I have been on the road a lot lately and I think I finally have a decent graps on vacation weight gain. In April, I spent a week in beautiful Orange Beach, Alabama. It was gorgeous like this:
For the first time ever, I came back from a long vacation without any weight gain. Granted, usually vacation pounds come off fairly quickly but it’s nice to not that surprise. When I got home from Alabama, I didn’t even feel the need to “detox” the way I usually do after an indulgent getaway. I’ll share with you some of the things that helped me prevent weight gain but without feeling like I had to “diet” or even formally exercise while on vacation:
Eat out less: A huge contributing factor was that I stayed in an apartment with a full kitchen. I ate breakfast at home every day, and we generally ate out for dinner OR lunch but usually not both. Breakfast is one of the easiest meals to eat healthy at home, yet when you go out for breakfast it’s really hard to stay healthy! It can easily range from 400-500 calories for a “light” breakfast of bagel or muffin to 1500 calories with tons of fat for a big restaurant breakfast. I generally ate eggs for breakfast, and even had beignets one morning. I also loaded up the fridge & pantry with snacks, which I ate even before we went out to dinner so that I would eat less ‘bad” food.
Pay more, live more: Do a cost/benefit analysis. You may want to consider paying more money to insure you stay on the right track for health. Very often, being healthy costs us more money in the short term. Calculate how much it would cost to stay x days at a hotel vs staying at a condo or apartment. It might not be that much more; even if it is, the price difference may be worth it because you will be able to eat fewer restaurant meals and have ultimate control over your food.
Another cost to consider is food itself. At home, I usually wouldn’t buy things like pre-cut fruit, pre-cut baby carrots, or snack packs of cookies because I think it’s too expensive. But those convenience foods were my lifeline; I snacked on it at home and always kept something in my purse when we were out. Those snacks kept me from buying unhealthy treats while we were out and ultimately saved me money.
Plan splurges: Usually when I am in Orange Beach, I eat fried seafood every day. This time, I only had a fried seafood platter ONCE. And it was during lunch! I couldn’t leave the beach without any fried seafood, so at least I was mentally satisfied. And by choosing lunch, I got a smaller portion and no threat of bringing leftovers home. I even ate the cheesy grits with it. Plus eating a bigger meal during lunch gives you more time throughout the day to work it off. If you want that fried seafood platter, or a huge bowl of creamy pasta, go for it but make adjustments before & after. And not every night! One great meal was getting this giant steamed seafood platter. The restaurant didn’t even serve french fries so I wasn’t tempted. I just stuffed myself full of seafood.
Trick yourself into exercising: Vacation for me generally involves a lot of walking but usually not enough to count as “exercise”, so I’m totally amazed that I got away without doing formal exercise. However, I did trick myself into some. We walked on the beach at least once a day but it wasn’t much distance – maybe a mile or two. I encouraged my niece to play some running type games as we walked. Besides the benefits of a little kid having fun and getting her own energy out, it forced me to do a little sprinting to run alongside her. Sprints + sand = work those calves! I also took her “swimming” every day. Four year olds don’t swim, and I couldn’t exactly do laps while watching her but while she was in the 1 foot kiddie pool, I snuck in some toe raises, tricep dips, and leg lifts. Those moves aren’t too embarassing to be doing in public. When we were in the big pool, one of our games was me dragging her back & forth across the pool – like underwater jogging.
So those tips are great for when you are in a position to have control but what about when you can’t call all of the shots? Unfortunately you gotta roll with the punches and do the best you can. Over Memorial Day weekend I went out to Chicago & St. Louis to visit family. It was much harder to eat correctly there because I wasn’t in charge of the agenda. Being at the mercy of someone else’s schedule really throws me off, not only because of my eating schedule but because I like being the boss in general, haha. I also didn’t have time to exercise. I did bring along a bag of GNC Lean Shake. It’s a complete meal replacement and keeps you full for a while, so I drank this for breakfast and while travelling to avoid being tempted by airport food. As much as I would like to eat all fresh whole food all the time, I weigh the lesser of evils.
I’m one of those people that needs to eat often, and right on schedule otherwise I get hangry then I overeat. Eating dinner at 8 or 9 pm is rough! I did the best I could by having my own stash of almonds and turkey jerky, but getting to the table famished led me to not order that meat & veggies and instead feed on potato chips, french fries, and bread. In the days after getting home, I planned a lot of veggie-packed meals to detox.
Even though my belly felt a little bloated and I mentally felt “heavy” after my midwestern adventure, my weight was the same. Woohoo! I notice that as I get more fit and eat more cleanly, I am less sensitive to weight gain from splurging. Before, I felt like I would gain weight at the drop of a hat if I didn’t carefullly watch what I ate. Now, I notice that I am not so much affected by the ocassional splurge like fried seafood platters. It lets me relax a little. I have keep in mind though that it doesn’t give me free reign to eat even more crap.
Tomorrow I am headed to Orlando. I’ll be staying with family part of the time, which will be good and bad for my diet. Bad because my grandmother might make some bomb Asian food: Egg Rolls. Chinese Sausage. Fried fish. RICE RICE RICE. On the other hand, it may be good because it’s my grandparents’ house so I will feel more at ease with buying/preparing my own food and going out for a jog.
If you only go on vacation rarely, it may be ok go all out YOLO style, but when you do it often, you gotta reign it in a bit. Let me know if you have tips for staying fit on vacation.
I will leave you with this silly picture of me at the zoo. Me & Mr. Peacock, we match: