Light Exercise Counters Sweet Indulgences

7:06 AM, May 15, 2013   |    comments
Rosie Colleen O'Neill, 33, is co-founder of online candy boutique Sugarfina. Since launching the company in August, she has lost 3 or 4 pounds, even though she's constantly traveling for work tasting artisan candy. (Photo: Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY)
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Nancy Trejos, USA TODAY

Rosie O'Neill eats candy every day as co-founder of online candy boutique Sugarfina.

Somehow, since launching the company in August, she has lost 3 or 4 pounds, even though she's constantly traveling for work tasting artisan candy around the world to sell on her website.

O'Neill, 33, of Los Angeles, says that because of her job, it's essential to make healthy choices on the road, something that many longtime Road Warriors fail to take into account. She knows that making unhealthy choices can lead to the deterioration of her health and personal well-being.

As a pro on the road who travels 50,000 to 75,000 miles a year, O'Neill has plenty of lessons to offer other business travelers for staying physically and mentally healthy.

She attributes her weight loss partly to her three-bite rule. If the candy is mediocre, she'll put it down after one bite. If she likes it, she'll have two bites. If she really likes it, she'll have three.

"I only finish something if it's something really special," she says.

After several years of traveling, first as director of marketing for Barbie at Mattel, then as a candy-seller, O'Neill has adopted other strategies for staying healthy while on the go. Among them:

FLYING

For a long flight, O'Neill travels in yoga clothes. They're comfortable and inspire her to stretch.

She always travels with snacks such as nuts, raisins, fruits and a small cheese-and-cracker plate with low-fat cheeses. "It's not a meal," she says, "but enough calories to get you through a long plane ride."

If she wants to eat something heartier at the airport, she doesn't go to the first restaurant she sees. Instead, she walks through one full corridor to get some exercise while she studies menus. Then she picks the place where she can find a nice balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat.

She says she avoids alcohol while flying because it dehydrates her and gives her a headache. And she drinks plenty of water. "Every time a stewardess comes by, I use it as an excuse to drink water," she says.

AFTER LANDING

Once on the ground, she starts each day with a balanced breakfast. She loads up on plain non-fat yogurt, egg whites and fruit. "It puts me in the mind-set of making healthy choices and gives me energy for the day," she says.

For dinner, she and her boyfriend, Josh Resnick, go to Whole Foods and get something light, such as a kale salad. Or, she says, they go to a restaurant, where she applies the same discipline she does to her chocolate.

She splits her entree into thirds and eats a third. The rest she shares with Resnick, also co-founder of Sugarfina. And she tries some of his entree. If she is dining alone, she says, she eats only half of her dish and takes the rest back to her hotel if she has a refrigerator.

She makes wise choices even when faced with temptations. Presented with the option of steamed vs. fried, she says, she goes for steamed.

She admits that the bread basket is her weakness. Any time she leans in for a piece, she reminds herself that she'll regret it afterward. "I never think back to a meal and say, 'They had amazing bread,' " she says.

Being a candy-seller, she endorses the act of indulging every so often. She may share an entree, but she won't automatically skip dessert.

"I think it's really important to have those little moments of indulgence," she says. "That's what life is all about."

WORKING OUT

O'Neill and Resnick consider themselves foodies. On their third date in August 2010, Resnick, then the president of a video-game development company, took O'Neill to see the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

They decided then there wasn't enough gourmet candy in the U.S. They eventually quit their jobs and traveled around the world, to places such as Sweden, Scotland and Bali, to taste-test candies.

They now spend their days making Artisan Gummy Bears, French Hard Candy Fish, Absinthe Chocolate Cordials and Dark Chocolate Chipotle Almonds.

Being a foodie can make working out to stay healthy tough but a necessity. And as co-founder of a new company, O'Neill rarely has a full hour to devote to a workout, especially when traveling.

So she's figured out a way to get workouts in throughout the day. "I try to sneak in 15 to 20 minutes here or there every day," she says.

If she's standing in line at an airport or a rental car desk, she'll do toning exercises, such as calf raises, or abdominal exercises she learned from pilates classes. "They're all very discreet," she says of her routine.

She will take an escalator only if it is going down. She always walks up stairs.

Rather than take cabs around a city, she walks, which she says is a better way to see a new place anyway. "When you're going in cabs, you don't have time to take in a city," she says.

She packs exercise bands or a jump rope in her suitcase for the times when she can't hit a gym. She uses the Pocket Yoga app on her iPhone to guide her through yoga moves. She also uses the MyFitnessPal app to track the number of calories she's taking in and burning.

Gyms are not her favorite places to work out anyway. So when she checks into a hotel, she asks about local yoga studios.

Sometimes she's lucky enough to stay at a hotel that will deliver weights and other exercise equipment to her room.

BEATING JET LAG

When O'Neill travels overseas, she has trouble getting over jet lag.

But she tries to use the lag to her advantage. If she can't fall asleep at night, she'll do some light exercise. If she wakes up earlier than usual, she'll go for a run.

"I love morning runs when the sun rises," she says. "It's just a great thing to do when you travel because you get a flavor for a city or the countryside. It's a beautiful way to explore."

If she doesn't feel like running, she says, she'll go on a meandering walk. In addition to being good exercise, it helps her feel more relaxed and meditative. And that makes her feel healthier.

"Go outside and look up at the sky," she says. "It can make a big difference in brightening up your day."

Top tips:

1) Sneak in exercise wherever you can, even if it's standing in line at an airport.

2) Balance. Part of the fun of traveling is occasionally having an indulgent meal. Balance it out with exercise.

3) Be mindful and take a deep breath every once in a while, even if it's when you're walking from terminal to terminal. It's important for your health.

4) Stretch. It keeps you relaxed and makes your body feel good.

5) It's easier to make the wrong choice, but making the right choice will make you feel better.


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