Staying Healthy on the Road

A few weeks ago I run across a great quote – a short speech by Brian G. Dyson, the President and CEO, Coca-Cola Enterprises.

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – Family, Health, Friends and Spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these; they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it.

Work efficiently during office hours and leave on time. Give the required time to your family, friends and have proper rest. Value has a value only if its value is valued.”

It prompted some serious soul-searching and intensive thinking on my part. Maybe it will do the same for you, and it pushed me to think about seemingly banal topic – my health. If you are outsourcing, the chances are you are traveling (and if not maybe you should – meet with your offshore team, do a technical due diligence, or just enjoy the marvels of faraway places). And if you are traveling you may face a few issues that make paying attention to your health even more challenging. With that in mind let’s kick off a discussion of one of the most important topics – staying healthy while doing your job.

Over past year or so I’ve been traveling far too much and to my great chagrin I failed to maintain some healthy habits. Needless to say the results did not make me wait for too long. They come in small almost invisible increments and by the time I realized what’s going on I was (too embarrassed to say how much) pounds heavier, my vital stats such as blood pressure and cholesterol went south, and so on. Extra weight is a silent killer, that in brutality beats Russian mafia and in scope the worst of the world’s dictators. Just take a look at dry facts in Obesity in the United States or http://www.obesityinamerica.org/.

After a few failed attempts to get on some super-diet bandwagons I realized that there is no simple magic cure for the situation, and dealing with the problem will require systematic approach. And given my situation, it must be a multipronged approach. So far I made very little progress, but still made it and would like to share it – to help some of you and more so to push myself to even stronger actions.

First, and really simple step is defining your nutrition and exercise objectives. Doing a full physical exam and going through a thorough discussion with your physician would be a simple way to start. After you done with your discussion you should know what your vital stats are and what they should be. Now give it some thoughts, a bit of research and set yourself SMART objectives, for example

  • Get my weight to 195 lb in 3 months from now
  • Get my BMI (body mass index) to 25 in 6 months from now
  • Get my idle heart rate to 68 in 12 month

Make sure to setup reasonable targets.

Second, pick a diet. What works and what doesn’t in diet’s world is almost a religious topic and by no means I want to push you in any particular direction, I do recommend to read diet analysis in Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss. The author Dr. Joel Fuhrman is proponent of rather difficult to maintain low-fat low calorie vegan diet. I found his book extremely informative. If you are significantly overweight and have serious chronic conditions such as diabetes it might even save your life. In any case it will give you a lot of food for thoughts, and that food won’t make you fat ;)

After your pick the diet, define a plan on how you can maintain it on the road. That’s the most critical step. Traveling gives us far too many excuses for falling off a diet bandwagon. Plan to counter them in advance and chances are you can stick to your plan.

Third, start exercising. That is again is easier done than it might appear. Here is a simple and somewhat high tech method that got me moving (and I am a corner case with almost zero past exercise experience).

  1. Define your SMART fitness objectives. Something like “to be able to run 5K in 3 month from now”, btw, it’s actually possible even for someone in a pretty pathetic state like myself.
  2. Find an app. For a “zero to 5k” objective there are a plenty of apps for both iOS and Android. I settled on the one from Lolo and would highly recommend it.
  3. Start exercising. I found the support that the app has been providing pretty amazing. I configured the app to my style and abilities and so far have been able to stay with the program and even make steady progress, this time in a direction I want to.  And that’s under heavy duty travel. I already dropped a few pounds and can stay on treadmill for amazing 25 min – something that seemed impossible just not so long ago…

2 thoughts on “Staying Healthy on the Road

  1. Very timely post with simple, but effective ideas. I have found that it is the consistency in executing on these ideas over a 6-12-24-48 month period is where most people (including myself) struggle with. It will not be a bad idea for you to post updates on your progress every few months. There might be a trick or two on preseverance that we could learn from your experience.

  2. Thank you Aditya! I agree 100% – perseverance is the key. Anyone can shed off extra weight or sign up for a gym. But keeping the weight off and staying with a healthy regiment is true challenge, especially when you spend a lot of time one the road. I will follow your suggestion and keep this thread of posts going. And if I can get myself together and keep it that way – anyone can! :)

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