Beyond the Cave: Primal Thoughts on Corporate Travel
Primal living is easy — beyond easy! — when I’m at or near home. I pack large salads laden with protein and healthful fats for my midday, post-IF “breakfasts” and conjure up large roasts or pots of stew that serve as dinner throughout the week. My refrigerator bursts with eggs and vegetables, my freezer with meats, and my pantry with coconut milk and spices. I have a farm full of work and a gym full of iron at my disposal. I’m living large.
And then comes corporate travel. Most people seem to view trips to the big city as occasions of culinary opulence. What a beautiful city! they crow. So much to do! So much to eat! I seem to be the only one wondering where people who actually live there forage and hunt. (To this day, I have yet to locate a single grocery store in Washington DC.) Airports and restaurants seem quite unaware that it is, in fact, possible to construct an entire meal that contains neither grains nor frankenfats nor heaps of fruit. Hotel management is so paranoid of lawsuits that you’re lucky to find a set of dumbbells in what I’ve come to call the “Fitless Center” with its never-ending stream of cardio-bunnies bounding righteously along on glorified hamster wheels.
Nevertheless, sometimes, one must travel. I just returned from a four-day jaunt to Chicago, where I spent my days at a professional conference. Here are my observations:
1. It is possible to locate salads — albeit anemic, low-protein, low-fat, unimaginative ones — in airport kiosks. However, they all come with sugar and soy/corn oil-laden dressing packs. I need to dream up some way to pack reasonably healthful salad dressings. Most likely, said dressings will need to be homemade. Leakproof. Safe at room temperature. And 3 oz or less. I’m open to suggestions.
2. Packing my own “paleo kits” was a lifesaver. In anticipation of inedible conference food, I packed a baggie of beef jerky, almonds, walnuts, macadamias, and a few home-dried apricots for each day of the trip. As the box lunches provided by the conference each contained at least as many carbs as I would normally consume over 3 entire days (mostly in the form of potato chips, sandwich rolls, and cookies), these paleo kits came in mighty useful. Next time, however, I’ll pack the jerky separate from the nuts and fruit, as they all decided to exchange moisture levels in the shared space, resulting in extra-tough jerky and slightly mushy nuts. Thanks to the conference breakfasts of fruit and fried burritos, I was also glad to have packed plenty of kippered herring and unsweetened coconut flakes.
3. The primal lifestyle makes one look rather hot in summery, business-casual dress, which has the useful side effect of enhancing networking capability. Play to your strengths.
4. Speaking of strengths, effective bodyweight workouts can be squeezed in among the ridiculous contraptions (read: ellipticals and bowflexes) the fill hotel Fitless Rooms. Bonus: free entertainment in the form of disbelieving expressions when you bang out more decline pushups, pistols, and renegade rows than any of the boys. For extra fun, surreptitiously post a notice above the stack of free Tribunes: WARNING — Working out while reading the newspaper makes you look like an unproductive idiot.
5. A few days of calorie restriction has its uses. My trip provided an interesting shakeup of my typical eating schedule. Instead of consuming my usual quantity of fuel during an 8-hour eating window, I instead consumed a reduced amount spread throughout the day. As a result, I returned home visibly leaner — albeit ready to plow through several pounds of steak without coming up for air.
There’s more, of course: Seek out greenbelts for sprinting, strategically apply a long run to drain glycogen stores if you do give in to a burger and fries, remember your supplements (including extra fish oil), keep your mouth shut about being paleo unless someone asks, focus on intellectual pursuits rather than obsessing about food, keep the bloody television off, etc.
But you know that stuff, right? Happy trails.