A 3 day reserve trip with three, 3am wake-up alarms, followed by an early morning yoga fundraiser, and an evening half marathon. Ten seconds after you cross the finish line- at 9pm, you get a call from crew schedule. The next morning you have 5am airport standby duty. Minutes before your (6 hour) standby duty is over, and you are packing up to go home, you get called for a 5 hour turn. You get home, crash on the couch only to be awoken by crew schedule an hour later to tell you that you have another 3 day trip the following morning with another 3am wake-up. It sounds like a dreadful reoccurring nightmare–
but that, my friends was my week.
On weeks like this, when I am exhausted and mentally drained, it’s quite easy to throw all of my health and fitness goals out the window. The only thing that keeps me focused and in check is my goal. When I am training for an intense endurance event while flying, I have to train 10x smarter than normal and it always starts with food. Just for giggles, I kept a log of what I wanted to eat (but didn’t) in one day of flying based on being overtired and crabby. I laughed at the list of impulsive thoughts and cravings ranging from a bag of M&M’s at 5am to a $12.00 slice of chocolate cake “because we get 15% off as crew members…”
I think if I had consumed even 1/3 of the list of junk food on my impulse log, I would probably gone straight back to my hotel room and fallen asleep instead of even thinking of getting a workout or run in. Don’t get me wrong, I do not eat “clean” 100% of the time, but I try to stay on top of the impulsive exhaustion cravings the best that I can. Some days, it is easier than others, and it usually has to do with what level of exhaustion I have hit. Besides keeping plenty of fruits, vegetables, and juices in my lunchbox cooler, I tend to keep a lot of protein/carbohydrate snacks to power me through my flights and keep me energized enough to fit in a workout. When my energy levels have dipped down, and I am ready to grab a junk food snack–I follow these steps:
Fight The Food Cravings
1. Rehydrate: Drink water. Drink coconut water. Drink a sports drink. Whatever it is, rehydrate! When I am feeling like I have lost all energy, I am almost always dehydrated with low potassium, or sodium levels. Sometimes people do not recognize their level of dehydration, but the distance runner in me has learned to recognize this feeling well over the years of racing. If I tried to run, or get a workout in while dehydrated, I would not be able to accomplish much. Rehydrating always give me a perk-up.
2. Eat a protein/carb snack: Some examples below.
– Fruit & cottage cheese
– Hummus and veggies, pretzels, or pita/pita chips
– Apple & Peanut/Almond butter (Jiff Naturals & Jason’s Almond Butter make great individual packs!)
– Apple & Cheese (Babybel mini, or 1serving of cheese cubes)
– Mini size protein bar (Kind, Cliff, Luna)
– Glass of Chocolate milk
– Swiss oatmeal with nuts
– Turkey cheese rollup
3. Scroll through my workout log. I mentioned in a previous blog post that I always bring my training journal with me when I fly. I write out my tentative workout plans, inspirations, and even plan out my meals and snacks. (Because I pack so much food, I forget what food I prepped for what without an eating schedule!) It makes it easier for me to stay on track. When I look at past weeks that were successful, I am more motivated to keep up with the hard work.
When I am at home I tend to eat “real meals”. When I fly, I tend to snack all day instead on protein/carb snacks, fruits, vegetables, salads, greek yogurt, and juices. Big meals are too much for my stomach to handle while flying when I plan to also workout. I eat the same amount of calories as my “off days” of flying, but just roll with a different pattern. I continue to munch whenever I get hungry, or feel a dip in energy. My saving grace to ward off cravings is to always pack one lower calorie salty/crunchy snack, and one sweet treat for every day that I fly. That way, if I have something salty, or chocolaty to look forward to, I will be less tempted by ice cream and cookies (with a much higher calorie/fat/sugar content).
Some of my favorite salty snacks or sweet treats to ward off cravings and not feel too stuffed to work out:Salty:
- SmartPop white popcorn/SkinnyPop popcorn,
- Quaker Oats White Cheddar Rice Cakes
- Chips & salsa
- Trader Joes Honey Wheat Pretzel Sticks
- Special K Pastry Crisps (100 calories and tastes like a PopTart!)
- 100 Calorie pack of chocolate dipped pretzels
- Chocolate Mint Mini Cliff Builder Bar
- Cliff Mojo Dark Chocolate Almond Coconut
- Luna Mini (Chocolate Peppermint Sitck & Chocolate Dipped Coconut are my favs!)
And finally—On the days that I know I need some real, hard core assistance, I go to my special endurance fuel. I have a sensitive stomach when I workout, so I can only use certain products to fuel a long run or hike that will last an hour or more.
- -Coconut Water
- – Nuun (Pronounced “noon”) is a sugar-free tablet that dissolves in water to give you electrolytes. It comes in what feels like a hundred different flavors and is easy going on the stomach and not obnoxiously sweet.
- -Hammer Nutrition HEED Sports Drink – A powder mix that dissolves in water that tastes similar to a Gatorade style drink and comes in a variety of flavors.
Next week, I would like to share my personal story of how I make fitness work with health issues; my history of hypothyroidism, an un-diagnosed autoimmune disorder, and post concussion syndrome from a cycling accident. Living a fit lifestyle isn’t always easy for me, but it’s worth it.
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