Posts tagged exercise
5 Tips: How to Survive Work Travel

Lately, I've been traveling a lot for work. Trying to stay healthy in airports, at client dinners, and during meeting lunches is hard. What do you do if the only option is a pasta buffet? Or if the hotel gym is just an elliptical in a closet? Or if you forgot to pack workout clothes? 

How can you keep your healthy habits when things are out of your control? 

Simple answer: plan ahead and prepare for the worst. Here are 5 things I try to do when I travel for work:

1. Identify restaurants near your hotel that have healthy options before you leave. Do some research. Check out the menu of the hotel restaurant. Determine what the best options are around you for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That way you have a go-to place and meal, so you won't be tempted in the moment to settle for something. Also, if the only meal you know you can control is breakfast, try to eat the healthiest breakfast you can before heading out that day. If the work lunch or dinner option isn't healthy at least you got some good, nutritious food in earlier. 

2. Eat good before you leave home. Try to eat a good, healthy meal before you head to the airport (or hit the road). That way you start your trip satisfied and with nourishment. If I'm leaving early in the morning, I drink a smoothie before I go - full of veggies, healthy fats, protein, and fiber. If it's later in the day, I eat a good lunch or dinner or drink a low-sugar green juice on the way out.  

3. Pack healthy snacks. Airport food is getting better but it's still not the best. Pack low-sugar protein bars, fruit, cut-up veggies, nut butter packets, and/or plant-based protein powder packets. I've experienced so many flight delays lately (almost every flight!) that I've been forced to skip meals. Having some snacks in my bag has allowed me to eat whenever there wasn't an option or a good, healthy option (pretzels and cookies don't qualify, sorry Delta!). And when meeting food is ordered and you're left wondering what to eat, you got some stuff in your bag to supplement or replace.

4. Walk as much as possible. Instead of sitting at your airport gate, walk. Walk around the terminals or in between them. I do this at the Atlanta airport all the time - especially if it's an early flight and I didn't get to exercise before I left. I also opt to walk instead of taking the train or the moving walkway. It feels nice to stretch legs before and after sitting on a plane. Also, if the area in which you are staying is safe enough, walk places instead of taking an Uber, Lyft, or taxi. It's a great way to get to know a city and your surroundings. When I travel for work, most of my days involve sitting inside in meetings. I try to walk outside as much as possible to make up for that. This tends to make me feel more energized in those meetings - without having to reach for more coffee or some sugar. 

5. Pack workout clothes and accessories. If you pack your workout clothes, you are committing to working out. It's hard to deny them when they are taking up precious space in your carryon. But also try to pack some items that take the pressure off the gym or running outside (you never know the weather). I usually pack a resistance band (I love these: http://www.sweatwithbecnyc.com/shop/) and/or a simple jump rope. Also, think about what workout you want to do beforehand. Jot it down in the notes section on your phone. Walking into an unfamiliar gym early in the morning without a game plan is a sure fire way to have a frustrating, lackluster workout. 

Forgot workout clothes?: Don't underestimate the benefits of doing push ups, squats, lunges, core work etc in your room in your pjs (or underwear!). Something is sometimes better than nothing. 

The Mental and Physical Benefits of Walking

I love walking. It's a great low-impact exercise. It gets you outdoors. It helps with digestion after a big meal (walk to dinner next time or take the long route back to your car - you'll feel energized rather than lethargic). It improves your mood. It's a more active way to catch up with friends. And even short little walks can shake off those afternoon sugar cravings.

But did you know that walking also spurs creativity? 

Yep. Taking a shower isn't the only time a great idea may arise. Check out this Quartz article that discusses a recent study by Stanford that proves the long-held belief that walking influences the way we think. This serves as a great reminder for those of us who work inside to get outside and moving in between meetings. If you have a meeting with just one or two people that doesn't necessitate a computer, suggest a walking meeting instead. Walking also helps if you're trying to figure out something or need to clear your mind for a bit. Just go for a walk!

I try to take walking breaks or schedule walking-meetings as much as I can. We spend so much of our days in and out of conference rooms and air-conditioned buildings. Walking serves as a refreshing, rejuvenating activity that will give you more energy than that second (or third) cup of coffee. 

 

How to Get Back on Track After Vacation

With summer vacation in full swing, healthy routines are hard to keep. Hot temperatures make ice cream so tempting and poolside drinks hard to ignore - especially when you are hanging out with friends and family. There's nothing wrong with relaxing the rules and enjoying yourself. However, don't overindulge so much that you feel like you can't recover when you get back home - or that you need to do an extreme diet or detox. Try to keep elements of your routine in place while on vacation and it will be an easier transition. For example, if you workout daily, try to do something active each day - if not a workout, a stroll after dinner. Or if you usually have a mid-afternoon snack, make sure to pack something similar. This will help you resist grabbing those chips your mother-in-law brought or avoid overeating at dinner because you're starving (vacation dinners are typically eaten later than usual). Also, be sure to drink plenty of water. Not just because you had six beers on the beach but because it's freakin hot outside. 

Once you are back from holiday, though, what now? First, be easy on yourself. Even if you overindulged, going to the other extreme (deprivation) will backfire. Start slow. Drink lots of water. Go to the grocery store as soon as possible and stock up on your go-to healthy items. Plan and prepare ingredients for 3 quick, familiar healthy meals that you can easily make during the week. Go to sleep early. Write down your health goals again - reminding yourself of what you want to achieve and how far you've come in realizing them. 

Routines are based on habits. No matter if you drank too much or ate dessert after every meal, our bodies will remember the cues that spark our healthy routines. The key is to stick with what works, not punish ourselves by starting something extreme or new. 

Workout Food: Before & After

I mainly workout in the morning. Once I shower for the day, it's hard for me to get motivated to sweat. Plus, I like getting it done before I start anything else in my day: no excuses, no obstacles. Getting up early, however, requires me to be more diligent about when and what I eat. Knowing what to eat before an early morning workout and when to eat it can be tricky. No one wants to feel burpy while doing burpees. (Ever feel that way? The worst.) I'm still trying to get the hang of it: the balance of carbs vs protein vs fats. Not to mention that what I need after heavy weight training or a run is different than gentle yoga. 

Registered dietician, Jessica Jones, explains in this Self what you should be aiming for with both pre and post workout meals. Of course, different workouts may require different fueling and recovery, so listen to your body and know that it what you need some days might be more or less than others. She also offers great recipes and ideas!

Redefining the "Fun Run": Why Shorter is Better

I've always thought the longer you run the better - to always push yourself to go farther and farther. Distance is the more important goal. But the more I've gotten into running in the past year or so, the more I've learned that speed (and form) is what really should be the focus. 

In this FiveThirtyEight article, Christie Aschwanden discusses the benefits of sticking to 3.1 miles while debunking the claim that more is always better. We assume that in order to be considered a "serious runner" you need to clock some serious mileage. Half-marathons. Marathons. Ultra-marathons. But recent research, captured in this article, might prove otherwise.

Plus, by focusing on speed vs distance, your workout is shorter - allowing more time to stretch or add in some core moves.