NYC Came and Went

What a bizarre trip this week. I headed off to NYC for a conference I was speaking at. I wasn’t able to stay where I normally do and more importantly I always avoid Times Square and this is exactly where I was. So, my NYC experience was definitely like a Twilight episode as I had to angle my way through tourists and occasionally crash into them. I was dressed up for my client meetings and presentation which sharply contrasted the shabby jeans and shirts of those on leisure time (I say this not with disdain but jealousy – I wanted to wear my jeans!) And, my hotel while boutique chic, still lacked enough seating and big screens for a woman on her own a place at the bar to catch some pretty incredible baseball and hockey. (Bruins, Cubs and Indians all failed me on Wed. – sigh)

But, I digress. It was a little things that those of us looking to get and stay healthy notice that either make you smile or grimace. Like, when I was in the United lounge waiting to grab my big salad a man and woman were going down the line and the man said, “Wow, there is only healthy stuff to eat!” Or, that the streets get so crowded that the thought of running down 6th/Ave of Americas to Central Park and back makes a treadmill look amazing.

The biggest take away was the reactions of people I had worked with over the years when they saw/didn’t see me. I’d been off the speaker circuit for over a year and many of those that I did see at the event had only talked to me over the phone during that time. Even my picture on our company website doesn’t look much like me anymore. So, when I walked up to people to say hi the first reaction was a polite hello then an eye widening then a big HELLO! followed often by our typical hug. No one asked about the weight loss. That wouldn’t be polite. But, it sure was recognized. I just wanted to giggle.

The travel was a little hard this time. I kept to my exercise even as my hip and ankle were smarting over the treadmill after the weekend mountain hike. And my breakfasts were in line. But lunches and dinners were a challenge. In the grand scheme of things I stayed within the calorie range for a very active person which for me meant 1650 calories in a day. But, I don’t like being there because I know it is easy to not exercise but still eat a lot.

I’ll fess up, Wednesday night I headed to Connolly’s (the best Irish Pub I’ve been to outside of Ireland – for real) and had a 20oz Guinness and a plate of fish-n-chips. Finished the Guinness, ate a little more than half the plate, but as much as I relished dinner, I was so guilty.

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Awesome Fish n’ Chips @ Connolly’s in NYC

 

 

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Check out all those Massachusetts patches!

 

Hungry before my flight back, the soup and salad with a few cubes of cheese didn’t do it. I was bad – grabbed a roll and before my gate I bypassed the big salad bar and ordered a couple of vegetable spring rolls. Oh, and I had some wine.

Anyway, the scale never lies and I’m holding steady. Back on program today with skyr, a slice of toast at breakfast and I made a Chinese vegetable soup with dumplings at lunch. If I didn’t have to wait around for my tech support to help me by EOD I’d be out running!

 

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Vegan Can Be Yummy

Give me a Five Guys Burger and you can’t go wrong. But, getting healthy has definitely changed my taste buds and tolerance for protein heavy and fat heavy meals. My body craves vegetables. Tom tells me my gut flora has changed and it is telling me what it wants to eat. Whatever…

The thing is, I really like my veggies. Even those veggies that I tolerated (eggplant, yellow squash, mushrooms) and those I hated (kales, swiss chard) are regular visitors to my meals. I can even eat tofu, although I have to say it is not my favorite and is only in the tolerated column. In fact, if you look at my meals, and even some of my days, I’m definitely on the verge of a vegetarian diet and not always so far off from a vegan diet.

Don’t get me wrong. I applaud those that morally live by veganism. I just don’t have that moral fortitude and am happy to keep my omnivorous ancestry alive in my diet. I love eggs, cheese and fish. What I will own up to is that if you take away the moral argument and only apply the healthy argument, then verging on vegan is possible and not at all a restriction.

Case in point. Heading to San Francisco, the restaurants know their customers and recognize that vegans are a dominate group – for moral and health reasons. It isn’t uncommon to see menu items with vegan symbols to make it easy to find dishes to eat when dining out with your non-vegan friends. In fact, restaurants are going out of their way to create amazing vegan food that rivals non-vegan menu items. It is almost hard for the non-vegan to ignore these delicacies. I can’t!

Always searching for healthy menu items to avoid travel spread, and formerly trying to still lose weight while on the road, restaurants that had vegetarian and vegan items were a god send. Being in California is always the easiest, and this visit was no disappointment.

Anku, an Asian restaurant inside the Hotel Nikko, not only has an entirely healthy menu, but also has vegetarian options that can easily be converted to vegan dishes. Purple Cauliflower Soup and a Portobello Mushroom and Couscous Purse surrounded by baby carrots, asparagus and yellow squash sitting in a vegetable puree  (the purse is swiss chard) was my dinner.  The lack of meat wasn’t noticeable. The flavors and textures were surprising and wonderful. Along with a glass of French rose wine and my meal was every bit as good as a steak dinner. The fact that my meal was preceded by complementary nuts, olives and pickled purple cauliflower made it that much better. Really!

I’m not saying you need to give up your meat. I am only saying that there is enough evidence that too much meat has health risks and cutting your 10 oz steak down to 3-4 oz and loading your plate with vegetables or creative vegan delicacies isn’t the hardship your mind keeps telling you. Don’t deny yourself, just nurture your body a bit more.

Be a vegan for a day. It can be yummy.

 

 

Off Plane – Must Run!

Made it into San Francisco this afternoon and needed to shake off my flight. I got lucky with flatbed seats and took advantage of them. But, the poor lady next to me must have thought I was a head case.  After the first hour of a nap I woke myself up from my snoring. Then I fell back asleep again and immediately went into some crazy bad dreams where I was calling out, “Help me!” and realized that I was whimpering when I woke up. Completely embarrassed.

Anyway, after slamming through my email between the runway and taxi ride into the city, I needed to pull myself together. Even though I did mobile check-in my room wasn’t ready yet. So, I asked for a key to the gym, changed into my running gear in the locker room, and handed my bags to the bell hop.

San Francisco is gorgeous today. 75 degrees, sunny, and awesome breeze (wind). Playlist on and my watch counting down to go, I started my run down to Market St, opening up my stride wider with each step/leap.

I side stepped people and construction feeling like I was on an agility course and picked up my pace doing a cool 9:30 min/mile (fast for me). Heading down Market St. I people watched, dodged a crazy guy, checked out the trolley, tried to keep up with another runner, and overall felt my plane ride slip away.

The Embarcadero gave me more than two miles of less congested walkway, but there were still plenty of people and rickshaws to go around. The wind was pushing against me keeping me cool and adding resistance that I pushed back into. As I got closer to the Alcatraz ferry then into Fisherman’s Warf there were more and more people making it difficult to keep moving, so I turned around and headed back.

Market St felt shorter and I was paying more attention to find the street to turn back on and get to the hotel. I had more lights against me, but instead of slowing me down, I got my wind back which allowed me to sprint back up to speed. Finding my street, I headed up and put my legs into the hill for my last push. Then I turned into the hotel entryway and was greeted with a big smile and, “Welcome Back!” from the bellhop.

A quick shower topped off my run and a text on my phone let me know my room was ready. Which is where I sit now still basking in my runners glow.

Where and When To Fit In Exercise?

Last week I was back on the road for work after 6 weeks and had to relearn my travel tricks. The difference is that I’m in maintenance mode. You’d think this could be easier as I don’t have as much to worry about with counting those calories and keeping to my macros. And you would be right. I just go vegan or add some lean protein and keep portions in control. Its the exercise that’s the killer.

The trade off is always, do you stay where it is easy to go for a run outside but is far from where you need to be each day, or do you stay somewhere that is close and rely on the hotel gym? I had one of those weeks.

You would think that staying in the Bay Area would be perfect. If I am downtown, super simple. Head out to the Embarcadero. But, in San Mateo you are in an industrial zone. It may not be shady (Trader Joes was right around the corner), but it is industrial and shady enough that this little girl was not going to run through the streets alone. Call me crazy, or recognize that I probably have too much of an exurb mindset from living in New England hamlets.

In the end, the Marriot gym and I got to know each other pretty well. I checked into the hotel and immediately threw on my workout clothes, pulled back my hair, and grabbed my headphones and iPad then headed to the gym.  40 minutes later, my treadmill run was done. The next day, I got back from my client meeting and again, without so much as a thought, got my act together and met up with my treadmill from the day before for another 40 minutes run. The trick, just do it. Don’t think about it or you’ll only find an excuse.  Mine was all too easy, I hate treadmills.

That’s the travel side of things, but I am also realizing that as the summer turns to fall, and Jose is kissing our New England shores, the weather and length of day is no longer my friend. I can’t get out for a run anytime I want. And with the water getting colder, so my SUP will see more time in my garage than the lake and river. Outdoor stuff is still possible, just a bit more challenging or I can’t do yet because snow has not yet arrived (need to ski! need to snow shoe!).

What’s a girl to do? Use my work at home days to my advantage! I had a 50 minute call with my team today where nothing was to be presented and all we were doing was grocking on a strategy to cover an evolving technology space. I could either sit at my desk with my phone in my ear, or I could get off my lazy a$$. I chose the latter. With 7 minutes to spare before my call, I threw on my workout clothes, grabbed the phone, and headed to my elliptical.

The call was interactive, engaging and actually fun. I went back and forth muting and unmuting my phone as I would jump in to contribute so as not to distract the conversation with the sound of my machine. I also did what I thought was a decent job of speaking and sharing, although a bit breathy.  Alas, it didn’t go completely unnoticed. Back at my desk my colleague Cinny had shot me an email…”Are you running or biking during our call? love it! <end>”

exercising

I have to say though, it was a great workout, one of my better elliptical workouts. I upped my calorie burn by about 50 calories for the same amount of time and got my heart rate up to 134 when I’m typically in the low 120s. Maybe I should do this more often! Those meetings must get me riled up.

Machines aren’t my favorite workout mode, but when all else fails I need to not think about how I’m getting exercise time it and just work on making it happen. It really is a lifestyle change that thankfully isn’t as hard to do anymore. I feel good after my workouts just as I do when I run, SUP, hike, and bike. I also get the benefit of keeping my weight off. Over the past month I hold pretty steady at 111 – 112, and that is with the Five Guys burger a week ago and the over indulgence on pigs in a blanket and Guinness this past Saturday night at a hockey party.

Life is good.

 

Chubby Girl Tackles Dieting in an RV

Dieting is such a dirty word to me right now, but it seems like the only way to describe the day in and day out effort of losing weight and getting healthy even when traveling. Vacation season is upon us and our summer is a combination of mini RV weekend getaways and a big 2-week road-trip starting on Saturday. So, while I talk a lot about getting and staying healthy while on the road for work, I haven’t quite gotten around to the other part of living on the road.

First, living on the road. We have our RV, Bertha. She is named as such due to her big rear. Just about every weekend we pack her up and head to the beach or mountains. bertha.jpgIt’s our summer cottage on wheels. We can stay at a state campground right on a state beach (Salisbury or Scusset in MA), or head up north to the White Mountains and stay at Echo Lake in Franconia NH. On Saturday we will be trekking down to Ashville, NC and stopping along the way at state and national parks in PA, OH and KY for hiking, kayaking, and seeing the caves. A little bypass from nature to the city (Columbus) should bring biking and a beer crawl. Have you seen how many breweries are in Columbus? Then we’ll head back up and stay at a resort in VA before making it home.

Anyway, for the most part, having a built in kitchen is perfect for me. I control my meals. However, there are times when I want a vacation too and being the full-time chef is not on my list of an awesome vacation. This weekend was the great saboteur. A rainy cold day on Saturday down on the cape meant we needed to get out of the spacious, but still tight RV quarters. We headed to Fisherman’s View in Sandwich. My downfall? The manager let us order off menu to let us have a Fisherman’s Platter. It was filled with fried fish, shrimp, scallops, clams and oysters. Not to mention the fries. Even splitting this massive plate, I couldn’t even begin to figure out how many calories I ate. Add to this the Fisherman’s View Summer Ale and life couldn’t have been better.  The guilt afterward was crushing.

How did I handle this lapse of judgement and debauchery? I made sure I ran every morning and toned it down the day before and day after with clean eating. Results? I was down a 1 1/2 this week. I’m officially in the teens now!

But, I feel lucky. That was a single day. It was also right after a horrible 3 week plateau where I seriously considered calling it a draw with my body and going into maintenance mode. I’m still cringing at how I wolfed down that amazing seafood. But, let’s be clear, I regret the act. I absolutely enjoyed every bite! Too much!

It’s the road trip where things are going to get interesting. Yes, I can cook. But, there are a number days where we have 6-7 hours of driving. That is a lot of sitting. I also haven’t a clue how I will get my runs in. I’m leaning on, and looking forward to, getting out on the local trails, but I’m also nervous that I don’t know the area and a little girl out in the woods by herself could run into a big bad wolf. I’m not a big pond and lake swimmer. I like clear water and clean beach. Some places we stay have pools, but I’ve typically found RV campgrounds (even the cushiest) have highly chlorinated pools that kill my eyes (too much peeing going on in those pools).

So, this week I’m building my plan to offset the days when we do go out and have some local grub and watch our butts spread across the RV seat. Not sure how this will work, but I’ll report during and after the trip. I’m hoping I can pull off at least a pound if not two over the next two weeks. We’ll see. Wish me luck.

My Weight Loss Mishaps While Traveling

It’s been 7 months and my weight loss and healthy living efforts certainly have paid off, in spite of my traveling. And, I do mean in spite of. Because, when I started I was much more diligent to figuring out this eating and working out on the road thing than I am now. The weight loss mishaps are a bit more frequent and I have to be diligent about recovery. Here’s my weight loss reports for the last 90 days. Overall trend is great, but I do yo-yo around a bit. That peak on 7/1? That was my return from Stockholm. Ugh.90 day weight loss

For those of you struggling and at times kicking yourself for your own mishaps or might have even completely fallen off the wagon, I’m going to share my mishaps (what I call syndromes) and what I do to get past and keep going.

Mishaps first:

Amazing restaurant syndrome: We all know how much of a foodie I am by now. I’ve even confessed to my food addiction. I do my best to find work-arounds to keep from getting hungry by having healthy things on me at all times and picking hotels that give me good healthy choices on the menu. But, when you need to go out and eat with colleagues and clients, things get a little challenging when suggestions for Italian or that amazing steakhouse come up. I’ve put down a few dumplings and spring rolls at the Asian restaurants.  I’ve gone for the bratwurst and fondue in Germany. I had a fried chicken sandwich at KFC. There was also the night of wine and caramel apple pie. I’ll be honest, I’m happier with Italian and the steakhouse because I can easily get a big bowl of mussels in wine sauce, big salad, or a double order of veggies.

Jet lag syndrome:  This is more of a problem when heading to Europe. Arriving in the morning, even after sleeping on the way over, I am still out of sorts. While I’ve been known to hit the gym when getting to the hotel as late as 9:00p at night if state-side, I’m way too tired to do more than grab lunch, soak in a tub/stand under the shower, and crash while CNN international is on the television. The next morning it takes all I have to get moving and the best I can do in most cases is walk the city.  For what ever reason, while I book hotels abroad that have fitness centers, I never go in.

Airport/Airplane and Station/Train syndrome:  I’ve looked, believe me. The food options in terminals and the trains/planes are horrid. While I’ve found some information online to help me know what the calories of things are and I’ve even asked the concierge desks of United if they have nutritional info, it is simply not out there. The United lounge (yes, I still fly United) has this creamy pasta alfredo I can’t seem to not put on my plate. The Luftansa lounge serves hot dogs (sorry, sausages), amazing desserts and you aren’t bothered with bartenders – just pour your own glass of wine/champagne or grab a beer. The business and first class meals on flights are small, but I’m not convinced they are really that low in calories and fat. They certainly have a lot of sodium. And, when going international, Luftansa again knows how to keep you happy with temptations of various course selections, desserts, sorbet in between courses, chocolates and the ever-flowing drink. Amtrak is equal to this with the 1st class meals on the Acela, but there really aren’t that many choices to eat healthy from the café car. The Hebrew National hotdog is 150 calories according to the package, but I don’t think that really included the bun.

Recovery:

  • Mental adjustment: In the beginning I beat myself up about my mishaps. Tracking everything, there wasn’t anything I could hide from. My 1500 calorie days stared me in the face. My Apple Watch rings weren’t closed. I didn’t have the work-out dot above my rings. I could go into a mode where I got really restrictive and exercise manic. Less than 800 calories per day for a week and working out for 90 minutes. This made my hungry, tired, ultra sore, and not a nice person. I’ve since worked more on improving my self-discipline so that when I do go off the rails it’s not a big deviation and I’m mentally back on track come the next meal or when I wake up the next day. I have to almost meditate my way back to long term thinking to achieve my goals.
  • Food choice: I’m a better planner now. I know if I’m stuck in route for long periods or have meal-meetings then I need to adjust the size of my other meals or be better at my choices if there are better options. This means I eat a ton of salad on the road, and that is not at all my happy place. I also eat small amounts. I’m better at knowing the right portion size after months of measuring and weighing my food. So that piece of salmon on a restaurant plate is 2-3 times the size of what my portion should be. I cut that portion off and only eat that. Breakfasts might consist only of a yogurt, 1/2 cup berries and a coffee. Sometimes it’s only the yogurt or berries. Then I have more wiggle room in the day. So, even when there really isn’t a lot of choice on the menu for healthy eating, I at least find the best options, maybe ask for some slight modifications, but keep my portions in check.
  • Exercise: Getting my running game on these past couple months has made a huge difference.  I burn more calories, my hunger after running is low, and it absolutely clears my head better than machine work-outs. I like it better too because in the past if I traveled to a great location I may not have time to really get to the see the place. Now, I can throw on my running shoes and set out in the morning for a tour. I also seem not to have the same feeling of drudgery with my run that I do for other exercise. This means that even while jet lagged in Stockholm last week, I got my runs in each day (except the day I got sick). Lesson here is that upping my exercise offsets a slight excess of a meal and doing something I love means I will do it.
  • Read-out: I’m an analytic junkie about my numbers. Calories, macros, weigh-ins, nutrients, activity level, you name it, I play by the dashboards and drill downs. When I get back from trips, the first thing I do the morning after is get on the scale. So far, I’ve only had one trip where I actually gained weight, last week’s trip to Sweden. That said, within a couple days, I got on the scale again and was down 1/2 pound from pre-trip and then another 1 1/2 pounds a couple days after than. Why did this matter? Seeing the scale again in context of my efforts/behaviors and getting back to the routine once home provided both motivation and encouragement. My gain was most likely water, in this case. What I will point out is that when I did come back from this last trip I didn’t go to extremes when I saw the scale, I just got back on the horse.

There really isn’t any rocket science to this. It’s about excess in moderation. Inevitably, this is how we should be approaching a healthy lifestyle. While my goal now is fitness level and weight loss, I’ll be in maintenance mode within a 2-3 months. I’m a little girl and watching how much I eat, the choices I make and the amount and level of activity will always make a difference to me staying at my goal or going back to my chubby girl self.

In the end, killing any fatalistic thinking that leads to the inevitable unhealthy lifestyle is key. Pushing away thoughts that give permission to avoid exercise or eat rich foods everyday is also key. I wish I could provide and even capture the silver bullet to proper weight and fitness. But, the real solution seems to be the ability to embrace a life that balances religiously mind, body and food. Throw in a little spiritual soul and its just a little bit better. It’s just about loving yourself and showing it.

Official health living start date: 1/3/2017
Starting weight: 168.8
Current weight: 122.9
Goal weight: 115 (but shooting for 110 to have wiggle room)

 

Walking Tour of Stockholm

In the morning I ran. In the afternoon I walked. Loving Stockholm so much I needed to add in another blog.

Stockholm view

It’s almost a 30 minute walk to the Nordiska Museet from the hotel and it was lovely. I walked part of the way through a tree canopy and part of the time along the water down Strandvägen. Water taxis lined the water. Small cafes served small eats and drinks. Further down were small masted ships pulled up. And people were out with friends, family, kids and dogs.

Then I headed across the a bridge and down Djurgårdsvägen to the museums and amusement park. It was at once quintessential European charm and Coney Island mashed together. Which, if I had to sum up Stockholm, this is it.

museetThe Nordiska Museet confirmed my impression as 400 hundred years of Swedish history was representative of all the borrowed and adopted culture from other Nordic, Slavic, and Germanic countries along with some uniquely Swedish points. The pride in the northern lights, toys, furniture and lighting showed. The jewelry exhibit was somewhat interesting and then took a surprising turn with Sid Vicious peering out above his punk studded collars between baroque pieces. The most surprising point for me was the section dedicated to the Sami (indigenous people). I had no idea Sweden wasn’t originally Viking. Yes, dumb American. But, the story between Swedes and Sami is so like our own American history with the Indians I was stunned. While the exhibit was small, the examples of shoes, hats, carved knives and handmade spoons were amazing. Certainly worth the visit.

Thinking I was heading toward Vikingliv (a Viking museum), I entered instead Galärvarvskapellet, a memorial garden . At first I thought it was an old cemetery with historic significance, but then I noticed how recent the dates were. Families are listed together. Each site is well cared for with fresh and planted flowers. And while I wouldn’t have typically walked through a cemetery, it was so beautiful and peaceful I enjoyed the calm.

brad paisley stockholmAs I made it to the amusement park, Gröna Lund, I got an eyeful. A kiosk had a poster of Brad Paisley promoting his concert in July (I have no idea who those men are but they wouldn’t move…oh well). The screams from the rides and sounds from the merry go round called out to me. The scores of tourists speaking in all tongues and then the familiar loud voices of the Americans slicing through. And not least of all, walking past the ABBA Museum where the once young disco dancers now gathered and moved in and out of the building with their grey white hair and walking sticks. I considered taking a look but realized I was the only one under 60. I guess that is what you get when ABBA was spinning on the record player when you are only 10.

I know this post is really only a diary of my sights, but in the end all my activity today has added up to almost 9 miles and 20,000 steps. With only a small breakfast and sleeping through lunch, I now wait for room service to bring me up some dinner of Thai meatballs, vegetarian spring roll and edamame. Little portions and its a nice way to close out the day.