Michele’s Hockey Tournament Parent Survival Guide

If the holiday season kicking off early for me last Thursday with my in-laws coming in wasn’t enough, this weekend saw me in NH for my son Matt’s hockey tournament. For those of you not familiar with hockey culture, the tournament is as much for the kids as it is for the adults. Its one of the few times us hockey parents can step out of the grind. We can get a block of hotel rooms, let the kids loose with all the other hockey teams, and kick back with food, drinks, and late night socializing. This is a three day party.

Now, if you are hotel staff used to hosting hockey teams, then this is not an issue, you know what you are in for. For guests that are not with any of the hockey teams staying at your chosen hotel – sorry. We do try to keep the kids from running through the halls and carrying on. We do reserve function rooms for them to play knee hockey. We do take them to the pool – but you don’t want to be there then. We do book at least one night where we take the party to a restaurant for several hours. But, invariably, we do take over. Advice, grab a beer and join the hockey parents.

Anyway, believe it or not, staying healthy during this weekend of early mornings, late nights, and running to and from the rink and pool is harder than a holiday routine. I’m guaranteed meals of hamburgers, pizza, chicken fingers, fries, pasta casseroles and junk food.

The only saving grace is that our tournament was up at Waterville Valley where they have a full athletic center. And, when the cold and wind weren’t beating us into submission, it was not a bad walk from the lodge to the “town” and rink. So, I was able to hit the gym when I pulled in on Friday then again on Saturday morning for a run and the weight room. And any walking about easily got me between 16K and 20K steps.

My meal strategy was a crazy mix. I packed a bag with oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, butternut squash soup, my cauliflower broccoli pilaf, granola, wheat crackers, Babybel cheese and homemade pate. I also grabbed some turkey and tuna at the local grocer. Breakfasts and lunches were at least in line so that even as I packed in the junk food for dinner and over drinks, it could have been a lot worse.

I tried, really I tried. But when you’ve had a first drink the inhibitions already start to kick in. When the table in front of you is filled with corn chips, guacamole and caramel corn, that is going to go in my mouth. At our team dinner, the healthiest things on the buffet were cesar salad and eggplant lasagna. While I grabbed both, two meatballs came along for the ride as well as a piece of garlic toast. I can’t really blame that meal choice on having a drink though. I stuck to soda with a splash of cranberry and lime. No, it was all me!

In the end, I did fine. My weigh-in was 109.1 this morning. Just where I need to be. What made the difference?

Hockey Tournament Parent Survival Guide For Healthy Living

  • Keep room for one meal cheat. My group meals were the killers even with portion control and a tight grip on the alcohol (no more than 2). They accounted for more than half my daily intake. But, keeping my other meals healthy and under calorie gave me wiggle room. A large Americano gave me enough caffeine to curb my hunger and avoid snacking.
  • Just exercise. I took my own advise from my travel tips. After 2 1/2 hour driving in the car it was as bad as sitting on the plane. Even though everyone had gathered already when I got to the hotel, I still got in my running gear and ran. I also made sure I got in a good weekend workout at the gym. Sunday was a day of rest because of schedule, but I still had put in 6 days of exercise.
  • Keep tracking. It’s sobering when you continually track all you meals and can see the calories add up. By tracking after each meal, it kept me mindful even when the bad stuff was in front of me. Watching my activity level along side my eating also made me aware of keeping calories in and calories out in balance.
  • Get inspired by the hockey. Watching 14 year old boys skate hard and battle it out over the puck and on the boards makes you very aware of your own age and fitness. Could I do that today? No. But, it sure looked fun and I would love to play. Add to the fact that we were at a ski resort and my ski passion kept me motivated to stay fit and get my exercise in.
  • Wear Team USA exercise gear. Okay, this is really dorky and to some a waste of money. But, I got a Nike Team USA track and field jacket at a deep discount at TJMaxx a couple weeks back. Of course I’m not a professional or Olympian. The thought of a marathon kills me. Yet, there is something amazingly awesome about pulling on that jacket that makes me feel like one and inspires me to just run!
  • Its about the distance, not the day. When I got back home I immediately started to get back on the program by cooking up healthy food that I can grab and go. I don’t have to think about cooking and what I’ll eat, I can easily cleanse my systems of all that horrible, but so good, junk food.

It was all worth going up. They won! (There’s my Matt on the right – he’s the goalie)

EC Leafs Waterville Vallley Hockey Tournament 2017

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Tokyo Ended: Landed and Grabbed a Burger!

Japanese food is great. In Tokyo, it is way better than in the US – obviously. But, after three days of Japanese meals I was longing for American food.

How did I celebrate being back in the US? A big juicy gouda, bacon and crispy onion burger on brioche with fries at JFK. Controlling myself, I only ate half the burger and fries. Even if I wanted to I couldn’t eat the whole meal. I racked up the bad eating and have no regrets. Bow to the burger!

Checked in on facebook and saw Tom skipped the outdoor run for the elliptical. 34 degrees was just too cold for him. I’m a little peeved he didn’t. So, I’m taking him to the running store for cold weather gear. Probably will pick up some stuff myself. If I’m going to dis him online I should eat my own dog$h!t. Right?

Burger was awesome. Fries crispy good too. Calls from Tom, daughter and oldest son as I typed this blog entry welcomed me home too. The little cheat meal was so worth it. Will run it off in the morning!

Slogging Out A Busy Travel Month

Last week Chicago, this week Tokyo, next week back to Chicago. I’m gearing up for the jet lag battle, managing through daylight savings time, and still stay on my healthy living journey.

My disappointment so far is that the weather and time schedules made runs along the river, out to Lincoln Park, or even just getting outside this week was a firm no. But, brand new Lifestyle treadmills at the six week old Marriot made my 30 minute runs with Stephen Colbert easy with its nice cushioned pad. While there weren’t many healthy options in the lunch buffet line for the event I attended (per the norm), the butternut squash frisee salad, caramelized cauliflower and roasted Brussel sprouts at Woven and Bound was amazing for dinner.

As I head to Tokyo, my anxiety is how to overcome jet lag. Yes, I’m flying over in business class with flat bed seating, but that doesn’t mean I will sleep long or peacefully. I’m guaranteed to be a mess for the three days I’m there. I’m hoping that a run will help me stay steady. Ideally that will be a run through Tokyo, but my feeling is that I’m back on the treadmill in the hotel. I’m not that disappointed that I won’t see the city. I’ve been to Tokyo many times. But, it has been almost ten years and a lot can change. To be honest, I want the outdoor run as another way to notch my running belt for the experience of feet hitting the road/trail in another part of the world.

I’m not fretting the eating so much lately. Oversized portions of salad and vegetables and light portions of protein and grains is keeping me satisfied and in my calorie allowance. While there certainly are days I go overboard – my night at Woven and Bound included a dessert pretzel and raspberry gallette was a 2000+ day – there are days I eat much less (~1100) simply because I’m not hungry. Keeping my metabolism up with at least 30 minutes of running or exercise 5 days a week seems to be the trick.

However, I won’t lie or minimize the effort. Maintenance mode is hard. Not having the scale for feedback during the week puts me in paranoia mode that I’ll come home to see I’ve gained 5 pounds. Avoiding some amazing entrees featured on menus is torture. Constantly having to make trade-offs knowing and not knowing what I’ll encounter for meetings over meals, meals ordered by clients, or those dreaded buffet lines is terrifying.  The only saving grace right now is that food in Tokyo is so fresh, oriented toward fish and vegetables, and much smaller portions than what you get in the US. And, it’s not just sushi, bento boxes and udon soups – but I love those too!

I went into this week at 109.3 and ended the weekend at 108.6. My first outdoor run in two weeks today had me at a 9:07 min/mile pace – a personal best. I ate cookies, pies, donuts, pasta, breakfast sausage, and had wine and cocktails this week. And still, my healthy living plan overall kept me on track. I think what I’m realizing is that I need to mostly eat healthy during the day and I can treat myself that day, but within reason. But, I  really need to keep my metabolism up and running, so exercise is more important now than it was when cutting back on food was more important in the beginning. There was an interesting study of the Biggest Loser participants that bears this out.

A wrap up:

  • Stay paranoid: as soon as you let your guard down or think you have ended, you will most likely go back to your old unhealthy self. A healthy dose of paranoia where the scale tells you that you are staying in a 1 – 3 pound range says if you need to cleanse for a week – aka put yourself back on your program for 7 days.
  • New normal for exercise: If you were working out 6-7 days per wee, 45 – 60 minutes per day, if you pull back to 30 minutes per day 4-5 days per week at high intensity, all can be good. You need to find what you can do FOREVER. If what you did while pulling off the weight is unsustainable, get real and find what is doable. Then, adjust your food for that.
  • Always change: What worked for me at the start of my journey, in the middle, at the end, and today is so very different. If you read guidance and promises of a regiment to follow, don’t believe it. You will always tweak your lifestyle as your body is getting used to the new normal every day at a time.
  • Don’t obsess the scale: It’s not the number as much as it is about how your feel and how you feel about how you look. Get on the scale at least once a week for feedback. But, use your clothes and the mirror to tell you when you think you are adding a little padding or if you are getting bonier that you want to be. Its a holy trinity – weight, clothing size, mirror.

 

Living the Commuter Life Is Cramping My Healthy Living Style

Yes, it is time for my whiney blog. This week I stayed in town but needed to commute into the city every day rather than work from home. Boo hoo, you say as the tiny violin between your fingers plays, that’s life baby. But, I am so used to the flight of stairs commute to my office that spending 90 minutes or more on the Mass Pike into the city then againout to attend an event and meetings with my best vendor clients sucks.

What also sucks is that by going into the city I am confronted with the same challenges as when I travel: access to healthy food, eating in a timely manner before I hit the red zone, and working in my run. Add in the added hassles: Having to wake up at 5:45a and the fact that daylight savings time hasn’t kicked in so it is dark until after 7:00a means no early run. Meetings at lunch means no getting out for a run or even hitting the The horrendous commute back to my house in what city people would call the boonies.

By the time I did get home each day this week, my commuter angries and low blood sugar level by not having eaten anything since 1:30p kicked in. The only way to detox was to immediately shed my monkey suit, throw on my running gear and crash my treadmill.

God I miss the road. I miss healthy food that doesn’t make me feel bloated, achy stomachy and hungry an hour later. I even miss having to live healthy when traveling since then I at least don’t have to deal with commuter traffic and the airport lounge and hotel staff always take care of me. I miss the fact that I can roll out of bed at 7:00a, hit the gym or road for a run and still have time to get ready, eat and head to my meeting.

So, to those of you struggling to get healthy and stay healthy while road warrior-ing, there are no excuses. It is so much easier on the road.

In the grand scheme of things, I dropped to 108 (almost 2 lbs) on Monday and all my running around like a crazy lady has kept me there. It gave me license to add back a little on my plates this week. Good thing too; there was Boston Cream Cake pinafores on the dessert buffet table. Score!

 

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!

 

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.