If you are a caregiver and have been told a million times to carve out time for yourself, get some respite and seek help, send me a virtual fist bump and try not to bang your head on a very hard surface. For me, just that I can schedule in a daily shower is a victory and fulfills my health and wellness quota for the day.
However, on the serious side, I have a an earnest desire to prevent this horrific disease called “Alzheimers”, and frankly, all other chronic diseases that plague our world. If I can just push myself outside the comfortable, while in the present, I will reap in the future, by enjoying my aging disease-free, pain-free and medication-free.
Part of my push includes intense planning and preparation, which is a huge added task to a caregiver, who is consumed with their loved ones’ responsibilities. We plan their doctor appointments, their routine tests, their medication management, their bedtime schedule, their finances, etc. We, as caregivers, are the last of the long list of planning that usually fades away into the abyss.
Recently, I attended a Caregiving Conference in Chicago, IL. In order to attend this conference, I had to arrange months ahead of time. I had to negotiate the caregiver hours, arrange the time I would be gone with my husband, who works, ensure all my moms medications were filled, and doctor appointments kept. This list goes along with the negotiation of my paid full-time job, as I needed to carve out time to develop the presentation with my partner, edit slides, draft handouts and meet the dates of the conference coordinator. I had to find the funds to go to the conference, budget the trip around my other financial responsibilities and plan what I could do and not do while in Chicago. So exactly where did that leave the time to incorporate the Health and Wellness piece into my travel plans?
Below are three simple tips I am trying to make a habit as a traveling caregiver, so I don’t end up eating cheesecake every night from the hotel restaurant.
- Pick up some budget-friendly healthful snacks from the grocery store before you leave that fit right into a carry-on bag. I stuff a clear zip-lock bag full of nuts, jerky, and plantain chips; enough to carry me through the number of days I will be gone from home. Your hotel may not be in the ideal location with access to a grocery store, so packing what you need for those airplane and late night munchies will help and reduce vending machine temptation.
- Pack a pair of sneakers, at least one set gym clothes and download some body-weight only exercises. Most hotels have small gyms, but you really do not need to leave your room to get your heart rate up. I always tend to overpack for the gym, as my goal is to go everyday while I am on travel. However, travel lethergy is real, especially when you have left one busy life behind and have a compromised immune system. Keep it realistic and simple. One outfit will suffice for a couple of days.
- Ask for what you don’t see, but need. Finding something healthy to eat at the airport or in a restaurant can be the very last fight you want to battle in the arena. My partner and I walked around the food court in Chicago for 20 minutes examining the menus for the “gluten-free, dairy-free, everything-free” options. It just did not exist. As my stomach began to yell at me, I passed Dunkin Donuts and saw those chocolate glazed donut holes. Oh yes, they were inviting me in like a warm cozy sweater on a cold Chicago night. My stomach wanted them. I was so hungry. But I walked back around to the Latino restaurant and told them what I needed. They made it for me, right on the spot, with no hesitation at all. And….it only cost me a few dollars, $5.90 to be exact. In some airports where the cities are more progressive and eco-friendly, like Chicago, they have installed Farm Friendly Fridges that include healthy options. These also can be found on local colleges and University campuses. These are a great option when trying to stay on track. Check the locations of these fridges before you leave to plan for access and cost.
No matter what role you hold, these are some simple and economical ideas to incorporate into your travel planning. As a caregiver, I am seeking to stay consistent in my healthful routine, in order to live a life of freedom, rather than in chains to doctors, medicine and illness. I am making these habits apart of my every travel itinerary. If you have additional ideas, please feel free to send in comments and I will post.
“Those who think they have no time for healthy eating…will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” ~Edward Stanley