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Keeping up with the Healthiest Employer Challenge

It’s our second week of our Healthiest Employer Challenge and the Wellness Director is out for a conference!  While Wellness is part of my role, the other part of my role had to go to Austin, TX.  Hello great food, live music and moonshine!  However, going to a conference for days at a time, can make you the winner of the anti-healthy challenge.  Late nights and early mornings, long days sitting in meetings, hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, all-you-can-eat lunch buffets, unhealthy snacks at the snack breaks and did I mention moonshine? All of these make it really hard to stay on track.

Here are some tips to help you from going completely off the rails when you are out for a conference:

  1. When going to the complementary coffee bar in the early morning, skip the creamers and half and half, go for lower fat milk to save on calories.  See if you can’t ease back on the sweeteners as well.
  2. When you hit the breakfast buffet, don’t hit it so hard! Try to skip the bacon, sausage, and pastries.  Look for the eggs, fruit, oatmeal, and whole wheat/grain breads.  Before loading up, check to see when the snack breaks are.
  3. You may feel the need to re-hydrate in the morning.  Try to do it with water instead of juices.  I like to flavor my water with orange juice and get minimal calories versus drinking the whole glass of juice.
  4. At break times, try to walk around, stretch your legs and get some steps in.  Try to step outside for fresh air and to see the sun.  Look for the healthiest snack and ask yourself, are you really hungry or are you just bored?  Moving around can pep you back up without having to sugar yourself up.  Avoid the soft drinks!
  5. Scout out the lunch buffet before getting in line.  Plan your plate.  Buffet plates have a tendency to be larger plates,  If there is a wide rim around the outside of the plate, only place food on the inside of the plate, leaving the rim empty.  This helps you keep your portions down.  Typically the salad is the first item in the line, fill up half of your plate here and go easy on the dressings opting for oil and vinegar based dressing over creamy dressings.
  6. If your conference has the ever popular cocktail party before dinner, go easy.  For every other or better yet, every two trips to the bar, forgo the cocktail for a club soda with lemon or lime.  This helps to re-hydrate you and pace you for a long evening ahead.  Watch your hors d’oeuvres: look for the veggie tray, avoid the fried goodies that pass by you, and try to track how many you’ve had.  I keep the toothpicks, or grab a napkin with each to help keep track.
  7. Some of the best networking at conferences is when everyone goes out.  One thing I know for sure is the more cocktails I have the less concerned I am about eating healthy.  Avoid salty foods such as, chips and popcorn, you know the stuff the bars put out for you to eat – these make you not only thirsty but hungrier!  HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE – with water not soft drinks!  This will make the next morning’s wake-up call much easier to deal with!
  8. My steps this week were abysmal.  If you are at the airport, walk the whole terminal if you have time.  The airport is a great place to get steps.  There’s so much going on and you never know who you might run into!  Once you get to the conference, it is easy to just sit ALL DAY LONG!  Get up and move.  Take the steps instead of the elevator.  Roam around during breaks.  If you can, try to stand in the back of the room and stretch your legs.
  9. If there is a gym, hit it!  Even if it is for 20 minutes.  Hop on the treadmill and lift a few weights.  If there isn’t a gym, do jumping jacks in your room, a couple of push ups and crunches.  Get the blood pumping so you can be more focused.
  10. If you find you have had more Blind Mules (Moscow mules made with moonshine) than you care to admit, and are maybe feeling a little (or a lot) off your game, drink your caffeine, and suck down tons of water with lemon slices and try to figure out where it all went wrong.  We can beat ourselves up, or learn from it.  I tend to do a little of the former and a lot more of the latter.  Then make a plan for how to get back on track.

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