Tag Archives: health

Have Gi – Will Travel

Welcome to my new series, Have Gi – Will Travel.   Let me warn you in advance that these posts really are for a very specialized audience.  The traveling martial artist.  More and more as I travel, I am contacting dojos in my destination cities to inquire about training at their facilities.  The good news is you are the beneficiary of my experiences.

This first episode of Have Gi – Will Travel will detail out the rules of the traveling martial artist.

Always disclose your purpose:

Every Martial Arts school that I have ever come in contact with has some type of “Hey – come try us out” special.   My goal is to train every chance I get, not to bilk the system.  If I like a school, you can be sure I will want to come back.  Thus, I will contact all schools in advance and not only ask permission to train but also if there are any appropriate mat fees.

My opinions are always my own:

I am not (currently) sponsored in any way.  I get nothing other than knowledge, comraderie and physical fitness from training with any of these folks.  There is no bias (other than my own) to my reviews.

Every opinion I share here, I also share on social media:

My goal is to promote martial arts and martial artists.  The reality is that reviews on Facebook, Yelp, Trip Adviser, etc. make a real difference in the success of these small businesses.  I am more than happy to share my opinion so they can gain exposure and in the end, more business.

I realize that different schools have different goals:

I lie much more on the martial than the art of martial arts.  With that said, I can learn from both the yin and the yang.  Especially with me, the school should not adjust to the pupil, the pupil should adjust to the master.

I will stay humble and open minded:

It is really easy to fall into the mindset that ‘X’ martial art is the best….or ‘Y’ technique does not work in real life.  While I will certainly focus on the arts that interest me the most (Karate, BJJ and Mui Tai) if I stumble across the occasional Kung Fu or Aikido class, I am not going to shy away.

So come along with me on my journey across the US and the Martial Arts scene.  The first few posts will be of my favorite schools across that country that have been generous enough to let me train with them.  From there, we will experience this journey together.

Do you remember your second step?

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

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

Certainly not me.

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

Change #1:  Nothing Fried

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

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

Change #2:  Do Something – Every Day!!

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

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

Change #3:  Rethink “Free”

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

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

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

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

So how about you?

What is your next step?

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

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

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

Soap

1) This is not Fight Club.

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

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

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

CT BB

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

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

4) Your Laundry will never be in balance again.

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

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

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

6) You will always be ‘hurt’.

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

triangle

7) You learn to embrace the suck.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s your plan B?

This past week I found myself back in Southern California at one of my favorite hotels, the Courtyard by Marriott Los Angeles Westside.  It is in a great location to several of my clients’ offices, great dining/entertainment options and most importantly, it has a great gym.

So of course, Thursday morning comes along and you can bet you can find me downstairs in the gym getting my workout in.

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So there I am, headphones in, lifting and waking up when I notice it.  The line for the cardio machines.  As you can see in the picture above, there were only 5 pieces of cardio equipment and there was literally a line of 5 people waiting.  Then over the course of the next 15 minute minutes I noticed a trend.  Folks had an average ‘willingness to wait time’ of around 5 minutes.  If a machine opened within 5 minutes of their arrival, they were good.  If not, they were gone.

Now I want you to notice something else about the gym in the picture above……look at how much space there is in this gym!!!  And by the way there is an entire other section to the right past the balance balls!!!  It is probably my favorite part about this gym, the sheer amount of open space.

With all of this space, what are people waiting for a machine?

And why are they leaving when one doesn’t open up?

And I realized, it was because they did not have a plan B. 

Every time I walk into any gym, I have a plan as to what I want to do but based on space, others using equipment, weights available that plan can and often does change on a dime.

So what are my plan Bs?

First and foremost is beachbodyondemand.com   I make it no secret that I am a BeachBody Coach and love helping others find their strong.  What I love about this particular resource is I can stream the program that best fits the resources I have.

Only the weight stack available? – Body Beast

Space in the corner open? – Insanity Max 30

Need to improve flexibility? – Piyo

Sometimes I get there and there are no weights at all but the treadmill is open.  In times like this, I am more than likely going to do a HIIT session of sprints.

Gym full?  I enjoy doing my longer steady state runs outside so time to active MapMyRun and head outside.   Or………every hotel that is more than one story has stairs, you know the original Stairmaster.  And if you are in San Diego, my favorite stair spot is at the Convention Center so head out and hit them!!

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Whatever your plan B is for you, the most important thing you can do is something!!

It killed me to watch people give up and leave the gym that morning.  I hope they came back later and got their workout in but don’t let anything get in the way of your health.  Especially something as simple as the treadmill not being open.

So how about you?  What is your favorite plan B?  And if you need help with your plan B – don’t hesitate to reach out.  I am more than happy to give you a couple dozen ideas that will work for you.

Ch-ch-ch-changes…..

One of the questions I get all of the time from people about to head out on trips is:

How do you deal with the different time changes all of the time?

To be 100% honest, I lost track of the US time zones years ago.  My personal strategy is to walk off the plane, check my phone and say – “Okay, that’s the time.”  But if that was the answer I left all of you with, this would be a really short (and bad) blog post…..but a really good meme.

The constant questioning from others did make me ask why I don’t have to deal with this anymore.  As I reflected, I realized I do have coping mechanisms that have become such a part of my everyday routines that I don’t even think about them anymore.  Mechanisms like…..

Calendar

Schedule to the time zone you are in –

This one is actually the one I have the hardest time with.  I travel the country and work with clients from all over the country.  It is not uncommon to have meeting requests that start at 8:00 EST when you are staying in the PST.  Remember, it may look good on a calendar but avoid this if possible.

alarm clock

Start early –

Especially if you are traveling west to east.  Don’t fall into the temptation of sleeping later because you ‘are on West Coast time’.  Schedule breakfast or a workout with a coworker/client in the morning.  Get your day started off right and make sure breakfast is on the agenda.

Eat and sleep with the locals –

I don’t want to hear “I’m not hungry”, if it is 6:30ish – eat.  If you normally are in bed and asleep by 11:00 and you find yourself in NYC but home is LA – go to bed.

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Make sure you work out –

Bring your workout plan with you and make sure you get it in.  Also, be sure it is at your normal time in the day if you can.  If you typically work out in the morning, get up early.  Evening person?  Make sure to either get it in before dinner or be sure to hit the gym after that client meal.  Your rhythm depends on cues like this so make them strategic.

Magnesium

Magnesium is your friend –

This my secret weapon (especially traveling west to east).  Magnesium has the chemical ability to help you not only fall asleep faster but also to reset your circadian rhythm.  I started taking it daily in the form of ZMA to help with Testosterone levels (jury is out on this one from the scientific community) but I can vouch for its effectiveness as a sleep aid.  My wife on the other hand relies on Melatonin to ease her into dreamworld when traveling.  Just try and avoid the true pharmaceuticals.

So there you have it folks, the five things I do to make travel work and to adjust to time changes quickly.  How about you?  What are your strategies?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK – more than mildly.

dca ddict

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

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

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

I had not filled it with soda even once!!

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

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

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

8 Foods that are good for you but killing your Testosterone levels

Lately I have been doing a lot of research on how to increase and maintain testosterone levels naturally through exercise, proper sleep and DIET!!  You remember the old phrase – “You are what you eat”?  Yeah, it is true.  Especially true if you are looking to limit your caloric intake but maintain your testosterone levels.

In our bodies every day there is a bit of a battle going on between testosterone and estrogen.  Estrogen in a man’s body leads to fat gain, loss of muscle mass and can actually decrease the effects of testosterone (don’t believe me?  Click here).  In your diet, you not only need to worry about what can lead to higher levels of testosterone but also what would increase estrogen levels.  Pay particular attention to foods that have a high levels of phytoestrogens – a plant based hormone that does a really good job of mimicking human estrogen.

So what are the foods that are often recommended for weight control but are robbing you of the most manly of hormones?  Let’s take a look at 8 ‘good for you’ foods you might want to avoid if you are focusing on your testosterone levels and why you should limit your intake of each.

flaxseed

Flaxseed –

This small seed is often added to food, especially when dieting, to add a lot of filling fiber without a lot of calories and for its benefits in cardiovascular health.  The challenge is this small seed is actually considered to be the #1 way to increase your healthy estrogen levels.  It packs high levels of Lignans (a phytoestrogen shown to directly compete with estrogen in women’s bodies) and should be avoided.

peas

Peas –

Not going to lie, I was not sad when I saw these on the list.  Peas are not my favorite and you will almost never see me eating them by their lonesome.  The fact that they have some of the highest levels of phytoestrogens are just another reason for me to grab another serving of broccoli.

soy beans

Soy beans-

So this is a 4 for the price or 1 category as this also includes Soy Milk, Temphe and Tofu.  These favorites of the vegetarian and vegan clans are contained in just about every imitation meat product known to man.  Soy beans and the various bi-products are another food that are high in phytoestrogens, so much so that peri-menopausal and menopausal women are often advised to up their intake of the wonder legume to increase their estrogen levels.

chick peas

Chickpeas –

Great in Hummus.  Wonderful in falafels.   I even have a great recipe for spicy roasted chickpeas that we will substitute for a protein on meatless Mondays.  Also a great source of phytoestrogens.  If higher T is your goal, avoid them.

beans

Beans –

Yes, they are high in fiber.  Yes, they are high in protein (bring on the muscles!!)  Yes, they can make you feel full for longer (curbing appetite).  Yes they are magic when included in Mexican dishes.  Yes, they are chock full of, you guessed it, phytoestrogens.  Avoid if you can.  Eat in moderation if you can’t give up the 7-layer dip.

alfalfa sprouts

Alfalfa Sprouts –

Just in case as a guy you needed a reason to avoid Alfalfa Sprouts, now you do.  You are welcome.

bran cereal

Bran Cereals –

Have you sensed the theme yet?  Yeah I thought so.

sesame seeds

Sesame Seeds –

Last but not least.  As if you needed another reason to avoid Big Macs while you are trying to put health first but that sesame seed bun is hijacking your attempts at increase your free testosterone.

Please don’t get me wrong about the list above, given the choice between a Big Mac and anything on the list above, pick from the list above!!!  However if you are really focused on your testosterone levels, avoid these and choose other healthy items.  Speaking of which, click here for a list of the top 12 foods you should be eating to help promote testosterone production and retention!!

What would you give up?

Welcome to the Lenten season!!  That wonderful time of year when some choose what vice they will give up in order to worship the One who gave up everything for them.  If your Twitter/Facebook feed is anything like mine is, it is filled with people either disclosing their vice of choice or professing what indulgence they will do without until Easter.  All of this sacrifice got me to thinking, what would I really like to ‘give up’ (read ‘purge’) from my life?

What would a Road Warrior like to give up if we really could?

So in honor of Lent, here is my top 40 list of things I would more than happily ‘fast’ from this Lenten season:

  1. Flights that depart prior to 7:00 AM: They look great on the calendar.  “I’ll be able to spend the night at home the night before the trip” is a great way to convince yourself you are doing something special for your family.  Reality is they want to kill you when you are getting ready at 4:30 in the morning.  This is a no-win scenario any way you cut it.
  2. Turbulence: Seriously, if I wanted a roller coaster ride, I would head to the nearest Six Flags park.
  3. Sitting in coach: Yes, I am spoiled but if I get to make the list, sitting in coach is one of the first things I would be willing to ‘give up’ for Lent.
  4. Foam Mattresses: I sincerely would like to introduce whoever invented these beauties to karate mat.  They deserve a good kick in the head.
  5. Airport Food: Yes, there are some good spots but for the most part it is abysmal.
  6. Weather Delays: Hey – this is my list and I get to declare that there are no more delays due to white flaky stuff falling from the sky.Calendar
  7. 3 day trips that span 3 time zones: Seriously, why can’t we book multiple appointments in the same time zone (let alone the same city)?
  8. ‘Day Trips’ lasting 16+ hours: We seriously need to reevaluate what constitutes a ‘day trip’.  Just because you can get to/from a market within a 24 hour period does not necessarily mean you should.Ceiling Height
  9. Hotel ‘gyms’ that consist of a treadmill and a broken down StairMaster: And putting a paper note of apology on the broken treadmill does not make it any better.  Fix the equipment for God’s sake.
  10. The casual traveler who thinks the RoadWarrior life a glamorous one: Really?  Yes, I get to ‘see’ lots of great places.  As long as you define ‘see’ as a path that consists of the Airport, hotel, client office followed by a return visit to the airport.
  11. Taking flights on a non-preferred airline: I fly one preferred airline for a reason (see #3).  I would like them to fly direct from every possible location to every possible location.  Is that too much to ask?
  12. Compact Rental Cars: I hesitate to call half of these cars.  I don’t know how Europe deals with it.
  13. Sunday Travel: I sincerely HATE this.
  14. Friday Return flights: Second only to Sunday departures.  Sundays and Friday are made for family and home.
  15. Conferences: Oh if one could only dream of this world.
  16. Hotel rooms without coffee makers: This is just mean!!
  17. Hotel up-lighting: I realize you want the building to look good from the exterior but if we could manage to find a way to not have a metal halide light equivalent to the sun pointed directly into my window, I would appreciate it.
  18. The forgotten toiletry: There is always something I miss replacing.  Couldn’t a magical fairy replace it for me without my involvement?
  19. Out of Office: Why even bother?  I am always Out of the Office.
  20. Emails from your travel booking system: Yes, I know my trip is upcoming.  So is the one you will email me about tomorrow.  STOP!!  You are just filling up my email box.
  21. TSA Security Line Banter: Yes, I know I need to take off my shoes and belt.  I even know that I am not allowed liquids or gels in containers larger than 4 oz.  I do not need to be continually educated about the procedures as I stand in line to go through the Pre-check line for 20 minutes.denver-tsa-line
  22. Travelers who travel once a year who are TSA Pre-checked: Why did you even bother?   You waited way longer for your interview than you would have going through security.it will fit
  23. Travelers with no sense of special awareness: No, your overstuffed ‘roll aboard’ is not going to fit in the overhead compartment on this Embraer Jet.
  24. Overhead compartments in an Embraer Jet: Really Embraer?   There is not even room for my jacket on the left hand side of the plane.
  25. Clueless casual travelers: (Sensing a trend now?) People – shoes come off, all metal and electronics out of pockets and liquids out of the bag.  It really is not that hard and by the way, look back up at #20 – we have been listening to them tell us this for the last 15 minutes straight.
  26. Barbie Ironing Boards: I paid good money to sleep in your hotel room.  Please provide me an ironing board that actually allows me to iron my shirt.
  27. Something forgotten at home: As hard as I try, there is always something I miss at home.  I get the text from my wife and just want to crawl into the fetal position.  I really could do without this.
  28. Booking 9 AM meetings that start EST when you are actually in PST: This one is completely self-inflicted but dear God, I have got to pay more attention to when a call starts relative to where I will be sleeping the previous night.
  29. Co-workers scheduling calls that start immediately after you land: I realize that the time was ‘free’ on my calendar but seriously, do I have to put an appointment on my calendar that says ‘walk through airport’.
  30. Rental Car Shuttle buses: I know it is impractical but man I wish every rental car pick-up was on airport property.
  31. Unrealistic per diems: I am not an extravagant traveler by any means but sometimes, the hotels that you can get for the company per diem are just not up to snuff.
  32. Expense reports: I know, I know. The aps that are available now make this way easier but I still do not know a single RoadWarrior who enjoys this process.
  33. Useless upgrades: I cannot tell you how many times I have been ‘upgraded’ to the suite level at hotels when I am checking in at 1:00 AM and checking out at 8:00 AM.  Thanks for the extra sitting space that I will not use.
  34. On Demand Movie Preview Channels: I never order them (I have Netflix after all) and as much as I like Mario Lopez, I really don’t need to see him every time I turn on the TV.
  35. Brown Food: Why is it that restaurants (hotel and airport restaurants in particular) serve mainly brown food?  Is it really that hard to make a salad?  There has to be more green than brown food out there, right?
  36. Promotional emails: From everybody.  I am pretty convinced that Southwest Airlines monitors your flight schedule and purposefully sends you an email while you are in flight so you will think about them when you land.
  37. Office get-together emails: It is just mean to send me an email about the leftover bagels/donuts/pizza/happy hour that is going on in the office today.
  38. Slow airport wi-fi: When Jerry Jones built the new Cowboy Stadium, he wanted to be sure that it had the bandwidth to support over 100,000 people posting to social media at the same time without lag.  Airport IT Directors, please take note.
  39. Checked bags: No one needs this drama and time suck.
  40. Worrying about any of this stuff: Life is too short to allow any of the above to affect you.  Love others as God loves you and enjoy the journey.

Hope you got a chuckle at one or two of the above.  See you on the road!

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”