In an average year, I spend more time traveling for business than being at home. Anyone who is on the road frequently can appreciate how difficult it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Rushing from one flight to the next, and meeting to meeting, can push you to ignore your health.
I’ve had my own struggles in recent years, so I’m committed to maintaining my well being, no matter where I am. Some of my colleagues ask me, “How do you do stay trim when you’re constantly traveling, Myers?”
I smile and then recite my business traveler’s guide to healthy living. These aren’t tips. They’re choices. And here are all ten of them
#1. No added sugar or salt. Avoid the pastries at the hotel’s continental breakfast. Watch out for buffets that often tempt you into sugary and salt-laden foods. Remember, salt naturally absorbs water, so too much salt in your body retains water.
#2. No white carbs. You’ve likely heard about the evils of carbs. Actually, some carbs are healthy, like whole grains and the natural sugar that can be found in fruits and vegetables. You should avoid white carbs: potatoes, rice, pasta, and breads (yes, that includes bagels, muffins, and pizza). The processed carbohydrates cause a rapid bump in your sugar level. Your body then stores the unused carbs in fat cells.
#3. Consume healthy fats. Fats are like carbs. They’re not all terrible. Unsaturated fats and oils can actually help you manage your weight, as well as improve your healthy cholesterol level and reduce your risk of heart disease. “Superfats”—omega-3 fatty acids—have been proven to boost your memory, problem-solving skill, and emotional balance. Nuts (including natural nut butters), fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel), avocados, olives, kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and fish oil are good sources of unsaturated fats.
OK, my one exception, barbecued ribs from Burn Co. Barbeque. Whenever I’m in Tulsa, I reserve a spot in my itinerary for a plate of sauce-soaked goodness at this restaurant.
#4. Drink water and green tea. Every day, I consume 40 plus ounces of water and green tea. Your body needs healthy fluids to lubricate the trillions of cells that keep you alive. Every cell lives in its own tiny water bath. When you don’t properly hydrate, those cells dry up like raisins, which leads to poor health, reduced energy, and myriad other problems that are easily avoidable by making this choice!
#5. Order salad when everyone else orders steak. Yes, you will be the butt of their jokes, but do you care? You’re making the smartest choice at the table, consuming less fat and more, healthy fiber and protein. And who says salad has to be dull? Add chicken or shrimp, fruit and nuts. It tastes like dinner and dessert, all in one dish.
#6. Stick to lean proteins. Fish, shellfish, chicken, turkey, lean ground beef (90% fat-free), pork loin, and beans are high in proteins and low in fat. Low-fat dairy products, like yogurt, cottage, cheese, and ricotta feed the need for protein (building muscle). I also grab a snack of unsalted nuts, which are very high in protein and healthy fats. Egg whites have the most protein in the egg. I rarely have a problem getting an egg-white omelet in a restaurant, and when you add in veggies, it makes for a great breakfast!
#7. Grab all the veggies and fruits when served. Conference centers usually provide fresh fruit at break time, and salad with lunch and dinner. If there’s a buffet, I fill up my plate with the steamed or sautéed vegetables. Then I head for the fruit for dessert. It’s all about choices, my friends. You can choose the menu items that are tempting to the eye, but hazardous to the body. Or you can use self-control and steer your serving hand toward the tastiness that comes with natural foods, like fruit and veggies.
#8. Eat for fuel, not flavor. The purpose of food is to fuel your body’s functions. When you eat healthier, your body can easily process those foods, creating energy and vitality. Your bones are stronger, your skin looks better, and you have more clarity and focus—critical functions when you’re handling important business. Choosing correctly makes the difference between using a high-octane fuel designed for peak performance, and a cheaper, diluted one.
When you ingest foods with additives and chemicals, your digestive processes are trying to figure out what to do with the junk. It’s a foreign substance. So, it’s stored as fat or possibly takes the space of nutrients that are more needed. Before you put anything in your mouth, ask yourself what purpose it will serve in fueling your body.
#9. The body is a temple, not an outhouse. I’ve seen people make better choices in feeding their pets than themselves. They buy the grain-free, high-protein food for their cherished dog, and then wolf down a bag of chips and a hot dog for dinner. Have a little respect for the one and only body you were given. Take care of it. Stop shoveling junk food into this temple. Remember, you lose weight in the kitchen, not the gym.
#10. Break a sweat. After I settle into my hotel room, I head down to the fitness center to see what they have. I try to get in a daily workout wherever I go. In some cases, that’s a brisk walk or a swim in the pool. Thirty minutes of activity makes a huge difference in both your energy level and your body’s ability to burn fat and stay lean.
Traveling is a way of life for me. Sticking to my health choices is as well.
Myers Barnes is America’s favorite new home sales trainer, author, speaker and consultant. For more information, please visit www.myersbarnes.com.