Fitness Makeover: Staying Fit While On the Road

Kristina Martin of Decatur, Georgia is this month's fitness makeover. She brought up a great question: how to arrange an effective workout routine around a busy travel schedule.

Kristina's job requires her to be away from home anywhere from one to three nights a week, and up to 26 weeks a year on any given project. As such, she has found it difficult to build a program that she can maintain consistently to achieve her fitness goals.

A former competitive swimmer and recreational runner, Kristina is determined to stay fit and "win the fight against gravity," as she writes that she has gained 15 pounds since starting her travel-heavy job three years ago.

"While no one would look at me and say that I am fat," she explains, "I definitely would like to lose the extra weight and tone up I don't want my nice swimming triceps to turn into flabby mush!"

In addition, Kristina admits that she finds it hard to stay in a routine because she gets bored so she enjoys breaking from it (perhaps the years dedicated to swim practice twice a day have made her yearn for a more flexible and easygoing approach to fitness).

"I tell myself it's good to take a break and skip a workout because growing up I never missed a swim practice. I think of it as keeping me balanced and I feel more normal, rather than obsessive, about working out."

Obsession is certainly not healthy in the long run, but I have always believed that a happy athlete is one who never missed a workout because she enjoyed and looked forward to each day's training session.

Kristina should ask herself why she works out, and write down the list of ways that exercise improves her quality of life. Then, whenever she is tempted to skip a day, she can read the list and remind herself why she's doing it (and enjoying it) in the first place.

While skipping occasional days is important for recovery, it seems that Kristina's work schedule ensures that she misses days anyway (whether she'd like to or not). So I am going to propose that she attempt to work out every day, and allow herself days off only when she can't find time to train because of her job. The trick will be to find her things to do that she can look forward to and enjoy without wanting to skip a day unless she absolutely has to.

So how does Kristina find a happy medium between having a workout routine that is fun, interesting, and challenging, yet one that is also adaptable enough to take on the road?

To begin, I am going to recommend running at least three times a week, or every other day. Running is a surefire way to lose weight (especially when combined with healthy eating habits) and a great cardiovascular exercise. In Kristinas case, jogging is convenient because it requires little more than a pair of decent running shoes that can be packed into a suitcase and taken on the road.

One of my favorite things to do when traveling to a foreign city is going for a run in the streets moments after I settle into my hotel room. Not only does this stretch out my travel-weary muscles and release endorphins that fight jet lag, but it allows me to get my bearings in an unfamiliar city a place that I may need to navigate through later on in my trip.

Having recently been to London and Cannes, France (a first for me in both cases), I relied on my "orientation run" as the basis for my subsequent daily travels. I was happy to take note of simple necessities such as banks, subway stations, and convenience stores that came in handy later all while completing a brief rejuvenating workout.

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