Summer air travel can be the bane of your healthy living quest. While at home, the consistency of your exercise and nutrition habits offers a reliable means of maintaining wellness. But once you hit the runway, everything changes. For a better idea of what I mean, perhaps you should read an article from the Pacific Elite Fitness archives, titled “How To Get Fat When You Fly”.
The purpose of the next few blog posts (appropriately named in a series called “The Healthy Traveler”), is to allow you to follow me, Ben Greenfield, on a six day excursion to and through Poland, where I will be attending my brother’s wedding.
In this first post, we’ll inspect 8 Essential Items in the carry-on bag of The Healthy Traveller. The following items are not necessarily the most ideal, the most useful, or the most practical but they *are* exactly what lies in the carry-on bag beneath my feet as I write this article…
1) Two yams. Quick! You’re rushing out the door and realize you have no food plans for the flight. While microwaving may not be the healthiest option for cooking food, a fast nuke can make for a healthy meal later in the day. 2008 Olympic 100 and 200 meter gold medalist Usain Bolt swears by yams, and I happen to always have a couple around. If I don’t have the chance to bake at 400 for an hour, I microwave for 12-15 minutes and throw into a ziplock bag. For sweet (breakfast), you can down these with a pack of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon from the airport Starbucks. For savory (lunch or dinner), lightly sprinkle with salt, and a small amount of ketchup. A great meal for the airport, packed with dense vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
2) Four Bumblebars. High in good fats from their generous nut and seed content, Bumblebars are my healthy bar of choice, and the Chocolate flavor pairs fantastically with a cup of black coffee. Other good brands include Larabar, Hammerbar and Biobar. When choosing energy bars, look for:
-Primary carb source (at least 3g of fiber or more) from whole grains like brown rice, oats, bran, barley, rye, buckwheat or whole wheat flour.
-Primarily sweetened by natural sugars (preferably 15g or less): dried or fresh fruit, fruit juice, purees (fructose), milk (lactose) or honey.
-Contains lean protein sources such as whey, soy, casein or eggs.
-Monounsaturated fat sources like nuts and seeds, nut butters or flaxseed.
-Limited in ingredients like wheat flakes, rice, white flour, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, dextrose, malitol, malt syrup, artificial sweeteners, preservatives and colors, saturated/trans fats, palm kernel oil, hydrogenated vegetable oil or extra calories from chocolate, caramel, frosting, or icing.
3) An orange. Fruits will give you fiber, more vitamins, and immune-boosting Vitamin C (important in that passenger-crammed airplane space). Try to travel with “peel-fruits” like oranges or grapefruits. Bananas tend to get a bit mushy when thrown around in your luggage.
4) Ziplock bag of Brazil nuts and almonds. Nuts are a good source of both healthy fats, as well as low-glycemic index carbohydrates, offering blood sugar stabilization during that long flight. I’m a very big fan of Brazil nuts, which are high in selenium, a potent anti-oxidant that fights many of the free radicals generated during physical activity and daily metabolism. However, they *are* expensive, so I mix with almonds, another healthy nut. Avoid peanuts, which are higher in toxins and pesticides.
5) Elastic band. Elastic bands are highly portable, very light, and give you access to a variety of exercises that simulate a typical gym workout. In Chicago O’ Hare, I performed this 20 minute circuit three times through, under the stairwell in the B concourse: 20 Push-ups, 20 Reverse Pull-Ups, 20 Elastic Band Overhead Presses, 20 Walking Lunges, 20 Elastic Band Torso Twists, 20 Elastic Band Rows.
6) Actionwipes. I’ve blogged about ’em before. After I finished my elastic band workout, I had 5 minutes to catch the flight to Dusseldorf, Germany. I had both the Actionwipe spray and the Actionwipe wipes in my carry-on. I made a quick trip to the bathroom on my way to the gate and wiped myself down with the clean, fresh scent of Eucalyptus and Tea Tree oil, natural anti-fungals and anti-septics. Use discount code BGF for a 10% discount.
7) Tube of UHydration. This a new product that is a blend of electrolytes and vitamins. You add it to water, and get the equivalent of something like Vitamin water, except without the nasty chemically artificial sweetener taste and no calories. This stuff is sweetened with Stevia Leaf Extract, and contains Vitamin A, C, B-6, B-12, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Magnesium, Zinc, Sodium, Potassium, and Choline. Tangerine-Ginger is my flavor of choice today.
8) Wax Ear-Plugs and EyeMask. Deep, rapid-eye-movement sleep is essential to immune-system health and muscle repair and recovery. Inadequate sleep affects insulin sensitivity, appetite control hormones (increased leptin, decreased ghrelin), weight loss hormones (decreased testosterone, increased cortisol) and appetite neurotransmitters (decreased GABA, serotonin, dopamine). Since noise and light are major disruptions to deep REM sleep, you’ll be healthier if you can block these out.
That’s it! Remember, being healthy is about making those tiny extra efforts that ultimately leave you with soaring energy levels and mental clarity, low annual health care costs and peak physical performance.
I’ll teach you more with each post from The Healthy Traveller during this week’s adventures in Poland…