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April 1, 2013 • Health and Fitness

Your Health is No April Fool’s Joke – The Monday Mile

Your Health is No April Fool's Joke

Your Health is No April Fool’s Joke

Today being April 1st, you can expect to spend the day regaled by all sorts of ‘witty’ fake ads, fake ‘news’ items and so on – we have already seen Google out with a ‘YouTube closure’ and others, and it is easy to predict that many others will follow for Apple, Microsoft and more. Over at the Greatist they have a parody article about getting ‘six-pack abs in a day’ – and it is worth reading for a laugh. But as many wind down from a day of excessive ham, bacon and chocolate, it is worth remembering that your health is no April Fool’s Joke!

For the last couple of months (and next couple as well) my job has required me to do considerable travel to a manufacturing/development site in a different state. Anyone who does any amount of business travel can tell you that eating properly and getting exercise is a challenge. I have written about some of what I have done already – I have chosen my hotel based on both proximity to the facility and ease of running routes. I have shared the great ~7-8 mile routes I have run on a regular basis.

But there is more to health than just getting in your workout. Maintaining your health is something that requires attention to all aspects of your life.

As an example, sleep. For many years now, I have been able to function fully on no more than 6 hours of sleep a night. But every now and then I need a good ‘reset’. When I came back from the Hyundai trip to Coronado, I found that after so much other travel I was just totally exhausted, falling into bed each night. I found myself harder to motivate to get a good run in the morning, and also found myself snacking more during the day. And while they were healthy snacks, there was still just the overall spiral – I needed to rest to get back on course. After a few easy days and relaxing weekend I was ready to go again.

The other major hurdle to health while traveling is food: living five days a week in a hotel means eating too much food you don’t fully control. Many hotels have breakfast buffets, which can work well if you choose oatmeal and fruit … or against you if you opt for bacon and home fries and bagels. Eggs and yogurt are hard to call, because I have seen greek yogurt and egg white omelets, but I have also seen ‘chemical soup’ yogurts and grease-dripping eggs. Portion control is always an issue.

For lunch you are often at the mercy of the place you are visiting, and at dinner there are often groups headed out when a number of people travel together. Fortunately, the cafeteria at the plant has a number of healthy options, so I feel much more in control of my lunch intake. Eating out for dinner is generally inevitable for short visits and conferences, but when you will be in the same place with the same people week after week, a new strategy is needed.

My solution is not particularly sociable, but it is what works for me. Each week after checking into the hotel, I head to the local grocery store and stock up on food and drinks for the week. I make sure to get ‘two ingredient’ Greek yogurt, plenty of fruit and vegetables, and a bunch of meatless options for dinner. Fortunately the main hotel I stay at is a ‘suite’, so I get a mini-fridge and a microwave.

That might sound a bit extreme, but I have always approached my health like a budget – indulgence cannot be excluded, but must be planned and balanced. Continued indulgence is a recipe for bankruptcy or obesity. I want to be able to indulge when I choose without guilt or concern, which means that the rest of time I stick to my ‘budget’.

Or look at it this way … Over the weekend I read a near constant stream of Facebook updates for whom Easter weekend has become a constant indulgence – deep-fried fish on Friday leading to junk-food March Madness on Saturday leading to bacon-wrapped cinnamon rolls followed by loads of ham and fat-laden sides accompanied by a constant stream of chocolate.

‘But it is only once a year’ I can hear some folks say. That would be one thing – although an entire weekend of gluttony is never a good plan – except that it isn’t true. For many, ‘sports weekends’ are the very antithesis of the activity they are watching. While talented college kids give their all on the court, millions of fans sit on couches drinking beer and eating deep-fried and other junk-food snacks. These weekends encompass all of football season, which barely breaks before March Madness, some watch Nascar or golf or tennis, then there is NBA, MLB and NHL, and then back to football in August. And even if you don’t celebrate sports … we just had St. Patrick’s Day a couple of weeks ago, and it seems like every month has at least one or two opportunities for indulgence.

Over the last week we have seen some spring-like temperatures, peaking above 50 for a little while this weekend. And as a result I have also seen more people out for a walk, a bike ride, or a run. Some people I know simply are not as foolish as me to go running in sub-freezing temperatures, others are trying to finally make good on that New Year’s Resolution. Either way it was great to see them out there – as the saying goes it doesn’t matter how fast you are, you are infinitely faster than everyone sitting on the couch at home!

How do you deal with keeping your health in focus during challenging times? And travels not the only challenge — we’ve seen Carly & Sarah selling and buying a house, and so on. Then there are injuries, illness, and all sorts of other obstacles. How do you make it work?

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