Tag Archives: diet

Food vs. Fuel

Talk to any serious competitive athlete and you will hear the mantra “Food is Fuel”.  It is a simple, true axiom meant to remind the uber fit that it is ok to eat grilled chicken, brown rice and steamed vegetables for every meal.  After all, athletic performance and staying ripped is all about the quality of the calories and micro nutrients these amazing athletes take in to fuel the work they need to put out.  My guess is that if you are reading this blog for fitness and travel advice, you do not fit into that category.

On the other side of the equation are those who feel that “family is made around food”.   Relationships are made around the table and more people will enjoy the table if the food is rich and inviting.  After all, life is meant to be ‘lived’ not just endured.  But a diet filled with high calorie, high (bad) fat foods is not good for you or your waist line.

So as RoadWarriors, How do we find the balance between fueling our bodies appropriately and feeding our need for relationship?

It is a balance that I battle daily on the road.

I made a major shift in my approach when I realized that I actually am an Uber Athlete – AND SO ARE YOU!!  Can I bench 300 lbs? – No.  Can I run a sub 5 40-yard dash? – No.  Can I go 5 rounds with the UFC’s best? – No.  But I like to think I am really good at what I do and my nutrition plays a big part in my success.  So how do you blend the two successfully?

Plan ahead:

If you have read just about any of my posts you can sense a theme that centers around this.  I firmly believe that Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.  You need to know when you are committed to others and where.  Planning around client dinners is crucial to balancing your diet and having long term success living a life on the road.  If I am having dinner with a client that enjoys steak houses, I am going to limit my red meat and carb intake that day prior to the meeting.  If the night calls for a more adventurous palate (Ethiopian anyone?) I may front load the proteins to make room for the veggie based dinner.  Get it?

Think about your daily totals:

I don’t really track calories.  I do track how many servings of each macro I have had throughout the day.  I use the container system created by Autumn Calabrese.  It helps with both portion control and total servings.  Learn more about that here.  Knowing what you need to consume makes sure you are being intentional rather than reactionary.

Carb timing:

In general, I like to time my simple carbs around workouts and early in the day (Fruits I will eat whenever and wherever).  Carbs turn into sugar and energy the easiest of anything we ingest so ingest them before you need them.  The  later in the day, the less I need the easily accessible energy so tapper them off.  Taking a group for Italian?  Skip the oatmeal in the morning, have a salad loaded with veggies and protein for lunch and then enjoy the garlic bread and pasta that night.

Eating greens early:

The one food group that I struggle with getting enough of in my diet is vegies.  It is so easy to skip these, especially if you find yourself in the hotel lobby restaurant or airport limited service restaurant.  Do yourself a favor, start your day off with a serving of veggies.  My go to is the omelet bar.  Give me all the veggies, heavy on the jalapenos, with just a little bit of turkey sausage.  I make my digestive system work from the moment we are breaking fast.  If I can, I am snacking on carrots, celery, red peppers or some other veggie with hummus or peanut butter in mid morning.  That way if it does get late in the day and I am tracking my servings, I am not forced to have all veggies to get caught up.

Limit alcohol intake:

As a frequent traveler with status, you can find free booze everywhere.  In the lounge, at the hotel concierge lounge, even on the plane.  Remember that your body treats alcohol as a poison and stops processing of anything else until the alcohol is processed.  Imbibe intelligently.  My favorite drink is actually a tonic with lime – looks just like a cocktail without the extra calories or headache the following morning.  That being said, I also love a good craft beer, rich red wine and/or single malt scotch.  Just in moderation.

In the end it comes down to treating your food as fuel when you are on your own and making those special client meals just that, special.  Remember, you are an uber performer in what you do.  Eat like an uber performer.

How does a RoadWarrior ‘Eat Clean’ on the Road? By minding her P’s & Q’s!

Happy New Year!!

As we launch headlong into another year, I am finding myself evaluating the year previous in order to get ready for the new adventure ahead.  Every New Year brings with it the hopes of rejuvenation of spirit, mind and body.  For many that is a new found dedication to ‘Eating Clean’.  But what does that really mean and how can do we make this happen while living a life on the road?

Let’s start with asking a very simple question:

“What the heck does ‘Eating clean’ even mean?”

Seriously, are we just being sure to wash our food first? 

Is it eating only raw, locally sourced vegetable products that are ethically harvested?

It really is such an arbitrary statement…..kind of like ‘organic’ here in the U.S. (Don’t get me started on that one, the scientist in me wants to scream every time I hear this term).   The funny part about clean eating is there really isn’t a specific definition.  In fact, there is not even a Wikipedia page dedicated to it!!  So what do people really mean when they become dedicated to ‘Eating Clean’?

I think the most commonly accepted understanding of the term could be summarized as:

A focused diet around largely unprocessed foods with specific emphasis on whole vegetative produce (fruits, veggies, grains) along with lean protein sources and healthy fats while avoiding overly processed, refined foods and unhealthy fats.

As you can imagine, this definition allows for a lot of leeway in just how strict your diet has to be in order to be considered “clean” but the point of this post is not to come to a universally accepted definition of Clean Eating.   What I want to discuss is how do you actually make this type of a diet (regardless of how strict) work when you are on the road?  It is easy, or at least easier, to keep your diet on point when you are at home – shopping for the groceries, prepping your own meals, packing your lunch, etc.

But what about the road?  How do we carry those great habits we are developing at home and not waste them once we hit the airport?

Simple, you need to mind your P’s & Q’s!!

Plan ahead

I cannot stress this point enough, if you fail to plan – you are planning to fail.  Heading out on a trip with no plan in place is a recipe for meals that involve a lot of brown.  Whether the brown be from the bag the meal is served in or the color of the food itself, you are a long ways from eating anything close to what would be considered clean.  To read more on how I plan for a trip (it is more than just what restaurant is in the hotel) here is a link to my process.  You would never hike into the wilderness without a map or a GPS – don’t travel without an idea of the lay of the land.

Preparation

How your food is prepared makes a huge difference in the quality of the nutrition you are consuming.  Your body is going to have a much better reaction to Salmon that is baked, broiled or grilled than to the same 4 oz filet that is battered and deep fried or “sautéed” (read: fried in a pan vs. a deep fryer) in a cream sauce.

protein portion size

Quantity

The quantity of the food you take in matters nearly as much as the preparation and is where most people struggle the most.  Spend time familiarizing yourself with what an actual portion size looks like.  Think about it, a portion of lean protein is about the size of a deck of cards.  Now think about the last time you remember getting a chicken breast at a restaurant that was the size of a deck of cards as opposed to a small tablet computer.

colored grill

Quality

Order your food like you would if you were buying a box of crayons.  Remember back in the day when all you wanted was that box of 64 Crayons?  You know, the one with the built-in sharpener!!  Your food should be the same way – full of color and vibrancy.  Mix the browns of whole grains with the greens, reds, yellows, oranges and purples of garden vegetables.  I say we take back the phrase “Taste the Rainbow” back from that candy company and put it back on our dinner plates.

Persistence

Stick to these tips for ALL MEALS and not just dinner.  Too many RoadWarriors let breakfast and lunch just “happen” and try and focus on dinner.  Problem is that by the time you get to dinner, you are starving  because your calorie count is so low.  Be persistent in your diet.

Much more on this subject is to follow over as we continue to explore each of these points in more depth.  How about you?  How do you ensure you are able to stay on track with your diet, whether you are on the road or not?  I want to hear from you as well.

Again, happy New Year and Happy “Clean Eating”

There is power in ‘Before’

 

Happy New Year!!!  We have officially said goodbye to 2015 and across the globe people are welcoming in 2016 with hope, encouragement and good cheer.  As most of us turn the calendar forward we also take time to set new plans/resolutions/goals for the New Year.  I (as well as hundreds of others) have written before about how to be sure your resolutions are goals rather than dreams and you can read all about that here.

So if you are one of the millions who have set a new goal for 2016, I want to encourage you to do one simple thing that will help you achieve whatever your new goal is.

Take a before picture!!!

And I am not just talking about those of you with weight loss or body image goals.  Yes, if you have those goals, take that mirror selfie or have a friend get shots of you from all those oh so pleasing angles.

Regardless of the scope of your resolution – take a before picture!!!

But what about those other resolutions?

Better organization – take shots of your office/bedroom/house/inbox as they are today.

Eating healthier – take shots of your normal meals, the pantry, the refrigerator.

Better finances – create your balance sheet.  What are your assets?  What about liabilities?  Create it.  Save it.  Screen shot it.

Improved parenting – find whatever represents how you feel you are not living up and take a picture of that.

I think you get the picture (yep, I went there).  Take a pic of whatever will remind you of where you are today – before your efforts kick in.  So now the question you should be asking, why?  Why document this disaster?

There is power in the concept of before!!!

A before photo indicates there is an ‘after’.  It provides hope and encouragement that your current situation is not permanent and can be changed.

Taking a before photo starts the actual process of change.  You are already taking a small action towards change.  It moves you from dreaming to doing.

No one makes a significant change without stumbling once or twice.  Being able to look back and see how far you have come from that ‘before’ can restore your faith in your ability to change.  Use it as motivation to never go back.

It tells the story of you!!  I have never met someone who has completed a transformation that has not wanted to share it with others to encourage them.  Imagine the additional power your story will have when you have made your transition and literally show others how far you have come.

I have never met anyone who has regretted taking before photos but I have met dozens who regret not taking them (including me).  I wish I had a photo of what I looked like on the karate mat before I lost the 30lbs.  I can vividly see it in my own mind but have nothing to show you all where my journey started from.

So as you set those goals for 2016 be sure to document where you are starting from.  Be sure that you capture the power of ‘before’.

Happy New Year and l am looking forward to making 2016 the best year yet!!

Body Image – What’s your standard?

The holiday season is officially upon us, summer is officially over and for some, this comes as a relief.  For others (like me) it marks the end of our favorite season.  The kids are out of the house and back in school.  Football is back in full swing and the temps are starting to come back down which means there is no need to worry about how the bathing suit fits for another 7 months or so.  Somebody cue up the Kool & The Gang!!

Every year when we transition in and out of summer I am always fascinated with the obsession around the bathing suit.  With people across the nation fretting over the concept of the ideal body I want to ask you, What’s your ideal body?

Who do you spend your time looking at?  For some it is the models on the cover of the magazines.  Others, it is the folks that they see in the gym every day, you know the ones that seem to literally live there.  For me, it is the fighters who train their body to sustain an abuse that I hope you and I never know that I look at the most.  It is an image that I probably should not be so focused on but we are all friends here so I’ll put it out there.

UFC

I spend A LOT of time paying attention to the fighters.  Their training techniques.  Fight results and the news reports around the fights.  These athletes are fittest of the fit.  They have a body fat % that can be measured in the single digits, they train up to 4 times a day and have positioned their bodies to withstand the most abusive physical demands you can imagine.  And yet somehow they are my benchmark.

I have a problem….

When it comes to body image, I have always said I have one particular goal.  I simply want to fill out a T-Shirt well.  I don’t want to be huge but I want to be fit……and then I watch a UFC fight.  These guys are in the prime shape of their lives.  Other than the heavyweights, I would guess that the average body fat % is about 7%.  Tack on 2 – 4 weeks of weight cutting (read: losing up to 25 lbs and dehydrating themselves to the brink of death) and these modern day gladiators present a statute that is completely impossible to keep, even for them.  Doesn’t mean that I still don’t have that mental image in my head every time I run, lift, roll or step on the mat…and it is not healthy.

The reality is I am a 43 year old man who will never step foot inside an Octagon.

Sure, I spar.  I roll.  I train but I am never going to test myself the way these athletes do.  I am also not on the variety of performance enhancing drugs/supplements that these athletes are.  There is literally no way I can achieve the standard they set.  However I still regularly find myself trying to.

  • I don’t have the testosterone level they do.
  • I don’t have the time to train multiple sessions a day
  • I am not dedicated to that purpose
  • It is not my profession…………but yet I still compare myself to these professional athletes who train for a living.

I think I finally know what girls and women around the world have been dealing with for decades.  How can we possibly achieve the standards we see in the media (even without the prolific airbrushing)?  We can’t.  The standards are not realistic and we are picturing the top .001% of the population (probably even more remote than that but still…..) as the ‘standard’.  So give yourself a new standard to measure yourself against.

Measure your future self against your current self.  The only one you are in competition with is yourself.  Simply be better tomorrow than you are today.  That is the gold standard.

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.

No Skip – No Excuses – No Gain November

The month of November has become a rallying cry for men all over the United States to help bolster men’s health issues including Prostate and Testicular Cancer awareness and research.  For years now, men all over the country have shelved their razors for the month as they participate in either ‘No-shave November’ or ‘Movember’.  Both are a great way of promoting very important issues that men often tend to ignore.

However this year, I was going to pass. 

Not because I don’t believe in the cause nor because I think the charity organizations are not well run (to the contrary, I think they are very well run_.  Nope, this year I was going to pass for one simple and very self-centered reason,

I just don’t look good with a beard.

Beard

I know, it is completely narcissistic and self-serving but with the reaction I received last year, it is clear that the important people in my life prefer me sans beard.

However I wanted to give back and support the cause and I wanted to give you all an option also so I am hereby christening this month as No Skip November.  Evidently it is such a good idea that the folks over at Movember.com thought the same thing and added a movement challenge this year, so whether you drop the razor or not, you can participate.

So for every work out I complete in November, I am donating $5 to the Movember Foundation.  My plan is to not skip a single day in November, even rest days will be active rest days.  The side benefit of it all, it will also be a No Gain November as I .enjoy the holiday season.  However, I don’t want to do this alone.  I am asking for your help.

Nope – check that – I am asking for your participation

There are two ways you can participate:

Donate today:

Your donations are always welcome and appreciated.  You can make your donations here:  http://mobro.co/roadwarriorfit

Join me!!

I am looking to build a team of movers.  Pick the amount you are willing to donate to the cause and then register at http://moteam.co/road-warrior-fit-gives-back to join the team.  The goal is to raise $1,000 in total but just as importantly, the goal is to move.

The second best part about participating with me (the best is helping with awareness and research around men’s health issues) is you are setting yourself up for a No Gain November.  Ever wonder why eating better and exercising more are at the top of nearly everyone’s New Year’s resolutions?  What if you could focus on something else because you are already focused on your health and weight?  Well, you could.

In fact, my wife and I are hosting a No Gain November healthy living group beginning on November 9th.  It is 21-days of focused nutrition and activity and a great way to help hold yourself accountable and if you are so inclined, to help with a great cause.

So how about it, are you ready to join me in No Skip – No Excuse – No Gain November?

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day – especially on the road!!

For years we have all been hearing about how breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  We could probably get together and sing the jingles from Saturday morning cartoons of our youth together.  So why is it that the older we get that the more we neglect this uber important start of the day?  I even see it in my own kids.  For years I made them a complete breakfast before school (seriously, the USDA could have taken a picture and used it as the cover to their brochure most mornings) but now that they are teenagers I am lucky to get them to grab a bowl of cereal.  Really makes me wonder why I am surprised when I travel with folks and they do not grab breakfast in the mornings – and no, a Venti-Triple shot- non-fat, no whip macchiato IS NOT BREAKFAST!!!

Now I could certainly make a strong argument and point you to all kinds of resources as to why you need to eat breakfast.

Like this study from John Hopkins University

Or this one from LiveScience

Or even this one from WebMD

Are you getting the point?

Instead, I want to address the reasons why you as a RoadWarrior (or anyone who finds themselves on the road) need to pay special attention to making sure you start the day off right.

Accomplishment: 

This one may just be me but I feel better knowing that I got up and started getting things done.  I dislike feeling rushed in the morning more than I dislike the alarm clock.  Allowing of the extra 20 minutes making time to stop by the breakfast buffet starts my day off with a sense of accomplishment.  It may sound trite but you are literally starting your day off with a victory and victory is contagious.

Mind Set/Focus: 

I use this time to get my mind focused on the tasks that are at hand that day.  I can eat, have the calendar open and review the appointments, to do list and travel plans for the day.  I spent this much time and effort getting there, use the morning time to make sure you are prepared to execute.

Nutrition:

The beautiful part of most hotel breakfast buffets, whether in the lobby or the concierge lounge, is they typically offer some great nutritional choices.  Unlike most evening fare that consists of heavy pastas and fried finger foods, breakfast options tend to include eggs, oatmeal, fresh fruit, non-fat yogurt, juices and coffee (wait – did I just put together a complete meal!?!?!)

Sneak in a Vegetable:  

I have come a long way since my days of only eating canned green beans but I still struggle to make sure I eat enough vegetables.  However one of my favorite ways to eat vegetables is in an omelet.  Load that bad boy up with all kinds of veggies and then you can even smother it with salsa (did you know that as long as there is not added sugar that cooked tomatoes have the same nutritional value??)

Availability:    

Most hotels of repute these days have some type of breakfast buffet.  It seems to be a standard amenity these days – which is a wonderful thing – so it does not take much extra effort to start the day off right.  I make sure I get a good breakfast because often, it is the only great meal I get.  From running to meetings, to calls, to shuttles, to airports to hotels I often find that I am grabbing fruit and/or a Protein Bar and calling it ‘lunch’.

So listen to common logic and make sure you start your day off right….WITH BREAKFAST!!!  I’ll see in you in the lobby in the morning.