I took the picture above in March of 2013.  The person you see is my eldest son shortly after his 13th birthday.  He is a very fit (now) 14 year old who runs, lifts with me, is a 2nd Degree Black Belt (think grappling, sparring, kata, kickboxing, etc) and is getting ready to undertake wrestling this upcoming year as he enters high school.  He is not a kid you would think would have a ‘fitness’ problem.

That is until he got his cholesterol checked a few days ago.

It was a part of the standard well check this past week.  We have a history of heart issues and diabetes in the family so we pay close attention to these types of things, happily signing off on just about any blood test our Doctor (who is fabulous) wants to run.  So cholesterol checking we did go.  Now it was not off the chart, doesn’t require medication and was just on the borderline but it got me thinking.

If this teenager, who has a solid diet (no really, he does for a teenager), a body fat % that is probably in the single digits, works out more than most team sport athletes his age do and has no early onset heart disease in his family can have high cholesterol counts, how bad are the rest of us sitting?  And as a RoadWarrior, how do we fight it?

The tips below should not be new news to anyone but are worth reiterating as we can all slip from time to time:

  • Know your number – because knowing is half the battle!! (only GI Joe fans will get that one)

The total Cholesterol is not the only important number, you need to know the LDL (bad) vs. HDL (good) cholesterol counts.  Even if your total cholesterol is great but it is all in the LDL category, you still have an issue.  It is a simple test that most clinics/drugstores/blood banks can do for you.  I have the privilege of being a universal blood donor and every time I give, they check my cholesterol for me.

  • Exercise – I know. Shocking I would suggest this.

Studies show that regular exercise, of any type, can directly assist in raising the ratio of HDL to LDL.  Don’t skip just because your schedule is busy and it has been a long day.  Remember the first rule of being RoadWarriorFit?  Do something, ANYTHING, everyday.

  • Avoid overly processed foods

There are so many reasons to follow this advice and the best summary I have ever seen is the film Forks over Knives.  Fair warning, watching this film could change your life (for the better).

  • Focus your protein consumption around lean cuts of meats

You can still have your steak (my son’s favorite) but not every night.  Opt for long swimming fish (tuna, swordfish, shark, salmon, etc.) that is not farm raised one night a week.  How does chicken (not fried) sound for Wednesday?  Mix it up.  After all, variety is the spice of life!!

  • Eat the green stuff

Fruits and veggies that are high in fiber can act like scouring pads for your arteries.  Even if you never eat another piece of meat in your life, your liver is still producing enough cholesterol for your body to do phenomenally well.  Think about that, you are already producing all of the cholesterol your body needs (yes, we actually do need it).  As RoadWarriorFit rule #2 states, see fruit – eat fruit.

So while I while I work with my son to choose the chicken over the steak burrito while at his beloved Chipotle, I hope that we can work together to make the right choices on the road (eating your veggies instead of the fries, hitting the gym instead of the lobby bar, etc).  I also hope we all are able to have a back like this kid does at some point in our lives.

Wish me luck.  We spar/grapple with each other on a regular basis and he is only getting bigger and faster.

What Mike Ditka had to say about being RoadWarriorFit

I recently had the great pleasure of hearing Mike Ditka speak as the keynote address to the attendees at our annual conference.  I have to be honest though, I did not have high hopes for his message.  I have every respect for him as a player, idolize him as a coach and appreciate him as a broadcaster but as a public speaker?  Let’s just say I was less than optimistic.

To put it simply, he blew me away.

While he shared some great stories, expounded on the current state of the NFL and had many pieces of sage advice, the one piece that particularly struck me was the following:

“If you are out working hard and on the road all week, don’t do some stupid ass thing with your buddies on the weekend.  That time is for your family” – Mike Ditka

I wanted to get up and scream “AMEN!!”

You see, it is particularly hitting home this weekend.  My family and I have been helping the ‘family’ across the street move to ‘their’ new home.  The reason I chose to use ‘family’ and ‘their’ in quotations is because only the mother and the kids who were heading to the house we assisted with.  The husband in this case has chosen to move on and move elsewhere.  You see,  he is on the road a lot and has simply grown apart. However, he is not a RoadWarrior.  He is the antithesis of a RoadWarrior.

It appears that through his physical separation, he has separated emotionally from the rest of his household as well.  He has other interests, other activities, other priorities.  He has separated from his wife and her kids.  He has chosen the path of least resistance.

A RoadWarrior does not quit.  They move forward but they absolutely do not quit.  They understand that life is lived at home and is not put on hold till they get back.  The work they do on the road is maximized in order to maximize their time at home.  By working their tails off while on the road, they ensure they are able to maximize their time with (not around) their family while they are at home.

That is why we helped the family across the street move and settle in to their new house.  Not just me.  My wife and both of my boys also.  We skipped our normal time on the karate matt.  We passed on being a part of the black belt test that was being conducted this afternoon.  We put off dinner with the grandparents who we have not seen in weeks.  We were present in the lives of those who needed us most, the family across the street and each other and we did it as a family

Iron Mike’s words could not have rung truer today.  I love to golf but that is 5 hours away from those who deserve my attention.  I am constantly trying to find more ways to be on the karate matt (most Saturday’s involve 5+ hours either doing or instructing) but today that would have been a ‘stupid ass thing to do’.  Today, I needed to feed into the lives of my neighbors by my actions and to my kids by my example.

Remember RoadWarriors, we do what we do for our families and friends.  Not in spite of them.

About Me

Husband, father, traveler, martial artist, fitness geek, teacher and child of God.  Those are just a few of the adjectives you could use to describe me.

Husband:  How I managed to marry the most amazing woman in the world remains a complete mystery to me.  How she has managed to put up with me for over 18 years now is a mystery to her.  She is an amazing ministry leader, coach and cancer survivor.  Fortunately for you, you can read about her story and follow her here.

Father:  My boys are my best friends and my greatest challenge.  They are also my some of my best workout partners.  They join me in the gym as well as on the matt. They are the reason I started training in American Karate and the motivating factor to keep going (there is no way I am going to let the eldest take me).  With their mother, they are my life.

Traveler:  Over the last decade, I have logged more than a million miles, spent a full year in hotel rooms and rented countless rental cars.  To put it simply, I live on the road and am passionate about defending my health from suffering for it.

Martial Artist:  I hold a First Degree Black Belt in American Karate and continue to train in American Karate, submission grappling, Mui Tai, boxing and any other fighting style I can find the time to fit in.  Nothing centers me more than being on the matt or in the ring against another trained fighter trying to best me.  Want focus?  Try thinking of anything else when the guy in across from you is trying to kick you in the head.

Fitness Geek:  Really?   I started a website about being RoadWarriorFit.  You need more of a description?

Teacher:  If I could do anything at all in the world for a living, I would be a Doosan at The Sea at Walt Disney World.  You get to teach kids about the amazing oceans of the world in the happiest place on earth.  For now I will have to settle for my job teaching software solutions and instructing on American Karate on the weekends.

Child of God:  I am a fully forgiven child of God through the grace of the works of His risen Son.

‘Tis the Season……Conference Season!!

Every industry has it.  Those 3-4 months where it seems like every other week is a 3 day conference somehere.  I am just coming to the end of mine now.  Over the past 8 weeks I have been a featured speaker (by far the best way to experience conference life), an attendee (great way to learn and network with your peers), a business partner (yep..nice way to say ‘vendor’ and this is a grind) and finally, as a part of the host organization (this is just a butt whipping).  Regardless of your role, there are three things you can be sure you will experience at every conference:

1)      Long Days with Packed Schedules

2)      Lots of Inactivity

3)      Conference Food

As a RoadWarrior, I cringe just thinking about them.  So what can we do to protect ourselves from the energy sucking vortex that is the very nature of a conference?

As Steven Covey would say, “Begin with the End In Mind”.  We need to plan ahead.

Schedule:   Don’t wait till you arrive to determine your schedule.  Look up the schedule of the conference events on-line or download the mobile app built around the event.  Plan your days but not just the sessions and client meetings, include your meals, your workouts and your quiet time.  Remember, these trips are about productivity first and fitness second.  If you see that day 2 of the conference is packed with good stuff starting at 8:00am and the only possible time to get a work out in is at 6:00am – forego the nightlife the night before and opt for dinner with a client rather than the partner party.  Be realistic, if you are just going to ‘fit a workout in somewhere’– you won’t.

Lots of Inactivity:  Now I am not going to tell you to get up in the middle of the keynote and do lunges down the aisle.  That is just crazy talk (but wouldn’t it be hilarious?).  I am going to ask you what have you made time for though?

  • 20 minutes?  Better plan on an in room body weight exercise plan.
  • 40 minutes? Maybe a local run or weight routine in the gym.  How does that hotel pool look?
  • 60 minutes?  Let’s get some lifting and cardio in or toss in the BeachBody DVD and get pumping.

Of course, being RoadWarriorFit means you have already done your homework and know what fitness equipment is available at the conference hotel.  The good news there is most facilities hosting conferences also have decent fitness facilities.

Conference Food:   Let’s start with the realization that just because it is served does not mean you have to eat it.  You are not visiting someone’s home (where you should always eat what is being served), you are at a conference facility.  The chef is not going to be offended that you opted to not dig into the pasta alfredo on the lunch buffet line.  It’s your body, your health and your choice.

I always travel with my own stock of various snacks/bars/powder but I especially stock up on conference trips.  If I know I am having a great dinner that evening, I can skip the Chicken Piccata swimming in oil and opt for a bar for lunch.  Having a great lunch with a client?  Probably won’t need to stock up on finger foods at the conference celebration party that night.  The one meal I won’t do this with is usually breakfast.  Even on a continental breakfast bar, you can usually put together a great tasting and great for you meal to last you till the next healthy option.

If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.  

Maybe It is the Eagle Scout in me coming out but if you prepare correctly for any trip, you can maintain your fitness and more importantly your health.  So get prepping, packing and I will see you at the keynote (I’ll be the one in the aisle doing lunges).

The motivating power of an empty water bottle

We all know we should drink more water.  For RoadWarriors this fact is especially true.  We are constantly placed in environments that are actively working to suck the water out of us.  From the unfamiliar the climate of the destination city to the airplane cabin that delivered you there, there are forces at work to steal your water.  I don’t know about you but at times it feels like I am traveling on Tatooine.  You know, the desert planet from Star Wars.

So how does a RoadWarrior fight back?

I could talk about your salt intake and avoiding foods that are diuretics but let’s face it……you need to drink more water.  Sorry but sometimes the simplest answer is also the best, even if it is the most annoying.  So with the solution so obvious, how do we put it in practice?

Drink water before your coffee-

Helio Gracie, the founder of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, advised all of his students to have a cup of water beside their bed.  His reasoning was that when you wake up in the morning you are at your most dehydrated.  If you are going to be able to defend yourself at all times, you need to by hydrated at all times.  So drink the water as soon as you wake…..even before your coffee.  While we may not be walking into literal battle we all know that life on the road is a battle all to itself.  Besides, if it is good enough for Helio Gracie, it is good enough for me.

Ask for water with every meal –

I always ask for both water and whatever else I am drinking.  Then I try and consume them in at least a 1:1 ratio and I am not just talking about wine with dinner.  This goes for diet coke, coffee, tea, whatever and at every meal.  Oh yeah, this also works on the plane when they come by with drink cart.  They have never turned down my request for water and (insert your favorite choice here).  Never.

Carry your own water bottle –

OK, I admit it. I fought this one for years.  I would look at the person with their personal water bottle and think “Really?  You can’t just pick up a Dasani at the Hudson News?”  Well I could but I didn’t.  I would grab the Diet Coke or Frappuccino or energy drink (well I wouldn’t but my son would). Reality is, I drink more water when I have my own water bottle to fill.  There is something different about an empty bottle that I can throw away (recycle) vs. an empty bottle that I refill.  I don’t let the bottle sit empty for long where once the disposable is in the recycling container, I am not thinking about it anymore.  Besides that, I am a scorecard guy.  You better believe I am keeping count of how many times I fill that baby up each day.

So there are three simple ways to make sure you are consuming more water on the road on your next trip than you did on your last trip.  Let’s hear it RoadWarriors.  How do you make sure you are taking in enough H2O as you go, go, go?

What are your Guardrails?

Guardrails

There is a great message out there by Andy Stanley from Northpoint Church in Atlanta (watch it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zt5tkQS7K4Q or buy his book here http://www.amazon.com/Guardrails-DVD-Avoiding-Regrets-Your/dp/0310893984).  In this message Andy talks about guardrails.  You know, the ones that keep you from running your car off of that bridge and/or cliff.  Pretty simple design actually, put posts that are really thick, buried deep enough down to withstand a serious impact and then attach a solid steal rail to them.  So even if the worst happens, you should be able to stay on the road rather than ending up in the ditch or off the cliff.

If you spend any time at all on the road, you have to install guardrails in your travel life.  While I have put guardrails up around my mind, spirit and most importantly, my relationships, for this post I am going to focus on those I have installed around my physical fitness.  I’m not implying that you need to have the same guardrails as I do but you do need to have your own guardrails.  Below are the guardrails I have in my own Road Warrior journey.  They have served me well for the past 5 years and I hope that they can inspire you to put your own in place.  I will expand on each in later posts but here are the basics.

  • Do something….anything….every day!!! – I really don’t care what it is.  Run, lift, do Pilates, hit up a Beachbody DVD, walk the local mall/tourist attraction or train at a local martial arts studio.  Heck, I have been known to run on the treadmill in the Admirals Club and have been caught running stairs in the airport.  If you are doing more than a day trip, you need to be doing something active.
  • If you see fruit, eat it – Often times when you check in to your hotel, there are apples on the counter.  Or in the gym, there is a basket of fruit.  Or in the airport gift shop, there is a refrigerator with various fruit options.  Pretty simple rule, see it….eat it.
  • Don’t eat anything fried – For the most part I avoid anything fried while on the road (there is a wonderful place in Fort Lauderdale that has lobster corndogs that I make an exception for though…unbelievably good and you can check them out at http://www.coconutsfortlauderdale.com).  What this also means is I do not do ‘cheat meals’ on the road as my cheat meal usually involves something fried.  Those are saved for being at home with the family where we can enjoy it together.
  • Workout first, then you can have wine – I love red wine.  I believe there is a reason that Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine… just sayin’.  However, my rule on the road is I will not have wine (or any other alcohol) if I have not had a workout first.
  • Don’t eat in any restaurant you could eat at at home – The restaurants you find at home and on the road are chains.  They are all about systems and duplication.  Nothing necessarily wrong with that but I want quality and nutrition.  Ask the front desk or Yelp/Google/Urban Spoon about whom to go eat with.  Every region of the country has a specialty that when prepared right is fantastic tasting and fantastic for you.

So there it is folks, my 5 Guardrails when it comes to physical fitness on the road.  What are the rules you live by, either on the road or at home?  Any I am missing?  Looking forward to your input as we travel this road together.

What is RoadWarriorFit?

Let’s start with what RoadWarriorFit isn’t.  RoadWarriorFit isn’t about a number.  It’s not weight, not dress size, not waist size, not body fat % and certainly not BMI.  It is about balance.  A balance of spirit, mind and body while away from the part of your life that matters most.  What RoadWarriorFit is is different for each of us but it centers around 3 key focus points.

A RoadWarrior’s focus is on:

Spirit:  Let’s get this out now, I am a Christian.  I firmly believe that Jesus was real, really lived a fully human life, really died on a cross and really rose from the dead three days later.  I also know that each and every one of us RoadWarriors needs to have a spiritual center and that your center may be very different from mine.  Regardless, on a daily basis, we need to center our focus on that Spirit, be quiet and listen.  Morning, afternoon or evening doesn’t matter but being RoadWarriorFit means we need to center ourselves daily.

Mind:  A RoadWarrior makes sure that every moment on the road is one that is used productively. They are obsessive about making sure that they are putting as much work in as possible on travel days.  Why?  Because if they do it on the road, they don’t have to do it at home.   Time at home is for family and/or personal goals…not work.  RoadWarriors utilize spare moments on the road to make sure that their work bleeds into our time at home as little as possible.  The ones who await us at home deserve our attention and affection not an excuse as to why we continue to focus on work.

Body:  A RoadWarrior ensures that they take care of themselves.  They have the discipline to ensure that the food that they put into their body is supportive of their fitness.  They have the discipline to ensure that the do something, anything, every day they are on the road.

Overall, RoadWarriors are an example of how to balance travel with faith, family and health.  Just because we are away from home does not mean they we have to be far from center.