Category Archives: Business travel

When Hormones are Not Your Friend. Too much business travel and not enough sleep makes Pi’i UnhapPi’i. 

Six Weeks of Travel = An Increase in Cortisol, a hormone that is not your friend when eating clean and living healthy is a goal. 

Business travel is a privilege, not a burden. At least, that’s what I recite to myself when I my alarm goes off at 4:00am prompting me to stagger out the door, tumble into a cab (“no money, no honey”) and ride to LAX. I wrote those words to close out one of my last blog postings, 98 days ago. About a month ago, I wrote about receiving a box of costumes and a gi from Sensei Richard Rabago. The four year anniversary of his passing away is next week Tuesday. My body has crossed so many time zones and my heart has felt so many different emotions over these last several weeks that I can’t even think straight or process what I am feeling today.

At the beginning of 2016, I felt very healthy and stopped taking the blood pressure meds that my doctor has prescribed because of all the stress I took on with my job in 2015. My mindset had shifted to helping the company become positioned for a successful move instead of worrying about my personal career choice regarding Texas.  

I had completed a personal fitness challenge to do a 10K and half marathon back to back in one weekend, which resulted in a personal best time for a half marathon. 

One month after that, I passed my 2nd Kyu belt test in the dojo and began taking a more active role in teaching. All of that felt good and felt right. 

 And even though Uncle Randy’s health was up and down at the time, we were attending halau on a regular basis and that is also pono.

Today, in May, I feel unhealthy and off balance. Side effects that I am experiencing, lack of sleep and lack of exercise and a poor diet equal a few extra pounds have snuck onto my frame. All of my training for the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge resulted in a lean, fit physique and now, I’ve got a bit of fluff to shake off again. When I am diligent about eating clean, I have a much easier time sleeping. If one is not sleeping well, it creates a viscous cycle as the stress hormone cortisol builds up. Cortisol creates a “fight or flight” state within the body and increases one’s appetite. And, exhaustion means less motivation to exercise and less will power to eat clean. It also adds and more of a propensity to use sleeping pills or red wine to help with winding down before bedtime. Couple that with working in different time zones and not having easy access to clean, fresh snacks and BOOM! My okole grows once again. 

This cortisol rush all started when my Uncle/Godfather passed away unexpectedly. He went into the hospital experiencing pain, was prepped for emergency surgery and didn’t survive. My own heart broke and when I thought about what my cousins must have been feeling, it shattered into even smaller pieces. Talking to my mom was hard because I didn’t want her to worry about my tears, as she felt truly devastated. Uncle Ray was her little brother, the jokester who always filled the room with laughter. And he was my Godfather, which added to our relationship. I love his children like my own siblings, growing up with them shaped my entire childhood. After the funeral, my life would move in and out of suitcase for a month and half.
Sandwiched in between mundane and necessary trips to meetings in our office in Plano, I’ve ventured out to Oklahoma to play pai gow. And my Ninja Bear ran his first 5K as a birthday present to me in San Diego where we squeezed in a trip to the local casino before rushing off to a tiny karate tournament. 

The big highlight for this trip was seeing President Barack Obama as the keynote speaker at the APAICS Awards Gala dinner in Washington, D.C. Never mind that my company received a corporate award that evening, seeing POTUS speak live and in person, only 25 yards in front of me, that was a truly a once in a lifetime experience. He has been the President for my people. He built a diverse cabinet and pushed forward programs to help underserved communities. Now, he fights for immigration reform and true inclusion of the LGBT community.

Here is how he greeted the black tie crowd:

President Barack Obama is my president. He and his wife keep it real by singing and dancing (he cannot dance in his mom jeans) and living life as a happily married couple who love their children. 

POTUS was funny, direct and personable in a Presidential but I can still kick with you kind of way. 

I am in Week five of six straight weeks of business travel. My enthusiasm for work is waning. The announcement about my company moving to Texas happened two years ago. They made the announcement to all employees on April 28, 2014. Not the best way to celebrate a Birthday Eve. Anyway, a few of my work friends have retired, more of them have left the company and a couple of handfuls have already packed up their lives and moved to the Lone Star State. The office environment feels simultaneously tense and empty. Some of my colleagues are still agonizing over whether or not to move. I’m hearing that many people are asking my teammates if I am moving. I assume that people are asking behind my back they want my job, not because they care about me. And why wouldn’t they? I work in a fantastic position – direct communication to the senior most level of the company, decision making power on which non-profit organizations to sponsor, and I have responsibility to create an environment where all people have a voice and can thrive at work. 

After next week, we need to make some decisions about the dojo. Shortly after that, my Ninja Bear goes to court to move closer to finalizing his divorce. And I hope to sleep for more than 8 hours at a stretch. Clean eating and moving more will commence shortly thereafter. 


Early Mornings LAX to DFW. Do You, Travel Boo. My Five Tips. 

Today is my first trip to DFW in 2016. Since the announcement in 2014 that my company would be relocating all of the headquarters locations to Plano, TX, I’ve logged thousands of air miles between LAX and DFW. These miles are on top of the annual business trips to JFK, CVG and Washington, D.C. to speak at or attend conferences. I think I’ve got my routine down and can get the most sleep before heading to the airport at 5:00am. 

1  Pack only what you’ll need

2  You’ll need workout clothes 

3  Plan your airplane outfit 

4  Drink plenty of water 

5  Smile 

First of all, when I pack my clothes for a trip, I consider exactly what’s on my itinerary. For the most part, when I’m on a business trip to TX, every minute is scheduled. I don’t need to pack a cute outfit just in case I have an opportunity to check out a wine bar or lounge. Knowing my trip will consists of meetings and networking in offices or hotel ballrooms, I can focus my packing on that specific wardrobe.  Also, I have a travel toiletries bag and make-up case with all my necessities that I keep stocked at all times. Because of this, I don’t forget my toothbrush, favorite moisturizer, or perfume when I travel.  When I get home and unpack, I restock the toiletries bag so it is ready to go for my next trip. (Sometimes it takes several days for me to unpack but I get to it eventually.)  In addition, I always pack workout clothes and stay at a hotel property that has a 24 hour on-site fitness center.  The best cure for jet lag and most effective sleeping aid is rule #1 in the movie, “Zombieland.  That is cardio. And while I’m packing, I lay out my airplane travel clothes for the next morning.  It may seem a bit juvenile to lay out an outfit the night before but I promise you, it saves me five to ten minutes in the morning. Those five to ten minutes are relished under the covers instead of wasted staring bleery-eyed into my closet, trying to figure out what to wear. 

And when it comes to what to wear, I have a fairly standard uniform for flying if I am going straight from airport to business meeting.  Black slacks with stretch in the fabric, which translates to  no wrinkles and more comfort sitting on the plane.  On top, pullover knit tops  are a necessity.  Nicely pressed blouses never survive the crush of the airplane seatbelt. For a bit of professional polish, I wear a dress blazer and carry a coat that is appropriate for the weather in my destination.  During warmer months, I will just bring my cashmere pashmina on the plane, as it functions as a blankie or a scarf. Airplane temperatures fluctuate between sweltering and frozen so I always need an extra layer to stay warm.  For the ladies, if you wear shoes with a free standing heel, know that they will set off the metal detector. The heel has a small metal post inside, who knew?  That was a fun fact I learned in 2015.  For my footwear, I wear wedges or boots with low heels so I don’t need to remove them, even in the TSA pre-check line. Oh, and it goes without saying, if you travel often, apply to be PSA pre-check certified.  Because of this, I’m able to get through security in 10 minutes instead of 20 – 45.  Those extra minutes allow time to stop off for flight provisions. 

Which leads me to the next tip, stay hydrated.  Bring water and a snack for your time on the plane.  Delays happen and if you’re trapped in your seat with no water or food, that can really kill your mood. Also, cabin pressure changes may cause headaches and dehydration will only exacerbate that.  People sitting around you may be grouchy assholes when they travel but you don’t have to be. Of course, low blood sugar can really destroy a person’s day.  If my blood sugar is low, I can’t follow the most important tip for business travel, smile. 

You have no choice but to travel for work, make the most of it.  Being in a new city sets you up for new adventures.  Smile, live Aloha, and don’t f*ck up anyone else’s day just because you’re in a foul mood.  Also, if you’re flying on an airplane, you are blessed and privileged compared to so many people on this planet. And consider what a miracle of science and technology it is to board an airplane in one city and step off of the plane across the country. Be happy and understand that you’re lucky to be gainfully employed and your company trusts you enough to pay you to travel. 

Also, be sure to never forget to be nice to flight attendants.  They are highly trained professionals, charged with your safety during flights. Follow the rules, smile, and use your manners with both flight attendants and passengers alike. So often I see people boarding flights looking like they’re sucking on a lemon, rolling their eyes, and impatiently clicking their tongue as if they are the only ones who need to get to DFW or JFK. 

It is pretty simple:  Plan what you will you pack. Be comfortable and stay satiated on the plane. Cardio helps you sleep. Stay hydrated. Smile.  Oh, and pack your own entertainment. It might be a tablet with your favorite magazine or book downloaded.  Or perhaps you’re like me and enjoy listening to your friends chatting it up on podcasts. If you’re able to sleep on a plane, grab a neck pillow, ear plugs and a sleeping mask. Do you, Travel Boo. Business travel is a privilege, not a burden. At least, that’s what I say when my alarm goes off at 4:00am before I head to LAX for a work trip.