Peter Shankman: How to Stay Healthy on the Road
© Pat Morgan
Entrepreneur and social media expert Peter Shankman reflects on travel and creativity.
I travel 250,000 miles per year. I answer the majority of my email on a plane and eat at home a tenth of the time I eat out, usually in another city or country. Oh, and I’m also an Ironman triathlete, currently training for my second Ironman in August of this year.
When I travel, it’s important to me to be healthy. Otherwise, I’ve wasted the opportunity that comes with being in a new place. Here’s why: If I eat crap and don’t work out, all I feel like doing is sleeping. I don’t want to work. My brain shuts down. I’m not open to new ideas. I can’t contribute to my fullest.It’s not as hard as you think to eat well and work out on the road. In fact, with a little preparation, it’s actually quite easy. My rules:
- Being on the road isn’t a free pass to eat anything you want and not work out. Quite the opposite—when you can’t control the ingredients, you need to be a little more aware of everything you ingest.
- Airline food tends to be fattening. It tends to be heavy, usually cream-based, with lots of carbs and fats to keep you satiated, quiet and sleepy. Avoid almost all airline food if you can.
- I don’t travel anywhere without a pair of sneakers, a pair of shorts and a T-shirt.
- Every hotel has a gym. If you encounter the rare hotel that doesn’t have a gym, I’ll bet the hotel does have stairs. Walk up and down the stairs several times. That’s a workout, anywhere in the world.
- Find easy foods you like, that you can carry with you at all times and that the TSA won’t give you grief for. For me, almonds work (healthy fats, in moderation) as does turkey jerky (tons of protein, very little fat).
- Water is your friend; alcohol isn’t. I’m not perfect here—there7rsquo;s something about a Bloody Mary before takeoff that is just awesome. But the key is moderation. One Bloody Mary then four liters of water on a six-hour flight is fine. Reversed, not so much. Drink as much water as you can.
- Anywhere can be a gym (see No. 4), even an airplane. On long flights, like this one I’m currently on to Hong Kong, I’ll drop down in the galley every two hours for 25 quick push-ups. Gets the blood flowing, keeps me sane and prevents any possibility of deep vein thrombosis (DVT, which can lead to clots). I just recommend telling the flight attendant what you’ll be doing before you drop, lest you have an air marshal pointing a loaded gun in your face.
- Late dinners with clients are waist-killers, unless you know what to eat. You can actually have a dinner at a steak house for less than 800 calories—raw bar, petite filet, steamed asparagus. It still tastes good, and you still get to enjoy it. And don’t believe the hype about eating late turning into fat. The body simply doesn’t work that way. You know what turns into fat? Fat. Eat a light meal, and it doesn’t matter when you eat it.
- Let your clothes be your guide. Forget the scale. I rely on my clothes to tell me how I’m doing. Jeans starting to get a little tight? That’s my answer: time to scale back my eating and increase my workouts.
- Don’t forget weights. Cardio by itself won’t save you. A good weight-lifting regimen two or three times a week will increase muscle mass, requiring your body to burn more calories simply to stay alive. More calories burned, more weight lost.
The beauty of business travel is the stimulation it offers. Explore new places. I like to do this by running. I always ask the concierge if there are any employees who are runners. There usually are, and they can usually give me a great, safe route around the hotel. Exploring new places keeps the excitement going. Lastly, enjoy yourself once in a while. In a great city known for something decadent? By all means, partake. The key, for me anyway, is moderation in all things.
Peter Shankman is vice president and small business evangelist at Vocus, a provider of cloud-based marketing and PR software, and an entrepreneur (shankman.com).