I’m going 7 weeks strong with My Peak Challenge, even with a few out-of-town weekends that altered my schedule and diet slightly. But the biggest hurdle coming up next week is the 10-day event that takes over all of Austin: SXSW. Free booze. Free food. More free booze. Late night debauchery. It’s the adult nerd’s spring break with more clothing and way more tech.
In the past, I shared tips on what to bring if you’re attending SXSW Interactive. These still apply for the general attendee. This year, I present tips for incorporating health and fitness without missing ALL the fun.
- Strap on your fitness tracker. You’ll want to get credit for all 15K, 20K, 25K steps a day you take while trekking around town. It’ll make you feel better that you canceled out at least 1 to 2 beers/tacos. It may even motivate you to skip waiting for a cab/pedicab/Mazda ride and walk instead. SXSW is also the week I invite everyone I know to a step challenge, so I blow them all away!!
- Hydrate like your life depends on it. Austin can get humid quickly when that suns comes out. Between the weather, all the steps you’re taking and all the booze, you’ll need to chug down more water than usual. Bring a refillable water bottle or go grab a free one that some company is bound to be giving out. The Convention Center and all the hotels will have filtered water so refill every chance you can.
- Put on the SPF. You’ll have a lot of outdoor time as you venture between the lounges or end up standing in long lines. Texas sun is nothing to joke about. Protect your skin. Grab sunglasses or a hat while you’re at it. Companies are always giving these out for free.
- Come early for the healthier free food. Breakfast is your best shot at getting good free food. Fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, yogurt parfaits, and granola bars are pretty easy to find with a buffet spread in the lounges. Breakfast tacos are loaded with protein to fill up and give you energy to start your day. (Stop at eating one, though. If you’re going to grab a second one, stash it in your bag for later.) The SXSW crowd tends to sleep in, so take advantage of the 9-10 am window when food is plentiful and it’s not too crowded.
- Stretch. Middle of Day 2 is usually when my body starts to protest being out in the crowds and overstimulated. My back is aching from carrying all the free swag across town, and my legs are tight from standing on concrete or sitting in crowded rooms (sometimes on the ground while charging my phone and/or taking a snack break). Some good back/side/hip stretches, twists, heart openers and forward folds will do a lot of good. You can do them while seated or waiting in line or find a quiet space in an offshoot hallway. I’ll share some of my favorite poses later!
- Take a moment to breathe. Yoga and meditation are sprinkled throughout the SXSW schedule. Companies are encouraging employees to de-stress through meditation and get focused through intention practices. So whether you drop in to a meditation meetup or find a quiet spot to rest your feet, it is just as important to recharge your body through breath as it is to recharge your phone.
- Resist the FOMO. You don’t have to do everything and make every keynote and catch every show or screening. FOMO is stressful. Make the most of a few key events while leaving time to wander in and out of spaces. Make conversation with people you meet along the way. Ask if you can share a table instead of sitting alone. Being present is key to a more pleasant SXSW.
- Sure, throw in some planks and burpees. Weird is to be expected both at SXSW and in Austin. No one would even bat an eye if you did some planks or burpees on the sidewalk or a hotel lobby or wherever. Valbo and Sam would be proud of you.
This will be my 6th year attending SXSW, and I’m committed to not letting the temptation of the festival ruin my health efforts. I mean, I may need to double up on my physical activity to counter food and drink consumption, but at least I know what’s ahead of me.
If you’re planning to come to SXSW, come join me at the JW Marriott on Saturday 3/11 at 9:30 am for my Working Moms Meet Up. All badges are eligible.