• Kathie Scalf

On the Road but Falling off Track


Having spent a great deal of my life in the service industry, a lot of the clientele I serviced were traveling for business. Spending my evenings grinding away behind a bar, ankle deep in spilled drinks and growing increasingly numb to the theatrics of under-socialized and over-served patrons, I would daydream about how glamorous the lives and jobs of these on-the-go folks must be; working in a different city every day, meeting new and exciting people along the way from all over the world and bedding down every evening to the turn-down service and freshly fluffed pillows of fancy hotels. It seemed like the perfect opposite to the monotony of my own hum-drum existence, slinging the same drinks to the same faces in the same town I’d woken up in every day of my life. But the old adage of “careful what you wish for” is ringing quite true in my ears these days, as I’ve finally achieved my goal of a career in motion and it’s not exactly the globe-trotting, fast paced existence of glitz and glamour that I’d imagined. In fact, the more I’m on the road, the more I seem to be falling off track.

While I’ve never been more satisfied or motivated career-wise, I unfortunately feel like I’ve not been this physically unhealthy in almost a decade. When it comes to matters of diet and fitness, I definitely thrive in monotony, only maintaining consistency in routine. It’s far easier to get in daily workouts when I’m waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day, just as it’s far less stressful to meal plan and prep when my weekly schedule never changes. And it’s always easiest to manage life from the comfort and convenience of your own home.

These days I’m lucky if I’m home in Franklin for more than 6 days at a time. My territory covers the entirety of Kentucky and 2/3 of the state of Tennesse (basically everything east of Jackson), which keeps me on the road at least half the month. And the reality is, instead of visiting famous landmarks and seeing the best each city has to offer, I take in a lot of ugly evergreens dotting the side of the interstate while I try not to be killed by 18 wheelers or pulled over for responding to emails while speeding. And the only site-seeing I’m doing mainly consists of observing local wildlife browsing the shelves of various liquor stores in their natural habitats across the South. Those “fancy” hotels are actually the best money can buy at a corporate rate that fits my company budget while still featuring a bar, and the “new and exciting people to meet” are few and far between. For the most part once I make it to a bar at the end of the day, famished and exhausted from 8-12 hours of selling and managing a team of 5 across a 500+ mile radius, the last thing I want to do is make small talk with a stranger, and even if I wanted to, they usually have their eyes glued to their cell phone scrolling on social media which makes it impossible.

So instead I have a drink on an empty stomach, which instantly drops my inhibitions regarding dietary discipline or sticking to “just 1 cocktail,” order way too much greasy, carby food, and immediately hit the bed after, giving my body no opportunity to burn even a single calorie I just took in. I have to wake up entirely too early due to maximizing my time in the market, so instead of being able to set my alarm an hour early to get in my usual morning cardio, I lie there hitting snooze until the last possible moment. I’m eaten up with heartburn and indigestion and trapped in a seated position the majority of the day which makes my hips, neck and lower back ache. The stress of nonstop communication with my team while simultaneously executing tastings and events keeps me in a constant elevated state of anxiety and now that is causing me to experience panic attacks. High stress increases cortisol production which leads to fat retention, making the weight thing practically impossible to combat.

But even as I’m typing all this, at the end of the day I know regardless of how busy I am it’s still just excuses. The fact of the matter is, I’m not making my health a priority and it should be the top one. I already know how chaotic the scheduling on the road is and should prepare accordingly. Instead of worrying about whether or not the hotel features a bar and restaurant, I should check to see if there are in-room refrigerators and microwaves and pre-pack as many portioned meals as I can fit in a cooler. That way I’m able to eat on the go during the day and not starve myself until 7pm. And instead of ending my evenings with a cocktail, I need to be moving my body and getting my blood flowing after a long day of sitting in the car. Every hotel has a gym, so there’s no excuse for missing cardio at the very least. And most of all, if I’m lonely at the end of the day and really feel desperate for human connection, I have to remind myself that the chances of meeting someone new and exciting are just as good on my days off or while I’m working events and opt for a good night’s sleep instead.

Life on the road isn’t all bad. It’s definitely never boring and I work for an amazing company representing a product I love that practically sells itself. The connections and experiences I’m making within the industry will last a lifetime and at the end of the day, I’m selling booze not curing cancer; it’s not that serious. It’s a fun job where we reward working hard with playing even harder. I just need to ensure I’m managing myself as much as I am other people, and holding myself to the same high standards and no BS excuses. Money is great, but it means nothing when you run your health into the ground.

Here’s to looking toward a better few weeks ahead, as I’ll be trying out my new healthier road life from the 6th-16th everywhere from Louisville to Lawrenceberg to Loudon and beyond. Hope you have a healthy, happy, productive week guys!