Staying Healthy on the Go: Take What You Can Get

What is it about walking into an airport that all of a sudden any shred of discipline or motivation goes right out the window? It’s as if they pump magical air throughout the terminal that makes me feel like I am on vacation.  My mind swirls with thoughts of  ice cream, bagels, and soft pretzels! But no–I am not on vacation.  I am actually headed to Columbus, OH (no offense Columbus, but you’re not my idea of a vacation) for a 36 hour work trip.

All of a sudden, my schedule is entirely out of whack. I can’t squeeze in a workout before my 6:45 a.m. flight and we have dinner and drinks planned with a client tonight. There goes any chance of breaking a sweat today. Maybe I’ll have better luck tomorrow. Nope! My boss scheduled an early breakfast with a client before our mid-morning presentation. Last chance–maybe I can squeeze in a quick workout when I get home from the airport. I can’t even begin to calculate the amount of damage I did at dinner. Two margaritas, a combo platter of fancy tacos and enchiladas, and of course we had to order the flan. I didn’t want to make the client eat dessert alone! We hop our flight and land back home during rush hour. My mind is spinning trying to figure out what kinds of stationary exercises I can do in the back of a cab. Scratch that. The driver is starting to look at me suspiciously as I squirm around in my seat. Looks like I’ll go back to answering emails instead.

An hour later my cab driver drops me at my stoop. I walk the three flights of stairs up to my apartment, drop my bags and realize two things: 1. it’s already 7:00 pm and 2. I’m starving.  I glance in my fridge only to realize that I have no groceries so I quickly order my favorite salad from the restaurant across the street and plop down on the couch completely exhausted. Thank goodness for those three flights of stairs up to my apartment since that’s the closest I’ve come to physical exertion in almost three days. So, what’s a girl to do?

I am sure this story is all too familiar to many of you who find yourselves on the road multiple times in a month. For some of you it’s work, for others it’s a long distance relationship, or maybe a sick family member. Whatever the reason, traveling really takes a toll on your ability to eat well and work out. The fact us, it can be difficult to make healthy choices when everyone else at the table is indulging.  And how can you possibly sneak away from your commitments to work out for an hour, let alone work out and then get ready yet again! A girlfriend of mine calls this getting re-ready. and she hates to get re-ready.

Good news ladies, there is an answer.  It’s called “take what you can get”. If your schedule is so jam-packed that there is no way you can sneak away to the gym, why not do a quick high intensity workout in your room before getting ready for that breakfast meeting? Although a 10-15 minute workout isn’t ideal for every day of the week, it’s better than nothing when time is short. Not only does it get your heart rate going and increase your serotonin levels, (therefore elevating your mood) it also helps you make better food choices throughout the day. It also may not be possible to eat exactly according to your preferred dietary lifestyle, but you can get close. Some examples that come to mind are taking off the bun off of your burger but adding on a side of avocado, asking for salsa instead of dressing on your salad, ordering a sweet potato for your side rather than the french fries that seem so appealing, or grabbing a bag of raw almonds and an apple for breakfast instead of a blueberry muffin. Just because someone else at the table is enjoying the bread basket doesn’t mean you have to join in if you don’t want to. Remind yourself what your goals are and why you eat the way you do, and while you’re at it, commit this quote to memory. A girlfriend shared it with me and I reference it often: “Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most”.

Sustaining a disciplined schedule of workouts and maintaining a healthy diet takes planning, dedication and most of all, balance. Sometimes your plan will fall into place and other times it won’t. For the times that it doesn’t, roll with the punches and “take what you can get”. Here is a sample hotel room program that doesn’t require any equipment but will get your heart rate up and give you a great workout.

Set your iPhone timer to 12 minutes and see how many rounds you can complete in the allotted time of the following:

20 Mountain Climbers
20 Air Squats into Reverse Lunges
20 Plank Push Ups
20 High Knees

12 minutes doesn’t seem so short now, does it?