Curious to know in future posts how you handle vacations, how to eat at parties, or out and about for hours at a time when you have to stop somewhere quickly to eat…I find that when I’m home or nearby for most of the day or it’s just a routine kind of day I tend to eat a lot better but the unknown throws me off and yet I realize that is a big part of life and I need to learn how to deal!
And I answer:
I love this question, because just about every person can relate. Who isn’t thrown off when facing a picnic spread or a week of restaurant eating? And with a holiday weekend coming up, not to mention a big gigantic holiday SEASON just around the corner, it is very timely, as well!
I think the key in “learning how to deal” is planning ahead. Here are some suggestions:
I know when on vacation, a lot of people take a vacation from healthy eating and exercise, but I do not. To me, it’s just not worth it to gain six pounds and feel terrible just because I can. Besides, the older I get, the longer it takes to undo reckless behavior. Maybe I could get away with it when I was 25-years-old and my metabolism was like a well-oiled machine. But those days are long gone, I’m afraid. (I remember being warned about this as a young, toned and tan twenty-something…why did I think I would be exempt?)
On the other hand, I do enjoy eating out on vacation. And I do tend to indulge in desserts. For me, vacation and ice cream are inseparable. So here are some vacation strategies that help me enjoy those occasional treats without totally busting my healthy habits.
1. Choose a vacation destination that allows for daily exercise. We love the beach, and I scope out beaches that are conducive to daily walking. One of my favorite things to do is get up early, put on my walking shoes and do a one-hour brisk walk along the shoreline. We also like to bike as a family, so we will often rent bikes wherever we are. If we are stuck in a hotel or the weather is not walking/biking-friendly, I make use of the hotel fitness equipment. We also walk as much as possible wherever we go. When my kids get older, I’d love to incorporate hiking into some of our trips.
2. Eat some meals in your room. One of the first things we do on vacation is head to the local grocery store and stock up on healthy in-room snacks and meals. If possible, we try to book rooms/condos with full kitchens or at least a little fridge to keep fruit, veggies, yogurt, string cheese…stuff like that.
3. Only indulge in one meal per day. For example, if we go to a killer lunch destination, I eat a small breakfast and a salad for dinner.
My strategies for parties is pretty simple. It is really just an extension of my strategy for life: I allow myself two or three “free meals” each week. If I see a party coming up on the calendar, I treat it as a “free meal.” Therefore, I eat well the rest of the week, exercise the day of the party as I normally would, and then I go to the party and enjoy the spread. If I have multiple parties in a week, I choose one or two to “enjoy” (where I know there will be the best food!) and only eat the fruit or veggies at the others. Just because there is a party, doesn’t mean I have to gorge. If I’m thrown off by an unplanned party, I just rein it in a little more in the following days to compensate for the added calories.
Eating on the go:
I did an entire post on this once before. Here is a portion of what I said. (For the entire post, click here.)
Though I don’t technically have a paying job that forces me to travel, being a mom of school-aged children does find me in the car a lot—an average of 2 hours a day. In addition, with my family living in another state, we do a fair amount of car travel. Basically, if my kids and I didn’t eat in the car, we would rarely eat. Which is interesting, because my kids recently have turned into ravaging beasts at home. Which may or may not have something to do with the fact that I just got a new car and instituted the “I’m Tired of My Car Smelling Like the Bottom of a Garbage Can So From Now On, No Eating in Mom’s New Car” rule.
But let’s say you don’t have such a rule. Your car is—more often than not—your kitchen, your dining room and your garbage can. What are some things you can do to ensure you are eating well and eating inexpensively while you’re out and about?
1. Stock your car with a stash of healthy foods that will keep. I always have water and almonds in my car. (shhhhh…don’t tell the kids) Some foods that will keep for several days or longer, especially when it’s cold outside:
a.Bananas and apples
b.Granola bars and protein bars (I like Clif Bars and Kashi, and just recently started making my own from scratch!)
c.Nuts of all kinds
d.Popcorn (I pop my own, use only salt, and put into a large ziplock)
e.Peanut Butter sandwiches on whole wheat bread.
f.Trail mix (I make my own with all the things I love)
h.Whole grain crackers
2.Have a few places you know you can stop and always get something wholesome and healthy. Don’t even go to the traditional fast food places if you have a weakness for fries and soda. It’s just too tempting. Plus, generally, speaking, the food at fast food places is low-quality (that’s a nice way of saying “gross”.) My favorite on-the-road places are Subway and Panera Bread, which I can find along any U.S. highway. Locally, we do Q’doba a lot, which is a fresh Mexican grill. If there are no healthy restaurants nearby, just run into the grocery store and pick up a piece of fruit and a package of almonds. It takes no more time than running into Burger King.
3.At convenience stores, bypass the donuts, the greasy hotdogs and the prepackaged, processed snacks and instead choose a bag of popcorn (the all natural kind), a granola bar, a bag of nuts and some orange juice. Choose the most nutritionally-dense food you can find. It’s best to look for foods that are highest in fiber and lowest in saturated fat, trans fat and sugar. If you still aren’t sure what’s what, always choose the food that is the closest to real food in its natural state. A fresh apple instead of a fruit roll-up. Granola bars instead of pretzels. 100% juice instead of Sunny D.
4.Pack a small cooler with cut up veggies, string cheese or a sandwich made with whole grain bread, lean meats and lots of vegetables. Think beyond lettuce and tomatoes here. I put every kind of veggie on my sandwiches. You may think you don’t have time to prepare food at home to take on the road with you. But making a sandwich and putting it in a cooler takes no more time than driving to a fast food restaurant and sitting in a drive-thru.
If you have a question for Fitness Friday Girl, leave it in the comments and I’ll address it in a later post!