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tips for staying healthy on the road: a guest post by Matt Maggiacomo

Posted Oct 01 2012 8:00am
Matt, Lauren, and me at their wedding
just over a year ago :)
This week I am a guest on my good friend Matt Maggiacomo's YouTube series 34Percent , in which he explores the nutritarian lifestyle and shares it with the world in a quest to lose 34% of his total body weight. I was really honored to be a guest on Matt's channel, so I asked him to write a guest post for us. Matt is a touring musician (you may remember him from my best friend's wedding, he happened to be the groom!), and I think the tricks he has discovered for staying healthy on the road are applicable to many typical American lifestyles, including business travelers, road-trippers, and everything in between. If you enjoy Matt's wonderful sense of humor and boundless knowledge, show your support by subscribing to his channel ! Take it away, Matt!


I've been a touring musician for over five years, and person struggling with obesity for even longer. One pattern that's developed is this: no matter how much weight-loss momentum I have going into a tour, I always seem to fall into the same traps once I'm away from home.

I was finally able to crack the code this past summer; over the course of three separate tours with two-week breaks in between, I was able to lose about 20 pounds (in addition to the 30 I'd lost during the spring). Not only has the weight stayed off, but I've also upped my total weight lost to 60 pounds since my summer touring schedule ended in late August. Overall, I am 60% of the way toward achieving my ultimate goal of losing 100 pounds.

So, what was different about this summer?

First off, I should mention that I actually gained weight during my first tour of the summer, a two-week trip during June. I went into this tour with some specific goals in mind: I was going to give veganism a try, I was going to stay away from all fried food, and I was going to eat a lot of salads. I quickly realized that you can't really give veganism a try. It's a lifestyle change and it requires one's full attention and dedication. Also, St. Louis happened. If you've never been to St. Louis, one thing you should know about it is that they put meat on EVERYTHING. Even meat. You want a plain hamburger? Too bad. They'll top it with 10 strips of bacon and a boneless buffalo wing. We spent three days in St. Louis and my failure was legendary.

Sometimes the worst failures are the greatest motivators; a few days later I was home from that first tour, and I spent a few days tearing through books by a few authors associated with the documentary Forks Over Knives . I was particularly impressed with two leaders of the so-called nutritarian lifestyle, Joel Fuhrman and John MacDougall. I took my favorite parts of these authors' respective diet plans, mashed them into a plan that made the most sense for me and my long-term goals, and went into my second tour of the summer fueled by my sense of certainty that I was doing the right thing.

 It turns out that success on the road is basically the same as success at home. The major difference is that you can't go to a grocery store, buy a bunch of healthy food for the week, and then deposit that food into your refrigerator. You can still buy healthy food though, and (believe it or not) grocery stores actually exist EVERYWHERE, not just in your home town! Here are some basic tips for eating healthy on the road
1. Don't go to fast food restaurants and expect to find healthy options. That's like going to a football game and expecting to find an in-depth discussion of nuclear physics. Nothing is healthy at fast food restaurants. Even the salads are pesticide-ridden shit piles of wilted green things. If you're desperate for a nutritious meal and your only choices are McDonald's and a gas station, choose the gas station.

2. Most gas stations include a convenience store, and bananas are available at almost all of them. It's a bit peculiar, but 85% of the gas stations across the country have a little pile of bananas at the register. Bananas are awesome, and one or two of these guys will fuel you until you can find a grocery store or a better restaurant. If you're in need of a whole meal, grab some roasted almonds to eat with your fruit.

3. Grocery stores have express lanes for a reason. It's totally acceptable to walk into a grocery store and only buy one or two or three fresh items for immediate consumption. Stick to the perimeter of the store for fresh food. The produce section is bound to have at least a few obligatory organic products; a 16-ounce container of organic mixed greens makes a surprisingly filling meal. Think raw and get creative.

4. Don't be afraid to tell servers what you want. Even the most generic chain restaurants will try to make you happy, so long as you communicate exactly what your limitations are. Granted, you can't expect Chili's to alter their assortment of pre-cooked entrees into some magical, fresh, organic feast. But you can probably work with your server to create an option that won't throw you too far off your goals. Ask questions, make simple requests, and make sure you're nice about it.

5. If you're staying with friends or relatives, keep in mind that these people love you and they want you to be happy. Just as restaurant servers are paid to deal with your ridiculous demands, so are your friends and family obligated to put up with your incessant pickiness and belly-aching. Seriously, after worrying that I was being a pain in the ass throughout the summer, I found that most of my hosts actually had vegan-friendly meals that they cooked on a regular basis. Some were excited to try new recipes, and the worst case scenario is that we googled vegan-friendly restaurants and went out to eat.

6. Just keep reminding yourself that you have goals for a reason. Yes, it's true that nothing is permanent and everybody makes mistakes. The best thing to do when you fall off the horse is to get back on and keep on riding. Or you can simply stay on the damn horse in the first place. A week or two away from home doesn't have to deter you from your goals.

Thanks Matt! And for your viewing pleasure, here is my interview! Isn't the screen cap just beautiful? :)

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