Eating healthy and staying fit is hard enough for people with regular, daily routines. But when you travel more than 150 days a year, like the Today show's Investigative Correspondent Jeff Rossen, healthy habits are constantly upended. After seven years on the road for NBC's Today, Rossen found himself overweight, physically tired, and less mentally sharp. To turn his habits around, he recruited health and fitness correspondent Jenna Wolfe and built a schedule and diet that were more that would work better for his lifestyle. Six weeks and 14 pounds later, Rossen feels like a new man. "This is the kick in the butt that I need," Rossen says. "I feel so good about it, and success breeds success, so I’m keeping it going." Here are some of the lessons he's learned from his fast turnaround.
1. You don't need a gym.
Rossen's workout routine is filled with jumping jacks, planks, butt-kickers, high knees, and other moves that don't require any equipment, or even a gym. "I'm not a huge fan of the official going-to-the-gym thing, so I'm very into these exercises that I do right in my own hotel room," Rossen says. Three days a week for thirty minutes, he uses a pyramid method, which starts with a high number of reps and trickles down in increments of 10 (40 butt kickers, 30 jumping jacks, and so on) that keep his heart rate up without ever having to leave the hotel room. "That's the beauty. You can do it literally everywhere," he says.
2. Negotiate with the menu.
There's no home cooked meals on the road and healthy food choices are minimal. That doesn't mean you need to skip meals or choose only salads or protein shakes. "I know myself and if it was like cold turkey on all the stuff I loved, what's the point of living? So it's a matter of amending what you love and figuring out the workable solutions while still satisfying yourself." For him, that means ordering his favorite meal, chicken parmesan, with grilled chicken instead of fried, or ordering a sandwich and taking off the top piece of bread. Those small adjustments shave off tons of calories.
3. Drink water.
The first thing Rossen does every morning is put a little water bottle next to his bed so he doesn't forget to take it with him to stay hydrated throughout the day. He also tricks his body into thinking it's full by drinking water within 30 minutes of every meal.
4. Fitting it in to the schedule
Traveling for work doesn't leave free time for poolside fun. It's not a relaxing getaway; it's work, after all. Being busy, being away from home, not having enough time are all excuses an avid business traveler can make to relinquish the responsibility of staying healthy, so staying mentally motivated is part of Rossen's success. Rossen also uses simple methods to help him even when he's not thinking about working out, including a pedometer with a goal of 10,000 steps-per-day (approximately five miles). Rossen even does his hotel room workout while conducting business. "I can be on a conference call. I can be talking to my producer in New York while I'm doing these exercises if they don't mind heavy breathing," he says.
5. Don't eat carbs after breakfast
Before the lifestyle change, Rossen used to skip breakfast. After he was told how unhealthy it is to bypass the first meal of the day, in the morning he started eating egg whites with either rye or whole wheat toast, or some yogurt and a piece of fruit. After that, it's minimal-to-no carbs for lunch and a carb-free dinner, which Rossen always starts with a salad served with one tablespoon of dressing on the side and then protein. "At dinner I just have basically unlimited protein. I have a lot of grilled chicken, I can have steak, I can have lamb chops, but protein, protein, protein for dinner," he says.