It’s a fact that most conferences don’t include gym sessions in the morning and strolls during lunch break, in their official programs. So how do you keep up good exercise habits and a healthy diet while at a conference? I’ll give you my best advice for any conference; just adjust the advice to whatever type of conference you’re visiting, no matter if it’s for a day, a weekend or a week. Through visiting a wide vary of conferences the past couple of years, I’ve gotten quite a lot of experience on the health perspectives on what to do at conferences.
The first you need to do is planning what opportunities you’re going to get. Ask yourself questions, write down the essential answers you find and make action of what you need to bring with you to reach your goals. Ask yourself questions like these;
- How does the program look? Is there long breaks, do you start early in the morning, do you have some free time and so on?
- Where can I fit in exercise? Can I wake up early to take a run, are there some afternoon hours to spare or free evenings?
When you find out whether you have time for long gym sessions or not, start checking out parks, local gyms with drop-in tickets, hotels and so on in the area that might be an alternative for you. E.G find a nearby park for a morning run, and a gym cooperating with your gym at home (reduced drop-in price and such).
When planning on how to keep up a healthy diet, ask yourself questions like these;
- What sort of food do you get served? Are meals included in the conference or do you buy it yourself?
- What are you going to do when exposed for unhealthy foods? How big a portion can you allow yourself, and how often?
- Do you want to swap some of meals you can get served to your own ones?
Basically, if you know a bit about what type of food the arraigners typically serve, this part isn’t very hard (if you’re not sure what you’ll be served, just go ahead and ask for it). What I do is to first think through the served options, and add my own alternatives when I feel that they will be better. E.G if you feel like the breakfasts will be great but lunches will probably be crap, bring some food with you for lunch. Also, whether the served options are awesome or crap, my experience is that it’s smart to always bring something for when it’s long between meals, when the arraigners all of a sudden decide on serving pizza for lunch, to little protein in meals, lack of vegetable and so on. This is for me food like protein bars, mixed natural nuts, snack carrots and bananas. (And I always bring some bags of green tea with me. No way out!)
Once you have a plan for exercise and food, it will be much easier to have control over what you consume and how much you work out. Make a plan that can be adjusted on the way though; the conferences tend to swap some posts on the program now and then. Prepare for what parts of your plan are very safe (like morning runs and serving of your favorite healthy breakfast), and leave in options where you are more uncertain (like durations of lunch breaks and what you’ll get for dinner).
When it comes to exercise, as always you need to MAKE time to exercise, you don’t usually get it for “free”. Yes, maybe you do have to get up an hour earlier to run or visit the gym, use half your lunch break to take a walk and skip a couple of night-out hours to take that lifting session you planned on. Myself, I participate in some of the social agenda after the formal parts of the conference, but it’s very much allowed to skip that night out for the dumbbells. Promise. You’ll even wake up in a better state the next day than those who had a lot to drink and two kebabs. And really, skipping those people who’re going out for pizza for a table at a healthier restaurant; you’ll be thanked by your body.
Get moving in breaks. Ten minute breaks to lunch breaks; it doesn’t matter as long as you get moving. Take a stroll and get hydrated on water. Bring your coffee with you outside the building. Maybe someone joins, maybe not; I’ve had both plenty of times.
No matter the situation or conference; make health a wanted priority, not a punishment. It’s not bad sitting for hours at a cool conference where you feel like you learn and accomplish something, as long as you hit the gym during your conference-stay as well!