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Health Tips on Business Trips

Posted Oct 12 2010 6:36pm
This week, I'm coming to you live from the Windy City.  I am managing my company's exhibit for a trade show we are attending, and it is going to be a looong week.  This morning I was up at 5:00 a.m. and only had one short break for lunch before finally wrapping up my work day a little after 6 p.m.

When I started traveling for work nine years ago, I found that business trips are a really easy way to pack on extra pounds.  The long hours on my feet and the late nights of wining and dining customers make me so exhausted. So, I used to give myself a free pass on trips--no exercise, lots of fatty foods and waaaay to much alcohol.

But, over the years, I've learned that the more crap I eat and the less exercise I get, the worse I actually feel.  So, over time, I've figured out a few ways to keep my health in check while traveling
1. Bring your own breakfast.  My Japanese co-workers are fanatical about their McDonalds breakfasts.  Strange, isn't it?  You'd think they were all about raw fish and edamame, but, boy, do they love their McGriddles!  After the second consecutive day of accompanying them on their greasy McWake-Up Call, I decided to eschew breakfast with my co-workers and stop by a grocery store to buy a 6-pack of granola bars.  Not only was it healthier, but I found out that grabbing a granola bar instead of fighting the morning breakfast crowd meant that I could get an extra half hour of shuteye!

 The Fitness Center at the
Hilton where I am staying
 2. Find your hotel's fitness center (and actually go to it).  With how much walking and standing I have to do for my trade show, as well as the limited amount of free time I have, I can't get in a normal hour-long workout.  But I always do something, even if it's not as much as I'd like to get.  Tonight, after my work day was done, I was so exhausted, but I made myself do a half hour run and 10 minutes of ab work.  I think it's easy to make the excuse that you don't "have time" when you are traveling-- but there's always time to squeeze in a half hour here or there.  And if you have to excuse yourself to go get a quick workout in, your co-workers should understand, and if they don't, be direct and unapologetic for your actions.  Prioritizing your health is something you should never have to apologize for.

3. Make wise choices, even on the company's dime.  It's easy to make a pig of yourself when you're on an expense account.  "Yes, waiter, I'll have the porterhouse, mid-rare, a side of whipped potatoes, and keep the $12 Merlots coming."  Sound familiar?  Just because your company is paying for the meal doesn't mean you won't pay later for the calories you consume.  When I am out for business dinners, I try to order vegetable-heavy entrees or ask for double vegetables.  And then I make myself eat my veggies first.  That way, I'll fill up on the healthier stuff and probably eat less of the not-so-good stuff that came with it.

4. Give yourself another way to be comfortable other than comfort food.  Business travel can be really uncomfortable -- you're trying to navigate an unfamiliar place, sleeping in a bed that's not your own, and spending what's normally your free time with coworkers that you may not enjoy spending time with. So find ways to put yourself at ease.  Buy some really plush shoes with squishy inserts for the long days on your feet, or get a pedicure or a massage if you can squeeze in the time.  Even just taking the time out to make a few phone calls to loved ones at night can really make a difference. 

Right now I'm going to settle in, figure out what to order from room service, and call it a night.  I've got a long week ahead!


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