Is It Possible to Stay Healthy at NAB? Let’s Find Out…

Editor’s note: The following is a guest post from Katie Hinsen (including her partner Boon Shin Ng) who is a senior finishing artist at Light Iron New York as well as co-president of the Blue Collar Post Collective.  

Join the conversation while at NAB 2016 using the hashtag #HealthyNABChallenge

As a senior finishing artist at Light Iron New York, I have an extremely demanding schedule in the trenches of the post-production grind, as does my partner Boon Shin who also used to work as a finishing artist but now also freelances as a post consultant, dailies tech, workflow specialist, and colorist. We are taking on an epic challenge in Vegas at NAB 2016.

The challenge is to stick to our at-home healthy lifestyles as much as possible at NAB.


Our at-home healthy habits include:
• Logging all food in MyFitnessPal, and sticking to our nutritional goals
• Getting at least 10,000 steps per day
• Getting up in the morning early enough to perform our individual morning rituals (which include exercise, meditation, and a good breakfast smoothie)
• Getting sufficient sleep each night to be able to get up and do our morning routines (and of course having behaved enough the night before so we’re not hung over!)

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Boon Shin (L) and Katie (R) looking way less stressed than when see them at NAB

We’ve both been to NAB before, but we haven’t been since we both drastically changed our lives. Almost two years ago, I was diagnosed with celiac disease which caused severe damage to my whole digestive system. At that point we had both been trying to get a bit healthier, but that was a big catalyst for a more serious change. After a minor surgery and some treatment, I was prescribed a very strict gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free diet. A stressful lifestyle and lots of after-work events meant I was also a regular drinker, and that had to slow down too. Boon Shin decided that she needed to lose a lot of weight, with high cholesterol and high blood pressure; so together, we started a serious journey towards a healthy future.

We both stay healthy by sticking to a strict schedule of diet, exercise, sleep and rituals. But we also know what it’s like when you have a few days in Vegas with the whole film and television industry. I have no choice but to stick to my strict diet. But for us both, the challenge to stick to our at-home habits is one we just want to try!



We started looking into our healthy eating options in Vegas, and it was as bad as we expected. “Sin City” isn’t exactly known as a place where you stick to your virtues. Obviously Boon Shin knew she could always find a healthier option if necessary, but my strict dietary needs led us to start looking at snack and meal replacement bars.

I always have a box of Vega One bars on hand, for when I have to go to an after-work meeting or event where there likely won’t be any food options. But potentially relying on those for several days in a row isn’t healthy nor appetizing. So we decided to sample every single option we could get our hands on, before stocking up on a good selection of our favorites to take with us to NAB.

We decided to focus on bars, because they’re portable, discreet and easy to quickly eat on the go. We had to make sure they were completely gluten-free (so no oats) and also free of dairy and egg, and low GI (sugars and carbs), and high protein to keep us going and help us stick to our overall nutritional goals.

We each journaled everything we tried, so we could remember what was good and share our journey. We included taste, texture, considered portability/on the go, and how well they satiated us and lasted us. We tried 37 new bars to add to the ones we already knew we liked, and settled on 7 favorites to take with us. We’re also taking along single-serve Vega One shake packets. (There is a Whole Foods right by the airport, so we’re going to try and stop there right after we land to pick up a few extra snacks like fresh fruit)

Staying on track with healthy eating while away is going to be tough, but for me necessity means I won’t need willpower. While it sounds easy enough to “go get a salad for lunch,” we both have really intense schedules during NAB and aren’t going to be able to leave the convention center during the day. Onsite food is also really expensive, and it’s not worth $25 for the lunch buffet when we can only eat one or two items. Even the salads contain cheese and/or wheat, so that’s not an option for me, and lettuce smothered in ranch dressing isn’t a truly healthy choice for Boon Shin.

Boon Shin is trying to stick to her nutritional goals out of choice, so unlike my situation, it will be a challenge of willpower for her. It’s going to be hard to resist the price and convenience of fast food or the treat of a big fancy meal in the evenings, especially if she hasn’t eaten much throughout the day.



Getting in the steps won’t be difficult, but getting in the morning workouts will.

We both find that yoga workouts are great when we have less time and/or energy, so we are bringing travel-sized yoga mats. We have gyms at our hotels, and while maintaining 10,000 steps per day is easy at the show, we’ll try to use extra walking as exercise. I have also signed up for an additional steps challenge at NAB, so that will be a great motivation. I’m training for a half-marathon so I will also try taking runs on Monday and Wednesday ( as I usually would), but might have to run less and do more cross-training while away to save time.

We log all our food and exercise using MyFitnessPal, which not only breaks down our nutrients and makes sure our macros are balanced (carb/protein/fat), but based on our individual settings, it tells us how much to eat based on how much we burn from movement. We will need to be conscious of hitting our nutrient goals and keeping our macros balanced, but the app will also encourage us to exercise more if we eat too much (Editor’s note: Click here to learn more about calorie counting). That should be a good extra bit of motivation, especially for Boon Shin who is looking forward to at least one awesome steak dinner while in Vegas.



The challenge is to do NAB healthy, and part of really doing it means partying.

When we tell people about this challenge, the first thing they think is “you two? That must be a joke”. The second thing they imagine is that it means we won’t be staying out late, partying and drinking. Neither are true. It’s not a joke and we aren’t planning on missing out on anything.

A big part of going to NAB is seeing old friends from all over the world. We don’t want any of them to feel like they are missing out on seeing us and having a great time. The challenge as we see it is to make it appear as though we are not doing anything differently at all this year, while still being able to leap out of bed early the next day. Boon Shin has never been much of a drinker, but I used to be a pretty heavy drinker. I’m mostly nervous that my willpower will fail when I see old friends and get offered free drinks.

The challenge is going to be drinking in moderation, such that we can each get up early the next morning and exercise without feeling like crap. We’re both wondering how we’re going to balance socializing and sleep. Not expecting to get a solid 8 hours at any point, we are going to have to really focus on our other healthy habits so that we can still stick to those morning routines and get out to the show floor feeling 100% (or as close to it as we can!).

We’re planning to be very conscious of our drinking, and of course logging all the sugar, carbs and empty calories in those drinks will help.

I have managed to drastically reduce drinking while at events by:
* Drinking slowly, no more than one drink per hour unless with a big meal
* Drinking low-alcohol yet more filling beverages, like cider or (gluten free) beer
* Drinking a glass of water between every alcoholic drink
* Keeping busy with conversations and activities
* Never taking a drink without food in my stomach, and keeping the food level topped off with snacks. If there are no snacks, then no drinks after the first hour without food.



This will be a challenge for us. We’re not expecting to fully succeed, but we are curious people who want to find out how difficult it will be. If you see us in Vegas, say hi! We could use all the support we can get. Follow along and join the challenge using the hashtag #HealthyNABChallenge, and check for updates here on the #FitnessInPost blog to hear about our results!


Originally from New Zealand, Katie Hinsen is a New York-based, award-winning Finishing Artist with credits on over 80 major productions. Over her 18-year career she has worked as an engineer, editor, VFX artist, Stereoscopic 3D artist, colorist and finishing artist; on commercials, documentaries, television, music videos, short and feature films. Outside of the office she is a passionate advocate for emerging talent, providing mentorship and serving at the Executive level of a number of industry-based non-profit organizations including G​aia Community Initiatives ​and the O​ne Voice ​project in New Zealand, and the B​lue Collar Post Collective i​n New York.