7 Health Mistakes to Avoid on Trips.
1. Relying on airport food or eating out for every meal: By not bringing food on trips, you are at the mercy of what fast food happens to be around. Also, if you go too long between meals, your blood sugar can crash leaving you ravenous. This sets you up for overeating at your next meal and increasing your calorie consumption generally more so than if you had just had a snack. Also, eating huge calorie dense meals sets you up for an energy crash while your body tries to process and digest all that food….ever feel like you need a nap after a meal? That is not how the body should react. You should feel the same after a meal as you do before. Meaning, eat before you are hungry and stop before you are full. There should be no huge dips or spikes. By eating smaller, healthier meals and snacks throughout the day, you decrease your overall calorie consumption, stay more satiated and have more energy! It is a win win. Just remember if you are not used to eating this way it will take about 28 days for your taste buds to change and develop a palate and craving for healthier fare. How can you combat this? Bring food with you on trips! Check out our videos on how to pack a bag of super food! Even if you are simply going for a stand up, bring your breakfast with you. Even though it is early, it is better than skipping breakfast…It is not called the most important meal of the day of no reason! Even just having a snack in your bag (like our famous Oat Bars) is a great way to fuel for a workout at the end of the day. So, if you have a super early morning show and want to get more of a workout in than a few strength moves, grab a snack out of your bag (such as a Pilot Fitness approved energy bar or a whip up a batch at home to bring with you!) and eat it on the last flight of the day. This will give you time to re-fuel and digest so you can drop your bags and get your workout on right when you get in!
2. Only bringing clothes for work and going out: Not bringing workout clothes automatically sets you up for failure. It is even a good idea to stuff a pair of shorts and a t-shirt in your food bag for a stand up in case you time out and get stuck because of the new FAR 117 rest rules. Workout clothes take up hardly any room and minimalist shoes easily pack in the side pocket of most roller boards. You can follow our video’s for workouts you can do in your hotel room without equipment or hoof it down to the gym or outside for a change of scenery! Exercising on trips is a great time to fit it in as you do not have any “chores” to get in the way. If you are just getting into working out start small and work your way up. Anything counts, even a set of squats or pushups before jumping in the shower!
3. Being lackadaisical about hydration. If you are not bringing a water bottle or filing it up regularly (San Francisco has a refill station at the food court in terminal 3 and at water fountains throughout the airport) you are most likely behind the curve when it comes to performing at your best. Proper hydration is key to maintaining energy, healthy digestion and to keep pretty much everything in working order on a cellular level; delivering oxygen and nutrients more efficiently and ridding the body of waste products as well as keeping hormone levels in check. Did you know that once you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated? An easy way to stay on top of proper hydration is by bringing your own water bottle with you…(we like Klean Kanteen), and make it a point to drink one or two full bottles a day (depending on the size you get). This way you are not adding to the landfills, you can easily keep track of how much you have had throughout the day and do not get any of the possible health hazards of drinking out of plastic bottles. Finally, if you really want to up the ante on hydration, add a tablespoon or two of chia seeds to your water with a squeeze of lime and a pack of stevia. We sometimes use a Vega electrolyte pack as they have travel friendly pouches. Let the mixture sit for 10-20 minutes to thicken and enjoy. Chia seeds hold about 12 times their weight in water, are full of filling fiber, Omega 3’s, and more antioxidants than blue berries. This is the perfect combination to stay hydrated and get nutrition in at the same time!
4. Skipping breakfast, even on early morning shows. Not getting up early enough for breakfast, we are talking about 5-15 minutes here, can seriously set you back in terms of heart health, metabolism (weight loss goals), blood pressure, cholesterol and so much more. Skipping breakfast can not only derail your “get healthy” efforts as an article by Forbes explains, it can keep our body in a state of stress. Prolonged periods of fasting, such as skipping breakfast after a nights sleep, raises levels of cortisol, a hormone released by the body in response to stress. Cortisol, naturally rises in the morning as the body is pre-programed for this in order to allow any left over glucose to be used by the brain. This is important to note as the brains primary fuel source is glucose. Chronic and long durations of elevated levels of cortisol can leave you more susceptible to disease and is directly linked to fat storage, especially around the abdominal area. Skipping breakfast not only keeps the body in a state of stress and continually pumping out cortisol, glucose, your brains preferred and primary source of energy gets depleted, leaving you behind the 8 ball. The last thing you need on an early morning show is to be foggy and even more lethargic, enhancing room for error. So pack something with you (check out our “How to Pack” and on the road breakfast ideas). And if that is just too much at least bring a whole foods energy bar with you to stoke your metabolism and pick up your energy levels until you can get a proper breakfast.
5. Relying too heavily on coffee. We are by no means here to tell you to stop drinking coffee, in fact, it can be beneficial to your health. However, what you put in it, how much you drink and relying on it to stay awake for late night flights are where the problems arise when it comes to optimal health.
Coffee often gets a bad wrap because of the accompanying creams, foams and syrups that are loaded into it potentially totaling 1/3 + of your days worth of calories in one measly cup o’ Joe! So, when we say coffee is not bad for you, we mean, black coffee filtered with paper (drip or machine), not french press. The paper in the filtering process helps to filter out the cholesterol raising properties of coffee. Now, we understand not everyone is ready to go to black coffee, but there are better options if you need a little something for flavor. We recommend soy or almond milk (however, most coffee shops use milks that have added sugars and preservatives) so use sparingly and work toward going without. Also, adding a dash of cinnamon is a great way to up the nutrition value by increasing the antioxidants. If you must have something sweet, bring packs of organic stevia with you; they take up minimal room and are a much better option than chemical laden artificial sweeteners or sugar. And, If you are really looking of the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to your early morning ritual, green tea trumps all!
Next up, you can have too much of a good thing. Everyone reacts to caffeine differently and has a different tolerance level. While you can raise your tolerance level, as with anything, most people have negative side effects of too much caffeine. Moderate amounts of coffee are associated with beneficial cognitive and physiological effects according to Dr. Gregor and up to 10 cups a day is considered safe, but, for many this is too much. Have you ever had just one cup too many and gotten jittery, rapid heart rate and many other negative side effects? Furthermore, if you have a habit of adding extras into your coffee as described above, you can seriously derail any health benefits. Also, remember a 16 oz coffee counts as 2 cups :).
Finally, caffeine is not a substitute for lack of sleep. While it can improve your alertness, coordination, reaction time, ability to focus etc., it is not a viable substitute for restful sleep and can give you a false sense of confidence. So, be mindful of how much you have and how late into the day you choose to consume caffeine as it can disrupt sleep and lead you down a slippery slope. The effects of caffeine can remain in the body for over 8 hours leading to a restless nights’ sleep. We recommend 1-2 cups and no more. If you are relying on more to get through the day, re-evaluate. Taking a serious look at your diet (diets deficient in high quality nutrients coming from a variety of whole foods can lead to fatigue) and if need be schedule naps into the day.
6. Neglecting the importance of flexibility for health. Flexibility is a very overlooked, fundamental building block of health. Some people are more limber and do not need to pay as much attention to this issue, however most people who sit for long durations during the day (over 45 minutes at a time) have imbalances that, if left untreated, lead to dysfunctional movement and therefore injury. Furthermore, rolling tired and tight muscles helps “turn them off” allowing for more effective stretching. We recommend the Trigger Point Therapy foam roller as it packs easily (check out our “how to pack a better bag” video) and follow our Long Day Roll and Stretch protocol for relieving muscles that generally get overly tight from long days of sitting.
7. Not planning ahead (to make all of the above possible). We understand that in today’s day and age, most everyone is overworked, tired and does not need anything else on their plate. However, while a few of the items mentioned above might take a little more of your time to implement at first, in the long run you will save time, money and have more energy. We are in a health crisis and it is time to take responsibility and control of where YOU are headed. By making simple tweaks and adjustments to your daily/weekly routine you will reap the benefits of a healthier, happier life, allowing you the time and energy to tackle anything that comes your way! If this seems too overwhelming to do all at once, implement one a week and see how your life changes!
* featured image by khunaspix