for gyms nearest you and ask them if they give away 7-day passes or at least have a good deal for the length of your stay.
Moving to Idaho Falls was different because I would have to drive to the gym. Luckily I have an international pass that gave me 14 free visits to any Golds Gym worldwide. The gym closer to our house had a BOGO (buy one, get one free) deal for when you purchase a week’s worth of visits.
Having my food and gym details sorted out, the only thing I had to worry about now was my headspace.
STATE OF MIND WHILE OUT OF STATE
Anyone who’s ever competed or prepped for a show will likely tell you how stressful it can be just thinking about all the many ways it can go. You’re concerned about water retention, how much body fat you’re able to or still need to lose, physique, body composition, your current weight and how travel and location can fluctuate it, etc. That’s not even considering whether there are more personal things you’re dealing with.
It’ll help to have someone to talk to about this, someone who can listen to you and be a good sounding board as well. Make an effort to get out and do something fun that doesn’t have to compromise your prep. When stress levels are high, your cortisol has a tendency to shoot through the roof and that tends to cause your body to hold on to water (and nobody likes being bloated) and may sabotage whatever your approach is to prep.
While in Vegas, I managed to finally convince myself to hit the town one night for some live music. It didn’t involve getting drunk or loading up on greasy food. It just was a night of great live tunes, fun company, and relaxation. It helped me sleep better on my last night before driving back to LA and getting on a plane to Idaho. I realise that for me, it’s about making an effort to help me enjoy what I can wherever I am while still being able to accomplish what I set out to do. After all, part of competing is enjoying the process, learning about yourself and discovering yourself a bit more. While this sport is challenging, it doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable too.
If you have any questions or would like to share your fitness journey and stories, feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org