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)

 

Never Going To Eat Boring

Go to any fitness or healthy living blog, website, or other self-help area and the advice to eat boring is the main suggestion. When I see it, I really have to roll my eyes. When it comes up seems to be more for those 10 vanity pounds or the people that are trying to go from fit to ripped. Maybe there are others on a bigger weight loss plan doing it too, but this just seems to be another fad and gimmick.

It is hard enough to retrain yourself to eat healthy, get in activity, and exercise at least 30 minutes per day. Then, do that not for a few weeks or months but for the rest of your life.  So the idea that you would eat lean chicken and broccoli every meal or some slight variation of that forever is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard. Never am I going to do that. Food, like it or not, is as much about sustenance as it is cultural connection.

I’m down 46 pounds so far. 7 pounds left for my happy weight, 12 pounds left to give me some wiggle room. Thus, I’ve been looking around at what I need to do when the weight is off and I move into steady state mode. The odds are against me. More than 80% of people that lose at least 10% of their weight gain it back and then some, and some estimates are as high as 97%. I’m reading up on metabolism, calories needed to maintain, and keeping to healthy habits.  I read this one article that blew me away and gave me some scientific perspective on keeping off the weight. It demonstrated how those that became overweight and obese physically change themselves and need different tactics to maintain weight loss compare to the forever skinny crowd. Here are some take-aways – former dieters that keep the weight off:

  • Eat on average 1380 calories per day compared to non-dieters that eat 1500 – 2000 calories per day. Although men would eat about 420 calories more than women.
  • Limited their fat intake to about 29% per day and generally modified what they eat to keep calories in check, like eating lower calorie dressings. Not so for the the forever skinny.
  • Exercised for longer periods than non-dieters. 60-70 minutes of walking or 35 – 40 minutes of higher intensity aerobics such as running to keep their metabolism up. This averages to about getting 200 minutes per week compared to the recommended of 150 for the typical person.
  • Eat breakfast everyday.
  • Weigh themselves at least once per week to keep on top of pounds that may be creeping in.
  • Limit television time.

What was striking in this study is that the habits of those that could keep the weight off had nothing to do with boring eating.  Yes, diet is consistent and continuous self control to keep within the appropriate calorie-in/calorie-out ratio was maintained. But, boring food was not explicit. The real thing is that they avoided splurging, weekend binging, and over-doing it during the holidays and emotional periods.  It comes down to discipline and control.

And, while I’m only a scientific study of one, in no way did I ever eat boring the entire time I was losing weight. My food was varied, flavorful, and still nutritious even if lower in calories, lower in fat and avoidance of processed carbohydrates such as flour/breads. If I had to eat boring, I’d be back at almost 170 pounds again after extreme deprivation.

Last night proved it. Here is what I had for dinner.

Turkey Puttanesca over Zoodles and Spaghetti Squash
Recipe serves 8
Single serving 266 calories

Sauce (for 8):
Jar Pemberton’s Puttanesca with Calamatta Olives Sauce
1 lb ground organic/no antibiotic turkey
5 oz cubed eggplant
2 T Tuscan seasoning
1 T chopped garlic
1/4 cup red wine
Ground pepper
2 pinches kosher salt
Cooking spray

Noodles (single portion):
3 oz Zucchini noodles
1/2 cup Spaghetti squash

Instructions:
Spray pan with cooking spray. Sauté turkey with Tuscan seasoning, pepper, salt. Add in eggplant and garlic when turkey is almost done cooking. When eggplant is almost done, add in red wine to deglaze pan. Add in Puttanesca sauce and reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Serve over noodles.

Noodles:
This is less about a recipe and more technique. I spiral my own zucchini which I find much fresher and less slimy than when purchasing pre-spiraled at the supermarket. It’s easy and it’s fun. For the spaghetti squash I simply cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, then place skin side up on a foiled pan. This goes in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until squash is fork tender. I take a fork and scrape the squash out which creates strands (spaghetti).

For this recipe I take the zucchini and squash and saute lightly to heat up but still keep the zucchini firm. I’ll add a small pinch of kosher salt and grind black pepper over it while cooking too.

This was absolutely not boring. But with simple substitutions like vegetables for my noodles and ground turkey rather than beef, I had a satisfying, flavorful, nutritious and filling meal. And Tom? He was more than happy with the dinner (he had a little more than a single serving!) – he even said he would have it again.

So there you have it, never think for a second you need to eat boring to lose weight. The goal is building up a habit of healthy living and mindful eating. Keep your macros in mind, the sugar low, and the activity strong and we can all lose the weight and keep it off.

 

 

 

 

 

Skinny jean hunter (criminal)

Is it horrible that I stole a pair of my daughter’s jeans?

To be fair, she is four inches taller than me and officially a size larger. So, when I saw a pair of her jeans come out of the wash that were definitely on the small side for her to wear (in my opinion), I took a chance. I snuck them up to my room, creeped into my dressing room, closed the door and immediately pulled these little jeans on and posed in front of the mirror.

…and ooh, did I look good!

Now, the proper thing to do was to fold them up nicely and put them back in the pile of clean clothes she would take to her room. Instead, I snuck them into my suitcase and brought them to Europe.jeans (2)

I even did another unthinkable, I took a selfie in my hotel room today in them as evidence of my crime. So, now you get to see me at 44 lbs smaller in all my criminal glory. (Maybe if I’m brave I’ll show you the old chubby girl me.)

I sit here blogging to you from my hotel bed in the glory of these skinny little jeans. They are so comfortable. I really don’t want to take them off. Can I sleep in them?

I guess the next step is if I will get the courage to give these jeans back. I mean, they really are too small for Em. I can’t imagine she still wears them. They were probably at the bottom of an old hamper and finally made it into the wash after years of neglect. Come on, they’re Delia’s jeans from her freshman year in high school. These jeans like me now, right? I look good in them. Right?

Ugh, I know, I need to give them back. Stop your tsking…

 

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.

Scenic Run In Stockholm

Well, I made it. It was a long trip to get here, but I’m finally at my hotel in Stockholm. Yesterday I was a mess and slept on and off in the afternoon and took in a late dinner in the Asian restaurant in the hotel.  The Berns Hotel is wonderful. It is the perfect boutique with a scrumptious magenta velvet sofa and big windows that let in a ton of light – even at 4:00a when the sun comes up! (What I didn’t mention was that the sun really didn’t go down until after 11:00p)

Stockholm Run

But, that was okay. It got me up and working on a presentation and by 7:00a I was ready to throw on my running shoes. The hotel is a block from the river where I could follow the marina and cross a bridge over to an island where the Museum of Modern Art was.  I circled the island then out across the bridge to follow the river past these wonderful European buildings.

There were people walking, biking and running everywhere. Some were heading to work. Others were on morning walks. Others like me were getting in their runs before the day started. One of the dock areas I passed was lined with tour boats for scenic tours throughout the islands and bridges. Seniors, Asians, and mixed tourists were all getting off buses and the subway to line up and get on their boats.  It seems the sun gets everyone up early in Stockholm.

The number of bridges and boats is incredible.  This truly is a city of islands and water. If there isn’t a boat, you can still see where there may have been boats in the past as there are random stairs and landings sprinkled about. There is every kind of boat imaginable from fishing and other commercial boats, to tourist, pleasure, and even reproductions. Just off the side of one marina was a makeshift shop where the hull of a reproduction boat was being built. I definitely have to check out the Viking Museum.

I loved the running tour. It made me feel part of the city even as I took in all the sights. I know where I want to go now. I know what I want to got back to and take pictures of. I also have a better sense of where I am in the city. The day is gorgeous, so I’ll add a ton of walking to get me around. Just more time to soak up Stockholm.

Chubby Girl in Philadelphia

Just got back late last night from Philly with mixed results. I started off strong before I left with a run up the hills of Hopkinton. The challenge then began by a combination of lack of preparation and going outside my typical travel routine.

philly

My daughter had college orientation so I traveled down with her with the intent on working in my hotel room for two days. Seemed simple enough. But, I decided to stay at the Hotel Monaco in Old City so I could get out later in the day and check out a few sites or do a running tour in the mornings. That was the downfall.

I learned this week how breakfast has become such a key success factor in my healthy living journey. The Marriott, Sheraton, Hilton, and Intercontinental hotels all have great buffets. I’m guaranteed a fast breakfast with lots of healthy options. Not so with Kimpton. You have to order up  to your room or at the restaurant. Where I am used to getting food in me within fifteen minutes and then running off to my day, the sit down experience meant that I either ordered up food that I wasn’t quite sure was fitting into my diet or I skipped breakfast altogether because I didn’t have time. Having ate my Skinny Girl bar I always have handy, the day I missed breakfast meant I didn’t eat until after 1:00p.

That starts the downward spiral of food obsession and hunger. The fact that I was still running these two days also meant that my hunger was stronger and my mind weaker. Day one I did a loop through the Old City and then headed to Penn’s Landing to run up and down the bridge stairs and outdoor theater stairs. Then headed to the hotel gym for upper body weights. Great workout, hunger inducing. The next day I stuck indoors to the treadmill as it was already 80 and humid in the morning. Then rushed back to my room to shower and hop on a call. Thus, when lunch and dinner rolled around, I was more focused on getting rid of my hangries and not thinking as much about good choices.

I had a bag of chips from the mini bar. I had a hot dog. I ate a turkey sandwich on a massive whole grain roll (only half, but still!). I had hash browns and a full chicken sausage along with a scrambled egg. I had two hunks of fresh mozzarella cheese (200 calories worth). I even stole some French fries from my daughter’s dinner on the way back to Boston. One of these choices in a week is one thing. To slide at almost every meal over two days was horrible. Yes, I had a crazy good roasted vegetable salad at a brewery. Yes, I grabbed a yogurt and red grapefruit at Temple U while waiting for my daughter at pick-up. Yes, I kept to my workout schedule. But, the scale told me all I needed to hear. Up a pound.

I know I’m paying for it in more ways than the scale. I had my go-to favorite this morning, an egg sandwich (Thomas Light Whole Grained English Muffin, Canadian bacon, fried egg, ultra thin swiss, and spinach). 250 calories of goodness. Instead, my stomach is in knots. I have not had enough plants in my diet and the heavy sandwich that normally satiates me as I go mostly vegan or vegetarian the rest of the day, feels like a rock. I’m also exhausted which is probably from poor eating too.

So, the chubby girl made her way back for a time. I now have to get back on the wagon and push the chubby girl off.

Philly Old City

What I will say is that my goal of doing a running tour was definitely worth it. I didn’t make it to the Rocky stairs this time, but it’s on my list for August when I send my little girl off to college. Instead, running through the historical parks, ducking into the alley where the Ben Franklin Museum was, and catching glimpses of the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and a mock up of the original White House, along with a fun challenge at the river amphitheater, was well worth it.

Maybe not all was lost.

 

 

Let the travel begin

The next two weeks are crazy. In NYC as we speak. Heading to Philly. Off to Stockholm and Geneva next week.

I’ve been lucky to have a bit of a hiatus from travel for a month. It went a long way to putting me in control of my exercise and food. Ever sick of the ‘salad’, eating at home let me get creative with vegetables again and even find ways to create salads that I like vs. the rabbit greens you get in restaurants.  And, as much as I try, I hate kale. Why is every restaurant salad now kale!

Day one travel isn’t going quite as planned. I missed breakfast this morning after rising late and scrambling, but was easily able to curb my hunger with a coffee on the way to the airport and tea on the flight. I hit up some NYC restaurant I can’t for the life of me remember the name, but it was on Avenue of the Americas down from the Hilton. Ahi Tuna tar tar and a big ole plate of grilled asparagus hit the spot. I crunched down on a Lemon Skinny Girl bar and another coffee during a conference presentation. Then I promptly lost lunch and snack on the cab ride to the airport due to the worst driving I ever experienced causing me the worst car sickness you can imagine.  So, completely not a bulimic moment, but man it was gross. Thank god for the bag holding my heels (heels removed).

I found this great dumpling restaurant in the airport and had Asian chicken lettuce cups and Edamame dumplings. It was so yummy and made me immediately forget my cab ride over. The only downside is that since 7:30p (it’s now 9:00p) the fire alarm in Terminal C has gone off 4 times. It’s hilarious how all the travelers look up, groan, and don’t even consider getting up to exit. Me included. So far all is well. Probably the crazy storms messing with the system.

I’ve got minimal time to get home tonight and pack for three days in Philly. I should have done this ahead but again, planning wasn’t in my cards. I think I’m secretly hating having to travel. The biggest thing is to make sure I bring my running gear and Bluetooth headphones. I may have to do a Rocky impression in the City of Brotherly Love. Or, I could jog around Temple University and use their stadium stairs for conditioning; although the real fun would be to do it because I’m going there to get my daughter to her college orientation and I could be the embarrassing parent.  No, I won’t do it, but thinking about it makes me giggle.

Anyway, for the day, I’m not doing that bad. Calories are in check. I hit my standing goal (12 hrs), exercise goal (over 30 minutes), and steps goal (over 10K) on my watch. I’m 100 calories shy on my move goal (400) but maybe after this I’ll get up and walk around the terminal. I’ve got almost 2 hours to kill still after my first flight was canceled and my current flight is delayed an hour. They will kick my out of the lounge in 45 minutes too.

Status

CW – 125.5
Achievement – out of the overweight BMI! Average run 3-5 miles.
Current trouble – I have almost no client presentable work clothes that fit. Down to four dresses I luckily kept from years ago.
Current luck – Old pants that are 2s and 4s in a saved bin fit! Just wish they were light enough for summer.
Working on – 10 lbs to go. Hitting 6 mile run. Climbing Falling Waters, crossing three peaks, including Lafayette, and going down Bridle Path in Fanconia Notch, NH for September. Woo Hoo!