Project Revamp: How to Travel While Revamping

A work trip meant Abby took her lifestyle transformation on the road. So how'd she do in the world of buffet lunches and client dinners? Read on.

The whole idea of a “lifestyle transformation” sounds pretty dramatic, right? Like, “If you do these things, follow these rules, eat this and avoid that, your life will magically morph into something spectacular and all your dreams will come true.” I realized this week that it’s not quite so simple. Now that’s not to say that the week wasn’t a success—I totally rocked the whole revAMp-while-traveling challenge—but it wasn’t easy.

Here’s a little secret about me: I hate change. (Ok, that’s not a secret at all. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I cried for months when I left for college and how mopey I was after LOST went off the air. But whatever.) What I’m trying to say is that while I totally bought in to the idea of changing my lifestyle, it took a while to register that, in order to actually achieve anything, I would have to change my behaviors. Like, do different things than I did before. I know that sounds obvious, but it really didn’t hit home until this week.

This realization came in the middle of a business dinner at my favorite Thai restaurant on the planet. (When I say favorite, I mean for real faaaavorite. Like, if you’re ever within driving distance of Alpharetta, Georgia, go here. I won’t even start talking about their Pad Thai or we’ll never get anything accomplished.) So, anyway, I was pumped for this dinner, but thinking of how to eat sensibly. I even looked at the menu online during the day to start thinking about options.

Let’s just say the menu was not exactly revAMp-friendly. Every dish had one ingredient on my do-not-eat list. Noodles, sugar, even rice was out of the question. And that, friends, is when it hit me: I have to be one of those people. You know who I mean. The I’ll-have-this-but-change-every-ingredient-a-little-bit-until-it’s-not-the-same-thing-at-all people. As someone who really doesn’t like to inconvenience others, I’ve never been one of those people. “Dressing on the side” is about as picky as I get. Or rather got, until this whole thing started.

Thankfully, our waitress was really helpful and the chef was happy to grill me up some delicious sea bass with snap peas and a spicy garlic basil sauce (if that doesn’t sound awesome to you, we can’t be friends), and I survived my first great meal alteration. With the confidence boost I got from dinner, I even put a little more effort into the rest of my meals on the trip. Armed with my own stash of approved snacks from home, I asked the concierge for fresh fruit at breakfast and went strictly salads at lunch. Clearly this took a little more effort and restraint than just bellying up to the buffet, but it feels great to be heading home on track instead of off the wagon, nutritionally speaking. And now I know that a (thoroughly-cleaned) key card is a perfect tool for slicing a banana in a hotel room. Bonus!

One other totally awesome thing I did this week was go to a hip-hop class in Center City. I figure that if this experience is about creating a better Abby, then it only makes sense that she should be a fantastic dancer. Not to mention, it’s 90 minutes of pure, sweaty cardio fun. If you’re a secret superstar and want to come hip and hop with me, I’ll be there again this Friday. Happy Thursday, y’all!

>> How do you keep up your good health or fitness habits while you travel? Share your tips in the comments!


Abby McKenna, a management-training consultant living in Bryn Mawr, loves to bake and travels a lot for work. In June she signed a contract to revamp her health, fitness and eating habits in six weeks. She blogs every Thursday about her progress—and all the ups, downs, and in-betweens—right here on Be Well Philly. Catch up on the series here.