Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fitness Tips and Tricks from a Road Warrior

Last week I was out of town visiting the beautiful city of Boston to attend an iPad conference.

My challenge was to return at or very near the weight from when I left. Since I just got off a photo prep plan, a challenge to not go crazy with freedom. But that was my personal point of this shoot- a no rebound prep. I am happy to report that I came back within a pound of when I left.

I ate out every meal, but tracked every calories to help me make appropriate choices. I got up at 5 am to workout every morning, which I looked forward to.

I even got in a training run before we left. It ended up being my favorite part of the trip.

It got me to thinking that tips to survive travelling and keeping and/or getting fit are few and far between. So I know an expert on the topic, and asked if she would contribute to this article. Meet Kerry Z, one of my beautiful Venus sisters.

Tips from an Expert Road Warrior on Fitness and Nutrition

I am a data consultant (programmer/analyst doing both migrations and custom interfaces) for a software company – it is an accounting software. 

I gained 45 pounds the first year as a data consultant. My current travel schedule is 100% but it looks like I will start to be home more in 2014. Woohoo!! So, I leave home on Sunday and return on Friday. If I have a GOLive, I am usually on the road for a minimum of 2 weeks straight. The one good thing is that I usually go to the same city for 3+ months. So, I am not going to a different city every week. This project has been a little out of the norm as I have been here 3 years. It ends the end of December.

The type of work I do is extremely cyclical - meaning I have extremes. When I am working a GoLive I virtually get no sleep (about 2-4 hours a night). We typically have a short time window during GOLive because our client is down while we are working on the database. It is incredibly intense so a HUGE amount of stress in short period of time. :(  The early stages of the project are not so extreme.

So what I found is that I would gain weight during the extreme stages and lose it during the lighter periods. This would typically be within the same quarter. So my yoyos were in much more close proximity than most. The problem was that it was the same few pounds. So, I had to start losing more during the light periods given the track record of the GoLive weeks (about a 3 week window) in order to make a dent in the pounds gained. It took me a couple of years to figure out what works and what doesn’t for me. As they say, the show must go on…

Road Warrior random thoughts:

  • My absolute favorite frozen meal is Garden Lite Souffles. They have the most natural ingredients I have found in a frozen meal and the protein is great with low fat and calories. I have found them in multiple cities so it is my GO TO frozen meal. Can be used a side dish or main course and I have done both.

  • I worked out with my company that I only stay in hotels that will provide a microwave and refrigerator. This is not negotiable for me. And yes, I did have to talk to our travel manager about it. It works out though as most high end (costly hotels) don’t supply both. So, I stay in less expensive hotels anyway. I do currently cook more in my room now more than I ever have because I have been here so long. I didn’t always have that luxury. So before this assignment, I would always carry a portable blender with me.

  • As soon as I arrive in town, I hit the grocery store. It was trial and error to find the right amount of food for a Sun – Fri trip.

·         Fruit (bananas, apples, berries, grapes)

·         Veggie trays (they always have small ones where they are precut – perfect for 1 week stay)

·         Precut mixed peppers

·         Premade side salads

·         Precooked brown rice and/or quinoa

·         Oatmeal

·         Al Fresco Chicken sausages

·         Bag of hardboiled eggs

·         Liquid eggs – small container ( I use the precut peppers to make omelets/scrambles in microwave)

·         Yogurt

·         Cottage cheese

·         Garden Lites

·         Single serving almond milk Usually a few of these à to make protein shake

·         Small container of grapefruit juice

·         Get hotel to cook me a grilled chicken breast and split it between 2 nights


Favorite dessert in my room is oatmeal + protein + pb2 + berries


Items I bring myself:

·         Quest protein bars (I don’t any other brand)

·         Protein in a ziplock

·         PB2 in a ziplock (don’t like using the packets cause I don’t use it all and I can’t close it so I just do the ziplock)

·         Ostrich/bison jerky (LOL – this is great for protein)

·         Small apple for travel day

Dining Out with clients:

·         Grilled Chicken salad

·         Soups

·         Grilled fish dishes (sometimes I order grilled fish sandwich and chunk the bread.  It is usually a smaller piece of fish than the regular dishes)

·         Grilled chicken dishes

·         Fish tacos

·         When possible try to keep the dining out to lunch

·         Try not to eat out more than 2 days in a row, if possible


I used to have a terrible time on the actual travel days.  I would randomly walk around the airport looking for something that I would be willing to eat.  It just isn’t worth it at all.  The calories in everything is crazy.  So, I fast or eat either protein bars or ostrich jerky with a small apple.  This also helps you get to your gate faster. J  Never ever ever travel without carrying something with you.  You never know how long you may be sitting on the tarmac.  I avoid eating the peanuts as they make me even more dehydrated.  In my opinion, the best snack for air travel is an apple.

My Workout history since I began travel:

·         First attempted to do the pear shape workout from fitness magazine. Um, I thought I was a pear but it turns out I am hourglass with pear tendencies.  This worked fairly well in the beginning as I had so much to lose.

·         Then I started doing a bunch of online workouts because I could get to them easily while on the road.  Like Bodyrock.TV in the older days. 

·         Next I started doing DVDs.  They are just too convenient on the road.  As a side note.  All my DVDs have been copied to my computer so I do not actually carry the DVDs with me.  Although, I used to.  Mainly Beachbody DVDs but I also did some Jillian and others.  Once I got on Beachbody, I started doing Chalean Extreme.  This got me into lifting much heavier.

·         Picked up Venus, within a month I was Immersion and within 3 months we had Adonis immersion.  One of the things that appealed to me was the fact that you could continue to get new workouts.  I am a workout junkie so this was very appealing to me.

·         I then bought Rusty Moore’s programs as I was intrigued by his cardio philosophy and I do still do cardio in that manner.  I also purchased Final Phase Fat Lose from John Ramaniello.  I still mix FPFL with Venus today.

·         ZGym/ZCut  - Although I love Venus/Adonis, I need variety and some short HIITs to keep me focused.  So, I also bought the ZCut DVDs (both cardio and strength) and joined the ZGym to continue getting WOs every week.

·         Beachbody Focus T25.  This is my go to cardio right now (plus stairs and running) and I only wish I had this in my early days.  This is the only program that got me through this last GOLive and I only gained a few pounds.  The workouts are short which is what I need at these intense times.  I know it isn’t for everyone but for this particular situation it is great

·         Get Glutes – yes, I got the Get Glutes to mainly try to get my trouble zones back in control.  I am having a tough time shrinking my legs/hips/butt so I wanted some added help.  I am lean all over except there and I just don’t like the look but I am being UBER patient.

So I am sure at this point you are saying what the heck.  LOL.  The truth is I am a junkie and probably always will be.  But, my core WO really is Venus and I bring these other things in to the mix to get a bit of variety, which seems to keep me focused.  I focused on the Circuits for a few reasons. 1. Cardio impact 2.  Can use lighter weight (better for travel) 3.  I am a HIIT person and it fits my personality

For VT8, I did the following:

·         Venus Circuits 3x a week

·         Final Phase Fat Lose 1x week

·         Focus T25 3x week (performed after the strength session)

·         Hotel stair circuits 1x week (performed after strength session)

·         Body Combat randomly

Hotel Stair Circuits:

6 Floors Perform the following:

·         2x straight sprints

·         2x side strides

·         2x Step Ups same leg going 2 stairs at a time

·         2x straight sprints


·         Advanced Series 3x week + Get Glutes stuff at the end

·         Focus T25 Pyramids 2x week

·         Hotel Stair Circuits

·         Running (training is picking up for the HM)

I am in love with the Advanced Series workouts and may not ever go back.  I think next I will bring together the Final Phase Fat Lose + Advanced Series.  I tend to get a lot of strength gains from FPFL for some reason.

I use the following equipment on the road:

·         Hotel gyms when at all possible

·         Aquabells

·         Exercise bands (without the handles is ideal for combing with weights)

·         Exercise tubes

·         Door attached cords

·         Roller desk chair from room – leg work (I learned this in physical therapy for my knee, LOL)

·         Coffee table from room

·         Non rolling chair for stepups

·         Body weight exercises

·         Every piece of furniture is seen as fitness equipment J


My biggest tips to travel

·         Do not let the people that you are entertaining derail you.  You have to live with the current state of your health when you return home.  Every meal is an opportunity to make the right choice for your health and well-being.  I am not saying don’t enjoy any meal.  But, what I am saying is that you have to live with that decision

·         Don’t make travel an excuse to drop the reins and forget all your goals.  You can get great workouts done in a hotel room.  You may have to use your imagination a bit but just think of that as a challenge.

·         Online communities can help tremendously for road warriors.  They truly do become your family if you are on the road 100%.

·         If you have time at the airport, walk the terminal instead of sitting (you will have plenty of sit time on the plane)

I have also done challenges with other consultants going to the same city.  You can keep each other motivated.  We have often done a Circuit – Of – The – Day.   We have distributed circuits for all people to complete.  We have even put money in for every missed WO and the winner gets the pot at the end of the project.  We have also played the card game (like they have done on the Biggest Loser).  Keep your WOs on the road fun and challenging.

You can read Kerry's Venus transformation story here (which was done 100% on the road) and download her podcast for more detail on her incredible journey.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Progression Pictures and Upcoming Shoot

So my face showed up on Venus Index today.

My sweet friend Ro over at Bobbie's Fitness wrote a great article about "For Everything there is a Season" and made this collage of my pictures to accompany it. She makes some great points about going with the flow. Your life, and subsequently, your body does not stay stagnant. Learn to know when it is go time, and when it is time to enjoy. Your family and friends are what matter in life.

Side note on the pictures in the collage, they were all taken by my photographer- Forever Grace Photography. Interestingly- they show a weight range of 5 lbs and 1.0" difference of waist. Can you pick out which is which?

Alright... the pictures in the brown bikini are at VI (waist of 26.5" and 141 lbs), the pictures in the neon bikini and the coral sports bra are in between (waist of 27.0" and 144 lbs), finally the pictures in the purple sports bra and white bikini are at the highest weight (waist of 27.5" and 146 lbs).

Here is a comparison with the same pose so you can see what 5 lbs of difference looks like-
5 lbs does not sound like a lot, and is non-visible in clothing when you are 5'9". BUT, in photo shoot situations- IT MATTERS!!! I learned a very important lesson this spring, and it was hard to swallow.
My next shoot is actually less than a week away. I have been working towards it since June! And I am proud to say that I am back at VI! My goal is to stay here now, and maintain it for everyday. I think I have finally learned how to do that too. 
Here are some unedited selfies from yesterday morning-

That is my new little buddy Olive down there at my feet :) So what I have been doing since June to get here? I have been following Venus' Reverse Taper Diet (RTD) and lifting 5 days a week. I have also been doing 1-2 hours of cardio a week for the past couple of months.

And I cannot leave you without a food note. I made roasted fennel with parmesan the other day. It was my first time trying fennel, and I loved it!!!

 I served it with roasted chicken breast and sweet potato fries that I made. It was delicious. Always love a good Giada recipe.