As I make my way through yet another after an almost 6 hour flight to the West Coast, I think to myself…”How do people make a living doing this?!?” Jet lag can cripple even the most ambitious traveler and make the first day at the new destination feel like a blur…if you let it that is! As the physical therapist for the New York Mets for three seasons, I knew a bit about traveling and overcoming road weariness.
Traveling with the team, we would often play 10 games or so on the road on an average trip. Three or four games in each city, which meant land, spend a day, pack and leave the next day. These trips could take us through 3-4 time zones and often times have the built in inherent stress of the pressure to win thrown in as well…just for good measure.
Developing The Cure For Jet Lag
That said, I quickly developed a technique for almost instantly overcoming the typical jet lag that would undercut the ordinary traveler! It came in the form of exercise and my watch!
The technique was developed more out of necessity than anything else. The fact that we had 162 games in roughly 180 days meant that I needed to be at my best to help the players physically endure the long haul (considering they had to actually PLAY the games as well!). So what I did was this.
I ate my meals as normal (spread out over every 3 hours) during the time leading up to my flight. As soon as we boarded our plane, I now started to think about how I could quickly and easily adapt that to our destination. So if, for example, we were flying to Arizona from New York after an afternoon game….I would eat a normal breakfast, mid morning snack, and lunch.
After the game was over at say 4:00 EST, I would grab something smaller than usual for a snack knowing that when I got to the West Coast I still was going to have a lot of eating left to do! I’d keep my watch set on East Coast time…so I always had a frame of reference for the schedule that my body was operating on when I left.
Seeing as how the flight was one of those 5 hour beauties, I knew I would have to eat something again to tide me over. Again, I’d do that at about the 3 hour mark of the flight (which put it conveniently in line with the last meal I had back East), but again…I ate a bit smaller portion.
I would say that TOGETHER these two meals (the one after the game and the mid flight one) combined to equal what I normally would have for a mid afternoon snack. Then, when we would land at around 10 to 11 PM EST (7 to 10 local time) I would act as if it was the perfect time for dinner. Which it was…at my new destination.
Sticking To A Plan
So by sticking to a plan for regular eating and meal timing (but extending it out through slightly smaller meals) and then bringing it all back together to blend into the new schedule for my destination, I was able to seamlessly make the transition with my metabolism undisturbed. Key to FEELING your best during the type of hectic globe trotting.
Finally, the next morning…regardless of the time that we arrived the night before, I would get up at around 7:00 am local time and head to the gym. Now, I don’t normally work out this early in the morning as I prefer instead to hit the gym later in the day.
But what this did was release post exercise endorphins which counteracted any “hangover” feeling that I might have had and reliably reset my body from another angle. Metabolism…check. Energy levels….check. Muscle strength and function….check. Yet another safe landing!
So try this one two combo the next time you fly and see if it doesn’t help you to finally overcome the debilitating effect that jet lag can have on your travel experiences. Whether there for business or leisure, you’ll enjoy yourself a heckuva lot more if you can actually remain upright and awake to soak it all in.
P.S. Not sure what exercise program you can do that would be quick, effective and “jet lag busting”? Find out more information by reading about the AthLEAN-X Training System developed by me as my secret weapon against road weariness and general lack of gym motivation. It doesn’t have to be miserable to workout anymore!
Jeff Cavaliere M.S.P.T, CSCS
Jeff Cavaliere is a Physical Therapist, Strength Coach and creator of the ATHLEAN-X Training Programs and ATHLEAN-Rx Supplements. He has a Masters in Physical Therapy (MSPT) and has worked as Head Physical Therapist for the New York Mets, as well as training many elite professional athletes in Major League Baseball, NFL, MMA and professional wrestling. His programs produce “next level” achievements in muscle size, strength and performance for professional athletes and anyone looking to build a muscular athletic physique.