Tag Archives: health

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.

Picnic Parents

It’s a phrase my wife coined a few months back to describe how we approach dining around the crazy schedule that is life with a middle and high school students.  You see, our lives revolve around evening wrestling, kickboxing, karate, orchestra, band, youth group….you get the point.  Life runs as a million mile an hour and unless we have a plan, we are running through a drive through.  I cannot tell you how many times I have eaten Subway or Chipotle in the stands of some event.  Not that there is anything wrong with it but there is a better way.

There is a better way!!

Joy and I finally figured out during this year’s football season that we do not have to buy from the concession stand.  And get this, the food we were allowed to bring in……did not have to come from a fast service, franchised restaurant.  We finally figured out that we could make game night, date night and bring our own picnic.  Ok, I may be stretching to get credit for ‘date night’ on these evenings but we definitely eat better than most.

We bring our own food and are usually the envy of all around

The menus for the various events varies greatly from day to day but there are a few things that are consistent that make the ‘picnic’ a whole lot easier to pull off.

  • You are packing a meal – not packing for an Everest Expedition:

Ok, I may just be preaching to myself here but picnic dinners do not need to be 7 course meals.  Think all-in-ones.  Soups, stews, salads, tacos, etc.  The less your guests have to deal with in regards to utensils and plate-ware, the better.  There is a time and place for putting together a ton of options, this is not it.  (Andrew:  read that again, THIS IS NOT IT)

  • Invest in a soft sided cooler:

I cannot recommend a cooler that is soft-sided and can be carried like a duffel bag enough.  A rolling cooler is too big and bulky and the lunch box sizes are too small to feed the family (unless you are packing one for each member of the family).  I picked mine up as a give away from a golf tournament years ago but we have definitely put it to good use.  Just as importantly, it makes you focus on only what will actually fit in the cooler (Andrew – read the above point again).

  • Plan to eat cold food:

In my work life I do presentations for a living, often over lunch.  What I have learned is that I need to order something that will taste good cold.  Why?  Because by the time I get to eat, it is going to be stone cold anyways.  Same holds true for the picnic parent event.  For example, most wrestling matches start at 5:00.  We will typically not eat until 6:30ish.  Unless it is something in a Thermos, it is going to be cold.

  • Invest in portioned Tupperware and Thermoses:

We use these all the time but especially as picnic parents.  Everything is portioned out at home so when someone is ready to eat, we just pull out their Tupperware/Thermos.  No plates, no bowls, no serving a portion of this or that.  Think frozen dinner only healthy and tasty.  It also allows you to customize each meal to the particular diner.  For example, my wife primarily eats vegetarian.  My youngest son would live as a carnivore if we let him.  I can pack two different meals easily and everyone is happy.

  • Cut up everything in advance:

Yes, I do realize you are not 3 and yes, I do think you can cut your own chicken but have you ever seen someone try and balance a plate on their lap while trying to cut up food?  Make it easier on everyone and just cut it up in advance.

So there you go, the secrets to making picnic parenting work.  I look forward to seeing you at the next game and seeing what you brought to enjoy on your ‘picnic’.

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!!

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.

thomas family

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.

Cancer sucks2

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.

Make it Work!!

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

Which of course, it didn’t.

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

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

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

Santa Monica

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brophy selfie

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

I took the picture above in March of 2013.  The person you see is my eldest son shortly after his 13th birthday.  He is a very fit (now) 14 year old who runs, lifts with me, is a 2nd Degree Black Belt (think grappling, sparring, kata, kickboxing, etc) and is getting ready to undertake wrestling this upcoming year as he enters high school.  He is not a kid you would think would have a ‘fitness’ problem.

That is until he got his cholesterol checked a few days ago.

It was a part of the standard well check this past week.  We have a history of heart issues and diabetes in the family so we pay close attention to these types of things, happily signing off on just about any blood test our Doctor (who is fabulous) wants to run.  So cholesterol checking we did go.  Now it was not off the chart, doesn’t require medication and was just on the borderline but it got me thinking.

If this teenager, who has a solid diet (no really, he does for a teenager), a body fat % that is probably in the single digits, works out more than most team sport athletes his age do and has no early onset heart disease in his family can have high cholesterol counts, how bad are the rest of us sitting?  And as a RoadWarrior, how do we fight it?

The tips below should not be new news to anyone but are worth reiterating as we can all slip from time to time:

  • Know your number – because knowing is half the battle!! (only GI Joe fans will get that one)

The total Cholesterol is not the only important number, you need to know the LDL (bad) vs. HDL (good) cholesterol counts.  Even if your total cholesterol is great but it is all in the LDL category, you still have an issue.  It is a simple test that most clinics/drugstores/blood banks can do for you.  I have the privilege of being a universal blood donor and every time I give, they check my cholesterol for me.

  • Exercise – I know. Shocking I would suggest this.

Studies show that regular exercise, of any type, can directly assist in raising the ratio of HDL to LDL.  Don’t skip just because your schedule is busy and it has been a long day.  Remember the first rule of being RoadWarriorFit?  Do something, ANYTHING, everyday.

  • Avoid overly processed foods

There are so many reasons to follow this advice and the best summary I have ever seen is the film Forks over Knives.  Fair warning, watching this film could change your life (for the better).

  • Focus your protein consumption around lean cuts of meats

You can still have your steak (my son’s favorite) but not every night.  Opt for long swimming fish (tuna, swordfish, shark, salmon, etc.) that is not farm raised one night a week.  How does chicken (not fried) sound for Wednesday?  Mix it up.  After all, variety is the spice of life!!

  • Eat the green stuff

Fruits and veggies that are high in fiber can act like scouring pads for your arteries.  Even if you never eat another piece of meat in your life, your liver is still producing enough cholesterol for your body to do phenomenally well.  Think about that, you are already producing all of the cholesterol your body needs (yes, we actually do need it).  As RoadWarriorFit rule #2 states, see fruit – eat fruit.

So while I while I work with my son to choose the chicken over the steak burrito while at his beloved Chipotle, I hope that we can work together to make the right choices on the road (eating your veggies instead of the fries, hitting the gym instead of the lobby bar, etc).  I also hope we all are able to have a back like this kid does at some point in our lives.

Wish me luck.  We spar/grapple with each other on a regular basis and he is only getting bigger and faster.