If you don't immediately recognize Emily DiDonato's name, her face will surely ring a bell. The New York City–based model became the face of Maybelline just months after graduating high school and has continued to appear in television and print ads for the brand. She's also modeled for Victoria's Secret and countless designer brands, as well as ad campaigns for some of the top fashion houses in the world. Through the demands of her impressive modeling career, DiDonato has become well-versed in all things beauty and wellness. Today, she's breaking down her tips for staying healthy and bloat-free while she travels internationally.
When most people think of models, they picture glamorous photoshoots in exotic locations. Indeed, as a model you do travel often to exotic locations for photoshoots, but just like any person, we deal with the trials and tribulations that come with a long travel day which is not so glamourous. Layovers, airplane food, airport lines and delays can lead anyone to ditch their wellness routine and grab the nearest burger and fries. Trust me, I’ve been there, but as a model, we are expected to arrive to our final destinations, fresh, fit, and healthy, making stopping for that burger a little less enticing. After years of traveling and navigating airports, train rides, foreign countries and hotels without gyms, I have had to master my wellness routine on the road. With a little bit of planning, staying motivated and sticking to your healthy lifestyle is doable, and I will share with you what tactics work for me.
One of the toughest things when traveling is sticking to a healthy, balanced diet. It’s so easy to throw in the towel after a long travel day and order from the kids’ menu when you arrive at the hotel, but my number one tip is to pack snacks. I always make sure to have nuts, apples, and healthy energy bars in my carry-on bag. I usually stop at Whole Foods before I travel to stock up on my favorite heathy go-to snacks. It also just makes me feel more calm to know that I have healthy options in my bag especially when I know there may not be great options on set. Being prepared assures me that I will never get hangry and I won’t have to feel bloated or guilty for indulging simply because of the lack of options wherever I am.
Fasting isn’t for everyone, but one thing that has helped my digestive system significantly is fasting while I fly. Eating in the air can cause bloating and airplane food is usually high in salt and preservatives. By avoiding eating in the air, I avoid unwanted bloating and swelling which is necessary when you’re headed straight from the plane to a fitting or to set. What I do make sure to do is to stay extremely hydrated. I bring my large Swell bottle on the plane and I fill it up as often as possible. I do have to use the bathroom very often, and I always try to book an aisle seat to avoid stepping over my fellow (usually napping) passengers, but hydration is key to keeping bloat at bay and to keep skin looking fresh.
Magnesium is one of my favorite supplements to travel with because it can help with so many things. Fun fact: Magnesium is actually a natural muscle relaxant. It helps me go to sleep on the plane or when I’m jet-lagged, and it doesn’t leave me feeling groggy the next morning. Magnesium is also great for digestion. Flying and dehydration can honestly block up my system for days at a time which can be total nightmare. Magnesium is a natural way to keep your digestive system happy and “moving”, if you catch my drift.
Part of the fun of traveling is being in a new place and trying new foods. I try not to be too hard on myself because just like one great workout doesn’t automatically give me a six pack of abs (I wish), one unhealthy meal won’t crash and burn my healthy lifestyle. I try to keep my meals high in protein and vegetables, and if I do a good job sticking to that, I reward myself with a meal of whatever I want.
Keep Your Goals Small
If I try to commit to a long one-hour workout when I arrive somewhere, it isn’t going to happen. I tell myself that I only need to do 10 minutes—that's all. By making the goal small, I usually do it and I always end up staying longer once I get my endorphins going. Also, remember: Not every workout is going to be your best and that’s okay. For some reason, when I remind myself that not every single workout I do needs to be a huge, sweaty, calorie-crushing workout, it helps takes the pressure off. I try to listen to my body and remember just moving and getting my heart rate up for a few minutes can be all my body wants or needs for the day.
Do a Hotel Room Workout
I try to stay at hotels with gyms, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. I’ve gotten very used to getting creative about my workouts in very small spaces. I love to do interval style, plyometric workouts in hotel rooms because you don’t need much room and you can get your heart rate up fast. My favorite thing to do is to put on an interval timer YouTube video and do a different exercise every 60 seconds until I hit 20 minutes. Sometimes I end up going from jumping squats, to jumping lunges, to dancing for 60 seconds—whatever gets my heart rate up! Also, with YouTube and so many streaming services out there, there are so many workout options that you can do anywhere.
The Faster You Do It, the Faster It's Over
Right when I arrive somewhere, the motivation to work out is always tough to muster. What I do know is that the more I think about it and allow myself to dread hitting the gym, the less likely I am to go. I try to get my workout in right when I land and try not to listen to the not-so-motivating voices in my head telling me to crawl into bed and take a nap.
Remind Yourself How Good You'll Feel
I try to focus on how good I will feel after a workout or how much better my mood is after I make healthy meal choices. I remind myself that I feel better when I work out, eat well, and take care of myself. When I skip my workouts and eat what I want, I feel cranky and sluggish and that’s the last thing I need when I am battling jet lag or after a long day of work. I try to keep my workouts and healthy eating less about how I want them to make me look aesthetically and focus more on how they make me feel.
I just got back from Norway, and right when I landed, my driver showed me an observatory at the top of a hill. She told me it was about a 30-minute walk up the stairs but you could see the entire city from it. So, right when I got to the hotel, I dropped my bags, found the starting point and walked up to it. I wasn’t planning on making it my workout, but I was sweating by the time i got to the top. I checked off an activity from my list, saw the entire city, and got my workout in. Sometimes reframing working out makes it more doable. Going for a long walk or taking a run from one side of the city to the other day makes your workout more about exploring a new place and less about working out because you feel like you have to.
I know when I travel, I crave the feeling of being grounded and centered, which is hard to do when you are in flight or in new environments. To feel more in control and at ease wherever I am, working out, being prepared with healthy options, and simply taking care of myself help me achieve that feeling. Learning what your body needs while you’re away from home is a learning process but if you take the time to tune in and listen, you can master your wellness routine and feel like the best version of you, whenever and wherever you are.
Ed. note: Before taking supplements or changing your diet, please speak with your physician.