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)

 

16 days into my weight loss program…

16 days on my official diet (Weight Watchers) and I’m down from a high of 169.6 lbs to 163.2 lbs. 60 lbs to go.

The big challenge came this week as I had to travel to Munich for a client meeting.  The good news, I made it back  and found I lost a pound! I almost cried – in joy.

munich

I had the worst time eating healthy and accurately tracking my food. A night out with the crew found me in front of a fondue pot and 4 glasses of wine. If I put in a meal name, my trackers always showed the diet prepackaged meals that don’t nearly resemble real restaurant food. The only thing that worked was my Apple Watch that tracked my activity.

Travel is my downfall.  Finding good food on the road is almost impossible unless you eat salads at every meal.  And, I hate salads!  Fitting in exercise outside of running across the concourse at airports to my gates (looking like I’m fleeing TSA) is another challenge.  Unless I’m in a big city and can get a walk in from hotel to client instead of taking a cab, my butt sits in conference room chairs, hotel beds, and restaurant seats and stools.

I haven’t found a program yet that gives me realistic tips and support for my travel lifestyle.  These seemed to be designed for people that can buy whole foods and cook at home. Apps don’t have menu items at hotel and high end restaurants in their trackers. Airlines don’t publish their nutrition information for the hot meals in first and business class. European hotels don’t always have gyms. The advice I get is, “Eat bland.” Well, not a good answer in my book.

Here’s what chubby girl learned this week…

  • Eggs are a girl’s best friend.  Have the hotel scramble up some eggs without oil, butter, or milk/cream.  Have them add in chive, spinach, mushrooms, any vegetables you like. Make sure they scramble and don’t turn it into an omelet. Don’t add cheese. The scramble comes to you light and fluff and completely fills you up. With a cup of coffee (splash of milk and stevia) all is good in the world.  Weight Watchers points 4 – calories ~200
  • Veggie crudité for that trip out. Skip the airport food and smoothies. Don’t buy the airline snakes. Fix up a disposable container of cut up veggies and drop in a mini container of hummus. Add in a cheese stick and you have a great light meal. Weight Watchers points 2 – calories ~175
  • Plan for big dinners. At least in Europe, dinner is a big deal. So, I ate very light during the day. I had enough to keep me from starving which also meant I needed to have the biggest salad I could find/make with some very lean protein and minimal dressing at lunch (blah!). It was horrible, but by the time dinner came, I had more to work with and could enjoy more options. I only had to avoid the obvious ones like wiener schnitzel, spätzle,  or overly saucy items. This allowed me one guilty pleasure night.
  • Pack nuts in snack baggies. I have an addiction to Sahale nuts. I can eat the whole bag in a sitting which is 4 1 oz servings. So, this isn’t something I would give up. Instead, I took Ziploc snack bags and put in 3/4 oz of nuts. Put these baggies back in the Sahale bag and brought it with me. I broke in once – as I was stuck in traffic driving home from the airport and felt the h-angrys coming on. Weight Watcher points 4 – calories 120
  • In city, walk. I do this anyway, but I forced myself to get out for walks to explore the city and not just a way to get from point A to point B. Carving out an hour a day had to be a rule as otherwise I would be in my hotel room working. It was more about giving myself permission rather than the fact that there wasn’t any time. I can find half an hour to an hour at home. I just needed to do that when I travel.
  • If you have to eat airline food…I was lucky to be able to travel first class where there are other choices for food. The portions are about the size of what you get from a single Stouffers meal which I know is about 500 calories. So, I skipped the bread, and dessert and kept to the salad and half of the meal that had a lean meat or was vegetarian.  At a mile up, eating too much doesn’t make me feel good anyway so I didn’t mind cutting back. I said no to the alcohol and stuck to water and tea with lemon.  FYI – here is a helpful link that shows different airlines and their menus/snacks in coach (wish there was info for first and business class meals too) http://www.dietdetective.com/dietdetective-com-annual-airline-food-investigation-health-ratings-2016-17/