Musings on Business Travel Insanity, Health, and Well-Being

It has been far too long since my last post here at saiklr, entirely attributed to a swift ramp-up of business travel in the early part of 2022. This led to literally no additional free time to work on the site, as the work-life balance was far more important to focus on family rather than writing. As a result of a varying degree and combination of work mission requirements and ill-considered decisions, I am in a much different place today than fifteen months ago.

Let me begin with the easiest component of the madness: overseas business air travel. The volume of flying I endured in 2022 was utterly insane. I use TripIt to catalog my travels, and here are the full stats for last year. I only traveled between Apr and Nov 2022.

Total Air Distance 174,971 km (108,721 miles)
Total Trips 14
Total Days 118
Countries Visited 11
Cities Visited 32

Those eleven countries were across Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. Places such as Australia, United Kingdom, Qatar, Philippines, Singapore, United Arab Emirates (Dubai), and more. Of the huge territory I cover, about the only geographical area I missed was Africa. There was an event in Johannesburg, South Africa but I was unable to travel due to other business commitments.

The fourteen countries visited do not really tell the full story. There are 243 days between Apr 1 and Nov 30, and I was traveling for 118 of them. That translates to being away from home for just about half the time from Apr to Nov. Better said, essentially two weeks out of every month I was abroad; away from family, pups, and cycling. In some cases, I was home only for 24-ish hours before getting right back on a long-haul international flight.

Pure. Unadulterated. Insanity.

Although my most recent post prior to this was Sep 23, 2021, I continued to cycle quite regularly and ended up even pushing myself harder. In the early part of 2022 I enrolled in a local gym, and was hitting it three days a week - Mon, Wed, & Fri - with a personal trainer guiding me on a bespoke training regimen. Not only was I working out more often than ever before, I even started dieting to a certain degree, watching my calorie intake like a hawk stalking an oblivious rabbit.

Professional body builder DVTraining (@DVTraining)

Instagram; @VisualsByRoyalZ
Photo by Anastase Maragos / Unsplash

If only I had guns like the dude in this picture! 😂 Maybe one day!

This overwhelmingly healthy and active lifestyle culminated in Apr 2022 when I was in likely the best shape of my life since I was in the Navy in the 90's, potentially even better than that decade. My first post-COVID business trip was to Australia, where I met-up with two colleagues, and we cycled along the Northern Beaches in Sydney. I borrowed a loaner road bike from one colleague, and we did about 60km round-trip through the beautiful mountains, surrounded by lovely oceanic views.

Unfortunately that is where the good news ends, and a complete and abhorrent reversal began after twenty-five months of comforting silence.

The company I work for announced a major marketing event amounting to a "world tour" of sorts, requiring me to keynote speak in various cities around Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. I was catapulted into the arguably regrettable position of fourteen trips commencing in Apr onward. Even though I enjoyed the prospect of travel, and meeting some colleagues face-to-face who I had only ever worked with virtually, I did not thoroughly consider the forthcoming consequences.

Notwithstanding highly chaotic schedules when visiting abroad, the travel and opportunity to connect was nothing short of amazing. It was an absolute pleasure to meet old friends, and make new ones. However, the frenetic agenda has taken an obvious adverse toll on my health, stress & motivation level, and overall well-being.

This is of course through no fault but my own. One thousand percent this is a product of my own doing. I absolutely could have been in the hotel gym every morning, doing some level of workout to semi-counteract the horrible diet and lack of exercise while traveling. Instead, I opted to indulge in excessive alcohol consumption, and dining on exquisite food loaded with high calorie content ingredients and additives.

I totally own this fucked up state I have put on my body and health.

Before anyone asks, thankfully there is no health crisis. I am not experiencing any medical conditions requiring treatment. Merely, I recognize having engaged in horrible health behaviors across the last year plus placing someone in my age bracket at higher than necessary risk.

Photo by Alessio Soggetti / Unsplash

Prior to travel I was cycling at least 180km every week, often times even when it was lightly raining. It was amazing to hit the tarmac, feel the wind hitting my face while burning massive amounts of calories. Deep breaths of crisp morning air liberated my anguishing mind from senseless daily work anxiety. I will not go so far as to say I felt like Superman, but it was an incredible time in my life.

Once travel commenced, I was lucky if I was on the ground in Tokyo for more than one or two days. Even the times I was back for a week, I was thoroughly exhausted and needed the sleep just to make-up for what I missed while overseas. Even though I am used to traveling, I never get really good sleep on business travel. There were sporadic days where I managed rides at home, but those were huge exceptions rather than the rule.

I honestly even tried to use the hotel gyms for riding. There is a huge inconsistency in hotel gym equipment. Some had standard stationary bikes, others had older or newer gear, and one or two even had Zwift-like setups. Unfortunately I could not get into a groove of riding indoors, no matter the situation nor how much I tried to talk myself into getting my ass into the gym.

Outside of the obvious fitness component, one of the attractions I have to cycling is being outdoors and breathing in the fresh air, even in the middle of summer. Seeing a change of scenery, stopping to take a picture at any given instant, is another huge reason I enjoy riding. Hotel gyms have nothing in common with outdoor cycling other than just moving my legs and feet in circles.

I find no satisfaction nor fun riding indoors. Although I have attempted it on multiple occasions, stationary bicycles are tormenting and cause me more stress than they solve. The prospect of it is a quite demotivating.

Listening to podcasts, watching TV shows or movies on Netflix - none of it was enough to take my mind off the agony of riding indoors. It just ain't my thing.

That all probably sounds like an excuse more than anything, and looking back on it I absolutely recognize the absurdity of the commentary. Quite frankly, it is the honest truth. This is apparently a mental block I need to determine how to overcome, especially since I need to travel a lot, and often, for work.

No longer am I some youngster capable of recklessly coasting on fast food and sugary carbonated beverages. I am an old fart, and my body needs active quality maintenance and upkeep to be - stay? - a well oiled machine. Otherwise, it will fail much sooner than desired.

Health is paramount for obvious reasons, and solving this dilemma is essential. It is crucial I remain healthy so I can adequately take care of my family.

This brings me to Jun 2023, where I am sitting in a swanky Dubai hotel room while on yet another overseas business trip. The week has been hectic, handling a myriad of remote calls with APJ colleagues and customers, while balancing face-to-face meetings with Dubai-based customers and co-workers. I have been quite lucky with travel accommodations, but the room I am sitting in has the most therapeutic view of the Persian Gulf I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy.

Do Something Great
Photo by Clark Tibbs / Unsplash

While sitting outside on the balcony in 46c/115f dry heat, overlooking the captivating ocean in all its deep blue glory, I hatched a very simple idea. While contemplating the initial thought, and then subsequently internally debating with myself and iterating on the idea, I decided even some minimal form of therapy is an optimal remedy to motivate myself to reconcile this whack situation.

I opened the rickety wooden door to my futuristic dystopian server farm, and dusted years old cobwebs off the saiklr web site. Like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, these pages will reign supreme yet again.

I opted for this route in an attempt to galvanize some much needed mental momentum. This is a fairly low effort, high reward route in a much broader strategy of piecing the broken health and well-being puzzle back together

Like with addiction, the all important first step is admitting to yourself there is a problem. While months ago I conceded this course unsustainable, I have taken almost no measures to rectify the untenable situation.

That is definitely not good.

Today it all changes.

Although I am on business travel, and indulging in excessive alcohol drinking, consuming unhealthy food, and eating much later than I prefer, the transition back to a healthy life style begins today.

Fuck this, I cannot continue to live this way and remain happy with myself. Life is exceedingly unpredictable and random. My current lifestyle includes far too many potentially negative variables into an already precarious situation since I am an old codger.

I will use saiklr twofold, maybe threefold:

  1. Writing will act as a form of therapy, to help me discuss nagging health or well-being concerns, banging on the keyboard as a means of launching stress bombs
  2. Motivate me to get on my beloved Red Chameleon and head out for daily rides while I am home in Tokyo, to the maximum extent outside forces prevent me from doing so - ie. rain, typhoon, work commitments, etc
  3. Cataloging the various pictures I take while cycling along my standard route, as well as additional locations I ride. Since I am traveling so often, I will make a best effort to post some quick snippets and pictures of the "exotic" locations I visit

Life is short, and I need to immediately execute this simplistic yet critical plan. I have to start somewhere, and this seems to be a solid but easy way to build internal mental goodwill.

I have pledged to start today, and will absolutely take measures tonight Dubai time. As soon as I possibly can, I will post an update, in particular when I get back on Red Chameleon and head out for a morning ride.

Photo by Nuno Ricardo / Unsplash

Once again, I have not been diagnosed with any medical conditions by a medical doctor. This is just me recognizing shit ain't right with the way I have been living the last fifteen months.

No need to text me asking "are you okay" or "wtf bro?" because I am fine. There is no need to worry or be concerned.

If you have read through all 1900-ish words, thank you very much. Time to commence a new life chapter leading back to that healthy lifestyle I was enjoying in Apr 2022.

Peace out!

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