How this personal trainer stays healthy when traveling

Food, fitness and travel hacks to stay healthy on the road (wine included).
Stephanie Mansour pre-schedules her workouts and food delivery to ensure she gets back on track when she arrives home from traveling.
Stephanie Mansour pre-schedules her workouts and food delivery to ensure she gets back on track when she arrives home from traveling. Step It Up with Steph
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By Stephanie Mansour

As a personal trainer and weight-loss coach, my clients and followers are often curious about “how I do it.” What they’re asking is how I manage to maintain my weight, health and fitness regimens while I’m on the road traveling and attending social events with a cocktail in hand. Many people are surprised to find out that I do not spend hours a day in the gym; I don’t avoid cheese or wine; I love pizza; and sometimes my workout of the day is a 30-minute meditation.

I am no stranger to a jam-packed schedule or being surrounded by temptations. My motive for sharing a couple of days in my life is to demonstrate that with a little forethought, planning and commitment, I am able to balance the chaotic parts of my life with my health goals — while still enjoying myself. No restrictions, no “diet” mentality, and no strenuous workouts. I hope you enjoy this sneak peek and are able to glean some inspiration for your own busy lives!

Tuesday, 3:30 p.m.: Headed to the airport

Arrive at the West Palm Beach airport ready to fly back to Chicago after spending two days with my newborn niece, my sister and my brother-in-law. My sister and her husband are wine connoisseurs, so I wanted to be able to enjoy some wine even though I had two video shoots later in the week. I also needed to focus on not feeling bloated and looking tight and toned because as we all know, the camera adds 10 pounds! I cut out cheese, but still had a couple of glasses of wine each night. I know that cheese makes me feel bloated, so I made a deal with myself: I would allow myself to indulge in some wine, but skip the cheese.

Mansour spending time with her niece in Florida.Stephanie Mansour

3:35 p.m.: Hydrating through airport security

Brought a full water bottle to the airport and chugged it before security. Even if I forget to drink it, the alarm goes off on security so I have to chug or toss it. Then I refill it before boarding the plane.

4 p.m.: Take advantage of down time at gate

I order groceries via Amazon Prime to make detox soup tonight to avoid dialing for takeout when I get home. Usually after flights I am starving, so if I don’t have fresh groceries waiting for me when I arrive home, I am reaching right for the delivery menu. I also love my detox soup, so if I know I have all the ingredients to whip it up quickly, I will be craving a bowl!

I also sign up in advance for meditation class and schedule my workout in the morning in my calendar (only 30 minutes, so I’ll make it count.) The workout is a HIIT workout that includes strength training, cardio bursts and abs.

4:30 p.m. Flight back to Chicago

Order 2 glasses of water, no ice, when the beverage cart comes. I also eat my protein bar that I brought from my sister’s house. I avoid airplane food when possible because of the high sodium, which causes my face to look bloated (and my body to feel bloated!). For my clients who are a bit more vain, this speaks to them in the moment more so than just avoiding airplane calories. They want to look more defined in their face and not bloated (and so do I, especially when filming!).

7 p.m.: Land in Chicago

I make sure I’ve downed my water bottle, and then refill it again in the airport for the ride back to my apartment. Drinking half your body weight in ounces of water per day is the rule of thumb, but while traveling I try to drink double this. The dry airplane air not only affects my skin but also affects my digestion, so this is why I make sure I'm hydrated.

8 p.m.: Back to my apartment in Chicago

I make detox soup. Sometimes I have two servings of this if I’m really hungry. For some reason, I am always hungrier on travel days. I know that if I have an endless pot of this soup, I’ll go back for seconds because it’s hot and fresh rather than going for something pre-packaged (and higher in calories, sodium or fat!). Here is the rough recipe I follow (but you can also add in any veggies you have on hand):

Detox soup.Stephanie Mansour

Detox Soup

  • 1 bag spinach
  • 1 bag chopped kale
  • 1 bag cut up broccoli
  • 1 frozen bag diced carrots, onions, celery
  • 1 container zucchini zoodles
  • 1 container low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 chicken breasts, cooked
  • Season with Himalayan pink sea salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

This is a super quick, one-pot soup. Throw everything except the zucchini noodles into the pot and let it simmer. Keep it on low for 10 minutes, then add in the zucchini noodles and cook for about 15 more minutes. However, if I’m in a rush I’ll just add in the zucchini noodles up front and cook the whole pot for 15 minutes. If you want the noodles harder, don’t keep them in as long. If you want them softer, keep them in the pot for however long you want!

11 p.m.: Bedtime

Reading in bed. (I’m a night owl!)

Wednesday, 8 a.m.: Wake-up call

8:30 a.m.: Work out

I do my workout to wake me up instead of starting the day with a cup of coffee. If I drink too much coffee, it can cause me to feel anxious and a little jittery. So on days when I am doing a fitness shoot or a TV segment, I regulate my coffee intake and use my workout as a morning boost instead.

10 a.m.: Blowout and breakfast

Two hard boiled eggs and gluten-free toast for breakfast. I read somewhere that eggs help with brain function, plus they are filling, so I am obsessed with eating eggs on tape days! I take my vitamins (which I organize for the week in my vitamin organizer on Sundays).

11 a.m.: On set in Chicago

Drink a black coffee.

12:45 p.m. Order big lunch that will double as dinner

I spend $20 for an 8-ounce piece of salmon, quinoa and veggies from a local healthy food restaurant and pick it up on my way home from the TV station. It's pricey, but I make two meals out of it. This is my go-to because it’s the perfect mix of protein, nutrient-dense and fiber-filled veggies, and grains.

1 p.m.: Client calls

On a typical client call we will go through the basics about what they’ve eaten throughout the past week, how their workouts have gone, and how they’ve felt emotionally about themselves. Then we make a plan for the upcoming week and also, most importantly, we discuss any issues that may be preventing them from succeeding in following through on our plan — such as travel, dinners out, family obligations, social outings, etc.

1:30: Lunch break and pack

I take a break to eat lunch and then pack my suitcase for a quick trip to New York — plus wrap up my leftover lunch to eat on the plane. When traveling, I always pack my sound machine, slippers and under eye patches to aid in sleep and comfort (which means fewer under-eye bags while traveling). Plus I never leave the house without my water bottle.

5 p.m.: Leave for airport

7 p.m.: Squeeze in some movement around the airport

I have extra time before my flight boards, so I do some laps around the terminal. I make an effort to pull my suitcase with my left hand because my right arm is bigger and stronger. (My right bicep is measurably larger than my left; in fact, I do 7.5-lb dumbbell curls with the left arm and 5-lb curls with the right!). I’m trying to even them out, but I’m right-handed so everyday activities like carrying my purse or a suitcase cause my right arm to be bigger.

7:30 p.m.: Flight to NYC

Chug two glasses of water from the beverage cart. Stink up the plane as I open up my leftover salmon, veggies and quinoa. I have some clients who are self-conscious about bringing food on a flight … the smell only lasts for a few minutes, and you can apologize to your seatmates (like I do!) before you open the container. Another reason I Iike to bring food on the plane is that if I don’t eat it, I’ll waste it! I don’t go through the hassle of bringing a frozen pack to keep my food cold, so after a couple of hours out, it’ll be spoiled. Just one more motivator to get my fix of protein and veggies and eat that meal.

10 p.m.: Land in NYC

I packed a Kind Bar (dark chocolate!) to eat once I get back to the hotel as a nighttime snack. There’s 7 grams of protein so it’s a filling snack (unlike chips!) and I look forward to eating chocolate. I then take a shower, put on my slippers and read to fall asleep.

Thursday, 6 a.m.: Morning routine

Wake up, drink water — I can’t figure out the in-room coffee maker at hotel.

I drink two extra glasses of water since I can’t have my cup of coffee before I leave. I’ll never say NO to extra hydration! It’s a great way to start the day, too, because your body can become dehydrated while sleeping after not drinking water for 7+ hours.

6:30 a.m.: Grab breakfast on my way to shoot

Leave hotel with my luggage and change of clothes for photo shoot. Stop at overpriced NYC coffee shop, get a large iced coffee and two hard boiled eggs. These eggs, placebo or not, are a must when I am filming because my mind needs to be sharp and in the moment. Especially when you’re on live TV, there is no room for stutters or mistakes! When the taping is done, I look forward to having a piece of gluten-free pizza and a glass of wine — even though I’m a health and fitness guru, I still love my pizza and vino! And allowing myself to enjoy them both as a treat in moderation keeps me from ever feeling deprived. Plus, after a hectic few days, I think I deserve it.

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