Today's blog comes courtesy of client Eric. To find out more about Eric's story, see this blog post.
"I’ve started typing this at 3:20AM on my way from Sydney to Tokyo. I’ve just woken up in the middle of the night and went for a glass of water- only there isn’t just water. There was wine, biscuits, 3 different types of chocolates, an assortment of pastries, a basket of fruit. The flight attendant saw me pondering the snack tray, and asked if I’d prefer a cheese plate or a piece of chocolate hazelnut cake. I say “no” because I have willpower—I’m proud. I drink my glass of water and start walking back to my seat. I walk 4 steps before the siren song of the snack tray calls me back. Five minutes later I look down in shame as I’ve mindlessly eaten 5 Tim Tams and a muffin- because I don’t have willpower- I’m not proud.
This more or less encapsulates what travel is for me- the relentless assault of fatty convenience. I’ve just gotten on to this flight from an airport lounge with tons of free food. Two days ago, I was in a hotel where there was a lounge that serves free food for 18 hours a day- the mini bar in this particular hotel was free- FREE!
Travel is difficult when it comes to staying in shape. I was away from home 110 days last year. With Paul’s help, I got into the best shape of my life. Here’s a few things I’ve learned:
Stay in the Virtuous Circle:
First and foremost, fitness and good eating are a virtuous circle. Making progress in one area, tends to encourage the other and so on until you find yourself in shape. When you have a good work out, you feel good, you look good in the mirror, you’re less likely to eat like an asshole, which means you work out harder, look slightly better, and the cycle repeats. Whenever you’re at home, sticking to a diet and getting results, the virtuous circle is close by- the recipe is simple. When travelling, something will break the circle- could be a terrible hotel gym or a bad workout. It could be an unhealthy meal, could be alcohol. Here’s some things that I have found that help:
Hit the ground running:
Literally. Run out of the airplane and through the terminal lounge- OK- don’t do that- you may get tackled by security. But I’ve found one of the best ways to avoid jet lag is to immediately exercise when you get to the hotel. If you can do a full workout, great. If its 10 minutes on an elliptical, great- Just get the heart rate up. I’m sure there’s science behind this somewhere, but regardless, it materially lessens the effect of jet lag for me. You won’t want to do it- Planes really take it out of you- but just get in, and do something. You will thank yourself later. Remember, it doesn’t have to be Paul’s ridiculous 10 sets of dead lift workout, just get yourself moving. In Physics, the coefficient of static friction (getting something moving) is always higher than the coefficient of kinetic friction (keeping something moving.) Once you get past the initial laziness or tiredness, it will get much easier
[Editor's Note: I can definitely vouch for the above. I first tried this when flying Sydney to London. I got to the hotel at around 6.30pm after travelling for the best part of 24 hours. However, I resisted the urge to fall asleep and went for a workout. I felt a million times better for doing this.]
In order to hit the ground running, you’ve got to plan. First, for longer flights, buy compression socks so your feet and ankles don’t swell up and prevent you from jogging/walking. Additionally, Paul wrote a hotel proof workout program- an immense help. I used to be completely crestfallen when I would walk into the hotel “Fitness center”—some windowless cramped converted hotel room—only to see a bench, treadmill, exercise bike, and a few dumb bells. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I get that 1990s infomercial monstrosity relic- the home multi gym. Before working with Paul, I would walk in, do a little unfulfilling cardio and leave- feeling like I’ve accomplished nothing. Since Paul wrote out a hotel program, I work much harder with the terrible equipment and importantly adapt to what I have available. I feel much better about my workouts, thus preventing me from eating like an asshole (Virtuous Circle).
[Editor's Note: I will be making my hotel workouts available to download as a PDF - please message me if you would be interested - firstname.lastname@example.org]
Even better, if you’re a member of a gym, find out if they have gym locations at your destination. I’m a member of Fitness First, and I was shocked to discover on a business trip that my hotel was literally surrounded by Fitness First locations when I went to Jakarta (Jakarta, Really? Yes even Jakarta has Fitness Firsts and they are nicer and less crowded than many of the Australian versions)
Editor's Note: I always check gyms before going away - where is the nearest one, will it be convenient enough etc.]
Plan out your eating:
I like to stock up on protein bars to munch on throughout the day. Convenience stores sell garbage, so make sure you bring something healthy so you aren’t eating garbage.
Don’t beat yourself up:
Mistakes will happen, even those with the most ironclad will may find themselves raiding the minibar or eating a sausage roll from 7/11 in between meetings because of improper planning ( I know from experience). Realise that its happened, forgive yourself, but don’t make it worse. One mistake wont derail you, a weeklong negative spiral (exact opposite of virtuous circle) can. I find that travel is more about maintenance anyway- If I make progress- wonderfull, but most often, I strive to maintain.
Company dinners are the worst. Everyone wants to order some sort of tasting menu or a bunch of plates to share, There are social pressures to drink, etc. My personal compulsions mix toxically with company dinners. When it comes to these types of dinners, I have to pieces of advice:
Drinking is social lubrication, but you don’t need to drink 5 or 6. Drink 2 drinks max , anything more than that is a waste, and likely decreases the positive impact of drinking with others. Side benefit: you don’t wake up with regret...or a hangover.
Eat less than your share- I have a caveman brain when it comes to shared dining. I eat faster than everyone else (Why does everyone else eat so slow), and I eat way more than I need (I never know when the next time my business pack will kill the next wooly mammoth.) Inevitably, I eat my share, while others are generally more demure/slow eaters. Then I eat their share. You just have to have faith that you will be full eventually, so take your time and drink lots of water in between bites.
More about Eating -
I get a budget for personal meals and I love nothing more than spending that budget in its entirety- but there’s really no need. Whatever the benefit is from spending company money (Sticking it to the Man, “Hey, its free food,” etc.) its not as good as the benefit of coming back from a business trip in shape.
Room Service- Don’t feel limited by the fatty convenience of the room service options. Ask for what you want and they’ll make it for you. I’m at the Sofitel in Melbourne so much that they are actually know my usual (Cooked chicken breast with 3 sides of vegetables.)
Much of what we’ve talked about is business travel related. I’m on a personal trip to Japan now- I fully plan on eating my body weight in sushi over the next 10 days. Personal travel is where I let go. Even here, I plan ahead. I get as lean as possible leading up to the trip so I don’t feel as bad about putting on some holiday weight. I’ve always lived with the fear that when I put weight back on, its back on forever. Since working with Paul, I have the confidence to know that putting on weight is only temporary. Within a couple of weeks of being back home, I’ll be back to where I want to be. So let loose, but don’t fully succumb to the relentless assault of fatty convenience.
An important caveat to letting go- let go for good reason (at this part of the story, I’m no longer on a plane at 3:20AM). While in Japan, I was eating breakfast at the hotel buffet (8 egg whites and fruit). Then I went to go grab a danish or two. My Fiancée reminded me that those are stupid calories- She was right. Don’t eat the hotel pastry at the buffet- no one goes to Tokyo to eat an apple strudel from the Mercure hotel. If you’re going to eat poorly, go get your money’s worth. Eat what you’re supposed to eat. In Tokyo, eat giant mochi, eat fried cream puff balls, eat the best Ramen or Sushi (gasp-with Rice!) that you’ve ever had— just don’t eat the sad hotel danish that was re-used from the day before. You won’t miss the trash calories, but you will immensely enjoy the local delicacies of where ever you’re traveling to.
[Editor's note: I love the above point. If you are going to indulge, do it properly and enjoy it!]
A word about long plane rides: they will puff you up. Don’t be discouraged when you look in the mirror after a long flight- your body just always seem to look puffier after a long flight- this will subside after a day or two.
Finally, lets circle back to “midnight snack Eric.” don’t zombie eat a tray full of chocolates because they are there. They may be free, but they’ll cost you."