Category Archives: My Favorite Things

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

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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!!

Love is Louder!! A story of the amazing people you meet on the journey.

One of the things you have to just accept as a road warrior is that you are going to spend a lot of time alone.  On planes, on shuttle buses, waiting at the airport, hanging in hotel rooms……you have a lot of time to yourself.  You also have the opportunity to meet a lot of people along the journey.  Today I would like to introduce you to one of the great ones I met along the way, meet Kelly Thomas and her family.  The Thomas family is the very definition of survivorship.

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I have known Kelly (the good looking bald one above…..sorry Dave Thomas, I don’t mean you) and her family for about the last 3 years.  Our paths crossed when she came to work for me.  Fortunately, they have not stopped crossing since.

Kelly is one of those people who light up a room just by walking in.  Her huge smile is infectious and she always has the most positive of attitudes to back up the smile.  People want to be around her because they know they can only be better if for no other reason than osmosis.

I will never forget when Kelly texted me to let me know that she was leaving our company…..and why.  Her 2 year old daughter (the youngest one above) had been diagnosed with Leukemia.  There I was, in a hotel room in Indianapolis, alone, crying for my friend and her family….and also for my own.  My response to Kelly?  I know how you feel and I am in it with you.  This conversation happened just days after my own wife, Joy, was diagnosed with Breast Cancer (read her story at http://www.joybowen.net).  I was in shock and truth be told, happy to have someone who could even possibly understand the journey through hell I was about to embark on.

Over the course of the coming months, Kelly and I would check in on each other through text, Facebook and the occasional call.  Kelly was always concerned with how I and particularly, Joy, was doing.  Here she was battling childhood cancer with her youngest and she was sincerely inquiring how I was doing?  Simply amazing.  I watched and encouraged as she and her family tireless raised funds and awareness around childhood cancer research.  Creating Facebook pages, being the poster child (literally) for fundraisers and constantly keeping the issue front and center, the Thomas family was making a difference.

Then lightning struck twice.

The next text hit me like a sledge hammer.  I literally dropped to my knees as I was reading it.  This time not at a hotel room, I was home, with the one woman who could help me process what I was reading.  Kelly had been diagnosed with stage 3 Breast Cancer.  Her daughter had not completed her fight yet and Kelly was about to start hers.

For the last few months I have been watching Kelly and her family live this journey of healing.  Asking others to perform Random Acts of Kindness on Kelly’s chemo days and posting to the Love is Louder Than Cancer Facebook page and with the hashtag #loveislouderthancancer so Kelly could see the good that her story is doing.  Constantly putting others first in their journey to go from cancer patient to cancer survivor.  That journey takes a giant leap today.

Today is the day Kelly is scheduled for her double mastectomy.  It is also her 40th Birthday.

I will spare you the details but the day of Joy’s mastectomy is one I will never forget (and not just because it was the day that Hoda put her cell phone number on air for all of America to see).  I am sure it will have an impact on the Thomas family as well.  We spent the days prior getting ready for the big event.  Buying pajamas, getting pillows and asking everyone to change their profile pic to something with pink involved.  Kelly and her family definitely have one upped us, in the best way possible.

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I have a love/hate relationship with this picture.  It was my profile pic as Joy headed into her own mastectomy.  I love that it captures the fun that my son and I have on the mat.  I love It was taken on Thursday, September 4, 2013, the day before my wife underwent a double mastectomy to rid her body of the cancer that was threatening to take her from me and he her sons (the oldest pictured here).  I love that the shirt my son is wearing is the walk out shirt that Chael Sonnen honored his aunt with in her battle against breast cancer and the shirt I am wearing is to honor Joy’s fight.  I hate that I ever had to do so.

What Kelly is asking for is exactly what I have come to expect from her, a campaign to put others first.  So I am asking you now for Kelly, for Joy and for all of the other survivors out there, please do something for someone else tomorrow and share it on the Facebook page.  The go to http://www.Loveislouderthancancer.org and make a donation of any size.  The Thomases will thank you and so will I.

To read the details of Kelly’s story, click http://www.facebook.com/Loveislouderthancancer

To donate, click http://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/0x85/love-is-louder-than-cancer?utm_source=giveforward&utm_medium=share&utm_campaign=dashboard&shareid=2516217

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.

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.

Why RoadWarriorFit?

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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.