Year after year, staying fit and losing weight are two of the most common New Year's resolutions. Unfortunately, research shows that somewhere around 75 percent of people abandon their resolutions by January 14. For entrepreneurs and other frequent business travelers, keeping in shape on the road can be especially tough. Airport fast food, cramped hotel rooms and daylong meetings don't exactly lend themselves to perfect fitness. But as David Barton, owner of DavidBartonGym, which has locations in New York, Chicago, Seattle and Miami, says, "There's always a way, no matter where you are."
So what's the best way to grow your business without growing your waistline? Here are five things you need to know.
1. Pack smart.
Staying fit on the road requires planning. Nicole Glor, a New York-based fitness entrepreneur and founder of NikkiFitness, recommends making sneakers, workout clothes and an iPod essential items in your carry-on. Barton also suggests including an exercise band or jump rope -- both are extremely light and take up very little room, but they will still give you a full-body workout. Clint Greenleaf, the CEO of Greenleaf Book Group and a member of the AOL Small Business Board of Directors, agrees. "I am a big fan of running outside, so I have room in my suitcase reserved for running shoes and clothes."
Glor says packing workout gear is the most important part of keeping fit on the road, since "I have no workout clothes" is a common excuse for watching on-demand movies instead of hitting the hotel gym. But the stress, lengthy sitting and unhealthy food that comes with life on the road is begging for a burst of endorphins, which you get from exercise. If you can't squeeze a pair of running shoes into your overnight bag, you can always do yoga or pilates.
2. Wake up early.
The best way to make sure you work out? "Sleep in your workout gear and set your alarm to your favorite upbeat workout song or playlist," says Glor, whose videos include the NikkiFitness Fit Travel Workout. She also recommends scheduling your workout time as if it were a meeting -- since it's just as important. "The meeting is with your fitter self!" she says. Morning workouts get your metabolism up for the day, and are better, in terms of planning, than evening workouts because the work day has not begun. At night, people are tired and look for every excuse not to work out after that glass of wine at dinner.
But if you're not a morning person, don't force it. Barton agrees that a workout should be scheduled just like any other meeting -- whether it's in the morning or at night -- and can be as short as 30 minutes. While an exercise session will take some time away from work, he says setting time aside for fitness will make you more productive in the long run. "No one's ever come to me and said, 'Working out took my time so I couldn't get my work done,'" he says.
3. You're not on vacation, so don't eat like you are.
Glor recommends stocking up on healthy foods like fruits and veggies (apples, broccoli and other high-fiber colorful foods), almonds, string cheese, fiber granola bars, water, skim milk and yogurt. Munching on these throughout the day will keep your metabolism up and prevent you from overeating at mealtime.
Because travel is dehydrating, Barton says drinking a lot of water is a must. He also travels with Green Vibrance, a powder that provides vitamins and nutrients of hearty green vegetables when healthy options are not always available.
When you sit down at a restaurant, Glor suggests searching the menu for the three healthiest items -- and then close it. Don't even give yourself time to be tempted by things you think will taste better. She says the best salad option is tuna Nicoise (chicken Caesar salads, in comparison, are high in fat), and if you can't find something on the menu, opt for a lean-protein appetizer, like shrimp cocktail and non-fried chicken, and order a vegetable side dish, like spinach or broccoli. Aim for 400- to 500-calorie meals and snack throughout the day.
Of course, some destinations have special cuisine, and you shouldn't deprive yourself. "Everything in moderation," says Danielle Snyder, the co-founder of DANNIJO and a member of the AOL Small Business Board of Directors. "My sister Jodie and I usually eat healthy yogurt or instant oatmeal and fruit in the morning and splurge for either lunch or dinner." The Snyder sisters snack between meals and carry dark chocolate. That way, "I can have something sweet when I get hypoglycemic and am on the go," Danielle says.
4. There's an app for that!
Fortunately, the App Store has more than just games -- it has calorie counters and exercise apps to help you get or stay fit. Greenleaf uses two that he swears by to keep him "from getting fat and lazy." The Nike+ app tracks every run via GPS and captures all the details, like speed (there's a heat map to show where you slowed down and sped up) and calories. "I try to beat each run with the next," he says.
Then there's Lose It!, a free calorie-counting app that shows you what you've eaten each day and makes you aware of what you're putting in your body. Greenleaf says it keeps him from overindulging and is great for travel, when it can be easy to forget that you had two breakfasts, three lunches, a huge dinner, then drinks.
Glor swears by DailyBurn, which has a built-in food scanner and can track your water intake, calories, nutrition and workouts. There are tons of other apps in the Healthcare and Fitness category, including CF Mobile, an app launched by College Fitness founder Brent Skoda that offers workout routines for every day of the week. Pick one you like and stick with it.
5. Turn your hotel into a healthy haven.
When you're shopping around for a hotel, make sure you ask whether there's a fitness center or pool, Greenleaf says. Even if there's not, you can use the floor space in your room to do some exercise. In the morning and at night, it's always good to do some crunches, push-ups or butt exercises to get the blood flowing. "Short and quick exercise can really benefit the body and clear the mind," Snyder says. Barton adds that it's helpful to pack a fitness DVD that you can play on your laptop in your room. Some of Glor's videos, for example, feature in-room exercises that use your own body weight to do the toning.
Steer clear of the minibar, and if you're looking for a quick snack, the DANNIJO girls like to fill the hotel ice bucket with ice and fresh grapes for a sweet and healthy treat. "Best snack ever!" Danielle jokes.
If you're getting cabin fever in the hotel, just hit the road. Glor says running is one of the best forms of exercise, and if you're in a new place, you may as well multitask. "I have gone running to see the local sites, everywhere from Seattle to Cannes, France," she says.
The original version of this article appeared on AOL Small Business on 1/7/11.
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