By Fitz Koehler, M.S.E.S.S.
Traveling for work has its good and bad points. The good? You get to see new places and meet new people. The bad? There’s a clear association between long hours in a car or on a plane and weight gain.
Now, I’m not saying that a busy travel schedule is a good excuse to gain weight; it just seems to go hand in hand. Being a road warrior is NOT an excuse for eating lousy food and avoiding exercise. This may shock you, but they sell produce and lean meat EVERYWHERE. It’s true! You can go to Detroit, St. Louis, Seattle or Ireland and find plenty of fruits, vegetables and grilled chicken. They also have these crazy things called sidewalks, parks and fields where you can traverse on foot. They’re FREE, too! So even when you are away from home, you have absolutely no rational reason to avoid exercise and make unhealthy eating choices.
The most vital component for your success in weight loss or health gains while working far away is forcing the issue. I understand that your days are busy. Schedules are jam-packed, and you’re constantly eating out at restaurants, but there IS time and there IS a way; you just have to find it, make it or force it.
We’ll start with exercise. You may have to wake up early or stay up late. Like people working at home, you may just have to sacrifice 30 minutes of sleep. Or, you may just have to be creative during your workday. Here are a few options:
- Hotel gyms. Fancy or not, you’ll find something to do to get your heart pumping and make your muscles stronger. Most hotels have one.
- Go for a walk or jog. If you’re in a safe part of town, explore a bit. Ask the concierge if there’s a nearby park or trail.
- Visit peerFit.com to find a group fitness class in your area. Pop in for about $10. Boot camp on Santa Monica Beach or yoga on a rooftop gym in NYC? How cool would that be?
- Work out in your hotel room. Use this private space to do pushups, lunges, core training, dips on a desk chair or anything else. Since you’ve likely got a laptop, iPad or cell phone with Internet access, get on YouTube, and find a workout video. Better yet, go to my site, Fitzness.com and try one of my 5-Minute Workouts. They’re super short but wildly effective.
- Long layover? Walk the terminals. I do it. It’s much more interesting than hanging at the boarding gate.
Eating right doesn’t have to be a nightmare either, just plan ahead. Are you trying to lose weight or just eat in a more healthy way? Make a plan and execute it wherever you go. Just as you run your business with high standards and “find a way” to make great things happen, find a way to continue high standards on the road.
- Board each plane with a healthy snack or meal. Never succumb to those cookies and pretzels; instead, grab a grilled chicken salad, a fruit cup or a protein bar. Guzzle water like it’s going out of style.
- Hitting a convention? Order a healthy dish in advance. Doughnuts are not an acceptable breakfast. Period. Bring fruit and oatmeal to your meeting from the hotel. Do what you’ve got to do! People will admire your high standards and creativity.
- Choose wisely at restaurants. Lean meat and veggies are always a great choice, even if you’re schmoozing. Ask for your food to be cooked grease-free if possible. No oil or butter.
- Keep the cocktails to a minimum. You’re a professional, not a frat boy! You shouldn’t feel obligated or be expected to drink every night of the week. When you do, order a Bud Light or a glass of wine and drink half. You can do that.
Folks, exercise can be done anywhere at anytime. Healthy food is available everywhere. You just have to choose it and prepare for it. You wouldn’t get on a plane with a baby and no bottle of formula. Be just as diligent with your own stomach. Set a high standard for yourself, and treat it like your second job. Now get to work!