How I approach the challenge of work travel….

…in  maintaining that healthy lifestyle I’ve focused so hard on.

As I was struck by the difference between how I feel during this work trip than my trip this past April, I am also struck by the difference – and challenge – work travel presents in maintaining what keeps me happy – a healthy balance.

And it got me to thinking about how I am approaching the challenge of work travel now, versus how I was doing so before. And just how challenging work travel becomes when you also have to contend with a three-hour time difference that also means I am hungry all.the.damn.time. (because I am ravenous when I wake up – body feels like it’s well past breakfast, then I am ravenous again at 9 am, because my body thinks its lunchtime, and so on…three hours is a big time difference when you really think about it…)

In truth, it may seem subtle to some, but to me, my approach now is vastly different, in part just because I am more aware, conscious and thoughtful of what I decide to eat and how I approach working out while traveling. Now, when I travel for vacation, my approach is still difference (as I discussed here), because it is vacation and there should be some more give and take. But for work travel, my goal is to maintain my routine and healthy lifestyle as much as I possibly can.

So, that’s a long way of saying…here is how I am approaching the challenge of work travel, as I thought it might be helpful for those that also struggle with this very issue.

  • Work out. No duh, right? For me, my biggest focus was finding an equivelant to barre n9ne while traveling, and coincidentally, I found a pretty close alternative at Meraki Barre in Costa Mesa that literally just opened in September. I was thrilled to check it out and even more thrilled by how enthusiastic Robin (the owner) was to hear my story and have me come to some classes (for a discount, no less!).  I was able to take two classes on Monday and Tuesday (and bring my friend over at Newlyweds on a Budget to check it out! And she loved it!! YAY!) and though I am partial to Tanya’s approach at barre n9ne, Robin’s classes were very good. I was pleased. Other ways I planned ahead? I brought my sneakers to run and a DVD to use in my room to get in some exercise today, before my flight (nothing worse than sitting on your ass all day on a plane without some form of activity, at least in my mind!). So, in the three days I was away, I worked out each day. It actually made a huge difference for me, in terms of feeling like I was on my regular workout schedule, (give or take…didn’t get a chance to run – but I’ll make up for it when I get home!).
  • Bring healthy snacks and look for a hotel with a mini fridge. This might feel like a no-brainer for flights, because of course, you want snacks that will keep you going (nuts, energy bars, fruit, oatmeal are my go-to’s! I even snagged a Gotein in case I needed some protein – love these ever since I read about them on Lindsay’s blog!). For me, having snacks FOR my hotel room is key, because I do wake up super hungry when I wake up. And, I was so excited to see a mini fridge in my room this time (the hotel I usually stay at must have upgraded their rooms!), because on my next trip, I plan to stock it full of greek yogurt, fruit, and stuff for sandwiches!)
  • Plan your meals. Eating out at every.single.meal is one of the biggest challenges for me when I am traveling for work. My tricks now (for longer stays) are to load up at Trader Joe’s the first day I arrive, on salads, nuts, fruit and some form of protein (and Greek yogurt for snacks), so I don’t have to eat lunch out (or breakfast). This saves huge on calories and allows me to plan my meals calorie-wise for the day much better.
  • Get some rest and ‘me’ time. I found that on Monday, when I was literally in meetings from 6:30 am until 5 pm, that I was going crazy in need of some alone time and time to unwind. Being alone all day working from home, I get this naturally as part of my day. And I was surprised at how much I craved it for my ‘mental’ health. I shifted my dinner plans with my boss for lunch the next day, and went back to my hotel (after barre class!) to unwind and go to bed early. I woke up on Tuesday far more refreshed and focused than I would have otherwise.

Re-reading this…it feels like a no-brainer, but honestly, it is harder than I thought it would be. There are temptations everywhere – candy in the office, offers to go out for a drink with coworkers (which I will do, but this trip was far too brief for that), and just generally, a lack of routine I so direly need. I felt like I really was able to stick to my food plan the way I wanted to and get the workouts in too, without feeling short-changed. It made a world of difference, and makes me less wary of future work trips because I have everything I need at my fingertips – and in my brain – to succeed and maintain the healthy lifestyle I have worked so hard to build.

What about you? If you travel for work, do you find it a struggle to eat right and stick to a regular workout schedule? What are your tips? I am always looking for more, of course, as mine are still developing (even almost a year into this job!),

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20 thoughts on “How I approach the challenge of work travel….

  1. I don’t often have to travel for work, but I find it can be hard anytime you travel. I always try to make sure I stay somewhere that has a mini fridge and a gym. I’ve gotten pretty good about keeping a little baggy with protein powder, single servings of PB or almond butter, portioned out oatmeal, and stevia packets. Oh and protein bars. This can get you through a lot. I also scout out the closest grocery store for fresh fruit. I think the hardest part is staying with routine.

    1. YES! Individual PB packets are also awesome! I didn’t have any of those this time. Oatmeal is also genius, it’s easy to bring and can even be eaten on the plane if need be 😉

      1. Oatmeal is my big tip for work travel – even if your hotel room has nothing else, it has a coffee maker. Run your water through the coffee maker and bingo you have oatmeal!

    1. Aww! Thank you friend, seriously, means so much! It was so awesome to see you and Eric too, such fun, and to go to class together!! It is hard to have self control…believe me, I’m no saint, but I do try my best to stay within reason as much as I can!

    1. It is difficult. It is the hardest part of my job, I think…but given how great it is in between traveling, it is worth it for me. The flexibility, being at home, getting SO much done, is totally worth it.

  2. This is SUCH a good post sis. Even though it sounds like a no-brainer to you, for someone far less seasoned at traveling for work, this is SO insightful. And like you said? The difference in how you approached work travel before vs. now is ridiculously difference. Much more thoughtful, like you said. I’m so proud of you sis – in just three short days away, you learned TONS about yourself, how far you’ve come and how GREAT you are. Love it!

    1. Thank you sis! It is really such a different mindset. Before, I think I was always trying to top load my meals because I WAS hungry all the damn time with the time difference etc, but I don’t have to do that, there are always options for meals and I won’t starve!

  3. you are so right – not eating food at home is a KILLER. after months upon months of restaurant meals every freaking day of my life, i laid down the law. i have cooked dinner every night for five straight days, which is the longest stretch of home-cooked food the man has had since… in all honesty, probably since before i knew him. and it’s AMAZING. i feel healthier. (and richer, given how much of our money was spent on take-out.)

    so for you to have such a disciplined approach to traveling that far away? awesome. 🙂

    1. It IS killer! It makes me hate eating out after, ya know? After a spate of having to eat out, the last thing I want to do is do more of that. So it makes eating at home totally refreshing! I crave it! And thank you for the kudos my friend!

  4. I just took my first post-baby #2 work trip last week. We stayed at a hotel IN the airport, so the only place to go for a run was on a heli-pad on the roof of the parking garage. There was a tiny “track” marked in the concrete up there. Kind of bizarre, but also kind of cool to watch the planes take off while my boss and I were running. I guess it just goes to show that you have to be willing to get creative! 🙂

    1. Ugh, IN the airport IS the worst for trying to run outside!! But I do tend to like the hotel gyms at those hotels because for some reason, they tend to be nicer and the view of the airport is kind of cool, I agree. The hotel gym at the one I stay at is AWFUL though. Thankfully, there is a 24 Hour Fitness across the street and I can go outside too.

  5. Great tips! I always have to put a fruit leather or granola bar in my bag since my blood sugar can drop quickly. The eating out piece is tough for me. And, if I’m not eating out, then I’m at events where I’m not eating regular meals at regular times. It’s tricky…

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