With summer vacation season upon us, this month’s AIM discussion is all about travel. As always, I’m looking forward to seeing the similarities and differences between the AIM bloggers and also with YOU through your comments.
Some people follow their weight loss/weight maintenance plans religiously while traveling. Some people throw caution to the wind and eat whatever they please. I’m sure it will surprise absolutely no one that I fall somewhere in the middle.
For me, vacation is a time to relax and let go of life’s worries and stresses–to step outside my ordinary everyday life to explore and experience the area in which I’m traveling. I don’t want to think about housework or yard work or work-work or cooking or any of the other things that clutter up my thoughts on ordinary days. My purpose in taking a vacation at all is to escape all of that, including, to some degree, spending precious vacation time thinking about my weight, or at least, not thinking about it excessively.
All that said, I mostly eat the same types of foods on vacation that I eat when I’m at home. Go figure. I either pack or purchase healthy snacks like fruit, nuts, and yogurt to keep in my hotel room and enjoy on the road, but I don’t eat meals in my car or my hotel room. That’s not vacation to me. I guess that one of the benefits of having lost weight while eating 99% of my meals in restaurants is that I know how to find and order healthy(ish) foods outside my house. Lean proteins, lots of fresh veggies, whole grains–these are the foods that make me feel good, so naturally they’re the ones I seek out most frequently at home and when traveling.There are, of course, exceptions when I’m on vacation. Delicious, delightful exceptions. While the bulk of my meals follow form, I do indulge in local fare when the situation warrants.
I’m not going to Chicago without having at least one piece of Chicago-style pizza. Or Tex-Mex in Texas. Or Skyline Chili in Cincinnati. Or a po-boy or muffaletta in New Orleans. Or pancakes in the Smoky Mountains.
But those indulgences are part of the local flavor. A Snickers bar is not. Olive Garden is not. Baskin-Robbins is not. Being on vacation isn’t a free pass to eat my way across the country. If there’s no special local cuisine, I just go with something I’d normally eat. (Some of y’all will remember my two-week trip across Florida, when I became Queen of the Grilled Chicken Salad. )
Just as I’m aware of the vacation expenses accumulating on my credit card and manage my spending accordingly, I’m mindful of the calorie splurges that happen along the way and try to “spend” those extra calories on worthwhile experiences.
When I first started following a healthier way of eating, I was a bit more rigid and I didn’t enjoy traveling so much. After a few trips (including one 30-day road trip out west), I realized that it wasn’t the idea of vacation splurging that bothered me, it was the fear that I wouldn’t get back to my new normal way of eating when I returned home. From that, the idea of The County Line Rule was born. No matter how close (or far) I am to “normal” on any given trip, the very instant my car tires cross the county line, I’m 100% with the program. It’s a silly little rule, more mental game than anything else, but it works for me every single time so I’m keeping it! (It used to be The State Line Rule until I traveled east and realized that Tennessee is a very wide state. )
Another thing that helps my comfort level with vacation indulgence is that most of my vacations are fairly active and include some combination of walking, biking, and/or hotel gym workouts. Back when I was in my losing phase, I had several vacations in which I lost a few pounds, and I attribute that to my activity level as much as keeping the indulgences in check.
So that’s my travel philosophy, at least with respect to vacations. When I travel for work, I do a bit more advance planning and a lot less “winging it.” When the weather’s not broiling, I’ll even pack a few back-up meals in case I can’t find a healthy meal in whatever town I’m in. Fortunately, even the smallest towns seem to have a Subway or Wendy’s, where I can get a meal for under 400 calories. Ideal? No. Workable? Yes, and I’ll take that every time.
How do you handle vacation eating and exercise? Do you stick to your plan or go all out? Or do you find a middle ground?
AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you’d like us to address!