October 2016 I found myself 80 feet underwater, holding on to a little piece of coral jutting from the sand, while hundreds of sting-rays swam around me. One of the most spectacular, “postcardesque” places on Earth is a series of little islands off the coast of India called the Maldives. My wife and I spent our honeymoon there, flying business class through Frankfurt and Bangalore, where we enjoyed our waterfront villa and private pool, as well as scuba diving in one of the top dive spots on Earth. If you haven’t figured out how to use airline, hotel and credit card points, you are truly missing out on life (I’d be happy to help anyone with this as well!). These points can be worth thousands of dollars a year, or in our case, a priceless honeymoon without paying a dime for hotels and airfare.
In 2016, I traveled over 100,000 airline flight miles for work… by August 31st. The year ended with around 100 flights and about 200,000 miles flown. I was traveling to exotic places like Ft. Myers, FL, Oklahoma City, OK and Memphis, TN and even gave myself a sponge bath in the Dublin airport one time (living . the . dream). Hotel receptionists knew me by name in all of these locations as well. You would think this was all just a scene out of the movie “Up in the Air”, but it wasn't - this is the life of a Road Warrior and it certainly isn’t glorious most of the time. Catching the 6am flight every Monday meant unpacking Saturday, packing Sunday, up at 3:30am Monday, and working long days and hours through the week. I even barely slept every Sunday night due to fears of sleeping though an alarm and missing my flight.
Over the years, this was my life week in and week out. Trying to eat healthy and fit in workouts was no match for high pressure stress, critical deadlines or something the client “needed.” Many folks thrive in these sorts of conditions- they love the stress, thrill, airline/hotel points, money and dynamic situations of everyday life. I, on the other hand, slowly gained about 75 pounds since I started my “career on the road”. Eventually, enough was enough. Determined to give myself accountability and out of self-interest for my own health and wellness, I enrolled in a health coach training program that I am now set to complete in January 2018. After starting my health coach certification program and taking off most of the “Road Warrior” weight, I decided to pursue a Master’s of Science in Nutrition through the University of Bridgeport.
I know not everyone is going to change their career and become a personal trainer or nutritionist and I know not everyone maybe in a position where they are looking to lose 75+ pounds, but there are a few things that I learned along the way over the past few years that can help anyone stay in check while on the road.
1. Manage Stress: This is #1, not only for traveling but in general. Stress messes with your hormones and initiates “fight or flight” responses. It can lead to adrenal fatigue, weight gain, heart issues, high blood pressure, among other conditions. Even just 5 minutes in the beginning, middle and/or end of the day, closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing, will do the trick. Check out apps like Headspace, which takes you through a guided meditation.
2. You’re not on vacation: When we go on business trips, it often feels as though it is a break from the normal routine, and with a company expense account, why not go wild. Don’t do it. Keep your meals to meat, vegetables and a carb. If you typically have a glass of wine at home with dinner, that's fine, but just because you are on a business trip, it's not a time to break your habits.
3. Workout Early: How many times do you work a solid 10 hour day, grab dinner with your co-workers who only get to see you every so often, only to come back to the hotel and crash on the hotel bed? These habits and long days are not conducive to keeping your exercise routine while on the road. Start early and workout in the morning. You will already feel accomplished before you make it to the office and it sets the tone for the day. Strapped for time? Hop out of bed and do a few rounds of 20 burpees, 20 situps and 20 air squats - workout done in 10 minutes!
4. Pack Food: One of my favorite tips is to bring your own prepared food. I personally purchase Kettlebell Kitchen Paleo meals, freeze them, and pack in a cooler. I do realize that can be a bit much for most, but there are easier ways to prep food for your travels. For my wife’s recent work trip to London, I packed her an emergency bag of mangos, RX bars, beef jerky, nuts and seeds. Keep a stash of healthy snacks in your bag at all times since you never know when you may get hungry.
5. Maintain Accountability: The one thing that most of the highly rated “diets” that you hear about all have in common, is that they have a platform for accountability- sometimes a weekly meeting, phone call, or an online community group. Remember to set up accountability: hire a health coach, make a bet with a friend, schedule personal training sessions. By having outside accountability, you will be less likely to slip knowing you have someone to answer to.
That’s all of my thoughts for this week, what do you do to manage stress and keep your wellness in check while at work or on the road?
What other topics would you like me to cover in my posts? Let me know! Until we meet again, catch me in the comments.