Hot nuts, Diet Coke with lime, and why I miss Ted….

For the first time ever I think I’m slowly starting to dread travel, and amazingly enough it has nothing to do with the travel experience as such. Yes, I still love getting up at 3:30AM to catch a flight, standing in long security lines, listening to redundant announcements, and watching the same snippet of “short subject programming” aboard a flight over and over and over.

Instead I’m dreading the things I used to love most about the “premium” travel experience — warm cookies and hot nuts in first class, the controversial mystery omelet on breakfast flights, the “gold foil” snack mix, the cheese wedges in the Red Carpet Club, and of course the new Pepperidge Farm cookies United has. Heck, I’m even starting to dread the Lufthansa Senator Lounge at Dulles.

I’ve been working out every single day (without exception) and eating healthy (for the most part) for well over a month now, and I feel great. Not that I didn’t feel well before, but I’m really enjoying my daily trip to the gym and overall healthier life. Anyway, what has made this so easy is that I haven’t done a whole lot of travel in the past month, and therefore it has been easy for me to eat healthy and get a workout routine down.

As many of you may remember I’m thinking about going to the “Up in the Air” pre-screening in San Francisco this week, and I still haven’t made up my mind. In the past I wouldn’t have thought twice about it, but since this would mean almost four days in a row of flying, I’m starting to look at it a bit differently — will I have time to work out every day during my travels? Do I really want to be tempted by all those hot nuts and warm cookies? Isn’t it easier just to stay home, work out, and eat healthy?

Sorry, it’s just tough to eat healthy and work out on the road. It’s not that bad when you do 25,000 miles a year, but when you do nearly ten times that it’s tough, in my opinion. Oh, and Coke has officially cut their paid sponsorship of my promotion of Diet Coke with lime, so expect to see a lot more airplane pictures involving water as my beverage of choice. 😉

And lastly, you might be wondering why I miss Ted, as the title suggests. Well, one thing I always whined about with Ted was that I wasn’t getting fed at the beginning of every trip thanks to the lack of first class. Well, now TPA is basically all mainline, which means first class is back. And that means I have the choice of an omelet or fruit plate. And I’m a sucker for the omelet, but it sure as hell isn’t healthy, so….

Filed Under: Travel
  1. What’s wrong with drinking diet coke with lime if you’re trying to be healthy? No calories or carbs so you aren’t going to gain weight from it.

  2. @ Iceman — It’s not just about losing weight but also about being healthier in general. If it has no nutritional content and isn’t clear, I have my doubts. I continue to drink maybe one can of Diet Coke a day, but that’s substantially less than in the past.

  3. BEN,
    if you like we can plan MR together to see the film and we can enjoy delicious meal together.i know its not as good as CO.i’m kinda excited to do that if your up for it.


  4. Ben – The movie “Up in the Air” is based on the book of the same name. I’m guessing the author is a big fan of mileage running, or finds it very interesting. Instead of flying cross country to see a movie you can wait a week to see, pick up the book – it’s much more likely to dive into the details of the main character’s mileage running. There’s just no time to do this in a movie.

  5. I’ve been lurking on your blog for a while (hit it when searching for something about United a while back and then added it to my feed reader). I fly often – not as much as you – but enough to qualify for 1K this year. I also lost 100 pounds in 6 months this year.

    Anyway, I’m with you about the difficulty of finding good food while sitting in first class on United. Or flying at all. Healthy, lean food doesn’t travel well, so airlines aren’t likely to give it.

    A few suggestions:

    * Check out this article: (It’s overwhelmingly snarky, but still good info)
    * Find a snack bar you like (I like Luna bars and Zbars) and bring at least 2 per day for when you travel.
    * Carry on fruit, get fruit once you get to where you’re staying.
    * Pick two of the nuts in the warm nut package you like and pick around the rest. I eat the macadamia nuts and the cashews and skip the walnuts.
    * Select a special meal and call when your upgrade is confirmed to make sure it’s loaded (I started this thread:

    Good luck in your quest to be healthier!

  6. matt,

    I agree with you,great post!
    just to add, i do cardio/treadmill at the hotel while doing MR so it balance out right.

  7. Ben, let me recommend club soda with lime as an alternative to Diet Coke that’s still more interesting to drink than water. Also, it won’t keep you awake, if thats’ an issue.

  8. When you are in San Francisco for the pre-screening, be careful not to say how much you like hot nuts while in public., especially if you are carrying a diet soda.

  9. I was amazed when Michael Pollan pointed out the several corn based products in Diet Coke. I’m guessing Zero is better but I see a corn based item listed. looking more like sparkling bottled water for me, too but I can feel good about the avoidance of corn. SF is cold @ night now.

  10. Try non-MR business travel… fly on across the continent on connecting flights, work 12 hours for 5 days, then fly home, only to rinse-lather-repeat….

  11. I used to drink lots of Diet Coke years ago, but I gave it up, and I feel much better not having all that artificial sweetner in my system. I mainly drink water and a few cups of tea a day, but water is my primary drink. With regards to working out, I usually give it up when I travel, but I usually am fairly active and walking a lot in the cities which I visit anyways. Upon returning from a long overseas trip, I wait a few day to adjust to the time, and then I start up my workout routine again. You should also allow for some down time between workout say take one day off after three days of workouts so as to allow your body a rest and to recuperate. Otherwise, your muscles can become overworked, and you may end up with an injury.

  12. I’m really surprised it’s taken you this long before you’ve started feeling the effects of burnout. I wouldn’t wish the amount of flying you do on anyone. I made EXP back in August and since then. it’s been a bare minimum of flying for me. There’s only so much airline food and lack of exercise I can take. It gets to be too much after a while… and I’m probably flying a third of the miles you are in a year. The lustre wears off in a hurry.

  13. The most unexpected thing I read in wanaflyforless’s 100K BIS in 3 weeks was his priority of working the exercise into the flight and sleep schedule.

    As a “light” traveler, but one who values exercise, it hadn’t occurred to me the lack of exercise many heavy flyers experience.

    Glad to hear you are getting your exercise and it’s making you feel better.

  14. Working out on the go:

    – Body weight squats
    – Lunges
    – Jog in place
    – Crunches (not airport friendly)
    – Seated reverse crunches (sit at the edge of a chair with your feet fully extended, then pull yours knees to your chest)
    Upper body:
    – push ups (not airport friendly)
    – chair dips (put your hands at the edge of a chair with your feet way out in front, and dip yourself down)
    – rollaboard rows (rest on hand on a chair, bending at the waist with the back flat, row your rollaboard from the ground to the hip with the other hand)

    There you go. You can workout while you wait in line if you want.

  15. Congrats on cutting the Diet Coke down to one can a day. It really is a challenge! As you probably know the aspartame is the real danger. If you can switch to water I suspect you’ll be very pleased with the results: weight loss and fewer headaches, better memory and mental clarity. Hopefully if enough consumers boycott this poison the drink companies will stop using it. Good luck!

  16. Congrats on sticking to the exercise plan…unless you’re on of those rare individuals who truly enjoys exercise, as someone who went from 300 pounds to 185 (and have kept it off for years), I know it’s not easy!

    A few suggestions:

    * I’d avoid making Luna bars, or any bar that uses soy protein, a staple in your diet – there’s a growing body of evidence that suggests younger men should not eat large amounts of soy, as it contains isoflavones that can mimic estrogen and could affect hormonal balance in men. Jury’s still out on what level of soy intake could lead to these problems, but personally I err on the safe side and avoid soy for the most part. (That said, there’s no evidence that infrequent use of soy leads to any testosterone issues, so don’t be paranoid about it either.)

    Unless you’re lactose-intolerant, there are plenty of bars that use whey or casein protein (or a blend of the two) that will do the trick.

    * Nothing wrong with eating the nuts, as long as you do it in moderation – one of the little servings of hot nuts in FC a day should be fine. Nuts give you a good service of protein and heart-healthy fats.

    * I wouldn’t worry about the Diet Coke too much, the general consensus at this point is that aspartame, in typical consumption quantities, is safe. That said, it is a documented migraine trigger in some individuals. I drink…rather a lot of diet soda, and have no problems with headaches, etc. The charge that aspartame causes insulin resistance (and thus could lead to weight gain) has not been substantiated. (There are aspartame-free diet colas – Pepsi One and Diet Coke with Splenda – as well.)

    * Working out is the key, though, and that’s where your hotel choices are critical…a good workout room will really help you stay on track, although I’d point out that working out every single day, in the long run, is considered excessive, so planning the occasional “off day” or two to coincide with travel days shouldn’t affect your overall results and will help avoid problems with tendons, ligaments, etc.

  17. @Craig, you apparently don’t believe in erring on the side of caution when it comes to artificial sweeteners but do with soy. Seems inconsistent.

    @Lucky, I would recommend fruit bars like the Nectar bars from CLIFF. Being a vegetarian, I took a whole bunch of those while visiting Japan. As the Japanese do not understand the concept of vegetarianism.

    But I agree with someone else’s recommendation on eating fruits. I prefer bananas.

    I also prefer to be more self reliant then to depend on finding the “right” hotel for working out. You can do simple things like push-ups, sit-ups or crunches, or some yoga poses (asanas). But as someone else pointed out, walking and using stairs can be good substitutes.

    As for the hot nuts, eat the walnuts and almonds, leave the rest. Walnuts can be a good source for OMEGA-3’s and almonds supposedly help increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind). As for the salt, drink plenty of water 🙂

    Artificial sweeteners I avoid like the plague. If you need a sweetener, use a natural sweetener like Stevia, the Japanese and the South Americans have been using it for a long time. The FDA is in bed with industry when it comes to things like artificial sweeteners and flavor enhancers (like MSG). They are the “safest” thing in the world according to them.

    In most cases, if the ingredient list on the product you are about to consume takes up half the wrapper, it is most likely bad for your health.

    Anyway, you can stay without “protein” on the flight. Best to eat fresh once off the plane. Your body does not require vast amounts of protein unless you want to build muscle mass while sleeping in C but then you may end up visiting the bathroom often 😉

  18. Lucky,

    You are a young man. Enjoy your life, your travel, your cookies, your omelets and your hot nuts. In moderation. Every other flight? Every third flight?

    When your age (I believe) doubles and you’re almost as old as I am, that’s the time to pass on the wrapped brownies.

    Do the gym in moderation too. You’ll be healthier not only physically, but mentally as well. “No I Can’t” taken in too many large doses tends to have opposite of the intended effect in the long run.

    I love your blog. It always makes my day.

  19. Lucky-

    Spending a lot of time (seated) on an airplane can make it difficult to get the right amount of exercise. I don’t do MR’s, so most of my travel isn’t “optional”; it’s either for work or for vacation.

    What I have found:
    #1: Wanting to exercise and following through on that is key. That’s more than half the battle.
    #2: Always pack (minimal) exercise stuff. I always carry everything on, but it is my priority to always have running shoes, running shorts (which double for bathing suit), and wick-dry t-shirt, exercise socks & head band. This all fits in my carry on with all my other stuff. My flight are generally in the early afternoon (when I leave), so I try to exercise at home before getting on mainland-bound flights. I stay at a chain that generally has reasonable exercise equipment (Hiltons, etc). Also, I try to find good, safe place near by my hotels in which to go running. Just like when at home, I have to work to make my exercise fit into the day. Generally I succeed, but one can’t always be 100%.
    #3: On the plane, I stick to drinking water, black coffee/tea, & wine, I avoid eating (very many) fatty foods (like someone posted about picking around the nuts). I generally order a special meal (Hindu or low-fat/low colest. or similar). I avoid the deserts (but will sometimes indulge in a fresh cookie). I don’t eat the rolls & butter. I do eat the salads, and I avoid the creamy dressings (ask for a leamon for the juice sometimes).
    #4: Just because food is available doesn’t mean you have to eat it (e.g., they are serving another meal, or there are lots of goodies at the IFL or RCC). This one is maybe the hardest!

    So, don’t avoid travel, but try to arrange your flights/stays/days to incorporate some exercise. And watch what you eat!

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