How to Get (and STAY) Fit as a Flight Attendant

Look, we all love to travel. 

I mean, this crazy pandemic situation has totally messed with all of our travel plans. But there are still people out there that getting out and about now that places are starting to open up some. 

Then again, some readers may be like me and have travel as the primary form of income, whether that’s as a flight attendant, pilot, or as a travel writer.

No matter what gets you travelling, it’s no secret that it can be hard on your body.

I mean, changing timezones, lack of good food on an airplane (or in the car for you road trippers), poorly equipped hotel gyms, and, for my fellow flight crews out there, the wear of constant altitude and pressure changes.

This crazy lifestyle doesn’t mean that we all want to be unhealthy. In fact, it’s usually travelers and flight crews that seem to want to be in the best shape so they can properly enjoy the places they go.

Maybe I’m projecting because that’s how I feel about it.

Either way, I have my own little routines and such that I use to help get healthy when I fall off the wagon (Memaw seriously has the best holiday treats), but, more importantly, they help me STAY healthy with my hectic schedule. 

Keep in mind though, I’m just a guy that does these things to help myself. Every person is different, so every person will respond differently to different stimuli. That being said, always consult a professional before making any crazy life changes. I mean, talk to your doctor for general health, a personal trainer for physical fitness, a nutritionist for food needs, and psychologists for mental health. 

Physical Fitness

I was totally getting it at the gym that day. Black and white effect ‘cause I was feeling artsy.

I’m going to disagree with some people here and say there is not a single style of fitness that is superior to any other. Ultimately, do what you enjoy and will consistently stick with to actually get results.

I mean, lifting weights one time doesn’t really do much besides make you sore. And that freaking sucks.

For my schedule, I do a lot of sitting on flights. Well, I like to stand a lot instead, but it’s still a lot of time where I can’t go outside for a walk or anything like that. 

To counter this, I like to really challenge myself in the gym. My body responds very well to heavy weightlifting. The issue is I don’t really have access to huge amounts of weight because of these hotel gyms. So, what I do is a full-body routine that hits all the major muscles and is functionally applicable. This means I do overhead press, pullups, pushups, rows, squats, deadlifts, and jumping with variations built-in.

Don’t worry, I’m not dumb and going to say that only one specific kind of training is ‘functional training.’ People have different lives, so functional means something different for everyone. 

My definition is going to be ‘multijoint movements that use two or more muscle groups in each lift.’ My lifting schedule is anywhere from 2-5 days a week and each gym session lasts about an hour.

I don’t lift crazy heavy, so I manipulate total volume by hitting higher reps or switching up the timing of the reps to really get a good pump. 

This also brings me to stress the insane importance of having some sort of bands to give you resistance. It is immensely valuable to be able to just pull some bands out and get a quick workout in without actually having to go to the gym. This is literally a lifesaver when you’re crazy tired but want/need a little pump.

Something that has always haunted me is doing cardio. I think it’s just absolutely the most boring health thing ever. I truly can’t stand treadmills for this reason. There’s just nothing happening! You don’t even have things to look at!

I’ll get off my high horse now and say that I do some sort of cardio workout 2-5 times a week anyway. 

Because I’m on an airplane so much, I like to do outdoor running or hiking or just going on a walk so that I can be outside and getting some sunshine also. 

Side note: I’m training for 10K in September, so my outdoor running is higher than normal right now.

Last thing I do is yoga or stretch literally every day. 

I say “or” because sometimes I’m not in a mental spot to stop and commit 30 minutes to an hour to yoga, so I just do a quick full-body stretch instead.

I also do this because being sore absolutely sucks and flexibility helps that.

Nutrition/Food on the Go

This is actually food from Disney World, but it looks so much prettier than the food I cook.

Food prep – Thank you for coming to my TEd Talk.

In all seriousness, meal prepping is absolutely key for anyone in the aviation industry.

I’m sure we’ve all heard of the “freshman 15,” but that also exists for first year aviators. Both pilots and flight attendants at airlines have the same issue of being stuck on an airplane and trying to eat healthy. Usually, airlines don’t really sell healthy food because it doesn’t really bring in money and isn’t able to stay good for very long. Instead, airlines opt for foods that are full of preservatives, sugar, salt, and other things that make it last forever.

Not healthy stuff. 

A good rule of thumb is the less packaging involved in food, the healthier it is.

That being said, when I food prep, I use a ton of simply steamed veggies and shredded chicken. It’s super easy to cook chicken in a crockpot/slow cooker and then when there is only like an hour or two left, add the veggie. Then I can put the food in it the containers and freeze them to help them stay good as long as possible.

Also, that makes the food not be disgusting and go bad if it unfreezes/refreezes because you never know the quality you will get with a hotel fridge/freezer. 

Just remember to try and stick to whole, natural foods. They typically pair well together. Also, if you don’t use much dairy for food that goes bad if it gets warm, then you can easily meal prep for trips of almost any length. 

Keep in mind that you don’t have to eat perfectly all the time. A big reason people want to be healthy, at least why I want to be healthy, is so I can live the most exciting and fun life! 

Which means, you have to go out to eat when you’re in cool places! Go do fun stuff. It’s a big reason we even get into aviation, and it introduces you to new cultures which is always super freaking dope.

Mental Health

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com of a sad dude.

This can be a bit of a touchy subject, so I won’t pretend to be an expert even a little bit. 

I do know that people need to take care of themselves though. You can’t pour from an empty cup!

Simone Biles drew a lot of conversation up about mental health with her recent issues that caused her to pull out of the Olympics.

I am by no means comparing what anyone does to what anyone else does. There are some people that get incredibly stressed with something that may be incredibly easy for someone else! Comparing stresses is like comparing people’s favorite color; there’s no point because people have different opinions. 

I will say that some people have serious stressors with the job of flight attendant or pilot. People suck sometimes. People are awesome sometimes. People will pass out in the middle of a flight and not speak the same language as the crew to help the problem sometimes. And sometimes you hit birds during takeoff and have land in the Hudson River (shout out to fellow Texan, Captain Sully!). 

Basically, any job can be stressful and you need to find a way to take care of yourself.

A lot of people in aviation turn to alcohol because you can get that at literally every hotel and it’s easy to go with your crew to the hotel bar.

Instead, find ways to work on your mental health in better ways. 

Sure, go drink with friends every now and then, but don’t make it a habit because it is expensive and can be very destructive long term. 

I’m pretty strongly an introvert in the truest sense. I like to be by myself to recharge my batteries. 

I also am very blessed to enjoy my own company. I think I’m entertaining, so I like hanging out with myself.

Some things I do to help clear my head are meditate, hike, workout in general, walking/urban exploring (not where I go into abandoned building and stuff, I just walk around in a city  to explore), prayer, writing, journaling (they’re totally different), reading, and just whatever I feel like doing to be creative (am I hinting at a YouTube channel in the works?).

Just do things that get you in a good headspace and are stress relieving. I know lots of flight attendants and pilots that enjoy going to different spas while traveling to do a couple cool things at the same time!

As long as you find what works for you and your mental health, it will help you to be better at staying physically healthy too. 

Everything works together I promise.

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