One Simple Travel Tip To Stay Healthy – Just Keep Running

I realized I created a habit while not even thinking about it. While road warrioring, I get to my hotel room, change into running gear and go for a run.

It could be indoors or outside.

It could be slow or fast.

It could be for 30 minutes of an hour.

It could be morning, mid day or evening.

It doesn’t matter. I just do it.

The realization came when I took my son up to NH this weekend for a hockey tournament. I got to the hotel and had the most compelling urge to run. At 3:30 in the afternoon and sitting in a car for 2 1/2 hour, I had to just run. So I did.

Why is this so important to me? I realized that running is a habit. Not an exercise. Not strictly a passion. It is something I just need to do. Almost like brushing my teeth. I realized on the couple of days that I don’t run I feel like I forgot to do something or feel like something is missing.

I have only been running since May, six months. Running while at home is certainly easier. But the fact that I have a routine of hitting the road, trail or treadmill just after checking into my hotel when traveling is an eye opener. It means I moved from running as a way to keep my weight in line to a healthy living lifestyle.

Maybe running will be your thing. Or maybe you get on an elliptical, rower or bike. Doesn’t matter really. The simple trick is finding the one thing as a road warrior that will drive you to exercise and it isn’t a chore but a need to fulfill. Now your have a habit, drive and motivation.

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Chubby Girl Travel Check-in

It’s been so long since I posted!

I was back on my typical travel schedule for work the past few weeks along with a weekend visit to Philly so my daughter could check out her college choice. If I thought it was hard to slim this chubby girl down during a light travel period, boy was it hard to do while in full swing.

I’m keeping up the exercise even if I get into the hotel late. Getting on the elliptical or treadmill when I get to the hotel is usually enough to let me hit my goals after a day of sitting on planes. It also calms me down. While in Toronto this week I never did get the time to go to the gym or work out (2 days), but the weather was great and walking around outside to and from places was enough to close all my Apple rings. I didn’t feel bad though since just before I left Tom and I took advantage of a gorgeous Boston day and took an 8 mile walk along the bike path in Holliston. My legs needed a little rest.

I’ve been a little easier on myself when it comes to eating. I’m not slacking, but I am working on finding ways to pull in yummy things without killing me. If I have the calories and overall my day was healthy eating, I have latitude for a small splurge. A plain Dairy Queen cone for example. I’ll be honest, it has been a little bit of an experiment, but with my exercise increasing and being more consistent and the majority of what I eat being mostly vegetables, fish, or lean meats, a sugary splurge once or twice a week isn’t a bit deal if it is within reason.

Here’s my results during the last month of full swing travel:

Weight 142.5
Weight loss in a month 8 lbs – down 26 lbs overall
Pant size 6
Shirt size Medium – and sometimes a small!
Walking pace increased from 3 mph to 3.7 mph
Daily exercise 60 min – up 15 minutes
Heart rate drop from 153 to 149 during intensity workouts
Resting heart rate 59 – drop from 64

Still working on getting my running legs. My hips are a huge problem – its painful. I need some exercises to strengthen those muscles and tighten the ligaments. So, I’m going to talk to my physician and see what I can do. But, I still try the short intervals and the elliptical is making a big difference in improving my cardio and strengthening muscles.

The only grip this month is the sag. Where fat once held up key areas of this chubby girl’s body, I need much better bras to ‘roll’ into. My legs also are sagging at my thighs and makes my knees creepy looking. Cellulite is also starting to show. I know that this is temporary and my skin will pull back and the good fat on my body will even out. It’s just yucky right now.

Here’s a shout out to those that may healthy living on the road doable:

  • Hilton Garden in Louisville (Airport) – Thanks to the kitchen and waitstaff that accommodated my special requests for low fat and extra veggies – and they did it with a smile! That egg white omelet at breakfast and grill salmon at dinner made my day.
  • Cosi in Dulles Airport – Love the fact you put the calories of your sandwiches on the board. The half sandwich option fit right into my plan and the bag of carrots was awesome.
  • Hearth in Toronto Pearson Airport – That squash soup with corn and black beans was amazing and so filling (I only got through half the bowl). I also loved the thinly sliced radishes and red carrots over my salad, so yummy and crunchy.
  • United lounge Chicago – Not happy about your customer dragging incident, to be sure. Better not see it again.  It really gave me pause to fly United (I’m 1k) and maintain my lounge membership. I will give you one thumbs up. The chicken alfredo added to the snack area during dinner was nice. I can’t eat a lot of it, but the nibble portion I took along side the veggie sticks let me indulge and boy was it good.
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken/YUM Headquarters – what most may not know about KFC is that they have a huge amazing gym in their building, and it is used – wish I could have. There were also programs to promote healthy living. The cafeteria has the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, but there is also the most amazing salad bar. I was able to load up on salad and have a plain Chicken Lil (140 calories) on the side. I got my KFC fix in a healthy way.
  • TGI Friday’s Atlanta Airport – Shout out to the bartender for getting me my club sandwich order the way I wanted it.  He definitely thought I was crazy, but he served me with a chuckle and a smile.
  • Toronto Pearson Airport overall – my recent trip was a calamity and comedy of errors starting with going through customs for my work permit. Thanks to the customs women for bearing with me as I realized I should have been in London and not Toronto and not giving me a hard time on my work permit.  If this was the US, I can only imagine the hassle. Also a big thank you to Avis that not only got me a car at the last minute, but were way more accommodating than I have ever seen. If I hadn’t gotten off to such a gracious start when I landed in Toronto, I could definitely seen myself pour my frustration into food. Note to all workers in airports – a little niceness and graciousness goes a long way to calming frazzled travelers – hear that UNITED?

Living Healthy Through Hectic Days

At home, living healthy is so much easier. On the road, it feels like another job. When will that stop? I honestly think it won’t and can’t. As a road warrior, you have to carve out your own plan and be religious about it – even on the most hectic days.

My day started with a 6:30a prep call for a meeting next week with some of my company’s best clients. After that, I had an hour to get showered, dressed, and downstairs to the dining area for breakfast. A workout was not going to happen and the best I could do is be mindful of my breakfast choices at the breakfast buffet.

Did I mention how much I am loving Marriott’s breakfast options? Yes, yes I have. Pineapple, strawberries, scrambled egg whites, slice of whole wheat toast and chicken sausage left me full and not feeling deprived of a great breakfast. At about 340 calories, it wasn’t the lowest calorie breakfast, but a day packed with client meetings I wasn’t going to risk getting the hangries and loosing patience with my techie types. High in protein and fiber, I was quite prepared.

Coffee with its caffeine certainly adds another jolt of energy and I powered through my morning meetings. By the time lunch came, I was hungry, but not dying. This made menu madness as the Mexican restaurant bearable. Picking grilled tuna lettuce cups that were surrounded by carrot sticks, jicama sticks and celery sticks was exactly what I needed. Topped off with three glasses of water and an iced tea, heading to a two hour client meeting was a piece of cake. The only issue was making sure I hit the bathroom!

Finished, all I wanted to do was crash when I got to the hotel. My caffeine fix was wearing off. The combination of a  40 minute Uber to get my car from my first meeting location and then driving 30 minutes through traffic to the hotel was enough to allow fatigue to set in.  As I trudged up the stairs to my room, I fully intended to grab a Guinness out of the fridge and settle into the sofa to watch CNN.

Well, at some point between opening my hotel door and dropping my key, I threw off my heels and rummaged through my clothes to pull out my workout clothes. My goal was to close my Apple rings while watching The Daily Show on the elliptical. In the end, I stayed on more than the 20 or so minutes my rings closed and pushed through to 45 minutes by switching over to the treadmill.

With my workout complete and a quick hop on the scale that I know under weighed me (but I’ll still bask in the glory of a smaller number), I threw together a shrimp marsala to Billy Holiday singing from my iPhone.

Sitting at the kitchen table in my room, my belly full on half my meal, and done catching up on my emails, I’m relaxed and satisfied that I made it through a day that would normally have defeated me. I made the right menu choices.  I fit in a workout. I have room for that dark chocolate pudding in the fridge as a reward.

What did I learn? My way of making it through the road warrior lifestyle is to work in as much normal living as possible. Staying at a hotel that has apartment style rooms makes the experience more homelike, encouraging me to be in an “at home” mindset. My day wasn’t that different overall to what I experience when I do work at home or in the office. While I gravitate toward a Residence Inn, other extended stay options are out there, check them out.

So, to my fellow travelers, create a temporary nest if you are staying somewhere for two nights or more. It has been my biggest success factor. I head home tomorrow, getting in at 12:30a. I’m preparing myself for my real weigh in to see if I was actually able to take off another pound. Crossing finger – chubby girl shrinking out.

Eating Healthy In Your Hotel

room-service-297071_640I spend a lot of nights in hotels. Between travel for work, family visits and my son’s hockey tournaments, I can be in the nicest five star resort or the budget inn.   At any of these fine establishments you can load your morning plate with pancakes and syrup, biscuits and gravy, pastries and tons of bacon and sausages. Need to be healthier? The other route is to pay more attention to the area where yogurts, fresh fruit, cereal and oatmeal sit. Also, even if you don’t see it in the buffets, you can easily get the staff to scramble up an egg or egg white to order.

This seems pretty basic. The challenge comes in when there isn’t a buffet or you are having lunch and dinner. My downfall is typically this time of day whether I’m getting in from a late flight and need to order room service because I’m starving.  The other time is when at events held in hotel conference centers or conference venues attached to hotels where they pile on the heaviest, cheapest, and calorie rich meals. Even the salads and grilled vegetables served are loaded with dressing and oil.

This chubby girl needs a new strategy.

Along with the renovations to lobbies, common areas and rooms, hotels are recognizing that food is part of the experience. Regardless if there is a chef in house or behind the scenes creating the menus, nutrition and health eating is becoming an option if you know how to look. It isn’t always obvious. After all the time I spend in these places, I had to do a little digging to research my options and be prepared when I head out for my next trip. Even then, it didn’t dig up that much.

First, tracking sites are trying to accommodate the challenges of eating at hotels.  MyFitnessPal has at least a few items for Hilton, Marriott and Sheraton. The challenge is that the menus change and keeping up on these changes is almost impossible. Recipe of Health seemed to be a good site to get a selection of all but Sheraton’s menu items.

Here is what I found for some of the prevalent hotel chains many business travelers stay at as well as some things I’ve done in the past when focusing on a healthy lifestyle.

Hilton: The menus across Hilton hotel brands changes city to city and brand to brand. The constant across the locations is that menu items that are considered healthy are marked on the menu and provide the nutritional information.  In the NYC Hilton there was a bistro for quick meals and coffee where you could easily grab a healthy sandwich, soup, or salad. Healthy snacks such as granola, nuts and fresh fruit also help get you through the day. Some locations have digital versions of their menus but finding them means doing a little searching or calling ahead.

http://recipeofhealth.com/nutrition-calories/hilton-26799br
http://recipeofhealth.com/nutrition-calories/hilton-garden-inn-26394br

Holiday Inn: The question here is, “Which Holiday Inn will I be staying in?” The older locations that haven’t gone through their renovations continue to serve mostly unhealthy options at the breakfast buffet and if they have it, their dinners. Most of the time in these locations you have to step out of the hotel to get your meals. Those locations catering to business travelers and have gone through renovations feel much like the Aloft. The breakfasts have more options, even serving a turkey sausage next to bacon, and if there is dinner service, there is usually at least a couple items outside of salads to choose from. The mini-market areas typically have a lean cuisine meal as well. The best way to offset eating when staying at a Hilton is still to take advantage of their fitness area and pool (although if there are a bunch of hockey/baseball/etc. kids staying at the same time, don’t go in the pool – yuck!)

http://recipeofhealth.com/nutrition-calories/holiday-inn-29529br

Marriott: Marriott makes it easy to stay on track. They recognized the changing lifestyles of their travelers and are accommodating with healthier menu choices, transparency of nutritional information, and grocery services for their Residence Inn guests.  For 3 months I stayed at a Residence in in Menlo Park and took advantage of grocery services to stock the mini-kitchen with items that were quick to cook and healthier to eat. It didn’t hurt that there was also a Trader Joe’s a couple blocks away. Not all locations have caught up. Staying in the Midwest is a bit trickier in selection as I found  recently in Cedar Rapids.  Staying at the JW Marriott I am never disappointed and find this is the easiest place to get my fork into some healthy amazingly good food. The Ritz, interestingly enough, tends to stick with the heavier options unless they have a Spa experience with their location. Avoid the appetizers and bites in the Elite lounges. While there can be vegetables and cheese, in general the selections can easily take care of a dinner and lunch combines. Watch for the menu indicators for health and vegetarian too.

http://recipeofhealth.com/nutrition-calories/courtyard-marriott-25547br

Sheraton: I can’t complain about the food at the Sheraton hotels. It’s usually pretty good. The issue is that the healthy choices aren’t necessarily as available. If you want pizza, quesadillas, steak and a full on breakfast buffet, this is your place. Aloft is a bit different. They have a nice bar menu even if the healthy options are lacking. But, what the bar menu lacks, the mini-market area makes up for. I’ve been able to get my fresh fruit, yogurts, oatmeal and lean cuisine frozen meals there (or at least the one in San Jose). I don’t like eating meals from cardboard and plastic, but if I need to trade off healthy and diet buster on my the 10 o’clock pm arrival, I at least have an option. Now that Sheraton (SPG) and Marriott have merged, I’m hoping the health options increase.