AIM: Road Maintenance

logo: Adventures in Maintenance with photos

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.


Muffaletta, Picayune, MS

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?

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out the other AIM posts:
Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh
Lori @ Finding Radiance
Debby @ Debby Weighs In
Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

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!

26 thoughts on “AIM: Road Maintenance

  1. You lost most of your weight eating in restaurants?! How come you didn’t get a deal like Jared?

    • LOL Unfortunately, the little local delis and restaurants I ate at don’t have the same marketing budgets as Subway. Because otherwise, I’m sure they would have hired me. :)

      But yes, other than assembling tuna salad and making the occasional sandwich at home, I cooked maybe 5-10 times in the 17 months it took to lose my weight. It might not have been the “cleanest” way of eating, but it got the job done AND it served the purpose of reinforcing the idea that it’s not where I eat that matters so much, as what I order when I’m there. :)

  2. Great minds think alike, ala the county line rule…how funny! But seeing the Brazos County sign sure works to switch my mind from vacation to normal mode, that’s for sure.

    I loved your “delicious, delightful exceptions” – heck yes to that! There are things that I can’t get here and I will always find room for when I’m traveling.

  3. I’m a lot like you – I’ve lost 130 pounds over the past couple of years and in the process of losing that weight, I have found several activities that I LOVE. I am really looking forward to the vacation that my husband and I have planned for this year – a 130 mile hike over 9 days and two half – day kayaking trips. And I am absolutely going to enjoy the local cuisine (though I’ll still keep track of my calories). This is the first time I’ve done an active vacation – and we’ve actually been “training” for it – so, I’m really looking forward to seeing how this goes. It’s all a learning process, so I’ll see what the scale says when I return and learn from it :-)

  4. You totally had me with the County Line rule and I’m implementing it NOW! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the different approaches on this topic from each of you!

  5. I want to go with Melanie on her trip!! I love hiking! One day, when my knee is fixed, I’m getting back on the North Country Trail.

    I think there’s a book in your weight loss, Cammy. Seriously. You could teach most of America how to make smart choices in restaurants! I’d like to hear your strategies, too :)

  6. Funny how it seems that we all now are much more active on vacations. Something I never used to do. I just wanted to be lazy. Now I want to find an excuse to take my bike or go nature walking and hiking.

    And I agree – snickers is not a vacation food!

    • Even on my lazy beach vacations, I loved to walk but I never could walk very far because I was in such poor physical shape. Now I could walk the beach for hours. If only I could afford to go to the beach! LOL

  7. We’re still learning on the food front as we set an all time worst record food wise last month but we set an all time activity record too. Too bad it didn’t even out. I’ll be spending June getting the vacation gain off. Live and learn.

    • “Live and learn”. That’s the key, Anele. Learning that happy middle ground so that it’s not a caloric/health disaster but it still feels like a vacation. I’m still learning lessons and probably always will be.

  8. Hear hear! We can go together on vacation because we have the same attitude towards food on vacation and keep moving.

  9. I agree, local flavor must be sampled. That’s one of the fun things about going somewhere new! On a road trip I’m really good about sticking to my plan, and even at a McDonalds I can find something healthy(ish) to eat. I also like to keep a bag of almonds in my purse. In a pinch, it will fill me up!

  10. I am so enjoying these AIM posts – such a wealth of knowledge you all have to share.

    I follow pretty much the same plan for travel that you do. When we take a road trip we pack and cooler with healthy food and do a combination of eating from the cooler and eating out. If I choose to splurge it has to be for something splurge worthy!

    We do lots of walking, hiking and biking on most of our vacations. All that exercise helps to off set any splurges that may happen.

    I am loving this county line rule! I’m adopting that pronto!

    • Thank you, Tami! I’m thrilled you’re enjoying the AIM posts. For me, it’s a lot of fun to see how we’re alike and yet different in our approaches.

      If you do adopt the county line rule, be sure to use mine and not Shelley’s. :) (I was so sure I had invented it! LOL)

  11. I’m like you, Cammy – splurge on the local fare. Occasionally I go overboard on dessert. 😉 Love that you guys are doing AIM!!!

    • I think that’s what I’m trying to say, in a roundabout way…I just roll with what I normally do, and if something looks interesting, I take it as a sign. A good sign, not an omen. Not usually. :)

  12. Love the county line rule, I’m going to adopt it. I tend to throw caution to the wind on vacation but I haven’t had a vacation in ages so not a big deal.

  13. My approach to eating on vacation in the last 4 years has been to simply try and keep my portions smaller. The biggest change I’ve made is to stop taking lots of snacks to hotel rooms. We just don’t eat them, nor do we need them. Otherwise, I’m kind of a “I’ll get back on plan when we get home.” gal. :)

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