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(Sub)urban Hunter Gatherer

With a few tricks up my sleeve, it’s a lot easier to stay primal when I’m traveling for business

By night, I’m Chief Ninja – I’m working on fatCoffee, testing out new recipes, filling orders (thank you!!!), and coming up with new ways to get the word out.

But I still have a day job – which is to say, something else that I love to do, and which I’ve had the good fortune of getting paid for. So I get to bootstrap Ninja Goat Nutritionals, while still keeping the lights on at home 🙂

(For anyone who’s wondering: I’ve been a UX researcher and software designer for the past 15 years or so, and I do a lot of testing and collaborative design. Chances are, if you’ve checked your bank account balance online or at an ATM in the past 10 years, you’ve seen something I worked on. Check out more about my agency here.)

Lately – for the last 6 months or so – that’s meant a lot of travel, mostly to Washington D.C. for 2-3 days at a time, every couple of weeks. Thankfully, I have an awesome family that keeps an eye on the Fortress of Creativity while I’m out of town.

My workdays on the road are long, non-stop and intense. Part of my job involves conducting research with potential customers for my clients, which often means I get to have the same hour-long conversation with 8 different people over the course of a day. And if I’m lucky, I get 20 minutes to grab something to eat around lunchtime.

The most challenging part: I work with folks who have a deeply entrenched “startup culture.” That means there’s a lot of:

  • Rapid prototyping and experimentation (fun!)
  • Coffee and Espresso (zing!)
  • Candy and pretzels (eeek!)
  • Beer (liquid eeeeek!)

Seriously. Along with 4-sided air-hockey tables and table-top shuffleboard for blowing off steam, the teams I work with are well-fed with sugary and carb-y snacks. I mean, we’re talking 3-foot high M&M dispensers strapped to the walls.

Funny side-story: Once upon a time, I did a bunch of web design work for M&M Mars. Which meant I got to visit their headquarters in Hackettstown NJ. There are three things I can tell you about Hackettstown NJ:

  • It takes about 2 hours to drive from Philadelphia to New York, and Hackettstown is half-way between them. And yet, Hackettstown is also 2 hours away from both Philadelphia AND New York. (Go ahead, look at a map. It shouldn’t be possible, geographically.)
  • The entire town smells like Peanut M&Ms.
  • Inside headquarters, there are dozens of candy-dispensing snack machines that don’t accept any money. You just walk up and hit a button, and out comes the candy. As much as you can carry.

Anyway, there’s always a lot of candy and snack foods around. Which is tough for a primal guy like me – I want grass-fed meat and veggies, and those don’t keep well in wall-mounted dispensers. So I’ve got to improvise.

Naturally, I start the morning in the hotel room with some fatCoffee and a good, solid double-walled sealed bottle.


And for the rest of the day, I keep steady by remembering to pack the essentials:

And to wrap the day up: a visit to my new favorite restaurant in the universe, Cava Mezze Grill (VA, DC, and MD now, but coming to LA soon too.)

This last trip, that was more than enough to keep me on track and primal, and keep the candy and chocolate-and-pretzel-coated-popcorn at bay. Still, maybe by the last day I was a bit piqued?

Have any tips for staying primal while you travel? Share them!

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