Disney World Survival Guide (for Fit Dads)

disney world survival guide

Disney World Survival Guide

Part 1: The Road Trip



Butt…    ….

Oh, there it is.  Asleep on the job.

After Thanksgiving, for some reason we thought the best way to get to Orlando from Colorado Springs would be to drive.

Well, we didn’t just drive straight there.  We took several phases through Amarillo (my wife’s family), Oklahoma City (my sister’s family and my little brother was in sole possession of my latest nephew).  We spent most of the week in Oklahoma City and on Friday after Thanksgiving, we drove past the scores of Black Friday deal seekers…

Through the rain…

Ahead of the ice storm…

To Orlando.

My sister in an RV with her crew;  my dad and mom in their car; and my 5 piled into our mini-van loaded to the ceiling with activity books, crayons, stickers, markers, books-on-CD, podcasts, and carbohydrates.

So many carbohydrates.

If you’ve been following my blog for any time now you probably are aware that I commit to what some call “carb-cycling”.  I go several days or week(s) without many carbs (50g or less) and then load up on carbs to refeed my system and “reset” everything.

This makes road trips hard.  This makes 18 hour road trips darn near impossible.

But fear not!  Here are some tips for eating healthy on the road:

  1. Plan Ahead - when I get really bored, I start grazing.  I don't care what time it is.  I don't care when I ate last, or what that snack consisted of.  I don't care that I'm in a car.  I just eat whatever the kids just asked for.  "Cap'n Crunch?  Sure, guys!"  (1 handful for these rascals...3 handfuls for Daddy).  Planning ahead is critical.  What are you going to eat and when are you going to eat it?  Pro tip: label your plastic ware or your plastic bag with the time you're going to eat it.  And stick to it!  Then just ask your traveling companions to hand you the bag marked "9:00 a.m." and chow down.  Guilt free.
  2. Keep Your Food Separate - we load up the kids foot in lunch pails for them.  That way they can get their hands on it whenever they want, and we don't have to get carsick turning around from the front seat.  But I always, ALWAYS, keep a cooler in the front seat with me.  It has my food in it, including meals, drinks, and snacks.  I only eat what's in that bag.  I decide ahead of time what I'm going to eat (see point 1), and stick with it.  I don't mix a bag of almonds with a bag of brownie brittle (what soulless individual decided this would be a good thing?)
  3. Don't Beat Yourself Up - Unless you're a long-haul truck driver you're probably on a vacation.  Have fun!  Enjoy the trip.  Enjoy your family.  Enjoy a melatonin tablet while your spouse drives.  Spoiler Alert: I didn't eat perfect on the road!  Unless you're a competitive bodybuilder or Olympic athlete, you're probably not going to either.
  4. Try to Move Around As Much as Possible - I bought an Apple Watch right before we left to track our mileage at the parks (more on that later).  It comes loaded with many cool features out of the box, and 1 of them is that it vibrates every hour with a friendly reminder to stand up.  "Psst...if it's not too much trouble I noticed you haven't moved all day you tub of lard.  Do something to change that wouldja?"  So at rest stops (every 2-3 hours depending on sanity levels in the van) we'd do some stretching or jump around the building.  I switch it up and let my kids lead us in stretching.  People stare at us, but who cares?  I'm never going to see them again.

"So, cool story bro, but what did you eat?"

I have some staples on the road.  Here they are:

  1. Almonds or Mixed Nuts - Cashews, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts are all good.  Watch out for too much salt or added sugar, and keep in mind that 20-30 nuts is more than enough!  That is several hundred calories and plenty of healthy fat to keep you satiated.
  2. Pre-mixed Protein Shakes - Mix about 30g Whey Protein in with ice water, almond milk or coconut milk and keep in your cooler.  I make my own in a shaker bottle and keep them with me.
  3. Quest Bars - High protein, crazy high in fiber, and super low-carb.  1 bar with some black coffee should tide you over for 3 more hours.
  4. Quest Chips - Though they are not really comparable to potato chips, they are really good for you.  If you're looking for something crunchy and salty these will do the trick.
  5. Jerky - Watch out for too much sugar and all varieties are very salty.  1-2 oz is a typical serving size.
  6. Veggies with Ranch - Raw broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, carrots dipped in a little ranch or caesar dressing.
  7. Grilled Chicken - I just eat this cold.  Hey, if it's good enough for a restaurant to put it on a salad it's good enough for me to snack on along with my veggies.  Cut it up ahead of time so you can eat with fingers or fork and not try to use a steak knife in the van.

Once we got to the condo in Orlando we were able to go to the grocery store and stock up on healthy snacks for the week.

Have to eat out on the road?  Click here to get your free Fit Dad Toolkit that includes my Eating Out Guide!  Yours Free!

Part 2: The Parks

We got to Orlando on Saturday and were going to crush the parks.  We were going to do 5 parks in 6 days then bolt back to Colorado.

The night before we packed up a backpack with healthy snacks for everyone in our party.  We also got fanny packs for everyone (my kids are 9, 7, and 4) so they could have their own stuff at their fingertips.  (Side note: if you're wondering if my kids eat Quest Chips and Protein Shakes...they certainly do not.  They ate PB&J, peanut butter crackers, normal sandwiches, chips, fruit snacks, cookies, etc.)

I made a big breakfast in the condo before we left (about a dozen eggs, a little cheese and avocado).  Then, I basically used the points above while at the parks.

  1. I drank a ton of water
  2. I planned my meals (using the Disney app you can see the menus at restaurants in the parks)
  3. I timed out when I would eat
  4. I brought my own food (beef jerky, Quest bars, nuts, protein shakes)
  5. I didn't beat myself up (we had some amazing pizza at Pizza Planet in Hollywood Studios that first day...guilt-free!)
  6. I had a ton of fun with my family and made memories we'll never forget!


Part 3: The Numbers

Due to an Apple Watch charging snafu on Sunday I don't have that data.  But here it is for the rest of that week:

  • Monday: 16,825 steps (8.21 miles at Magic Kingdom)
  • Tuesday: 18,806 steps (9.14 miles at Epcot)
  • Wednesday: 15,534 steps (7.66 miles back at Magic Kingdom)
  • Thursday: 6,468 steps (3.15 miles; off day at Downtown Disney)
  • Friday: 16,075 steps (7.88 miles at Animal Kingdom)


Make sure you are equipped with all the tools you need to succeed.  I've never slept harder than that week at Disney.  I've never seen my rambunctious kids hit the mattress so viciously either.  It was so fun, and so worth it.

You can be a Fit Dad, too.

You can do this.  End of story.

What do you think?

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