Microsoft Management Summit 2010:

This year I was fortunate to attend the Microsoft Management Summit this year. For background, if you work in the System Center product line MMS is the public Microsoft must-go-to conference of the year. I have had the pleasure of going to MMS a few times in the past, but this year I wanted to do something that I had not accomplished in previous years – to avoid coming back completely brain-drained, with my luggage over-stocked with swag and myself five pounds heavier then when I left for Las Vegas. Lately I have been focusing on how to live a more healthy life while still working in IT as a consultant (discussed here). MMS represented a large challenge to accomplishing my goals for this year for several reasons:

  • This was a shift from my routine where I had made changes in both diet and exercise
  • Las Vegas isn’t exactly focused on daily health unless you have the ability to maintain health on lack of sleep and through a consistent diet of gambling, alcohol and various other forms of recreation
  • Food and drinks are almost everywhere at IT conferences
  • The days start early in the morning and often end early the next morning
  • Vendor parties are truly impressive at MMS

Now don’t get me wrong; I like Las Vegas – among other reasons because I believe it was the only place in the world with Star Trek the Experience (which I’m personally horrified to hear is gone now, and hopeful it will return). MMS as a conference is extremely good both from the breadth and depth of the information that it provides! But I learned several things on this last trip that I thought would be good to share as good tips to be aware of if you are trying to stay healthy at IT conferences.

Key Concepts to focusing on being healthy at IT conferences:

  • Track what you eat – Keeping track of what you eat throughout the day makes it easier to avoid overeating
  • Plan in times to exercise – While the hotels may not cover the costs of the gym as part of staying there, a good gym really helps to keep things healthy during the week and is worth the cost. Getting up early in the morning and getting some exercise starts the day off on a good foot. One of my co-workers actually went out running in the morning and another advocated small workouts in the room at the start of the day.
  • Pack snacks in your luggage & eat them throughout your stay – Low calorie snacks during the day keep the hunger down and minimize over-eating at the meals which are provided at the conferences
  • Bring some oatmeal for breakfast – One of my co-workers actually packed his own oatmeal so that he could start the day on a healthy foot. This way he didn’t need to worry about what was available to eat at the conference for at least one meal of the day.
  • Grab apples, banana’s between sessions – One of the best things I saw at this conference was the great fruit that they had available between sessions. Whenever these would show up I would grab and apple or a banana (or two) and pack them away for snacks during the day. 
  • Alcohol – moderation or none – one late night of drinking and eating unhealthy can mess up the week pretty badly. Enough said.
  • Water bottles – Each year in the past they have given out water bottles at the start at the convention, and they provide plenty of places to refill them during the day. This makes it easy to get in a solid 8 glasses a day.
  • Keep a focus on the goal – It’s easy to get off-track after a late night or one bad evening. If you have the goal of a healthier lifestyle and have one bad night, step back the next morning and start again.

Summary:

I still ended up leaving Las Vegas completely brain-drained, with my luggage over-stocked with swag but at least I wasn’t five pounds heavier this time! This proved to me that healthy IT isn’t just possible when you have a healthy routine – it can be adapted even to situations like IT conferences.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Catapult Systems or any of my previous employers.