If you have a job that requires travel, then you know it can be an incredible gift and has the potential to be a real challenge. When I first started travelling for my job, I was so excited at all the places I would be able to visit and see. Travelling across what I felt was one of the most beautiful places in the world – Canada – felt like a dream come true. But there were so many things I was not prepared to handle. Near the top of this list was caring for my physical health.
I came home from a trip one day, and my young son had drawn a stick figure picture of our family. He wasn’t very artistic, but he sure was proud of his creation. As he showed it off to me, I asked him where I was in the picture. He pointed to the only person who was not a stick figure – the one who looked like the Michelin tire man.
I didn’t realize I had slowly started to gain weight and was topping out around 280 pounds. It took my son to point it out to me.
The Danger of Restaurant Food
Eating restaurant food all day can be a killer, and the weight begins to add up. Some parts of the world require restaurants to show how many calories a meal is on their menu. You would be amazed how many restaurant meals are between 1,500 and 2,000 calories (that’s about a full day worth of calories). If you do this three times a day plus coffee meetings between (with a donut on the side) – the amount of calories you can eat on the road becomes shocking.
Here is what I changed in my diet (and it resulted in losing about 80 pounds over time).
- Avoid potatoes as much as possible – replace them with salad as often as you can.
- Avoid soft drinks or fruit juices that are high in sugar – replace them with water all the time.
- Avoid desserts, always!
- Eat nothing after 7 pm or 8 pm each day.
- Count your calories all day long
Find Ways to Exercise
When you travel for work, you spend a lot of time sitting down. You drive to an airport – and sit and wait for your airplane where you sit even longer. You rent a car and sit in it until you get to the hotel or location of your first meeting, where you will sit some more. This cycle continues all day long.
Exercising on the road can be very challenging. Let’s be honest; hotel fitness rooms are not usually good (at least in the hotels I stayed in). The other problem is that those who travel for work are often in meetings throughout the day with very little time to take a breath. We feel the need to maximize every moment in terms of work productivity.
But it would be best if you found ways to exercise on the road. There are a lot of different places you can go to get professional advice on how to do this, but here are some lessons I learned along the way:
- Find a parking spot that is not even close to the doors of the airport. When you are inside the airport, go for a walk instead of sitting in the waiting area. You would be amazed at how many steps you can get in this way.
- Build a routine of exercises you can do in your room. These exercises can include sit-ups, push-ups, and more.
- If you can walk from your hotel to a meeting, then do it.
- Go for a walk or jog every day. Schedule it into your day as if it is part of your work schedule. Staying healthy on the road will keep your mind and body sharp so that you can be even more productive in your job.
Find Some Accountability
One of the real blessings when I would travel, was my time with other members of our team. A side benefit to these trips was eating out and looking at the menu at the same time as someone else who felt my pain. Without saying it, we were holding each other accountable for what we were eating.
Whatever it looks like for you, it is vital to surround yourself with a couple of other men you can talk with about how you take care of your physical health while travelling.
I wish someone had prepared me for life on the road, and I hope these thoughts will help you make better choices in taking care of your health while you work.