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Road-Warrior Travel-Health & Fitness Makeovers:
Are You Ready to Change Your Life?
R. Fedin, The Wellness Concierge®
Here's What You Get When You Mix Two
Motivated Makeover Candidates,
Two Fitness Experts, One Writer, and
Real-Life Strategies for Healthy Travel
It's Not the Miles, It's Our (Un-Healthy) Habits
Makeover Candidate Mark P.
Profile: Makeover Candidate Kelly G.
Mark's Makeover: Shifting the Fitness Focus
Kelly's Makeover: Making Herself a Priority
Health & Fitness Makeover Experts
More Info on Makeovers
Even the most demanding
frequent flyer wouldn't expect an airplane to take off and fly right if
it hadn't been fueled and properly serviced. Yet many of these same
folks expect, nay, demand, top performance from another piece of
well-designed equipment—their bodies—without giving them the proper
"fuel" and care they require.
There are plenty of road
warriors for whom self-maintenance is a low- or no-priority item. In our
"work first" culture, business travelers' lack of commitment to
staying healthy and fit is, ironically, a form of self-sabotage that can
undermine their ability to bring back the business they've been sent out
If the travelers who have
expressed interest in travel-health makeovers are any barometer, many
businesspeople are struggling to integrate exercise and healthy eating
into their travel itineraries. Highly motivated or admittedly lax, these
men and women nonetheless express remarkably similar concerns.
The two makeover candidates profiled here are both mega-mile
professionals seeking greater control over their health and well-being.
As such, they are representative of many fellow travelers.
No Quick-Fixes or
Because real change is a
process that involves more than simplistic "sound-byte" advice and
quick-fix approaches, we sought the help of wellness experts who employ
a holistic approach. Our team (see
"About the Experts") consisted of
Deby Harper, founder and a principal of The Fitness Co. and
PFSInsights, and author and
health educator Robyn Landis of
Both assess an
individual’s values, behavior, and motivation as well as eating habits
and fitness routines to help them identify their priorities and guide
them in making appropriate choices that support those goals. The
relevance of focusing on behavioral styles? "Behavior drives your
habits," Harper notes. Understand your habits and you can more easily
jettison bad ones and replace them with good ones.
Excerpts of their observations and recommendations, and other
suggestions, are included here. Although our subjects' behavioral styles
differ, the advice is essentially on-target for both—and for many other
A Blueprint for
Given the demands of
their personal and professional lives, is it realistic for our makeover
candidates, Mark and Kelly, to implement the expert suggestions provided
after intensive consultations? Some (like carrying food, something both
said they had never thought to do), they confirm, are easily adopted.
But they were, admittedly, uncertain about others, such as eating
breakfast and making time to exercise, particularly if the latter means
breaking away from work-related socializing.
Will adopting new habits conflict with work commitments? "I believe
there is room in my life for both," affirms Kelly. Bolstered by the
awareness gained from their sessions with the experts, Mark and Kelly
have already started exercising and rethinking their food choices.
the Miles, It's Our (Un-Healthy) Habits
believe that the obstacles, pressures, and limitations of frequent
travel are the real culprits behind their unhealthy habits. The
experts know better: People who make exercise and healthy eating
a priority in their daily lives don’t jettison those habits when
they’re on the road. Their commitment to healthy living doesn’t
end at their front door.
Travel doesn’t derail us, they caution. We
sabotage ourselves. It isn’t that business travelers leave
their good habits behind when they travel. It’s that many don’t have
any good habits to take along with them. Need proof? The
majority of travelers who sought
makeovers said they didn’t exercise or eat well on the
road—or at home!
Candidate: Mark P., New York
over 100,000 miles a year; on the road three weeks a month; one to
three destinations per trip
In His Own Words:
||"When I fly, meals are
sporadic. I eat mostly fast food and candy to supplement airplane
food. I skip breakfast; lunch can be from a cafeteria, fast-food
outlet, or restaurant. I get no exercise when I travel or when I'm
Health & Fitness Challenges:
►Making time to exercise; creating and sticking to a
lifestyle-driven fitness program
►Learning techniques to relax,
►Eating consciously and well
►Breaking the junk-food eating
►Connecting how he feels with what he
eats and when
►Focusing on form as he works out to
reap maximum health benefits
Sleep apnea; back problems; feels bloated; lacks energy
Strategies: Shifting the Fitness
Using Mark’s answers to
her PFS (Personal
Fitness System) Interactive Wellness survey, Harper prepared a
report detailing his behavioral style, fitness characteristics, and
recommendations. (Mark laughingly admitted that his analysis was "very
Download a sample PFSInsights Report and Workbook.
Mark said he wanted to lose weight, firm up, and increase his
stamina. But Harper, who noted Mark's tendency to focus on quick results
(a surefire way to sabotage any fitness effort) and to drop out of a
workout program after a few months, knew such goals wouldn't ensure his
Her strategy: Shift his fitness focus to a more personal
goal—getting in shape to enjoy hiking, his passion. With that shift,
exercise at home or on the road won't be about shedding pounds, but
about having enough energy to enjoy his favorite activity. He'll
incorporate stretching and strengthening routines into his workout that
can help prevent injuries common to hiking.
To encourage Mark—who skips meals—to eat
regularly and healthily, Harper advises him to eat every day as if
"he's a hiker setting out on an all-day hike." That means eating
throughout the day to stabilize his energy, stave off hunger, discourage
overeating at the end of the day, and minimize junk-food snacking.
To reinforce his commitment to working out, Harper suggested that
Mark enlist the support of his wife. He can spend more time with her—a
key priority—by including her in his fitness choices. He and his wife,
for example, could take a yoga class together (something he might not do
on his own) or start playing tennis again.
Given his outgoing
personality, he can augment his solo exercise routines on the road
(which he might be tempted to bypass) by pairing up with a trainer,
working out with a co-worker or client, or taking a class.
"Start with one pushup, one abdominal crunch, one flight of stairs,"
Make time. What can you do in a half-hour or less? Work
out 20 minutes a day, three or four times a week. Hike for a half-hour.
Power walk through the airport.
Vary your workout routine. "Repetitive exercise
doesn’t work for him; Mark needs excitement, challenge, and variety in
his workout," advises Harper.
Do the treadmill for five or ten minutes. Get off, recover. Do some
ab crunches or push-ups. Get back on the treadmill. Break up exercise
into more than one activity so it isn’t just walking on a treadmill for
20 or 30 minutes.
Seek role models. Mark mentioned a company
executive who also travels but manages to stay fit. "Ask him how he does
it," advises Harper.
Can’t get to the
heart of your exercise resistance? Need help to overcome excuses? Check
out Michael Gerrish’s excellent book,
When Working Out Isn’t Working Out. The author, a
certified trainer and a psychotherapist, details UFOs
(Unidentified Fitness Obstacles) in every area (physical, biochemical,
nutritional, and psychological) and provides sound and realistic advice
on how to overcome them. This is the book to pick up if you
really want to get moving.
Just Tell Me What to Do... "If someone tells me ten
things to do, I’ll do them," Mark told Harper. Here are her tips to jump
start his—or your—fitness commitment.
1. Slow down. "Mark does everything quickly," Harper notes,
which can lead to problems when exercising. "When you are doing
crunches, for example, make sure your shoulders are back and down and
that your neck is relaxed. If not, you can hurt yourself."
He also needs to slow down when he eats so he'll see how he feels
(lethargic and too full, or fine and energized) and eat only as much as
he needs to satisfy his hunger.
2. Do the Salute to the Sun (a multi-step yoga posture) to
limber up every morning when he wakes up and before heading out.
3. Relax and de-stress. He’s hurried, tense, impatient, and
under stress. Use visualization and deep breathing techniques throughout
the day to decrease tension, slow down breathing, and improve
GET-FIT TIP: KSU's Online
Biofeedback Training Center offers
audio-guided relaxation exercises. You can also sample guided
(and illustrated) breathing and relaxation techniques (and learn more
about the benefits of breathing correctly) at HealthWorld.com's
Breathing Practices page.
4. Eat breakfast. Even if it’s just a fruit-filled smoothie or
a low-fat nutrition bar.
5. Eat lunch. Something quick, even if it’s only a few raw
6. Capitalize on your passion. Join a hiking club. Reward
yourself with family hiking trips. Incorporate hiking into your work
travel: Find local trails and see if any clients share this activity or
connect with local club members.
GET-FIT TIP: Take a Hike! If you
like walking or jogging along scenic routes, you can find a public path
courtesy of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s
trail/path locator at
TrailLink.com. Search for local trails by area or activity. The
results include details on location, activities, and distance.
7. Concentrate on your posture. Keep your shoulders down and
back. Contract abdominal muscles. Sit up straight.
8. Make a conscious effort to breathe correctly. When you’re
tense, as Mark is, you don’t breathe properly, which impairs respiration
and circulation and has a negative impact on the body (increased
fatigue, weakness, reduced mental clarity). It’s doubly important for
Mark, who also has sleep apnea.
9. Explore workout options such as yoga, which supports
overall fitness by increasing flexibility and energy, revving up
circulation and improving respiration and posture. Find a variation
(perhaps Power Yoga) that appeals to you.
Consider T'ai Chi or Qui Gong, which emphasize breathing and slow
movements and don't require any special equipment or extensive training.
GET-FIT TIP: Check out the
article links on About.com's
Relaxation Techniques page to see the variety of options you can
10. Incorporate exercise into downtime. Work out (to stretch,
strengthen his weak back and stomach muscles; relieve tension) on an
while watching TV. The lightweight-but-sturdy inflatable
balls (which are packable) are also a posture-enhancing alternative to
traditional seating that you can take along on trips.
Exercise balls (left) from
Kelly G., PA
||On the road as much as
65 percent of the time
|In Her Own Words:
||"My exercise routine
consists of running through airports, lifting the occasional
product display, and pressing the buttons on various snack
machines around the country."
"...I gravitate toward junk food and caffeine for a quick
energy boost... I can barely remember my last ‘French-Fry Free’
►Making eating a
►Educating herself on healthy
►Eating to get the energy she
needs to work and work out
►Understanding how stress affects her
physically and learning to identify the sources of her stress
►Re-committing to a realistic exercise
program on and off the road
►Learning and using stress-reduction
techniques as situations arise
►Paying attention to her body's
signals to eat, rest, and exercise
Strategies: Making Herself a
"Hey, we’re supposed
to be talking about food, not my life," clients have told Robyn
Landis. "You think they don’t have anything to do with each other?"
Landis responds. "They are completely connected.
"Eating is about fueling your body," Landis opines, "It’s based
on...the big picture of why you really want your body to feel well and
work properly." So her advice to Kelly isn’t about "how much carbs
or protein [she should eat]. I’m not interested in getting her on a plan
or regimen," Landis comments. "It’s not about dieting or losing
weight. It’s about what she wants in her life.
you're someone who continues to bypass meals and needs help in revamping
their approach to eating, read Landis'
BodyFueling: Stop Watching Your Weight, Start Fueling Your Life.
Even a quick overview will provide insights into the importance of
eating to get the energy you need to enjoy your life and excel in
"Right now, Kelly’s
choices aren’t influenced by anything beyond the momentary—‘I need to
lose pounds and not be so exhausted.’ Those are negative, very
short-term, and not very inspiring," observes Landis. "She needs
something more positive, richer, and more personal to motivate her to
make healthy choices. She needs to ask herself: What is going to make
it important enough that there is nothing more important to me than
making sure good food gets into my body?"
Landis posed a series of questions (Why do you want more energy? What
do you really want to accomplish? Where do you feel stuck?) to help
Kelly identify her true priorities. Kelly’s answers will help her to
link her eating habits and food selections to her life choices.
"She says she doesn’t feel she has control over choices and she is
not sticking to a plan," Landis adds. "That’s significant. Her work life
is airtight," Landis observes, so Kelly needs to take the
organizational skills from her professional life and apply them to
taking better care of herself. "Amen," Kelly concurs.
Harper advises Kelly to focus first on reducing stress and
preparing her body before jumping into a slew of activity. (Kelly,
who used to do aerobics and regularly ran, walked, and mountain biked,
is eager to get back into the exercise routine she abandoned.)
you eat poorly or not at all, and you're under stress, your body simply
isn't prepared to reap the benefits of exercise and you're not likely to
do it properly," notes Harper. She suggests Kelly begin with walking
(outdoors and on a treadmill), an activity Kelly enjoys, and some
push-ups to help build her upper-body strength.
Harper taught Kelly a quick
technique she can use to cope with stress. Defusing stress also will
help reduce stress-driven eating, something both Kelly and Mark have in
Commit to eating well—all
the time. "I can, and often do, go a long time without eating,"
Eating regularly—starting with breakfast— will give her more
energy and help curb her junk-food cravings. It also will improve
her metabolism and set up her body for losing fat and not muscle ("It’s
not about losing pounds," Landis advises.).
Bottom line: "Kelly has to eat, and it has to be a priority,"
Carry food when traveling. Always have something to eat
with you. Want suggestions? Check out Landis’s
It includes an updated list of food brand recommendations (most are
low-fat or fat-free and tasty) by category, including many snack and
take-along items such as cookies, bars, tarts; crackers & chips; bread,
bagels, rolls; juices; and beverages.
Stock up on healthy food. "If eating well is a
priority at home," Landis affirms, "it will be a priority on the road.
If it’s not a priority at home, it won’t be a priority on the road
either." Make a list and shop once a week.
"Kelly won’t eat well at home or bring food with her when she
travels if she doesn’t have it in the house," notes Landis.
"Stopping at the 7-11 on the way to the airport," is not the way to go.
Know your food options. Kelly’s idea of a healthy food
choice: a "diet" salad. Perhaps the better choice at a fast-food outlet
but hardly representative. "If she’s limiting herself to a salad because
she thinks that’s her only healthy choice, she needs to educate
herself about the huge smorgasbord of ...good food choices."
GET-FIT TIP: For a
crash-course on healthy eating, check out these well-researched
Dining Lean: How to Eat Healthy in Your Favorite Restaurants,
Fast Food Facts, and
Nutritional Healing, (a well-illustrated,
compact-but-comprehensive, 60-page guide that's a quick intro to the
world of healthy eating).
Eat to increase energy. Landis cites Kelly’s lack of
regular exercise, coupled with poor food choices, rather than any excess
weight, as factors contributing to her low energy. "She’s running
around, she’s busy, she’s stressed. She’s exhausted and too tired to
exercise. She needs to fuel her body. She’s either not putting anything
in [to her system] or she's choosing the wrong things—caffeine and fat-
and sugar-laden items," Landis notes. Eating regularly, and well,
will give her the energy to work out and break the cycle.
Do the best you can, when you can. If you can’t control
how you eat on the road, make a superior effort to eat well at home.
"If she does that, her body will be more forgiving of the times when
she’s on the road and doesn’t have the same degree of control over her
Rethink exercise options. Can you skip the cocktail hour
and run or work out instead? Ask a client or coworker to run or work out
About the Fitness Makeover Experts
Harper is the founder and a
The Fitness Co. in
Scottsdale, Arizona. A certified
personal trainer, fitness instructor, author, and consultant,
she has created wellness programs for Fortune 1000 corporations and
advises individuals as well as companies on fitness and wellness.
With her husband Brad,
a psychologist and management consultant, Harper, who is also a
Certified Behavioral Analyst, has spent the
last decade developing the
Personal Fitness System
(an interactive online
behavioral assessment system that provides
a custom report detailing behavioral style, fitness characteristics,
and recommendations) and
its related technology.
Herbal Defense), health advocate and educator
Landis consults with individuals and companies and
conducts BodyFueling Workshops nationwide.
The subtitle of Landis'
BodyFueling, Stop Watching Your Weight and Start Fueling
Your Life, reveals her perspective on eating. It's not about dieting
and pounds, she observes, but about taking in the right foods to
give you the energy you need for the life you lead. It's an
enlightening and refreshing approach that can help you totally
rethink your approach to eating and reclaim your energy.
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is our ability to make some of their stress go away.”
The Wellness Concierge®?
Marlene R. Fedin
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travel-health information, resources, and inspiration to ease the
stress and strain of life on the road and encourage
healthier life choices.
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EXERCISE & FITNESS