2011-12-14

Traveling, Re-"Visited" - Major Voyages

A little while ago, I presented some tips for exercising and diabetes management when you're travelling. On the verge of going on a much bigger and more extended bout of travelling, I thought I would revisit the topic here.

(Get it? Re-Visit? Do you get it?)

First, let's recall the tips I shared before:
  • Stay on your own home's time zone, ignore the time zone changes.
  • Avail yourself of the hotel gymnasium, where applicable.
  • Buy your food in advance from a grocery store and keep it in your room for mealtimes.
That's all well and good, but next week I'm going on a much more significant journey, a longer distance over a longer period of time. To further throw a monkey into the works (yes, I do know that I have expressed this metaphor incorrectly), I will not be staying at a hotel, and will not have access to a home gym. In fact, I'll be experiencing a time zone difference of twelve hours and will have no real opportunity to get outside and exercise. This could be a real challenge.

Well, it's nothing I haven't tackled before, so I'd like to take some time to cover advanced travelling (for you experts out there). Rather than providing entirely new tips, I think it's better to simply expand on the rules we've already established.

So, here we go...

Don't Fight the Time Change
Ignoring the time change is important for small changes because it maintains your circadian rhythm with minimal interruption... up to a point. Naturally, there is only so far you can push this. When you find yourself with a twelve-hour time difference, you pretty much have to adapt to local time unless you plan on staying on everyone else's night shift.

Despite all the many pills and products that claim to make the transition easier on the body, the only sure-fire way to pull this off is to do the following:
  1. Sleep for the entire duration of the plane ride;
  2. Immediately behave as though local time is natural for you;
  3. When you get up, immediately turn on the lights and make sure your face and eyes get thoroughly doused in bright light (preferably sunlight).
Of these, #3 is obviously the easiest to control. #1 is something you'll just have to do your best at. #2 is the real challenge, but if you're a faithful Stationary Waves reader, then I'm confident you have the right mindset to pull it off!

Exercise: Just Figure It Out
If you're like me, you may be going somewhere without a readily accessible gym. You might luck out and find yourself in a location where you can walk around all day long, every day, or go for a hike every day. Or, you might find yourself mostly stuck indoors without a gym and in a heavily urbanized place that isn't really set up for a daily run. What to do?

First of all, resistance bands are inexpensive, easy to pack, and provide the perfect alternative to free weights. Zip on over to your local department store and pick them up - they are well worth the investment! You'll be able to do pretty much anything you can do with free weights.

Next, consider taking a jump rope with you for an excellent indoor cardio workout. Failing that, stick to proven things that work. Running in place might be a little silly, but jumping jacks are one of the greatest plyometric/cardio motioons out there! You can do them in virtually any space that has a little elbow room.

Never surrender your workout. You will only ever be limited by your imagination. There are so many great kinds of workouts out there. Choose one that works for your new travel environment and go with it.

Make Simple Food Choices
Going somewhere exotic? You might not have the same kind of control over your diet that you're used to having otherwise. Especially for us diabetics, that can spell major trouble.

No matter where you happen to be going, though, you can always find some variation of cooked meat, cooked vegetables, and fresh bread. These also happen to be the most inexpensive things to eat throughout the world. The simpler, the better. 

Fried fish is a classic. Cooked at high temperatures until it is absolutely crispy, it should provide you with enough protein and monounsaturated fat to keep your muscles healthy with minimal risk of food-borne illness.

Every country has its own favorite vegetables. I recommend going for cooked vegetables. (The fresh ones can be problematic from a sanitary standpoint.) The longer they're cooked, the fewer the nutrients, but also the more you can guarantee that they won't make you sick. For a temporary stay, it is probably best to have them over-cooked. You can always bring along some vitamin supplements if you're worried about micronutrients.

Every country also has its own version of bread, whether it's Indian roti or Salvadorean pupusa. This will give you a bigger blood glucose hit, so make sure you're familiar with the area you plan on visiting, and keep a notebook of carbohydrate counts with you, so that you can plan your insulin boluses correctly.

Conclusion
Well, that's it. Get some sleep, get a good workout in, and stick to simple foods. Oh, yeah, and have some fun while you're at it!

You may notice some reduced blogging while I'm traveling, or I may keep it going. Liveblogging my experiences would be pretty cool, so I'll do my best.