A job that involves foreign travel may be good for your CV but not so great for your health. However, with some careful planning and home-made snacks you’ll soon be back to your jet-setting best

The booming economy of recent years has led to many Irish companies expanding and doing business abroad. Whilst this has been excellent for our economy it has meant that the life of a business executive involves a significant amount of time on planes, trains and automobiles.

This kind of lifestyle presents a number of stumbling blocks if the executive is to stay, or get into, tip-top shape. Travelling abroad twice a month can break your training patterns while food at airports leaves a lot to be desired.

These are challenges that must be overcome. The executive’s time is precious so it is imperative that they are organised.

Most people form an impression of others within the first 45 seconds of meeting them. So if you are huffing and puffing as you walk up the stairs into a meeting it will affect your concentration and the potential client’s impression of you.

It should also be noted that airlines have been reviewing their charges and since baggage is charged by weight no doubt there’ll come a time when people will be too.

On the flip side, if you book into a hotel with a gym, there is no reason to stop training. In Steven Covey’s book First Things First, he describes how successful people put the big rocks in first, the most important things in their life. These big rocks should include your health. When you perform your workout early in the day you will be increasing your energy and your concentration. If meetings run late you can rest assured that you have kept your health in check.

Another challenge in the busy executive’s life is nutrition. The majority of my education is done abroad, so I am no stranger to the airport routine and dealing with jet-lag.

You should always have a meal before you go to the airport. Skipping meals leads to a drop in blood-sugar levels and leads to sweet cravings on the plane or at the airport.

I tend to bring home-made protein bars to fill in the gaps, as meals served on planes tend to feature denatured foods. This means that the nutrients given in cakes, scones and processed items use more nutrients from your body to process them than you actually obtain from eating them. I would also bring a protein shake that I could add water to when I am on the plane.

If I’m attending a conference and need to be alert I will eat meat to get some protein. This will provide my body with the neuro-transmitter dopamine, which will stimulate it to stay awake.
If I need to fall asleep I will eat rice and beans one hour before the flight as this will increase the neuro-transmitter serotonin which will help me fall asleep.

The increase in carbs and and their sleep-inducing tendencies may give you an insight into why your energy levels fluctuate so quickly in the morning. When I review food diaries of prospective clients they normally start the day with a sugar fix of a cereal, a scone and coffee. This high they have created is temporary and the following low starts them on their energy rollercoaster for the day.

Another trick to improve your sleep and prevent jet-lag is to rub one-six grams of the slower releasing melatonin cream on the inside of your thighs one hour before the flight. Keeping your feet warm and using an eye mask can also help sleep.

While flying, the likelihood of dehydration is increased due to cabin air pressure adaptations. It is recommended that you consume a large glass of water every hour throughout your flight. If this is too hard at least sip some water frequently. A lot of people make the mistake of plying themselves with alcohol, which further dehydrates them, or using sleeping tablets for flights. Your ability to sleep will be solved by manipulating your nutrition intake.

On long-haul flights it is important that you walk up and down the aisle and maybe even do some light stretches.

Movement and stretching will have the added benefit of increasing your circulation and reducing the stiffness. Ten hours sitting in the same position will lead to rigor mortis so get your joints in action.

The last point is to stay true to your nutrition when you are wining and dining clients.

Your clients will understand if you tell them about your ‘food intolerance’ or goal to change your body shape. In life we either have a result, or we have an excuse, which one are you going to have?

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