People often tell me how jealous they are that I get to travel the world for work. But the truth is, it’s not as glamorous as it sounds.
What most people don’t realize is how challenging it is for business travelers like myself to stay healthy on the road. There’s the bad airport food, the extended hours on a plane, the hectic agendas, the different time zones… You get the idea.
I recently learned about a report in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine that reflected my experiences as a business traveler. The report found that business travelers have a 92 percent higher chance of being overweight compared to non-business travelers. It also said that it only takes two weeks of business travel to gain weight.
I was once a part of those business traveler statistics. But several years ago, I went through a life-changing health scare that put things into perspective. My doctor told me I had one of two choices: lose weight or die. At the time, I was like many other business travelers: unhealthy and overweight. But as the CEO of a health tech company with his life on the line, I couldn’t afford to be either anymore.
I’m proud to say I now weigh a healthy 165 pounds on a 5’9” frame. At 37 years old, I’m in the best shape of my life. But it took a lot of work to get me where I am today.
Along the way, I tried many things to lose weight, including diet trends and fitness fads. But at the end of the day, it all boiled down to five health hacks that I swear by. Here’s how I stay healthy as a frequent business traveler.
Most business travelers are on their phone 24/7. So what I like to practice is what I call a “walk & talk meeting” after every meal. This “walk & talk meeting” gives me time to exercise without it feeling like I’m actually exercising. It also helps me digest my food while I get the heart pumping.
Studies have that found that a lack of sleep is linked to overeating, which is why I always try to adjust my sleep schedule to my destination before I arrive. For example, if I’m traveling from San Francisco to Seoul — and it’s nighttime in Seoul — I take melatonin (4 mg) to sleep through the flight and adjust my body’s internal clock. I also try to always travel on an empty stomach. I’ve found flying on a full stomach delays my body’s internal clock from adjusting to local time. Both of these hacks help me sleep and eat better when I’m in my future city.
Business travelers barely have time to relax, let alone think about exercise. But this won’t be the case if you wake up early when everyone else is asleep. By scheduling your workout in the morning, you’ll always have enough time to exercise. This hack isn’t easy to master, but after some time, your body will naturally adjust. What’s more, you’ll also quickly find out how good your body feels after a morning gym sesh. Also, when you do exercise, make sure you sweat. Interval training is a great way to do this because it helps you break a sweat in the shortest amount of time without overdoing it. I usually do a 25-minute running session around four times a week. And if I’m feeling up for it, I also do some basic weight lifting.
Many business travelers don’t see the value of vitamins. But medical research has proven that Vitamin B, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D are crucial to our health. For this reason, I always take additional vitamins to keep my body healthy and energized on the road. They also give my digestive system some extra support. Also, it’s important to stay hydrated while on the road. It’s not really a hack, but staying hydrated is crucial for getting the energy needed for exercise.
When it comes to staying in shape, monitoring your caloric intake is the most important health hack you can have. I use Noom Coach to help me monitor my eating habits, including the calories I burn and consume. This hack makes me mindful of what I eat. By manually entering what I’m drinking and eating, I become aware of how it’s going to impact my body.With the help of coaches, Noom gives me a personalized plan when I’m traveling, making it easier to not gain weight and stay on track. For instance, let’s say I had a meal with a business partner that exceeds my daily calorie budget. The next day, my coach will help me adjust my caloric intake so that I don’t over-do it two days in a row. Noom helps me become more mindful of my behavior, which is what ultimately leads to a healthier body and mind.
The bottom line? Business travel is challenging, but staying in shape doesn’t have to be. By taking the time to properly prepare and make wise choices when you’re on the road, you’re fueling your body and getting the energy you need to power through. Plus, you’ll look and feel great.
Saeju Jeong is the CEO/Co-founder of the world’s leading weight loss program, Noom Coach. The mobile app has helped over 47 million users live healthier lives with the support of trained and certified health coaches. Since 2008, the app has been awarded multiple grants by the NIH, and is the first mobile diabetes prevention program certified by the CDC. Jeong also sits on South Korea’s Ministry of Science & Technology’s steering committee and the board of Chonnam Hospital, South Korea’s largest private hospital.