Business travel can present some real challenges, but it is possible to come back home from a trip in better shape than when you left. Prior planning and preparation is the key.
Apply the tips I provide below and you will not only come back home fitter than when you left, you’ll won’t have to play catch-up when you return to the office.
While traveling on business, your mantra should be, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Theodore Roosevelt
Good is not the enemy of great. A twenty-minute workout in your hotel room is much better than doing nothing at all.
It all starts with planning ahead, so that is where we will start.
1. Hotel: Visit the hotel’s website, prior to booking your room. Choose the hotel with the best fitness center by comparing photos of the hotel’s fitness center on the hotel’s website. Some hotels will also give you access to local gym facilities.
2. Bring your own gym: I always travel with the following items in my suitcase:
1) Wireless Headphones
2) Lifeline Power Up Chin-Up
3) Jump Rope
4) Resistance Bands
5) Sports Watch or Heartrate Monitor
6) Boxing Timer app (downloaded on my smartphone)
7) Running Shoes (I usually wear them on travel days)
8) Workout Clothing
BASIC PACKING LIST
3. Download Helpful Content: Download music and video content, for your workouts and travel days. You might also want to download some YouTube workout videos as well. There are lots of No Equipment Cardio Workouts and Resistant Band Workouts available. You can also download PDF documents to your tablet to do some professional reading during your travel days. There are apps available that can read the documents to you:
a. eReader Prestigio (Google)
b. @Voice Aloud Reader (Google)
c. vBookz (Apple)
1. Exercise: Often times it is difficult to work out on travel days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. I make a conscious effort to walk as much as possible and take the stairs whenever possible. I will walk around the airport listening to an audiobook while I am waiting for my flight instead of sitting down. You are going to be sitting enough on the plane.
2. Eating: I recommend having a quick breakfast at home. If I am rushed, I’ll have a shake and a piece of toast. After I go through security, I’ll use my company credit card to purchase water and some snacks for the trip. I expense these items as my breakfast. Beef jerky and high protein, low carb protein bars are usually your best options. The key to not overeating is to log your food on the MyFitnessPal app.
Staying the Course During Your Trip:
1. Exercise: Whenever possible, wake up early and workout before beginning the work day. I recommend laying your workout clothing next to your smartphone. Place your phone far enough away that you have to get out of bed to turn it off. This will make getting up easier.
If the weights that the hotel fitness center has to offer are lighter than you usually use, you can make the weight feel heavier by slowing down your repetitions. You can pre-fatiguing the major muscle group being worked, for example, perform the dumbbell fly immediately before incline presses. Lastly, you can decrease your rest periods between sets to make the workout more challenging.
The simplest exercises to perform during a trip for each major body part are:
1) Legs: One-legged squats and lunges.
2) Chest: Dips between furniture and push-ups (using the resistance bands).
3) Back: Pull-ups using these straps that turn any door into a pull-up station (Lifeline Power Up Chin-Up).
4) Shoulders: Jack-knife push-ups.
5) Triceps: close-grip push-ups or resistant band triceps extensions.
6) Biceps: resistant band curls.
2. Eating: The key to not overeating is logging your food. It is especially important while traveling. Eating out is possible when creating a caloric deficit, but you have to take certain precautions. McDonald’s McMuffin® is my go-to breakfast when traveling. Other go-to meals I order in sit-down restaurants are small steaks with grilled vegetables or grilled fish fillet with rice.
Avoid sauces; they can contain a lot of unwanted calories. Some menus provide calorie estimates. You can usually find menu items at chain restaurants on the MyFitnessPal app (Google or iTunes), so logging it is quick and easy.
Many of us were taught from an early age to eat everything on our plate and not to waste food. Unfortunately, restaurant portions are typically larger than you need for a single meal.
As a rule of thumb, a portion of protein is roughly the size of your palm, a portion of carbohydrates is what will fit in your cupped hand and a portion of fat is the size of your thumb. A portion of vegetables is the size of your clenched fist, but I don’t put many restrictions on vegetables since they have a low caloric density, and are rich in nutrients and fiber.
If your order arrives at the table, and you realize it is more than you need to feel satisfied; ask the waiter for a takeout box. Place the extra food in it to avoid the temptation of overeating. The takeout provides a future meal or snack, depending on its size.
I recommend you limit the number of dinners you eat with your coworkers. I think one dinner to bond with coworkers over a couple of drinks is fine, but most nights, I would recommend you decline the offer. Explain to them that you are going to order room service so you can get caught up on your paperwork. Order off the menu. A steak with grilled vegetable is a great meal. Again, avoid any heavy sauces.
Staying in and ordering room service will allow you to be more productive and stay on track. The more you travel, the more important it is that you do this. Not only will you be healthier, you’ll be less stressed by travel because you won’t fall behind on your work. You can often fit in an additional workout because you can control your nightly schedule.
I believe if you apply these tips, you’ll find that staying in shape while traveling is doable. Just remember to, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Theodore Roosevelt. This is great advice for any situation.
Discipline pushes us, motivation pulls us, but intentional habits keep moving towards our goals. Change your habits, change your life!
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