Getting Away? 8 Things That Should Be in Your Suitcase

Article posted in: Lifestyle

There is no question: We think you should get away this year. In fact, we’ve compiled a pretty solid list of six reasons you pretty much have to take a vacation this year (check it out here).

But because we know that traveling while trying to stay healthy or lose weight is a tall order (the plane is full of germs, your sleep schedule is off, you eat predominantly at restaurants, and, if you’re an exerciser, put miles between yourself and the gym), we’re here to help. Losing weight while on the road isn’t impossible, and it doesn’t have to put a damper on all the things that make traveling great—in fact, by packing your suitcase with the following eight items, it can even enhance the adventure of getting away:

1. Earplugs and an eye mask

It’s not just for the plane: You never know when a hotel will have sheer curtains with blaring light outside, or when your on-the-road neighbors decide to get up early, stay up late, have a fight or a party when you’re trying to get some shuteye.

And sleep is important for your weight loss progress: Losing as little as 30 minutes of sleep every weekday can result in weight gain and have significant effects on insulin resistance, increasing your risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Studies have found that you’re more likely to snack on high-carb stuff late at night when you aren’t getting enough slumber, and you’re more likely to eat bigger portions in general. And a study from the University of Chicago found that those sleeping seven or more hours were less hungry than those who slept less, and lost twice as much fat.

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2. A reusable water bottle

Once you get through TSA, a bottle of water can cost you an arm and a leg, and the price point might keep you from pulling the trigger. And flying causes faster dehydration than plain old walking around—the pressurized air in the cabin is much less humid than the air you’re used to breathing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also says that staying hydrated can help fight off jet lag.

Bringing along a resuable bottle means you can hit the water fountain for a cost-free fill-up as soon as you’re through security. And that can help with your weight loss, especially if you chow down before you board: In a study from Virginia Tech, participants who drank 16 ounces of water before meals for 12 weeks lost 36 percent more weight than those who didn’t drink.

3. A snack to crush your cravings

All that waiting in the terminal and walking past bags and bags of salty, sweet and chewy snacks can be a recipe for a snack craving—and mindless eating that results in the whole bag disappearing.

Save yourself the seven dollars and save your weight loss progress by being prepared for your specific type of craving: If you know you love salty snacks, bring along a pre-measured portion of salted nuts or stock up on the top 12 Salty Snacks from Nutrisystem. If you’re into sweet snacks, bring something with fiber—like a portion of dried mixed fruit—or one of Nutrisystem’s top ready-to-go treats (stock up here >). Just be prepared for your specific craving: No one knows what you grab for better than you, so a little preparation can have you ready for when the mood—or a delayed flight—strikes.

4. Sunscreen or a moisturizer with SPF 15

More than two million people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year, according to statistics from the Skin Cancer Foundation. And rates of melanoma continue to rise throughout the U.S.

If you’re serious about your health, this has to be in your bag—and needs to be applied correctly and often enough. Experts recommend applying a silver dollar’s worth to your face and neck before going into the sun, and every two hours after that. And a bonus: Once you put it on, it can be a reminder to you to get outside and put that SPF to some use.

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5. Athletic shoes and bug spray

Once you’re protected from the sun, get moving! Some research done in animals studies has found that exercise helps fight off jet lag—and while not every mouse or hamster study means results for people, anecdotal evidence from frequent travelers also suggests jet lag can be reduced in this way, and exercise has been shown to give your immune system a boost, which you’ll need after hours in a germ-filled plane.
More important, it’s a great way to explore your new surroundings. If you’re traveling for business, you can often miss everything about a city that isn’t in a conference room or hotel bar. Check the city’s chamber of commerce website to see if there are downloadable audio walking tours, or use TripAdvisor or a similar site to find a local hike—where that bug spray will come in handy.

6. A list of local restaurants to check out, with a cheat sheet of what you’ll order

This takes a little preparation, but it’s worth it: Instead of poring over review sites when you’re starving or being unable to decide and winding up at the hotel restaurant, do your dinner prep homework when you’re still at home. Check out local reviews to find potential target restaurants, and check out their menus online to see what you can order that fits with your lifestyle and plan. That way, when the question of “where should we eat” comes up with coworkers, you’re ready—not to impose your weight loss program on them, but with a suggestion that fits your plan while getting you all out to see the city. And not having to hem and haw over where to go? They’ll thank you for it.

7. Free passes or trial memberships to local gyms

If you’re planning to exercise, it’s good to be prepared: Even if the hotel website has pictures of a glorious fitness room, the equipment may be broken or the reality might not live up to the photos. If that’s the case, be armed and ready with an alternative—look up gyms near where you’re staying that you can get to easily, and call ahead to see if they offer three-day trial memberships or an affordable drop-in rate.
Print out the coupons and directions before you leave for the trip, so when you’re exhausted and the fitness center stinks, you won’t have an excuse—you’ll have a plan B that keeps you on your plan.

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8. Your food log

You’re keeping one, right? Keeping a food diary—just writing down what they ate—helped participants in a 2008 study lose twice as much weight as those who kept no records of their eating.

It doesn’t have to be pen and paper, of course. In fact, your phone can be even better: In a small study from 2014, users of a smartphone app were more than 20 percent more consistent with their food logging and diet tracking over eight weeks versus those who used paper logs.

Nutrisystem’s “NuMi” app can make it even simpler. The free app already contains the complete Nutrisystem entree database programmed in, and it can be matched to your plan for seamless tracking of your meals.