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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Seeing Stars in Hollywood: Olympian Tips for Conquering Jet Lag

I was in Hollywood yesterday for a series of interviews, via satellite, about planning vacations during hard economic times. More on that in another post. This post is about that favorite Hollywood activity--star-spotting.

After my seven-hour (2 AM to 9 AM) gig in the studio, I was chatting with some people in the green room when Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin wandered in. Given my prospensity for play-by-play sports commentary (I was a sports broadcasting major back in college), I noted her mount (as they would say in the gymnastics world) by saying, "An Olympic champion has entered into our midst." No sooner did the words come out of my mouth (while shaking her hand) then a second gold medalist, the perky Shawn Johnson, appeared on the scene. Both young ladies are composed (as one might expect from girls who can fling themselves high into the air and still land straight up on a four-inch balance beam), well-mannered, and cute as can be.

Being quick-witted, I immediately donned my journalistic hat to ask the girls a few questions. You see, I have written several stories on how top athletes, from tennis players to baseball stars, deal with jet lag during their respective seasons. After all, if world-class athletes can perform at top levels while circling the country or the globe, the average person might be able to pick up a good tip or two for conquering jet lag.

And so I asked how the two teenagers managed to overcome jet lag. Liukin immediately asked the question with one word. "Water," she said declaratively (meaning drinking lots of it--as opposed to swimming in it, a la Michael Phelps). Johnson concurred, while also stressing the importance of setting one's watch and mindset to local time right away, and then putting in a full work day starting on Day One. Being able to arrive in Beijing ten days before the gymnastics competition was also crucial to achieving peak performance levels.

So, while most of us will never win an Olympic medal, nor take a spin on the uneven parallel bars (heck, I can't even manage to hoist myself to the upper bar), we can certainly learn the lessons of international top performance from the two Olympic champions. Whether you are heading overseas for work or pleasure, drink lots of water and adapt yourself to local time ASAP. You won't win a gold medal for your efforts, but you will likely find it easier to maintain your equilibrium on the road.

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