Work Travel; How to stay ON the fitness wagon.

“I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again….”

Here’s how I survive work travel without completely falling of the fitness/nutrition wagon.

Airports: Try never to go to the airport hungry (the same goes for grocery shopping fyi).  The food temptations are OVERWHELMING: Dunkin Donuts next to Pizza Hut Express, right down the gate from McDonalds and the list goes on and on.  It’s easier (I didn’t say easy ;)) to resist if your stomach isn’t already growling.  Hopefully there’s been time to eat a decent meal before I get to JFK but if not I try and locate a half decent salad somewhere, some low fat yoghurts/string cheese, some raw almonds.

Lots of water….you want to stay as hydrated as possible once on the plane and the Cabin Crew rarely hand around enough to do the trick. Have a couple of bottles with you…. Not only will it help prevent that puffy feeling in your face and legs, it will help curb the junk food cravings if you’re susceptible, which I am when tired, fed up and surrounded on all sides.

I mentioned raw almonds….I try to have some in my bag at all times (traveling or not), they’re a great source of clean protein, fiber, Vitamin E etc.  Also, although I prefer to try and eat whole food as much as possible, I do often have a couple of GREENS Protein bars in my bag for flights. They’re cold processed, alkaline, raw food bars with none of the unpronounceable ingredients found in so many of the other food bars on the market.  I personally never eat fruit before or during a plane journey. It bloats me beyond once I’m in the air and that’s an awful feeling to have on a long haul flight.

Hotel: I call ahead and ask them to empty the mini-bar before I even arrive.  Too much temptation for lonely midnight munchies…I’m not THAT disciplined people :).  Often I ask for a bowl of apples and oranges (uncut) to be put in my room instead….it doesn’t cost nearly as much (for my wallet or waistline) as an impulse late night binge on mini-bar Twix bars and Pringles!! When I check in I ask if there’s a gym in the hotel or close by, and for any jogging/running maps of the area. A large number of hotels all around the world carry these now…they’re GENIUS.  Some even have I-pods that you can borrow for the run (if you want to get down with some bizarre tastes in music :)).

And no…I’m not kidding, I really do all of this and you might be surprised how normal it is for the hotel staff. They don’t bat an eyelid.

I’m a morning workout girl….especially when traveling because I get so tired and my work day is so unpredictable that if I wait until the evening it might never happen.  So once I’ve got to my room I immediately check my schedule to find out how early I have to get up to get in my workout.  Then before I have a chance to change my mind I call the front desk and set the Hotel Wake-Up Call 3 times. Yep, count them….1,2,3! Once for 10 minutes before I have to get up (if I’m jetlagged I need a little adjustment time), once on the dot of when I’m supposed to be up, and the third time just one minute after that. I also set my Blackberry alarm and put it on the other side of the room so I have to get up to turn it off.  I hate my life for just a second when they all go off the next morning but once I’m up and on the move I’m always SO glad I made myself do it :).

All the other workout tips apply here too…have your gym kit out and ready to go by the side of the bed, have a water bottle, a banana, or half a food bar right there.  Sometimes it helps to write a big bold sign and stick it right by the bed….or on the hotel TV… something like….NO EXCUSES JESSICA (although if your name’s not Jessica that might be a little weird lol).

Jet-lag is not easy, getting out of bed is NOT easy but you know what?  There’s nothing that gets my body clock adjusted and my brain feeling alive than a good sweaty workout.  Because otherwise I’m headed to work still sleepy and befuddled and that’s not I how I like to do things :).   Another thing…tell everybody at the conference/managers meeting/photo shoot etc that you’re super disciplined and work out every morning (or evening if that’s more your thing). It’s really hard to skulk into work without having done it when they have such high expectations. People will actually ask me if I did it (like they can’t believe its possible!)….and often there’s at least one other person looking for some added motivation who’ll offer to get up early and workout with you.  It happens A LOT believe me and really can help. I’ve worked out with salespeople, IT people and Dentists (there was a dental conference in the hotel…go figure!).

And I have to tell you…the hotel staff  LOVE IT when they get these entertaining (to them) workout types.  You might feel silly or embarrassed but if you’re nice and sweet to them, all it means is that they get to know you really quickly and are much happier to accommodate any random requests you might have (like ‘weird’ ie healthy food requests etc). But if you’re embarrassed to ask for modifications on your meal it’s often easier to say that you’re allergic to dairy (if you want no butter/cheese etc) than just saying “I don’t like it” there’s just much less resistance/raised eyebrows that way :). I also ask the hotel if there are any healthy restaurants in the neighborhood that I can go to at night instead of being limited to the refined carb heavy hotel menus

Last but most certainly never least: How do Lacey and I manage to feel as though we still have a relationship even though we’re frequently separated by thousands of miles?  Well we both have Macs so we have inbuilt I-chat. Either this or Skype (works on PC or Mac) is ESSENTIAL for frequent travelers and those who love us.  Download the program now if you’re uninitiated.  It’s free or very low cost wherever in the world you are and provided you have a decent Internet connection you can see and speak to your person or best friend or mom whenever you need to.  I’m not going to lie, sometimes that gets me through a rough day on the road. We’ve even been known to both have our I-chat windows open while we’re working, reading or taking a bath…just so we can feel like we’re in the same place for a while. It helps. A lot.

I’ve been flying for 10 years and through trial and error I find that this is what works for me :).


Anyone else out there got any tips, tricks or survival strategies?



9 Responses to “Work Travel; How to stay ON the fitness wagon.”

  1. September 10, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Most of us feed off of your tips I assume.. Can’t be I’m the only one that goes to hotels for pleasure as in sex, food, sex, more food, sleep, indulge in massages etc. Somehow I get the feeling you’re made out of steel or just plain superwoman. The drive you have WOW!

    Looks like you got it all figured out miss perfectionist 🙂

    (Sorry I comment so often this blog gets me going. In the midst of all chaos running my own company I find your writings a breath of fresh air..You ladies are hilarious.)

  2. September 11, 2008 at 12:50 am

    This is amazing advice! I love it… The almond thing, very helpful. Mostly because I am at school all day long and I hate going to get something fast but I’m hungry, what to pack? All those essential questions. I normally have a trail mix type of thing with me — but yes water… I have to remind myself and pack a “Smart Water” the huge bottles. I’m horrible at drinking water, not sure why. Ha-ha… But thank you this is great info.

    As for the long distance thing, I should try Skype. Heard of it but I didn’t think it was compatible with Mac – Windows. Good one! I need that about now. Ha-ha…

  3. 3 Esmeralda
    September 11, 2008 at 3:55 am

    Well, you seem to have your trips planned out pretty well!! **HIGH FIVE** I need to um…get disciplined in that area of my life…have a safe trip and I hope you have a good time filled with good moments…it sucks to be away from home and the one you love and loves you and be going through bad times…so have fun, work hard, and bring me a souvenir!!!…one of those my friend was here and all I got was this stupid tee-shirt ones!!! ha ha ha…be safe!

  4. 4 ariela
    September 11, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    What is it about airports that suddenly makes me crave candy bars? (which I probably only have once or twice a year… in airports…) Someone should do a study.

    Your hotel workout strategy is priceless, and I envy your total discipline. It reminds me of my favorite Chris Rock quote: [talking about all the hot celebrities/models] “I would do ANYTHING for a body like that. ANYTHING… Except regular diet and exercise.” So true.

    Another tip for not partaking in the minibar: Abject poverty. Works EVERY time. 😉

  5. 5 Eneb
    September 12, 2008 at 6:49 am

    So I went ahead tonight and put “No EXCUSES Jessica!” on my bathroom cabinet. It really wasn’t weird like you said it would be, but my girlfriend is mad and wants to know who Jessica is.

    Something tells me if I keep following your tips, I’ll be a very healthy single person soon.

    I eat apples when I’m hungry. Especially when I m craving sweets. It knocks those cravings immediately out, and its filling, plus extra fiber. I switch it up with oranges. No ones ever felt bad after eating an orange.

  6. 6 jessica clark
    September 12, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Haha 🙂 You’re very funny Eneb. But the apples and oranges I could not agree more with! Sweet kick, lots of fiber….I’m all about it.

    And Rebecca..there’s no such thing as commenting too often, especially when you always have something insightful and/or entertaining to contribute. We love it all. Bring it!!

    **High Five** right back at ya Esmeralda…. and to you all. I just worked out hard… kind of hyped up right now, can you tell lol?

  7. 7 mr pinstripes
    September 12, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    gosh you’re pretty… so i joined a gym last week. awww shit. it’s all about the steam room and the brasil butt class for me

  8. 8 nichelle
    September 13, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    This is so helpful. I’m going to start a job as a flight attendant in a few months and I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to fit in my daily work out. Well, that and ballooning on fast food and candy. :-/

    Thanks Jessica.

  9. 9 hithapalepu
    November 5, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    This is GENIUS I travel a LOT for work and as hard as I try to stay on the wagon, I sometimes fail 😦

    Things that have helped me stay on are packing a jump rope and resistance band (they fit right in my running shoes) to have on-hand workouts if the hotel is lacking in fitness facilities. I also pack some of my favorite teas (Stash peppermint helps curb my munchies cravings) and Kashi honey-almond bars for a pre-workout snack.

    I’m gonna have to try that multiple wake-up call thing. Thanks for these tips!

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