How to prioritize your health & fitness while you travel. Our 5 tips to help you be fit on the road.
Work travel can be stressful and unpredictable. You may be at the mercy of a daunting conference schedule, back to back meetings, or demanding client functions. Being a “road warrior” often means we put our own health and fitness on the back-burner.
Moreover, if you are a “road warrior” and travel the majority of your week, I’ll dare to say that you MUST figure out a way to prioritize your fitness while on the road. It can be easy to view business trips as “cheat days” and allow yourself to make excuses for not having a fitness routine. I told myself those lies for almost a decade! I always said, “I’ll workout when I get home.” But let’s be real, you won’t prioritize your health and fitness when you arrive home if it hasn’t been a priority throughout your work week. And that was so true for me.
This principle is true for a workout routine and nutrition choices. Life on the road usually equals more calories, alcohol, carbs, sugar, salt, fat than you probably should be consuming. If you eat poorly when you travel, is easy to eat unhealthy at home . It’s not easy to travel and eat well. Period. But, in my book, it’s essential.
Fortunately, there are ways you can break the “road warrior” mold and prioritize your health and fitness when everyone else is not. Below are my top five tips for prioritizing your health and fitness while on the road.
1. Your success depends on your MINDSET
Are you willing to sacrifice? More specifically, what will you be willing to sacrifice? Do you have the ability to say “No” when you need to? Will you be able to say “Yes” to the right decisions? To really succeed, you will need a crystal clear vision on your health and fitness, and take ownership of each aspect. Exercise, food, drink, sleep and stress are all, for the most part, in your control. You must be able to control as much as you can! The only way to succeed is through changing your mindset. You are in control! I recommend finding a fitness coach, personal trainer, remote coach, or someone that can hold you accountable to developing and executing your strategy.
2. Prioritize your Workout.
If your work travels are anything like mine, my entire day is run on a tight calendar. Meeting at 9, presentation at 11:30. Lunch with a vendor at 1pm, etc. Sound about right? So, if you are going to workout at all, you have to put it in your calendar and stick to it. Here’s where the mindset come in. How much time do you have, realistically? If you truly only have 7 minutes of free time in the morning while you are getting ready – you need a 7 minute workout for the hotel room. And if you have 30 minutes, what can you do? I’m not here to give you the top 5 exercises to do while travelling. Rather, what I am suggesting is that you actually have the time, whether you believe it or not. Put the workout in your calendar and make it happen. Morning, noon, or night, it’s a non-negotiable. Alright, you want one exercise tip? Do air squats while you shower. It might not be pretty, but I bet you could do 100 or more squats. Then do 100 more while you brush your teeth. It’s all in the mindset!
3. Prioritize your Nutrition
What’s the mindset here? Control what you can, when you can. Start by controlling something easy; snacks. Travel with healthy snacks, and only buy healthy snacks. Fruit and nuts are the easy option. Skip the overpriced airport snack stands and pack your own. That creates an easy win. Now, for your meals. You need to do your homework ahead of time. Know where you’re going and what’s available, and make a plan. How many times have you been running late for the convention and grabbed the oversize muffin from the hotel lobby? Chalk that up to mindset and lack of planning. Then if you are going out to eat for lunch and dinner, try to be the one that selects the restaurant, so you are in control of what you eat! Do your homework and read the menus at some of the top restaurants beforehand. If that isn’t an option, sometimes you just need to play defense. Obviously, don’t get the french fries as a side dish. Don’t eat the bun. Choose chicken. No pasta. Listen, there are a million guidelines you could follow, but the point is – control what you can, when you can. I know how hard it is to eat clean on the road. But if you can’t be 100% clean, it’s not an excuse to “cheat” or eat 100% poorly. Change your mindset and change your eating behaviors.
Yes, I’m serious. It seems like business travel and alcohol go hand in hand, am I right? This one will sting for a lot of you out there, but you have got to take it easy on the booze. Start to get real with yourself and you’ll come to the conclusion that you don’t need to impress anyone because you drink or, just because there’s an “open bar” doesn’t give you carte blanche to overindulge. I’m only speaking from experience, but I noticed a massive shift in my physique when I cut the alcohol intake. Determine your health and fitness priorities and stick to your guns. Have one beer instead of three. Choose one glass of wine instead of a double whisky and coke. Or just skip it altogether. Your mindset must change, and this might be the hardest change to make for some of you, but it is 100% necessary.
5. Sleep and Stress.
You’re probably on the road because you carry some importance with your company. There’s pressure to close the sale. Make the client happy. Solve the problem and turn the company around. And, if you’re like me, you are under stress when you travel. You can’t let the stress build up and not have a proper outlet for it. You need quality sleep – so take control of it. Look up the top ways to impact your sleep and take control of your sleep. And while regular exercise may be one of the best ways to manage stress, you need other tools in your arsenal. Mindfulness, breathing exercises, and conversations with loved ones are at the top of my list. Listen, if you allow yourself to be stressed out, that will carry over into every part of your life. You have to change your mind that you need to minimize the bad stress!
These suggestions might seem overwhelming at first and feel like you are sacrificing a lot. In the long run however, I think that by making these sacrifices you are actually taking control of your life and therefore will feel more free! My last tip, one that I eluded to early on: you need someone to help you come up with a plan. I wasn’t able to make these changes on my own. I have a fitness coach and a spouse that help me every step of the way. I’m accountable to them, and couldn’t be more grateful for those relationships. So if you’re anything like me and want to change your “road warrior” ways, find a coach. That’s the first step.