Gone are the days of working only 9-5 and only from Monday to Friday. It now seems close to a rarity that we see people leave their homes comfortably for work at 8:40am and leave peacefully from work at 5:00pm on the dot, then spend the rest of their day with their loved ones and not have to worry about an interruption until they return to work the next day. In the 21st century, work has taken over the wee hours of the morning, extra time in the evenings, and even the occasional Saturday and Sunday for the business person. In addition to these stresses, work and travel have now become hand-in-hand.
For people wanting to prioritize such that they can live fuller, happier, and healthier lives, travel can easily derail their good intentions. Fear not. I hope this non-exhaustive list of suggestions will help alleviate some concerns and worries for individuals needing to maintain their current health and fitness levels despite busy travel.
Prior to the Trip:
Chances are you will know in advance to which destination(s) you are traveling and what your agenda will look like. Think of this as an opportunity to plan your schedule and give your good intentions a head-start:
1. Inquire which hotels in your area of business have a gym, fitness center, and/or swimming pool. At the very least, ask if there are any fitness centers located within the vicinity of your hotel.
2. Ask if any of the hotel suites have a kitchen unit. If so, you can plan your meals ahead of time by preparing your food in your hotel suite which will eliminate the need for unnecessary restaurant food.
3. I am not going to preach to everyone that you must own a whole collection of dumbbells, kettlebells, and portable elliptical machines that you must take with you on your business trips. However, there are numerous affordable gadgets that are conveniently suited for travel, many of which contribute to flexibility and the ‘stress relief’ variety. Especially for people who will always travel regularly, it would be beneficial to invest in some of the following items: A lacross ball or small baseball (myofascial release), a travel roller, a pair of runners, gym gear, a yoga mat, a toner band, and a pair of small dumbbells.
At Your Destination:
Now that you are at your business setting, kick your trip off right with the following tips:
1. Bottom line – stay active. Whenever time permits, go for a run or brisk jog. If you have errands, instead of driving, walk to your desired stops. If you must drive, park far away from the building so that you can add more walking steps to your day. Opt to take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
2. Now is the time to shop for some healthy foods to store in your hotel room and to bring with you during your work day.
3. To keep your metabolism in high gear, try to eat healthy snacks every 3 hours during the day. This will prevent you from a gigantic binge meal at the end of your long work day.
4. Drink ample cold water to keep yourself hydrated, alert, productive, and your body systems cleansed.
5. There is a plethora of exercises that you can perform right in your hotel unit, no equipment required! To name a few: Pushups, split-squats (or split-squat leaps), squats, lunges, jumping jacks, and planks are great to perform in the suite to help maintain your fitness level. And don’t forget, there is no better place or time to stretch on a business trip than in a peaceful suite at the end of your work day.
At a Restaurant:
Ok, I get it. Sometimes dining out is just inevitable. Whether it is a business meeting with prospective clients or an interview with a potential employer, dining at a restaurant during a business trip is oh so common. This does not spell the end of your health goals. Take a breath, relax, and try to incorporate the following precautions and tips:
1. If you know that a restaurant meal is in the forecast of your day, try eating a small meal before you go to the restaurant to prevent overeating.
2. Avoid (or, at the very least, limit) alcohol consumption.
3. If you are not sure about the ingredients, contents, or how many calories are in a dish, ask your server for nutritional information, or look up the restaurant establishment online.
4. Opt for more vegetables relative to the meats and starches on the order.
5. If you need sauces or dressing in your food, ask for them on the side rather than having your meal drenched in them.
6. Replace high fat and high sugar foods with healthier, nutrient-dense options. For example, replace French fries with a side of salad.
7. Watch for portion sizes! Many restaurants like to serve their dishes in large plates to give the customer the illusion that the portion is small, when in reality it is probably significantly bigger than the average meal you would eat on your own.
8. Eat until you are satisfied; not when you are full. There is no need to eat all the food on your plate.
9. This piggybacks #8: ask for a doggy bag when your meal arrives. If you set aside some food from the start of your meal, the temptation to eat everything will decrease.
10. Eat slowly. After your meal, take a break to make sure you are not still hungry before actually ordering dessert.
11. If you must order dessert, try ordering fruit.
At Work (The Office):
This is arguably the most difficult time to practice healthy living patterns. Although you cannot expect to be doing squat leaps in the middle of an important ground-breaking meeting with the CEO, try these little steps to help assist you on your path to consistent active living:
1. Avoid or limit the amount of time you sit. The ideal position for the human body is one that is dynamic and always changing. In other words, whenever possible, be as restless as possible. Get up and stretch every 20-30 minutes. If you can analyze your work standing up, do so. Walk to your coworker’s desk rather than sending them an email. During your lunch break, spend a good chunk of it walking.
2. Avoid the staff/kitchen room! During business adventures, there tends to be quite a bit of sweet treats in the congregation area. Resist the temptation! This is where many people struggle.
Business trips can definitely throw a curve-ball at your health routine, but they do not necessarily have to wreck your healthy lifestyle completely. If you put some of the above tips into practice, you will become an expert at always putting your most important desires on the top of your list: Your health and fitness. If you are already a health and fitness enthusiast, it will soon become second nature to always find the time to sneak in some exercises and to make better health decisions in the restaurant and at the office.