Monday, May 31, 2010

7 weeks and 3.5 pounds later . . .

7 weeks on the road feels more like 7 months . . .

Waking up in hotels, forgetting where you are, what city you're in, and eating almost every meal out is not good for the body. Except when I could make it to a store and buy packaged tuna and protein powder, I had to try and do the right thing eating out. It is not easy and I learned about the importance of having a refrigerator in the room.

In those 7 weeks I put on 3.5 pounds, and that was even in with personal effort to keep the diet under control.

The question is, of course, why? Why does travel and weight gain go together?

Here's the best I can come up with . . .

1. Calories Per Meal. At home, each meal contains an average of about 300 calories. This keeps the metabolism going, never bogging it down and causing fat storage of excess calories. There is no such thing as a 300 calorie restaurant meal, unless you order a small salad, talk the cook into a chicken breast that hasn't been soaked in oil, and bring your own salad dressing.

2. Number of meals. At home, I eat 6 to 7 meals a day. On the road, it is usually 3 or 4 meals, all larger. The larger the meal, the more negative impact on metabolism.

3. Sodium. Holy Smoke! The amount of salt they put into food is disturbing, yet I got used to it quickly on the road. That's the problem -- you stop noticing. And sodium causes all kinds of problems, including higher blood pressure, lower energy levels, and water retention.

4. Alcohol. This wasn't really a problem for me, but I could see it becoming a problem if I'd stayed out there much longer. After a long day at work, a lot of folks want to have a drink or two or three. Sometimes, it is hard not to join in the fun.

5. Stress. Work is often stressful. That causes people (including me) to eat more. And, eat more or not, stress results in the creation of cortisol by the body which has been linked to fat storage.

6. Exercise. I didn't miss too many workouts while I was out, but they were often rushed or abbreviated due to time constraints. It often meant working out after work which is not good for me. I do better and can hit it harder and longer if I get up and get to the gym in the norning. That also translates into less work, less calories expended, and less continuing metabolic effect.

7. Rhythm. This is more difficult to explain, but doing the same things at the same times each day, while it may sound boring, is good for the body. Eating, working out, sleeping -- all important and all can get out of synch when other demands control your life.

So, what's the answer?

I don't believe there is a good answer beyond staying off the road as much as possible.

For me that means never doing it again. Sure, I'll go out on the road from time to time, but not for 7 weeks, not even for 5, or 4 or 3 weeks. Staying in condition is too important to my physical and mental well-being to trade it for a few extra dollars.

That's a personal choice, of course, but it is my choice.

Hope you're having a great Memorial Day weekend.

Train hard; diet harder.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Keeping it together when traveling on business . . . advice to the road warriors

Just as I began my cutting diet six weeks ago, duty called.

I have now been on the road for six weeks -- not just 3 or 4 days a week, but seven days a week. Indeed, this is the first time I've been home in six weeks and I'll be here all of four days. Then it is back to wars for two more weeks.

The lessons I've learned are important . . .

- If you are working 10 - 12 hours a day, there is no way to stay in "condition." Sure, you can stay in "shape," keep the weight down, but no way, no how, can you work out enough and with enough intensity to build muscle, or carve up.

- I have learned to get two workouts in every weekend on the road, and then squeeze two into the week, usually finding a gym that stays open late and showing up about 9 p.m.

- The other mornings (and sometimes evenings) I find the workout room in the hotel and climb on the elliptical trainer just to burn calories and keep the metabolism going.

- I eat clean on the road but don't always get all my meals and find myself developing a bad habit -- getting most of my calories after 2 p.m. Not good. I can do better there.

- I am within a pound of the weight I was six weeks ago, but that hard, etched look is nowhere to be found. Not surprising and easily correctable when I can get back into my groove at home . . .

So, here's some advice to you road warriors . . .

1. Don't expect to be entering any physique competitions -- you will lose to those who can stay at home, keep strict on their diets, not eating out, and working out hard five days a week.

2. You can stay in shape by always working out on the weekends and squeezing two, maybe three, workouts in on the road.

3. When you can't work out, at least do 30 or 40 minutes of cardio a day -- keep the metabolism boosted.

4. Eat clean, watch your calories. DietController, the software I use, has been very valuable because I can watch my calories and protein intake as I go through every day and keep it within the speed limit.

5. Try to get your sleep. This is very difficult for me. I am an 8-hour sleeper, if given a chance, but I almost never get that on the road, oftentimes subsisting on 5 or 6 hours a night for a week at a time. To help me when I am wound up, I have found a natural compound called "Lean Dreams" that includes L-Tryptophan that promotes deep sleep as well as a compound that helps reduce cortisol.

In the four days I'm at home I am working out, not surprisingly, all four days. Monday finds me back on the road, returning home May 28th, after which I intend to stay put, get back in the groove, without too much damage having been done living in various Hampton Inns across the country.

Train hard; diet harder!