Fitness Fly Girl’s Top 5 Make It or It Break Healthy Travel Tips
It was 11:45pm on a stormy Saturday night. I was just pulling into my driveway from an exhausting 3-day, turbulence-filled trip on the MD-80. I was fighting hard to keep my eyes open long enough to remove my makeup, hang up my uniform, and make it into my bed before completely giving up and collapsing on the floor. By the time I got in my pajamas, and actually hit the sheets it was 12:35am. Normally it would be fine. I would just sleep in the next morning–but not this night. I set a 4:00am alarm on my phone. I did not have another trip in the morning, I had a race. A 20.8 mile duathlon (Run/Bike/Run) race. When my alarm blasted “Eye of the Tiger” less than 4 hours later, my body flung into the air, swinging and flinging, not knowing what day or time zone it was, and why the heck I needed to be up–but I was up! Hooray! I was up! Then it hit me that I would soon literally be running on less than 4 hours of sleep.
Many of my friends– flight attendants, and non-airline people often ask, “How do you do it? How do you balance racing, and staying fit in such a crazy, unpredictable career?” Since before becoming a flight attendant, fitness was a big part of my life. The day that I left for training, I told my friend, “I will never allow this new career to compromise my health, or my fitness level.” However, when I got to training, I was slowly dragged off the wagon. The combination of stress, exhaustion, and studying like a mad-woman made staying active and working out—very…well…inconvenient. I lost muscle definition, gained a few pounds, and may or may not have found myself eating peanut butter ice cream for dinner in the cafeteria. It took me a few months to get my emotional and physical ‘fit self’ back post graduation. Based on my 20.8 mile race last weekend, you can see that I did eventually make it back.
What simple, but important steps do I still take daily to keep my “fit self” in check? Here are my Top 5 Make it or Break it Essential Rules to stay healthy:
1. Stay hydrated at home and while flying.– We know flying dehydrates us. If we are smart we drink a lot of water before, during, and even after flight. A senior mama (also known as a flight attendant who has worked for a VERY long time at an airline) once suggested to drink 8 ounces of water per hour in the air as a good starting reference point. However, being a runner, I fly with the motto of not only staying hydrated, but keeping my electrolytes and potassium in check as well. I make sure to drink a combination of water, and coconut water, or Gatorade during my trips. When my electrolytes are balanced, I almost hardly ever feel a “flying hangover,” and am more inclined to choose active layover options or get a workout in when I arrive at the destination.
2. Limit alcohol intake– Some people can tolerate alcohol better than others. I know my limits and stick to them. If I have more than a glass or two of wine on a layover, I will most likely not have any kind of urge to participate in moderate activity the following day. (I also tend to crave the junk food more often when I have a drink or two!)
3. Set a requirement– Every single day, I require myself to do a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intense exercise no matter how tired I am. It can be cycling, running, fast paced walking, hiking, a workout App, hotel room workout, or whatever strikes my fancy. Even if your requirement is just 15 minutes a day, that equals 1 hour and 45 minutes of extra activity a week. If you set a standard for yourself that’s easy to attain, you will have an easier time staying consistent.
4. Plan Ahead/Come Prepared– Do you know you will be staying at an airport hotel and there is nowhere to go, and you don’t like strangers watching you at the gym? Have an in-room workout planned ahead of time. Are you staying in a big city? Look up a bike rental for the day, and reserve your bike the day before you get there, so you are more inclined to follow through. Also, I always keep at least one active wear outfit, a pair of gym shoes, charged I-Pod, and my workout-log in my roller board.
5. Pack your meals– Eating out on your trips not only can dip into your wallet, but also your waistline. I pack my meals for every trip when I can. Of course, I splurge in certain cities when I know that I will be near a a favorite hot-spot, or when 2 day trips become 4 day trips. I do the best that I can to come prepared. I pack healthy meals, as well as one “mini sweet treat” and one “salty snack.” So, even if junk food cravings hit, I have something to ward that away fast, before I go sprinting to the McDonalds in terminal A. When I eat well, I feel better. When I feel better, I am more inclined to stay active.
Stay tuned for next week’s Fitness Friday post, which will be ‘The Best Fitness Apps for Hotel Room Workouts.’
Jackie is The Flight Attendant Life’s very own fitness editor. We are very excited to add her to our team. Look forward to regular ‘Fitness Fridays.’