Category Archives: Family

How does your wife deal with it?

I get that question a lot.  Especially from women who learn how much I travel.  So today, on our 20th wedding anniversary, I am asking myself that same question:

How have we done it?  How have we made it work for 20 years when others haven’t?

Our marriage has not been the most conventional (no, not like that).  Since the time we were first married, we have spent significant amounts of it apart.  Even as far back as our first year of marriage, I was working in Los Angeles while she was down in San Diego.  And back then we did not even share the same days off.  We were constantly ships passing in the night as one of us was always driving up or down the California coast to spend time with each other.  Since then, I have basically spent the better part of 3 months each year in hotel rooms away from my family.

So as I have been thinking about what it takes to make a marriage successful among the crazy demands of business travel, I keep coming back to the same six things……..

Take time to understand their Love Language:

If you are not familiar with the concept of the 5 love languages, I suggest you stop reading this and immediately click here.  This was probably the most impactful self-development exercise I did when it comes to the impact on our marriage.  Understanding how Acts of Service speaks to Joy and literally says “I love you” to her changed the way I look at tasks around the house.  Which brings me to….

 Embrace the ‘Honey-do’ list:

Did you catch that Joy’s love language is Acts of Service?  That means that when I get stuff done around the house, she feels valued and loved.  So if there is a research project that needs done, I will do it on a plane.  I try and get stuff accomplished around the house on the weekends.  I love to check things off of lists and she loves to put things on lists.  It works for us.

When you are home – put them first:

I love to golf.  I don’t play golf.

I would train all day everyday on a martial arts mat.  I limit myself to only classes I do with my boys.

These are things that fuel and refresh me but THEY TAKE TIME!!!  I have pontificated on this before but when I am home, I vehemently protect that time.  I can train on the road.  I can work late on the road.  I can only spend time with my family, specifically my spouse, while I am at home.

Set them up for success:

Part of my weekly weekend ritual is to set my wife and kids up for success for the week.  That means getting meals planned out, buying the groceries, meal prepping, making sure laundry is done, projects are completed and ready to be turned in, schedules are clear for the next week, and so on, and so on and so on.  The weeks that are the most stressful on all of us are the ones where I fail to plan for the week.  My job is to provide and more than just a paycheck.

Hide all evidence of travel:

When I get home I tend to unpack right away.  Not because I am super diligent about processing my laundry but because if I leave my suitcase out all weekend it serves as a constant reminder that I have either been gone all week or will be gone all week.  Unpack quickly and pack at the last minute.

Communicate:

This one was the hardest one for me to learn.  Seems silly but for years I would wait till the last minute to let my wife know I was going to be traveling.  She would consistently get mad when I was leaving so if I left it to the very last minute, I got to enjoy a few more days of ‘happiness’.  This does not work.  Communicate early.  Communicate often.  Communicate regularly.  Call, text, email, skywriting……communicate.

Now please understand, developing these habits was a process.  There have been times when I have been incredibly selfish.  When I didn’t put her and the kids first and inevitably, our largest fights have been centered around those times.  Also, I think this list can be applied to any marriage and approaching what separates you.  For us, it happens to be literal distance.  For others, it may just be time.

So hopefully this list will help you and your spouse survive the pitfalls of business travel, whether you have a short season of travel or whether you become a salty veteran like me.

See you on the road!!

Do you remember your second step?

Do you ever look back on a journey and ask “what was the second step?”  No.  Most everyone remembers the first step, the proverbial hardest one, but very few remember let alone talk about the second, the third, the fourth, etc.  Well that is what I want to talk about today.

When I first started focusing on my health and fitness level while traveling, I had to start somewhere, right?  Noone just makes a massive change in everything they do, do they?

Certainly not me.

So where does one start on this journey towards a healthier version of yourself?  Here are the 3 changes I made to start.

Change #1:  Nothing Fried

OK people, don’t underestimate how big a change this really was for me.  I would literally eat burgers with fries or fish & chips every day I was on the road.  Literally!!  So this was the first real change I made.  If it came out of a deep fryer, I was not eating it.

The first change here is funny to look back on but I no longer ordered the fish & chips and went with the burger (or chicken sandwich) instead.  I would then substitute a dinner salad for the fries.  I must have had this combination hundreds of times and still do pretty regularly actually.

Change #2:  Do Something – Every Day!!

With how much I love to work out now, it is hard to remember back to a time when I did nothing but that was exactly what I did for years.  Now mind you, I would pack workout clothes every trip but they never saw anything but the inside of a suite case.  In fact, for a while, I was traveling to Houston so often that I literally set up an apartment at one of my communities.  With how much I love to work out now, it is hard to remember back to a time when I did nothing but that was exactly what I did for years.  Now mind you, I would pack workout clothes every trip but they never saw anything but the inside of a suite case.  In fact, for a while, I was traveling to Houston so often that I literally set up an apartment at one of my communities.  They gym there was fantastic.  I think I can count on one hand how many times I actually used it back then.

This change is actually where my guardrail for Workout before Wine came from.  I figured if I wanted to have the extra calories contained in the alcohol, I needed to earn it first….and I really like wine.

Change #3:  Rethink “Free”

Extra (fattening) calories are everywhere for the RoadWarrior!!  The cookie at check-in with the hotel.  The waffle maker and bacon at breakfast.  The evening desert bar in the concierge lounge and THE ALCOHOL EVERYWHERE!!!  Hotel and airlines are very good about making sure their best travelers are well taken care of.

These freebies are anything but free.  It is way too easy to find yourself on glass #3 or desert #2 or having desert every night you travel.  My big change was to eat on the road like I would at home.  I do not have desert every night at home.  I am not having 3 glasses of wine a night at home.

Now notice I did not say I gave all that up.  Nope, I just was conscious in my choices of what I would partake in and what I would not.

So those were my steps two, three and four.  Nothing majorly groundbreaking.  No healthy living overhaul.  Just 3 things I could do every day to get closer to RoadWarriorFit.

So how about you?

What is your next step?

So you are thinking about starting martial arts? 10 things I wish I had known earlier in my journey.

So you (or maybe your spouse) are considering studying a martial art, congratulations!!  I can honestly say that the first day I bowed on to a mat legitimately changed my life and put me on a path I never expected to embark upon.

After more than a decade of training in multiple martial arts,  there are a few lessons that I’ve learned that would have been good to know before going all in.   If you are just getting started or considering a martial art, here are my top 10 things to expect that might not be so obvious.  If you are an experienced martial artist, I hope you agree and feel free to add-on in the comments.

Soap

1) This is not Fight Club.

The first rule of Fight Club may have been to never talk about Fight Club but if you really get bit by the martial arts bug, you will not be able to shut up about it.  My poor wife has heard more stories about spinning hook kicks, slip step-under counter hooks and triangle chokes than she knows what to do with.  Be sure to keep that in mind before you jump headlong into another story about how so and so did what and what.

do you want to do a workout

2) You will want to train – all the time.

I would train or teach all day every day if I could.  Perfection is impossible but the pursuit of perfection is available to all.  You’ll find yourself looking to attend multiple classes each week, participating in ‘open mat’ and looking for others to help you improve.   Trust me, it is completely addicting in all the right ways.

CT BB

3) Martial arts is a small, tight knit and supportive family.

For a long time I had the picture above from my son’s black belt test as the wallpaper on my computer.  He is landing a beautiful spinning hook kick and stopping his partner cold.  Now with my job, I am all over the country doing presentations and projecting my computer on big screens in multiple offices every week.  As soon as any martial artist saw the picture, there was an immediate connection.  Questions would immediately turn to his training, my training, rank, passion, training methods and goals.  Heck, I have even spared with some of my clients as I have traveled to their offices.

4) Your Laundry will never be in balance again.

Seriously people, this is an issue I was not anticipating and one my wife hates.   Think about it.  Gis are made from really thick cotton to avoid rips, tears, etc.  It is like having 3 towels in the wash that have to be on the same side of the washer.  Now imagine that in our house with 3 of us (14, 16 & 43) all actively training multiple sessions a week.  It just never stops and the washing machine continually sounds like a jackhammer.

5) There is a reason that martial artists say they “study” and “train”.

If you come across someone who says they  ‘do’ Jujitsu or karate or whatever, you have come across someone who really hasn’t evolved into a martial artist yet (and your belt rank has nothing to do with whether or not you are a martial artist).  To be successful in the martial arts, you really do have to study and train.  You have to study the techniques to understand their effectiveness and when to apply them.  You have to train your body to react to the opportunity without thinking.  I have spent hours on YouTube learning the principals of a technique (study) followed by hours on a mat applying them in an actual situation (train).  I stopped ‘doing’ karate a long time ago.

6) You will always be ‘hurt’.

I don’t remember the last day I was not sore somewhere.  Now please understand, I am not talking about being injured.  That happens pretty rarely in a well-run school environment – there is a difference between martial arts and fighting.  However being sore is routine and an important part of the martial arts lifestyle.  In fact, I have never been as sore as I was the day after my first Jujitsu session.  Soreness indicated weakness and weaknesses can be strengthened through studying and training.

triangle

7) You learn to embrace the suck.

Real progress is made when you put yourself in positions that are challenging to you and you work to improve.  I refer to this process as “suck training”.  As a beginner that may be continually letting your partner jab at you until you can slip the jab.  On the ground, let someone take your back and sink a choke in and then work your way out (this is not for your first day however).  You will fail a lot in these situations but that is the point.  Fail less tomorrow than you did today and fail in different ways than you failed previously.

black eye.jpg

8) People love black eyes – just not receiving them.

I get a black eye or two every year.  Even as a black belt, I occasionally forget to keep my hands up and my partner slips in a great technique or I simply fall the wrong way.  It is simply a part of the beautiful dance we are performing.  What cracks me up is how people outside of martial arts react.  They either want to know every detail and are fascinated by my participation or they are scared to death to ask anything and assume I have some type of sorted past or had a run in with the wrong kind of crowd.  I find both reactions hilarious.

9) Higher level belts practice offense by destroying lower level belts – just slowly.

A really good black belt can execute her techniques at full speed without hurting her partner.  She can also slow it down so that their partner can learn to feel what is going on without losing technique.  As a black belt, when I am sparing a lower belt, I am typically picking a single technique to focus on and do so in a way that will also teach them something (like keep your hands up!!)  Lesson here for beginners – you want to spar the black belts!!!

10) Lower level belts learn defense (aka survival) by being destroyed by higher level belts.

I will never forget the first time I countered a superman punch effectively.  I had been getting caught for weeks with the technique and it was driving me nuts.  In the round it happened in, I was clearly ‘losing’ the round but in my mind, I had won because my goal was to slip the superman punch and I had accomplished it.  If I had been sparing another brown belt at the time, they would not even be throwing that technique.  Lesson here for beginners – you want to spar the black belts!!

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11) Bonus for families that train together – what happens on the mat does not stay on the mat.

Nothing makes my wife more frustrated than when random grappling matches break out in the living room.  Or when someone ends up in a kimura on the couch.  Or when turning a corner someone eats a round kick to the face.  Our house is a virtual mine field of martial arts techniques and I absolutely love it.

I hope the list above gives you a little more insight into the journey you are embarking upon and welcome to the martial arts family.  The destination is absolutely worth the journey.  Oss!!

So you think you can’t quit Diet Coke? So did I.

This past month I was lucky enough to tag along with my wife on a Caribbean cruise that she earned through her Beachbody Coaching business.  This was our first cruise so everything about the planning process was new to us and if you have sensed anything about my approach to travel from my ramblings, I am all about the planning to ensure success in fitness while on the road.

If you have not been on a cruise before, you plan for shore excursions.  You plan what dining rooms you will be eating at each night, you plan your nightly shows and you plan…..your drink package.  The options available among the drink packages is ridiculous.

  •  Just water bottles, we got that.
  • Everything but alcohol, we got that.
  • Beer, wine and well drinks, we got that.
  • If its on the boat, you can drink it, we got that.

Heading into the cruise, I had two non-negotiables when it came to a drink package:

  1. It had to include bottled water
  2. It had to include sodas

Truth be told, I am mildly addicted to Diet Coke.

OK – more than mildly.

dca ddict

I probably drink close to 6 12-ounce servings a day if I am being completely honest with myself.  So the thought of not having access to my beloved silver can was not something I wanted to deal with.  So I bit the bullet and upgraded the Beer/Wine/Well package to include both bottled water and soda – potential crisis averted.

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When we boarded the ship and entered our stateroom, we were greeted to our specialized Royal Caribbean insulated cups, with a special micro-chip that enables the soda machines to function.  I already felt taken care of, the Diet Cokes could flow already!!

We had a phenomenal time on the cruise.  We dined, we danced, we laid on tropical beaches, we snorkeled.  We had the time of our lives but after 5 days, the wonderful crew of the Oasis of the Seas were pretty adamant that we needed to get off the ship.  So the night before we got back to Florida I packed up all of my things, including my new insulated specially  micro-chipped cup) and that is when it hit me.

I had not filled it with soda even once!!

Now my wife has been on me for years to kick the diet soda habit.  I know it is supremely  bad for me to add all of those chemicals to my body but until this point, I could not tell you the last time I had gone 5 days without a soda, including my stint in the hospital after my black belt test (read that story here).  So I was left wondering, why could I do it without thinking on the ship but struggle for years on land?  Here is what I came up with.

  • Patterns are powerful – I did not have a routine on the ship.  Everything was a new experience that required a new pattern.  I noticed as soon as I got off the ship I was looking to hit the 7-Eleven for that silver label.  I had to evaluate my habits (how I drive to work for example) to see where/when the Diet Coke consumption had become mindless and make it conscious again.
  • I had options – On a cruise, you can get basically whatever you want…and get it everywhere.  I have had to set myself up to succeed the same way.  I drank more water on the cruise than anything else because I could get it easily (easier than the Diet Coke actually).  Set yourself up to have other more healthy options.
  • Make it difficult – I think this is the main reason for my lack of Diet Coke consumption on the cruise actually.  The soda machines were not convenient to where we camped out.  It was easier to grab a water than a Diet Coke.  SO i am going to carry that over and not buy Diet Coke any longer for the house (again, making other more healthy options more convenient)

They say it takes 28 days to make or break a habit.  At this point I am 8 days into this journey and have no intention of turning around.  If I can do this, so can you.  Whose with me?  Whose kicking soda to the curb?

What to buy the RoadWarrior in your life this Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us and with it, the gift giving season.  If you either are a RoadWarrior or are close enough to one to buy them gifts, you know that life on the road is just easier when you can carry everything with you on the plane and skip the fun of the baggage carousel.  There is no place I would rather be less than standing around watching the metal conveyor belt revolve around a carpeted island of futility and wasted time.  I avoid it at all costs.  It does not matter whether I am traveling for the day or for the week, you can bet I will be getting it all to fit in the overhead bin so I pay special attention to what I pack in my bag.  Suitcase space is premium real estate and has to be utilized well.

So what are the things that make the grade for me?  

Here is my list, my 12-days of Christmas if you will, of the items that hold special places in my carry on and why.  Feel free to use these ideas for gifts for the RoadWarrior in your life:

 Vibrams

Vibram Five Finger Shoes:

This was probably the first product that I purchased specifically because of the way they travel and the one that I get the most comments on.  Vibrams to put it simply, are awesome and yes, I do run in them regularly.  Now I am not in the camp that is all about minimalist footwear or the camp that wears Five Finger shoes because they will help strengthen the smaller muscles in your feet.  For me, these are all about how much space they take up in a suitcase.  When you wear a size 11 shoe like I do, your tennis shoes take up a lot of space, even if you do stuff them with socks and underwear.  These take up less space than my flip flops and I really do love working out in them now.  I started on the space argument but now don’t think I would ever switch back to traditional shoes.  To shop for your own, click here.

jump rope

Jump Rope:

This is one that travels with me about 50% of the time based on the hotel gym I may be encountering.   All you need is about 10 sq. ft. of space with an 8 ft ceiling and you can get a great HIIT cardio workout in.  One thing to note, if you carry a weighted speed rope like I do, be prepared to be stopped by TSA about 50% of the time.  They are not used to seeing them and often confuse them with a club of some type.  I honestly think the TSA agents are more curious than anything else.

shaker bottle

Water Bottle:

Seems simple enough but I did a whole blog post on the motivating power of an empty water bottle last year.  I now carry a ‘Premium’ bottle with me so that I can have both the benefit of tracking the water I intake as well as being able to utilize the shaker function.

bluetooth headphones

Bluetooth/Sweat Proof Headphones:

I love being able to set my phone on the side of the gym with my other belongings and not have to worry about it falling out of my pocket or me snagging the headphones cord during my work out.  I can’t tell you how many times I sent my phone flying off the treadmill before I invested in a set of these.  I am also a firm believer in having a set of headphones that you work out in and another for phone calls.  I am living, breathing proof that no headphones are truly ‘sweat proof’.

multi

Multi-port USB Charger:

The number 2 priority I place on item selection when it comes to packing is the weight of the time (volume being #1).  When you are traveling with a laptop, iPad, iPhone, bluetooth headphones, etc, etc, etc, that is a lot to charge and a lot of chargers.  One charger, multiple cords.  Less weight.

cinch backpack

Cinch Bag:

You know those cheap backpacks that everyone and their brother are giving away as promotional items and every middle school boy in America is walking around with?  Yep, those.  They are awesome for bringing stuff to the hotel gym, the real gym or even the pool when it is warmer and you either have no pockets or stuff falls out of the pockets really easily (as in every pair of workout shorts ever).

 insulated-lunch-bag-ensures-safe-and-convenient-food-carrying1

Snack bag:

You can read all about the contents here but I always travel with a snack bag, even day trips.  If I am going to invest my time and energy into making sure I get a good workout in, I am going to do everything I can to not sabotage it by making poor dietary choices if I can avoid them.   I always also include Shakeology in my bag as I want complete nutrition options if I find myself in the airport and hungry.

TRX

TRX:

I LOVE MY TRX!!!  However it usually only travels with me when I know the hotel gym that I will be experiencing is beyond lackluster.  This one really does take up a lot of space but especially on short trips, is totally worth it.  I use it routinely at home and on the road and you can get a GREAT workout with this single apparatus.  With the door mount, you don’t even have to leave the hotel room.  Best travel fitness investment I have ever made.

mouthpiece

Mouthpiece:

So this one is pretty specific to the martial artist but it does bring up a good point.  I love to train in martial arts, especially rolling BJJ when I am on the road.  One piece of equipment that is critical to preventing injury is wearing a mouthpiece so I travel with one everywhere I go.  By having my mouthpiece, I can go roll at any school that will have me with little to no notice.  It lets me pursue one of my passions.  For you (or your RoadWarrior) it may be a racket or a club.  Whatever it is, bring it along what you are passionate about so that if the opportunity arises (or you create it), you are not left with the excuse “It is too bad I did not have my……”

So there you have it, the list of my favorite things that may or may not be in your suitcase today.  What makes your cut?  What are the things you simply can’t travel without?

For full disclosure, I am not receiving any type of incentive from the companies that make or distribute these products, with the exception of Shakeology as I am a BeachBody Coach.

Stuffing Nests – OMG!!

So I have been trying to find some new ways to use all of the Thanksgiving left overs this year (not that I don’t love a good Turkey sandwich on sourdough but….).  Between this desire and watching way too much Chopped, I was on a mission to find non-conventional ways of using everything.  Of all the ingredients, the stuffing was giving me the most grief, so I decided to try something new.  Utilizing the stuffing, I made nests for eggs to poach in.  The result?  Phenomenally good.

Here is how I did it:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray.
  3. Scoop a heaping tablespoon or two of leftover stuffing into each tin, molding the stuffing to the shape of the pan leaving a well for the egg to join the party later.
  4. Place in the oven for 5 minutes allowing the stuffing nest to begin to brown.
  5. Individually crack an egg for every nest into a bowl and pour into the nest (beware, there is a strong possibility you will have more egg than nest area – be sure the yolk makes it in before it is full).
  6. Return to the oven and bake for 12 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove each nest from the pan and plate topping with your favorite fresh herbs, salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Enjoy!!

Ingredients:

  • Leftover stuffing
  • Eggs
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh herbs of your choice

But it looks so good on the calendar!! (Alternative title: What the heck was I thinking?)

At least once or twice a year, I have a week of travel that looks great on a calendar.  The kind of week, like the one I just started, where I have 6 different in person meetings across six states in 5 days.  The kind of week where on the last leg of the trip you find yourself chanting  “never again” over and over like it is a tantric mantra.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

This week I will find myself on six different planes, 4 hotel rooms, 3 rental cars, 2 different trains, countless taxi/Ubers and (fortunately only) 2 time zones.  I think I will literally be spending an entire day in some type of mode of transportation this week.  Crazy.

So how do you prepare for a marathon week like this one?

First of all, you prepare.  Heading into a period of travel like this without making preparations is setting yourself up for disaster.  And I mean going past planning on what you are going to wear and what weather to pack for.  You need to prepare yourself, your family and your coworkers for the craziness of weeks like this one.  How you ask?

Communicate:

This is a big one for me.  I have a very bad habit of not communicating to my wife early and often about upcoming weeks like this one.  After over a decade on the road, she pretty much assumes that I am going to be traveling each and every week but weeks like this are the exception.  Of course this is also the week my eldest son decides to throw a relational grenade in the middle of the living room.   Oh, and wrestling season is starting with two different evening events.  And my youngest son has an orchestra commitment.  And, and, and……. While there is never a good week for this type of trip, this is a particularly bad one.  Of course, I waited to communicate the schedule this week so it caused grief for all involved.

You also need to communicate with your coworkers.  Normally I am very flexible with how and when I will take phone calls and do webinars.  Did you catch the fact that I will be on a plane/train for nearly 24 hours this week?  Pretty hard to conduct a webinar from 38k feet.  Communicating this early and often with your teammates will only benefit all of you.

Support:

One of my wife’s love languages is Acts of Service.  I have written about it before (read it here) but I spend my Sunday’s planning but this Sunday was even more intensive than most.  I always plan the menu for the week and shop for the groceries but this week I also prepped all of the meals.  I made sure the laundry was done and put away.  The garage was cleaned out so the car could park in it.  Why?  So when her day gets a head of steam, or a hail storm rolls through, she is not letting the dinner storm or the literal storm derail the family.  The more I can make sure is ready to go (Monday’s dinner, Wrestling Singlet cleaned and ready to go, PE Clothes cleaned, lunch accounts having full balances) – the better the week will go.

Does that mean I get to sit on the couch and watch football all Sunday?  Nope.

refigerator

But I can tell you that when I leave and our refrigerator looks like it did this morning (above) than there is zero complaining about the games being on all Sunday when I am in the kitchen making this happen.  It also makes reentry on Friday night, way better.

Schedule:

Yes, I schedule my flights and meetings but I also have to schedule my workouts and meals on weeks like this.  I do not want to find myself at the airport looking to board a late flight having not worked out and not eaten.  It is a recipe for late night fast food and running to the gift shop for Tums.  Not good.

gym

It also means thinking ahead to the schedule of the week for those around you.  How can I make the upcoming week easier to deal with?  Are the clothes ready for any special events?  Are there days where you know if you are going to get a Facetime conversation with the kids in that it has to be in the morning?  Can you reposition anything scheduled for the upcoming week into another time slot to make everyone’s week go a bit smoother?

Now that I think about it, prepping for weeks like this all boils down to putting others first.  When we as RoadWarriors are on the road – it is an inherently selfish time.  We can’t deal with the trials, tribulations, arguments and meltdowns that are happening at home.  The best we can do is help to avoid them in the first place.  So wish me luck this week and maybe I will see you in one of the 6 airports I get to visit this week.