Category Archives: Fitness

Being Resolute

Calvin

So it is the second week of the year.  The holidays are over, vacations are complete, the airports are becoming sane again and being resolute in the commitments we made over the new year may be becoming a bit harder than we expected.  Making resolutions always seems really easy, being resolute is another story entirely.  If you are like most Americans, your resolutions centered around 1) health 2) money and/or 3) relationships.  So as a RoadWarrior, how do we ensure that our resolutions become habit?

You decide in advance what you will and won’t do and we only make decisions once.

The problem with most ‘resolutions’ is they are focused on the end results and are not date specific.  In order to achieve them, we need to focus on the steps that will get us there, this is where the RoadWarrior Rules come in to play.

Let’s hypothetically say your resolution was to lose 10 – 15 lbs.

The first thing you need to do is to set a date.  When are you going to lose this weight by?  Don’ just ‘Begin with the End in Mind’, clearly define when is the End arriving?  A date is what moves a resolution to a goal (we’ll talk about moving the goal to a lifestyle later).

Next we need to set the activities (rules) that need to be followed and excluded until the goal is achieved.  This is exactly what the RoadWarrior Fitness rules are all about.  They are the Guardrails that set you up for success in your health journey on the road.  As a quick review:

  • 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 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.

Being resolute is a matter of being prepared more than disciplined.  Preparation allows you to avoid areas of temptation and put the actions that lead to success first.  These are my rules regarding healthy living on the road.  Start with your goal and set up the rules that will lead you to success in savings, improving your relationship, spending more time with you kids, whatever.  Be resolute.  Be better in 2015.

See you on the road.

Failing to plan is planning to Fail

Sometimes I feel like all I do is plan to be on the road.  What clothes are clean?  What toiletries do I need to replace?  What’s the weather going to be like at the destination?  These are all things that readily run through my crazy road warrior head but the planning is not just limited to what I have to deal with, I also pay attention to what is going to happen back on the home front.

I am the one in the family who does the grocery shopping and meal planning.  It has become a bit of a Sunday tradition/therapy for me.  Sit in the morning with the coupons, see how much I can save while shopping and then spend the afternoon cooking one good meal to start the week as well as staples that can be thrown in the microwave throughout the week.

Where I have fallen short is not having a plan that is flexible and varied

Not to say the least about communicating that plan to my beautiful wife so that she might be able to execute on said plan.  I leave to eat restaurant meals throughout the week and leave the family at home with all kinds of ‘options’ but nothing solidified.  So in the bustle of wrestling practices, weightlifting, orchestra rehearsal, kickboxing and karate, the family is stuck grabbing whatever is ready in the fridge/pantry or making a Shakeology before racing out the door.  It is not the ideal and quite frankly, it is my failure.

You see, meal planning is not an issue for me.  I have no problem coming up with a plan for the week.  I also have no problem communicating it, where I lack is including creativity/variety in the plan.  I would eat the same thing all week without issue.  I enjoy structure and familiarity.  My family would appreciate eating something besides grilled chicken, brown rice and broccoli though.  I needed a solution that met all of our needs.

So I themed each day of the week

This gives me the structure I work best within but challenges me to vary the menu from week to week.  So here you go, here is my weekly ‘meal plan’:

Meatless Monday – Pretty simple to explain and especially appreciated in a house where one of us mostly eats vegetarian.

Taco Tuesday – Food delivered via foldable, edible container.  Could be Fish Tacos, could be Asian Lettuce Wraps.

Wet Wednesday – Soup!!

Throw it out Thursday – This day is all about the leftovers.  We are terrible about eating them unless we set a day aside to make sure we do.

Fishy Friday – Something from the sea (to be transparent, we eat fish at least 2-3 times a week already)

Sizzling Saturday – My day to fire up the grill

Sumptuous Sunday – I usually have more time to really try something different and time consuming.   This is normally the day I try and emulate something I have had on the road as well as cook for the rest of the week.

Each day is supremely flexible in the fact that we can use what is on sale, try new recipes, make it ahead and take it with us (coming soon on this ‘Picnic Parents’), make extra for lunch the following days, accommodate both vegetarian and meat lovers……you get the point.

Most importantly, it sets everyone up for success!!

The only step I have added to the normal routine is to be sure that the meal plan (including recipes) is printed out for the week.  Cut and paste from the websites/Pinterest boards that are relevant for the week…..I may even try putting together a shared board for my wife and I for the week……huh, just thought of that one.  Thanks!!

So remember, while you are about to race out for the week, your family is hunkering down awaiting your return.  Do everything you can to make their week as successful as yours!

See you on the road!!

What’s your tribe? It’s bigger than you think….

Everyone has at least one.  That group of people you feel most at home with.  You can probably tell who they are because they are the ones the embrace your crazy.  All the things that drive others nuts make them feel at home and comfortable.  Now that you have those other crazy folks in your mind, think about all the folks who don’t fit that mold.

“Sure I’m crazy.  But at least I’m your kind of crazy”

You see, I have been training for my first ever ½ marathon.  What that means to those of you non-runners out there is that I spend a good deal of my Sunday mornings on my ‘long run’ of the week.  It is the time when I am out logging between 8 to 14 miles at a time.  There is no way I could do this on the treadmill.  I would shoot myself but being outside on the road lets the scenery change and interact with all the other crazies that are out there doing the same thing.  I have become a part of the ‘running tribe’.  That is when I noticed a trend…..

Tribe members acknowledge each other.  They encourage each other.  They commiserate with each other.

Walkers (no, not that kind of ‘walker’ all you Walking Dead fans) always wave and acknowledge other walkers.  I watched 4 different groups of cyclists acknowledge each other this morning alone.  Every runner I came in contact with was quick with a smile/nod/wave.  It was very encouraging…….but I also noticed a second trend.

Tribes do not acknowledge other tribes.

For example, have you ever noticed when one motorcycle rider passes another, they put out a quick waive?  Happens almost every time.  They are part of the same tribe and acknowledging each other.  I actually think it is pretty cool but have you ever seen a motorcyclist waive at a monster truck driver?  Or a mini-van?  Or a sports car?  Nope.  Doesn’t happen.

The same thing happens in the fitness world.  Of those walkers and cyclists I referenced above, only one group of cyclists acknowledge me and I had to wave first.

But what if we expanded our tribe?

What if our tribe was not cyclists or walkers or runners?  What if our tribe was fitness enthusiasts?  Think about it, that cyclist had the same struggle I did this morning getting out of a warm bed to put their training ahead of comfort.  Those walkers are putting their health above their comfort just like the cyclists.

We live in a world where people live in the virtual and pay more attention to the screen in the palm of their hand than the actual world around them.  Join me in the commitment to engage with all fitness enthusiasts you encounter.  Give a wave, a nod or a good morning (if you can still carry a conversation) to everyone out pounding the pavement.  The world will be a better place for it and it will expand your tribe.

And let’s face it, when the zombie apocalypse does hit and ‘walkers’ takes on a whole different meaning, we are going to need all the tribe members we can get.

It is just a number!!! Get over it!!

Lately in the Bowen house there has been a lot of focus around numbers.  Both my youngest son and I have celebrated birthdays, one a milestone at 13, the other ‘just another year’.  To say there has been a focus on age is putting it mildly.  I can still hear him begging for Facebook, his own checking account, etc. etc.  Add to that my wife’s clean eating challenge.  She is a Health and Fitness coach (read more here) and formed a group dedicated to clean eating.  This group has been obsessed with weight and weight loss.  They post on it almost daily, which creates a great sense of accountability and motivation but wow, numbers flying everywhere.  Last but not least, my eldest son is now a high school wrestler and is hyper focused on making a particular weight class.  Weighing in, counting calories….

Numbers! Numb3rs! Numb3r5!

So as I sit on yet another plane, obsessing over the status level this flight/mile/night will achieve, I cannot help but let my mind wander through the plethora of numbers we constantly obsess over.  If you are anything like me, you have one, one particular metric that you are constantly evaluating yourself against.  It is your bell weather as to how your health measures up…….and it is probably completely faulty (let alone unhealthy).  So let’s go through the most common metrics and debunk their ‘value’.

Age:  This one really is just a number, just ask any Facebook quiz that was ever made.  I am a relatively healthy 42 year old but next to some 42 year olds, I look like Adonis.  Compared to others I look like a slug.  Consider this, I share the same birth year as Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame as well as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.  Compare those two below and tell me age is anything more than a chronological number.

 Dwayne-Johnson Willie Robertson

Weight:  I have to admit, this is the one I track.  CONSTANTLY.  This is my go to ‘health metric’  I am on the scale literally every single day.  I have been known to weigh myself both before and after workouts to see how much water weight I lose in a session.  I have a problem.

‘Hi, my  name is Andrew and I am a scale-aholic’    ‘Hi Andrew’

The reality is that the 175 lbs. I weighed after getting out of the hospital 2 years ago is very different than the 175 lbs. I weigh now.  You can gain or lose lbs. in a matter of days just by controlling your salt and water intake.  Look at the comparison below of what a 5 lbs. of fat vs. muscle looks like.

5 lbs fat vs 5 lbs muscle

Not all weight is created equal.  What you weighed in at this morning (unless you are about to qualify in a particular weight class), does not matter in the long term.

Body Mass Index (BMI): This one really is just a derivative of weight and is by far my least favorite metric.  The fact that almost all professional athletes, men and women who are at the peak of their physical fitness, are considered obese by this metric is infuriating to me.  As best as I can estimate, my buddy Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (hey, we share the same birth year.  We’re tight!) has a BMI of somewhere around  31.1.  On the simple BMI scale, any value above 30.0 is considered obese.  Really? Obese? I dare you to tell him that!!

So if these are all bunk, what should we focus on?

How you feel!! – Ok, I realize that there is no easy scale to measure this against but it is the most important metric.  I definitely feel better at 175 lbs than I do at 180.  I feel way better at the 175 I am today than the 175 I was 2 years ago.  Don’t under estimate judging this.

Keeping Score – I don’t want you to walk away from this article thinking you should never know what you weigh or what your BMI is.  They actually do have value, but not as a static metric.  Track them over time.  Keep score and pay attention to the trends.  You will be amazed at what you discover about how your food choices and activities will show through allowing you to make better decisions down the road with how very specific things effect you.

How you measure up – literally:  By far a better barometer to health than just weight is your body fat% and body measurements.  If you know your measurements, there are plenty of calculators out there that will estimate your body fat %.  Look at the pictures of fat and muscle above again.  Replaciing 5 lbs of fat with 5lbs of muscle won’t do anything for the scale but it will sure make you feel better.

What’s your go to metric?  I would love to hear from you and how you use it (or if you are like me, obsess over it).

Variety is the key to consistency!!

“How do you do it?  How do you spend so much time on the road and stay in shape?”

It is a question I get a lot actually, way more than I would expect to.  I get it so often that I actually started a blog about just that (go figure!!).  The reality is it is no harder to stick with a fitness program on the road than it is when you are home (in fact, it may be easier).  The challenge is much greater than just being a Road Warrior, it really is about how do you make a fitness routine not feel like a……well, a routine?

Let’s take a couple of minutes to really break down what makes a good routine and how to make it stick.

Have a couple of unbreakable rules:

If you have read any of my previous posts, you know that being Road Warrior Fit centers around 5 key rules.  You can read all about them here but for summary’s sake, here you go:

  1. Do something, ANYTHING, every day
  2. See Fruit, Eat Fruit
  3. Don’t eat anything fried
  4. Workout first, then you can have wine
  5. Don’t eat in any restaurant that you could eat at at home

Then know when to break them:

No, I am not giving you permission to skip your workout today because there is a harvest moon or the fact that it is $0.25 wing night at the local watering hole.  However there are times that the best thing you can do for your body is rest.  So if you are sick or hurt, let your body work through the healing process.  You can read my own recent experience with fighting sickness while on the road here (don’t worry, I spare you the really gory details of my experience.  Trust me, you should thank me for that).

Variety is the spice of life:

Currently I am training for my first half marathon as well as the first Grappling Tournament I have done in several years.  Very different goals but it has added a variety to my weekly work out routines that I have really enjoyed.  The change in exercise and venue keeps my body guessing and brain engaged.  Although more than most will try and tackle, my typical week looks like this:

Monday – Lifting/TRX workout

Tuesday – Running and Kickboxing

Wednesday – Lifting/TRX workout

Thursday – Running and Kickboxing

Friday – Lifting/TRX workout and running

Saturday – Kickboxing/karate/grappling

Sunday – Lifting

The point being we are all creatures of habit.  We want familiarity in our lives.  We also get bored easily so having a familiar routine that is boring will lead to easy excuses to not follow through.  So plan to mix it up, cross train.   If you are a runner – mix up your routes/distances, speed, Interval train, etc.  Add in weight training at least one day a week (believe me, you will become a better runner).  If your chosen workout is cycling, find a set of Yoga videos you enjoy, the flexibility gains you will get will help with your cycling comfort and time.

Failing to plan is planning to fail:

Now before you think I am either insane for working out as much as the list above suggests or that I am just lying trying to make myself look good, that list is my options for each day.  If I am lucky enough to be home on a Tuesday or Thursday night, you can be sure to find me on the mat for Kickboxing.  If I am on the road, you will find me out on the road getting in a run.   Since I know my options, I am able to plan around the travel.  Variety is the spice of life but just like cooking with spice, you have to have a plan going into the preparation to come out with a dish worth eating.

So has your routine become routine?  Plan today to mix it up then let me know how it works for you.  Until then, I’ll see you on the Road.

Keep calm and think outside the bag!!

I recently came across an article that was published on USNews.com about the challenges of eating well while being a Road Warrior.  You can read the whole article here but let me summarize it for you:

Pack a snack Bag, Order healthy, Keep moving

keep-calm-and-think-outside-the-box-7

I applaud the health editors at USNews.com for pointing out the challenges that face everyone on the road, particularly by pointing out that most travelers are passive in their approach to diet on the road, but the advice is pretty obvious to anyone who spends more than about 2 nights a quarter away from home.   Let’s spend this time digging a bit deeper and see if we can’t come up with some tips/tricks that might not be on your radar.

  • Pack the right snack bag: Yep, I went there!!  Blast USNews.com and then immediately come back and say the same thing.  Pot, go ahead and call me black.  Let’s talk about what goes in that bag though.  Protein bars, protein powder, nuts, dried fruit (the fresh kind never lasts and bruises way too easily), peanut butter crackers and green tea.  Those are my go to items.  They are non-perishable, hold up to being shoved in an overhead bin, filling and easily consumed on the run.  The snack bag is a great idea but think about what you are throwing in it and maximize the space, the weight and the dietary impact.
  • Plan Ahead: Now, I am not saying you need to figure out where every meal on every trip is coming from.  Sometimes finding a new hole in the wall or favorite of the locals can be the best part of your trip.  What I am going to echo from the article is be intentional with the timing of your meals.  Manage your schedule, don’t let it manage you.  If you know you have a late afternoon flight?  Probably means a late dinner as well.  Perhaps that is the day you eat a large breakfast, light lunch and late snack with the late dinner once you land and get to your hotel.  Late evening flight, that means dinner time in the airport.  DON’T DO THAT!!  Eat a big, healthy lunch, grab a bar to bring on the plane with you and then enjoy a late night snack of fruit and cheese when you arrive at your destination.  Planning ahead can mean the difference between good food and fast food.  More Road Warriors get derailed because of schedule, not will power.  Plan ahead so you can always pick good food.
  • Eat at the Grocery Store: Let me ask a question, do you have to eat every meal at a restaurant while you are on the road?  Will your company only reimburse you if you have to tip someone when you eat?  There are some great options along the outside aisles of the local grocery store.  From fresh fruit (you do know you are allowed to buy just one apple, right?), to turkey at the deli counter, to individual soups and salad bars to fresh sushi, the local grocery store can provide a fantastic way to control the ingredients and volume of what you are eating.  Think outside the sit down restaurant.
  • Stay at an extended stay hotel, even for one night: When I am uber serious about diet, I will choose to stay at a hotel that also has a kitchenette in the room.  I can then pick up my own ingredients and prep my own meal.  Certainly this is more efficient if you are going to spend multiple days in the same location but again, at that local grocery store, you can buy singles of just about everything you should be eating (no, they do not typically sell those cupcakes as a single but they do sell a single chicken breast or fish filet you can throw on the grill or in the broiler).  Again, there is no rule that you have to eat at a restaurant.

With a little forethought and discipline, there is no reason that a life lived on the road should lead to an increased waist size or higher cholesterol level.  Happy traveling!!

Fitness and sightseeing – a perfect match

“Traveling to all those different cities must be so interesting!!  You get to see so much!!”

There it is.  The two sentence combination that immediately tells me that my conversation partner is what I like to call a ‘tourist’.  The kind of person who only travels for pleasure and has no idea what business travel is really like let alone real RoadWarrior stuff (oh, how I long for the bliss of those days).  For those of you who can call yourselves ‘tourists’, let me say that I envy you and let me also provide you with some insight as to what the typical business trip looks like.

Wake up early ->  Jump on a plane -> Get in cab to client offices -> Conduct meeting -> Uber to hotel -> Shuttle to the airport

In and Out….as quickly as possible.  That was my routine for a long time and to a great degree still is but that does not mean you can’t fit some of the life of the city in and keep fit.

Over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to spend very short stints of time in some of my favorite sightseeing destinations.  Seattle, Chicago, New York and DC.  With the exception of Chicago, my trips to all 4 were less than 24 hours in total duration but I still managed to spend time experiencing the Manhattan Skyline, Soldier Field and the lake, the Seattle waterfront and Space Needle and the vast majority of the DC monuments (isn’t my workout selfie wonderful?).  I did it by incorporating my sightseeing expeditions with my fitness routine.

I know, not everyone loves running but most everyone can run or walk and if the line at the treadmill in these cities was any indication, a lot of RoadWarriors were spending significant time on those machines.

Take that run/walk outside and experience the city!!

With just a little bit of planning, or the right app, you can find a route that will put you on the right path to a workout and a great tour of the city.  I use www.mapmyrun.com to plan my routes.  In a matter of clicks I had routes to see the city and a guide to make sure that I was following the right path.

Soldier Field

4 miles in Chicago let me see the lake and Soldier Field.

Empire State

2 miles in New Jersey let me get an unbelievable view of the NYC skyline.

WWII monument

5 miles in DC gave me a route that hit all of the major memorials and the White House.

So get out of that dingy hotel gym (let’s face it, even the nicest of them are usually in the basement or some underutilized corner of the facility) and get outside.  Pick a monument, a theatre, a landmark and take your own workout selfie.  I promise you, you’ll be glad you did.