My favorite things to do when I travel are eat and meet people. I’m also a sucker for a great view. That being said, when I come home from traveling or even visiting family in another state, I want to feel relaxed, composed, and energized. This is hard to accomplish if I’m feeling sluggish, bloated, and sleep deprived. Over the years I’ve found that bringing a little intention to how I treat myself when I travel greatly enhances my experience.
Due to the nature of my job, I also get to hear about vacation woes from many of clients:
“I always feel exhausted when I get back from a trip”.
“I can never go #2 when I’m traveling”.
“I gain weight when I travel”.
“My body is in pain after I fly”.
The three areas I put focus on while I travel are:
Food, Stress, and Activity Level
Water is also important in kidney function, blood pressure, and energy levels. It also makes your skin look great. I think I can stop here. The point is to drink water. Water is not soda, diet soda drinks, coffee, beer. Buying bottled water can be expensive and let’s face it, we don’t need any more plastic bottles in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Instead, just bring your own bottle. You can fill up at many airports. I also fill up at my hotel and various places I come across as I travel. 16-20oz is a good size and I make it a goal to fill it up and empty it 3x daily.
2. Intermittent Fasting
If you’re new to Intermittent Fasting, there’s quite a lot to unpack here. It’s also best to keep in mind that nutrition is still a new and developing field. Many universities are still teaching nutritional concepts there were developed in the 1970s. It is worth noting that a study in the NCBI boasts that intermittent fasting can increase the instance of growth hormones in the body. Growth hormones are what is responsible for fat burning and muscle gain. The same study boasts that short term fasting removes waste material from cells. A study put out by Harvard says that IT is really just about limiting caloric intake. The research and claims go on and on. However, the bottom line is that it works can be an effective tool.
I have a difficult time fasting while I’m at work due to the nature of my job and regular activity level. However, when I’m on the East Coast or abroad I find that IT is much more helpful and achievable for a couple of reasons. The first being that when I’m traveling, I’ll naturally be eating out for most, if not all of my meals. This means that portion control and ingredient selection can be more difficult. It also means that eating three full meals can weigh me down and make me feel bloated. If I fast from 8PM to 10/11AM, I’m able to fully digest my larger meals and take time to hydrate. Plus, when I travel it allows me to hit up a local coffee spot in the AM (black coffee doesn’t break the fast) and make a plan for the day.
With that being said, if you’re new to Intermittent Fasting, you’ll want to consult a professional. The ideal period of fasting can differ based on your gender, age, activity level, and hormone levels. So, if you’re newb, I would definitely recommend seeking guidance on it first!
3. Bringing snacks
I’ll pack my favorite snack bars, bring nuts, or buy some fruit. That way when hunger strikes, I’m not forced to make a bad decision, like purchasing food on an airplane.
4. Communicate with your travel buds
It’s best to communicate how many times you’re down to get pizza while you’re in New York. Or if you share meals that you’re seeking some healthy sides. Traveling is a wonderful way to experience new foods and culture, so being open to eating new things but selecting some veggie rich meals can help find balance.
This one may sound trivial. But warrants a #5 on my list.
6. Make time for work if you have to
As much as we all need time away from our daily activities of work and career, for some it can be more stressful not to work that to spend a couple of dedicated hours on work. Instead of letting it bubble up under my skin, I’ll pick out a local cafe to pop over for coffee (helps with the Intermittent Fasting) and do an hour or two of work before heading off to spend time with loved ones or go sightseeing. These few hours that I spend help me put my business in perspective and help me come back with a fresh approach and outlook.
7. Take time for self reflection or meditation
Typically of you’re on holiday, you don’t have a real schedule. That means if you take three minutes in the morning to try not to think about anything, you might be better for it. Of course there are lots of apps out there that are super useful in getting you into the meditative mode, I am a huge fan of binaural beats. They even have decent playlists on Spotify for meditation purposes.
8. Select Hotels with gyms.
Working out at local gyms is a fun and typically educational experience. Most gyms that allow drop in clients have a community vibe and members will typically try to point you in the right direction when it comes to local experiences. However, finding a gym and then getting onto the right transit to get there can be overwhelming and stressful. Making sure there is a gym in or close to where you’re staying can give you some options to work with, even if it means working out solo.
9. Bring exercise bands with you.
I’m a huge fan of bringing a couple exercise bands with me. Especially when visiting family or just being in a new place, the day’s plan can take over quickly and you’re left with too many rest days in a row.
Typically I’ll bring one band for my upper body and one for my lower body. I also bring some lacrosse balls, especially to roll out my t-spine after sitting in the plane or car all day.
Use sightseeing as a means for exercise. Walk halfway before you call a cab or schedule a hike. People often think that they really have to get their blood pumping in order for exercise to be effective, but that’s simply not true. Typical exercise works the larger vessels of the heart while walking works the smaller, collateral vessels.
An article from Harvard Health suggests that:
“Exercise dramatically increases blood flow through the coronary arteries. The inner lining of the arteries responds to this "stress" much as it does to the stress of atherosclerosis, by stimulating collateral blood vessels to elongate, widen, and form new connections.”
So remember as you walk around the streets of your vacation destination, that it is not only good for your soul, but for the physical vessels of your heart organ.
11. Support your spine!
It is important to use these supports before you start to feel pain or discomfort. The idea is to maintain the natural curves of the spine. The spine has three natural and healthy curves in it. However, when you sit in a plane and most automobiles these curves quickly vanish and a more C-shaped spine takes hold. Not to mention that most vehicle seats are made to protect humans in the event of a crash or accident, not to prevent their spines from degenerating. The trick to maintaining the lumbar or low back curve is to use a lumbar support. This can come in the shape of simple pillow or can even be a rolled up sweatshirt or blanket. Neck support on the other hand can be pretty difficult to achieve. However if you maintain your lumbar spine in a good position then your neck has a fighting chance. Using a neck pillow when sleeping upright can also help a little, but you have to understand that your neck is still just hanging there..which is not so great for the vertebra. The best way to combat neck stiffness from flying is to stretch your neck muscles.
So there you have 11 intentional travel tips to help ward off inflammation, stress, and fatigue. Pick one that resonates with you, travel safe, and enjoy your time wherever you go!
1. What is it?
CBD or cannabidiol is the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis (marijuana), according to Harvard Health. It is one of 115 different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. There is no psychoactive component to CBD which means that there isn’t a “high” associated with its use. This is what makes it more attractive for those who seek to use it for its medicinal properties.
2. Is it legal?
Maybe? Because CBD can be prescribed for seizures, the FDA is hesitant to allow widespread use until more research has been conducted. The legislation on this changes almost monthly. For now CBD products are legal, however they must not claim effects that have not been proven through research. If CBD products are made from hemp they are legal. If they’re made from the marijuana plant they are legal in most states, but they are not legal federally.
3. Is it safe?
When marijuana became legal in Colorado, consumers saw issues with how products were produced, especially in food products where the THC molecules were not being evenly distributed throughout a batch. This resulted in some products sold having extremely elevated doses of THC. A JAMA study shows that we are seeing similar issues arise in CBD products, with some products having more or less CBD than is listed on the label. States like California passed a bunch of legislation that regulates products sold in dispensaries. This allows testing to be done to find any heavy metals and fungus that the plant may have absorbed. It also means that the dosage on the label should be accurate.
CBD may also interfere with how you metabolize other medications or how quickly you break them down. According to CBD Project, it inhibits the cytochrome P450 enzyme which is involved in metabolizing many drugs. So if you are taking medications, you want to be sure to consult your doctor before using CBD products.
4. Does it show up in competition drug tests?
According to the US Anti-doping Agency cannabidiol is not prohibited. The problem is it seems fairly difficult to isolate CBD from THC, the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. This means that you may test positive for marijuana in a blood test done before competition.
A study published by the American Medical Association in 2017 showed that THC was detected (up to 6.43 mg/mL) in 18 of the 84 samples tested. If you have a competition that does blood testing coming up in the next couple of months, the USADA recommends avoiding the use of CBD products. In other words (and written in bold on the USADA site): “The use of any CBD product is at the athlete’s own risk.” There are also plenty of CBD products that come from hemp which has no THC, but that also means you have to know and trust the brand.
5. How does it work?
The body has its own endocannabinoid system that produces cannabinoids and is reward-based. During exercise, research shows that endocannabinoid signaling is indeed intensity dependent. That means that with greater exercise intensity comes a greater endocannabinoid response which some people may associate with exercise induced euphoria or a “runner’s high”. Essentially CBD could be tapping and feeding into a system that is already working naturally in our bodies. The CBD molecule also passes through the blood-brain barrier which could explain the cognitive claims and effects.
6. What are some benefits? Alternatives?
There are a variety of claims that have yet to be widely proven. These include claims that CBD can elevate mood, speed recovery by fighting oxidative damage, and reduce pain through anti inflammatory properties. The fact is that many of these studies were performed on rats and much more research and regulation is needed. So in the meantime, remember that exercise and nature elevate mood, antioxidant-rich foods help fight oxidative damage, and rest days allow the body to recover from an inflammatory state and renew itself.
For questions about CBD, cannabinoids, and other substances contact the USADA Drug Reference Line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (719) 785-2000, option 2.
Yes, it is true - Even I have a hard time getting myself to roll out of bed to go hit the gym on a Monday morning. I work hard, I do a lot of things, I deserve to rest and relax (and also I love bed). Most people who know me know that fitness is very important to me, so I am often asked how I stay motivated.
Motivation does take some thought, so grab a pencil.
1. Step one is putting on active clothing.
Usually if I can muster enough gusto to put on a bunch of bright spandex, I will then be motivated to travel to the gym. Acquire some workout clothes that you like and that are fun for you to wear. It is true that the uniform can make the man (or human if you will).
2. I work out before I know who I am in the morning.
Like I said, my workout is the first thing that I do for the day. I finally fully wake up about half way through the warm up. (Thank heavens I walk and do not drive to the gym).
There are so many things that can come up throughout the day that can make your workout seem less important. (i.e. dinner, happy hour, laundry, running to the store, last minute meeting, children). Plus, when you have your workout done first thing, whatever else you accomplish that day is a bonus.
Edit: I stole this blog from my old site because I liked it. And you know what? Things change. Now I workout at lunch:
1. I'm hydrated.
2. I've had some fuel (food and maybe some caffeine)
3. It feels like recess and
4. I'm more productive for the afternoon.
3. Think of yourself as a skilled participant in your sport.
If you think of yourself as an athlete or a yoga goddess, you will start to treat yourself like you are. Visualizing the person that you want to be is a good start to help with the other habits that come with exercise such as diet, sleep and hydration.
4. It has to be something you actually enjoy.
This can change. I danced ballet for 20 years and did dance team in grad school. Soon I found myself lifting heavier and heavier in the gym between practices, so I naturally started doing crossfit. After a bout of whiplash left me having a difficult time getting out of bed, suddenly snatches didn’t look so fun. I became a hot yoga devotee for the next year and half. Then, I gained enough stability and I am back to PR-ing my lifts. My fitness has changed so much throughout my life and it will always continue to. You never know when I will get an inkling to get back in the pool and swim some laps, or pretend that I love trail running during the fall months. Your fitness can change just as you do.
5. You gain a community.
Fitness can be performed alone, however if you choose to perform fitness with other people, in my experience, the effect multiplies. (This has even held true for my group meditation experiences). I love group classes. I go harder because I know people around me are going hard too. I am held accountable. If you go to a regular class, people will notice when you are not there and may give you some light digging (only because they want you to succeed). Plus, If you weave fitness and being active into your social fabric, it becomes your way of life.
6. Anchor to something larger than this week.
If I am super failing to release my clutches from my nicely blanketed bed, I force myself to take a look at future Krystal. Future Krystal is 80 years old and kickin butt. She is active daily, travels, reads, and goes on plenty of social outings. 80 year old Krystal lives this way because she gets her butt out of bed in the morning.
Your anchor is going to be something that is personal to you. To create a habit, you have to have reasoning that goes beyond your day to day and perhaps even beyond yourself. Many people want to stay in shape so they can be active with their children or grandchildren. Whatever it is, think of something that you value above all else that goes beyond looking good naked (which doesn’t hurt).
7. Success in fitness parallel success in life.
The mental acuity that is necessary to become disciplined to be active regularly and to refine your body movement will drive you in all areas of your life. When you workout when you don’t want to, when you press on through a workout even though your muscles are depleted, when you take a deep breathe and master a new skill - you expand your drive and realm of experience. You will find that you do not let trivial things bug out your day. When it is Friday afternoon and you’d rather leave early after a long week, you will dig a little deeper and push out another idea.
This concept is better articulated by an exert from a book that comes required reading at Harvard and Columbia Business Schools, "Compelling People" by John Neffinger & Matthew Kohut.
“While we cannot rewire our natural responses completely, we can still create change when we need it through brute force of will. Focus on why the task is important and how it connects to your values and your sense of how you want to be in the world. Then resolve to do it, no matter how it feels. Finally, make yourself do what needs to be done, even if that is not at all what comes naturally to you in the situation.”
In other words, practicing strength, even physical strength and regular fitness, bleeds power and confidence into all areas of life. What better excuse for working out is better than that?
Stay iron willed my friends,
I am a Sports Chiropractor in San Francisco. My posts reflect some of the day to day interactions and questions from patients, clients, and coaches. I strive to empower people through injury rehab & sports performance to lead healthy, productive lives.