Energy Ground Rules For The Road
When you mean business, you're traveling regularly. Conferences, seminars, speaking opportunities, learning experiences: they all contribute to you and your businesses' growth.
Especially when you're a travelling author/speaker, event organizer or musician, moving around the world while performing is extremely demanding for the body.
For 11 years I was the European Coordinator of 's worlds best large jazz ensemble, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra in New York. Touring with them over the years gave me a lot of insights regarding the energy it takes to be on top of your game as a high performer.
But this week, I joined the Christiane McBride Big Band (a fast raising star in the jazz scene), when they hit Amsterdam for a killin' concert. It was an opportunity to be united for 2 days with my boyfriend who is playing with them.
Of course, there's always a lot of "hanging" backstage during days like these, inside stories about jazz legends, joking around, but also sharing the challenges of the road.
"Man, I can't believe how jet lagged I still am!" one of the musicians said while we were driving to the venue.
Another one said how it helped him to stay on "New York time" as much as possible. Meaning: he stayed up most of the night and was sleeping during the day until show time.
Not very effective when you have to be on point in a masterclass in the middle of that day.
So I shared the most valuable tactic to switch to the local time of their destination as soon as they hit the ground...
"Travel light." They were delighted. I'll explain it below.
My own experiences with crossing time zones, showing up rested and energized on the other side of the ocean after 24 hours of traveling, have taught me a few essential ground rules that inspired many high performing world travellers.
But I was pleasantly surprised by a few ground rules from one of the cats himself during my short stay with him and that may serve you, when you're on the go for your business.
Since my boyfriend switched to a living plant based lifestyle, he influenced many fellow musicians to go that route, too. The manager of this band for instance who went all the way.
So what happened? Before show time, we got a bunch of lovely, healthy, uncooked plant based options as it's now included in the contract for catering.
"This is only for the raw vegans!" the manager announced laughing while "protecting" the healthy section with his arms.
Too late: most musicians already robbed the big bowl of heavenly prepared guacamole and salad.
That's what happens when you put healthy options on the table. Everyone wants them!
We scraped down the bowl for a few last spoons of goodness.
Earlier that day we were looking for a salad in the restaurant. "Actually, I'm not that hungry yet" I said. I still felt satisfied from the box of plant based sushi's I brought from home and shared the evening before. But that's when my boyfriend shared his...
GROUND RULE N° 1
"Eat when you can! You will never know when you have a next opportunity to find food or have time to sit down and eat. It may take a full day or even 36 hours before you have that next chance on the road! You never know what will happen next."
And well yes, traveling is jazz. You may have to improvise out of the blue.
I'm sure you know that many events happen in hotels in the middle of nowhere. That's where we were too: stuck in an airport hotel 30 minutes away from the city and with only so much time left until the lobby call.
I even remember a hotel in Miami once without any healthy options at all and I survived the event for 3 days on juices only from a Starbucks nearby.
So we sat down and ordered a big salad.
The thing though was: the waiter didn't understand what we wanted when we explained to her that we wanted a big bowl with mixed raw vegetables.
She kept pointing to the menu and repeated in broken English: "This is what we have."
Her finger was on a salad with grilled vegetables. She didn't "get" it.
That's when he shared...
GROUND RULE N° 2
"Don't sweat the small stuff. These are all vegetables. You're not eating a steak." And he was right. Sometimes, things aren't perfect when you're on the move. But close enough to be good.
Just get as close as possible to what you consider as ideal when the circumstances are not.
A small plate -size "starter"- was served with a few fluffy mixed lettuces on a bed of grilled egg plant, bell peppers, onion and zucchini with a tomato coulis. Lovely, but not exactly the size that would keep one going until the evening or the next day.
So we ordered one more.
That's the other thing... you can always ask for more when you doubt it will be enough to keep you energized for a longer time.
GROUND RULE N° 3
"Rest when you can" my boyfriend said when he felt sleepy and I protested against a nap. And he was right again.
The body needs rest to restore from the combination of long distance travels and high performance or full focus.
And you have to take that rest before you need it, not when you feel like crashing.
Even though they were crossing Europe on coach buses with sleep bunks, their metabolism was disturbed by sluggish digestion and jet lag, late performances and long drives from country to country.
The unexpected came up: that night they would "hit and run" instead of sleeping another night in the room. Meaning: play the concert, go back to the hotel, pick up their luggage and go! A 12 hour travel was lying ahead of them, to the South of France.
So what these cats do on the road is... take cat naps to refuel as much as they can, whenever they can.
Moreover because from here on, they're traveling to a different country every day, have a sound check almost immediately and perform every evening.
I must say that when I caught these 3 ground rules for the road in between the lines of these two days together, I was impressed by their effective simplicity.
Now let me add my ground rule for the air that will help you to switch to local time zones:
If you want to feel light, you have to travel light. Not just your luggage has to be on point to easily move on, but your body has to be too. Here's how to avoid or even eliminate your jet lag:
1. FAST ON WATER DURING FLYING
When you're crossing time zones between the US and Europe, simply count 16 hours back from the moment you'll arrive at your destination and start drinking water only.
When you're in the air, your digestive system stops working. You simply can't digest the food you're consuming in the air. Especially not the crappy airline meals.
This means that your body still has to digest when you land, consuming all of your energy. It takes days to recover from that.
When you only drink loads of water every time you feel hungry, you will stay well hydrated (dehydration is another big cause of losing energy and slowing down) and keep all your energy to yourself.
As soon as you land (mostly around breakfast or lunch time) have your first light meal in the right time frame at your destination and your metabolism will pick up quickly.
2. KEEP IT LIGHT ON THE ROAD
Eat as light as possible when you travel. Skip heavy meat, don't scoop heavy starches with proteins and sugars on to one plate.
Instead eat more fruits as a meal, eat more raw, slightly grilled or steamed vegetables, as much as you need.
The lighter you eat, the more energy you will have to show up at your best when pressure is high.
3. TRAVEL ON INTERMITTING FASTING
I love intermitting fasting, especially on the road because it gives you a structure and lots of energy:
⤞ Only drink water and tea in the morning until 12PM.
⤞ Eat solid foods (fruits as separate meals and vegetables) between 12PM and 8PM.
⤞ Stop eating at 8PM because that's when your digestive system is going to sleep. When you're hungry, drink water or tea.