Category Archives: Fitness

Make it Work!!

My ratio of pleasure vs. work travel is infinitesimally small but I was fortunate enough this past extended weekend to travel to LA & Santa Barbara with my wife Joy  On paper the trip was ideal, 4 days with just the two of us enjoying our native California sand and sun.  One day as a couple in Santa Monica and 3 up in Santa Barbara where we would reconnect with fellow UCSB Gaucho alumni and their families.  What could be wrong with that kind of trip?  Romance, friends, California sun, great food and my beloved Ocean, virtually nothing could derail this trip, unless of course the hotel we stayed at did not have a gym.

Which of course, it didn’t.

Now when I travel for business, I am faced with all kinds of options as to where I would like to stay.  The choice is mine and very often it comes down to ‘Who has the best gym?’.  But this time we were traveling with 5 other families, from all over the country with kids of all ages all getting together in the same spot.  My fitness needs took a back seat (and rightfully so) to the greater needs of the collective.  So as we found the one hotel in the Santa Barbara area that could house our motley crew, it was up to my wife and I to figure out a way to make fitness a priority.  We had a choice to make.

We could either let it slide for the weekend (I mean really, it is just a weekend) or we could make it work.  So make it work we did.

Santa Monica was easy, with a full gym a located less than a block from the beach and running paths, it was a no brainer.  Easy-peasy and I got to enjoy sights like the one below.

Santa Monica

Santa Barbara was a lot tougher but thank God I had Joy with me. 

You see she is a Beachbody Coach and in the middle of a PiYo challenge so I focused on her routine rather than mine.  She had her workouts downloaded already and even though we did not have a single weight, treadmill or elliptical at our disposal, we got 3 challenging workouts in over the 3 days in Santa Barbara.  Without a workout room, we even had to improvise on the location (it is amazing how much space your standard pool deck has when you move the chase lounges out of the way) where we could complete the PiYo workouts. To say we improvised is putting it mildly.   Joy even took video of our space for one of her accountability groups which can be seen below and as you can see, there was a great deal of improvisation going on with these workouts.

Now I am not going to lie, we got a lot of funny looks from the other guests who were passing us doing our PiYo on the pool deck.  Our preferred workout area was directly on the path for all hotel guests who were getting their breakfast from the free buffet.

And for every ‘You guys are so good’ comment I heard or crazy eye directed our way, I had to remind myself that;

a) Their opinion did not matter – living longer for my wife and kids does

b) It is my health and not theirs – I can only choose to affect my own health, they can only choose to affect their health

c) We do crazy stuff like this so that we can enjoy the good stuff later – Like Brophy Brothers which is one of our absolute favorite dining spots on the planet and the location of the picture below;

Brophy selfie

So don’t let opinion, resources or apathy get in the way of you achieving your fitness goals while on the road.  You can always do something.  Walk, run, do a body weight series or maybe even a PiYo workout.  Regardless of the circumstances, you can do something and you will feel worlds better for it when you are done.

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.

‘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.

Why RoadWarriorFit?

10_UpAir_Clooney.jpg

Anyone who has spent any time on the road knows that it eats at you.  The jet-lag, the unfamiliar environment, the constant eating out as well as the evening night client events and/or work sessions to make sure the trip is productive all conspire to tear your spirit, fitness and health down.

Believe me, I know how you feel. Over the last 13 years, I have logged more than a million frequent flier miles, spent a full year in hotel rooms and rented countless rental cars.  To put it simply, I live on the road.   So much so that I have developed the filter of ‘how will this fit in my roll-aboard’ and apply it to every purchase.  I am the kind of person who has two of every toiletry item.  Why you ask?  Simple, it is way easier to have two of everything than to unpack and repack every week.

Yeah, George Clooney’s got nothing on me……OK, he might have a couple of things on me but whatever.

Back to why RoadWarriorFit.net?  The short answer is because I was not RoadWarrior fit for a long time.  For the first 6 years of my RoadWarrior journey, I did not give my fitness level a second thought.  Heck, I was coaching my sons’ baseball teams, played softball regularly and have even started to do Karate.  Out of shape guys don’t do that kind of stuff!  I am fitter than most (or so I thought)!!

Problem was I ate just about whatever I wanted…..and I really was not as active as the previous paragraph would lead you to believe (after all, how much effort is there really in telling a bunch of 8 year olds how to field a ground ball?).   Reality was I was in my early 30’s but living and eating like I was still in college.  Too bad no one told my metabolism that we weren’t still living the good ole days.

That’s when a few seemingly unrelated events got strung together that made me open my eyes and take a hard look at reality.  As my journey in martial arts progressed, I was fortunate to be exposed to some advanced level training.  I even got to spar on one of the other student’s black belt test.  I watched this 18 year old go through the paces and nearly collapse from exhaustion.  Here was this ‘kid’ who was in great shape who looked like he was going to throw up at any moment from the effort he was putting in.  I knew if I was going to attain the same rank, I could not do it in the shape I was in.

You see, I love to train but as my training time increased, so did the joint pain I would experience the next day.  My knees would just hurt.  It was on one of those pain filled ‘day after training’ that the second event happened. I was having an innocuous conversation with my boss about one of my expense reports.  I wanted to make sure he had seen a particular charge for something or other.  It was his commentary that particularly struck me:

“Andrew, how could I not see it?  Your expense reports are always the same.  $x for flight, $y for car rental and $22.44 for Papa’s Burgers for a cheeseburger and 2 beers.  Your expense reports are more predictable than the tides.”

There it was.  My bad habits (and they were bad) summed up in 4 sentences.  Not only did I eat poorly and then sit on my duff in a hotel room all night, I did so consistently.  So consistent that others were shocked when I did something different.   I was in my late 30’s, at least 30lbs overweight, was basically sedentary, knew I wasn’t in the shape I should be and was doing nothing about it.  It was time to do something about it.

Yes Andrew but why “RoadWarriorFit”!?!?  Get to the point!!

Dang you are push but alright then.  When I started my journey to fitness, I looked for all kinds of resources to help me achieve my goals while supporting a life lived on the road.  What I found was that it either did not exist or was really hard to find.

Sure, there was all of this great content out there but they never worked for me on the road.  I would find great workouts that I was excited to try, put together by top level trainers in top level gyms.  The challenge would be they were doing them in top level gyms, not the “workout room” I had access to (you know the one with the one working treadmill and broken stair climber).

There were great diet plans that promised to detox my fat and free radical laden system while encouraging weight loss and I am sure they work.  However, they always seemed to contain 12 special ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce let alone find in the grocery store.   And attempting to explain to a waiter how I wanted all of my food prepared to match said diet plan with any success?…..yeah, good luck with that!!

I knew I had to do it on my own and I did.  Don’t let me fool you, I do not have a body fat % in the single digits and you will never see me on the cover of Men’s Health Magazine (however if the editors ever catch wind of this blog, I am open to the idea).   I am a lot healthier though.  I lost the extra 30lbs, I now place a priority on my fitness and have found a routine that allows me to ensure that my travel enhances my fitness rather than impedes it.  The change in focus is one that probably saved my life, literally.  More on that in the next post, back to RoadWarriorFit.net.

So here is what I hope to provide through RoadWarriorFit.net:

  • A telling of my journey – hopefully you can avoid some of my pitfalls and build off of the successes.  And we can share a story or two.
  • Fitness Plans – I am not a certified trainer but I know a good work out when I run across it.  More importantly, I know what will and won’t work in the hotel gym.  We will be compiling workouts for all sorts of folks who have access to all sorts of resources (or lack thereof).
  • Diet – I love to cook.  I love to emulate dishes I see on the road in restaurants.  I also have developed a passion for finding healthy eats in the most unhealthy environments (like any airport in the State of Louisiana)
  • Useful Resources – I am not a certified trainer but I know how to surf the internet.  Keep checking back for links to new (or at least new to me) products and reviews.
  • Reviews – of cities, of hotels, of gyms, of whatever I encounter along the next steps of the RoadWarriorFit.net journey

If you have made it this far, you are obviously either a glutton for punishment or an insomniac but I thank you for sticking it out.  I hope that you will continue on the journey with me as we explore what it means to be RoadWarriorFit, regardless of whether that road leads to the other side of the country or just the other side of town.