Vacationing Abroad: 8 Tips to Myself On Maintenance

Maintenance is hard, even with  my extreme paranoia. I actually got up to 112 on the scale, gaining 5 pounds from my lowest point and 3 pounds more than I feel comfortable at. So, the past two weeks I’ve upped my activity and watched more closely what I was eating. I’m down to 109.7 today. Not bad, but still only a few ounces shy of my max desirable weight. Especially with what’s coming up. I need all the wiggle room I can get.

I am 6 days away from our 15 day European vacation. Traveling on my own I can be more in control of my schedule, activities and eating. Traveling with Tom, that’s another story. There are so many things we want to do that fitting in my runs and eating healthy will be interesting. Add in the fact that Tom can eat anything and not gain a pound is just the opposite of what happens to me.

Last summer our RV road trip was a bit easier when I had my kitchen traveling with me. Every meal wasn’t at a restaurant. This year is different. Hotel breakfasts. Beer gardens. Restaurants. Ruin Bars. Rib sticking Austrian, Czech, Hungarian and Slovenian comfort foods. Oh yeah, and the wineries!

It’s been a while since I traveled and had a formal attack plan either to lose weight or stay on track. So, was going back through my blogs and diaries to see what might help me this time around. I think I have a plan:

  1. Come prepared to run: Every trip I pack my running clothes. For two weeks with little access to laundry, I need to be more prepared. So, my carry-on is going to be my running locker. Shoes, socks, shorts, shirts, bras, flip belt, and huge playlist.
  2. Have maps ready: I normally just go up to the reception desk or concierge, even in Europe, and ask for running routes. While I could do this, in the interest of no excuses and being prepared I’m printing maps out and highlighting the routes and mileage.
  3. Hike, hike, and more hiking: A key activity on our list is hiking through the Alps. On these days I’m not going to run (unless on the trail!). My hope is that I do enough that it makes up for and then some of the activity time my running would normally account for.
  4. Local markets: One of the things I love in Europe, the farmer markets. You can always find stalls of fruits and vegetables. Some will sell wine, cheese and breads. There isn’t any need to always eat at restaurants when you can pack a canvas bag with fresh produce and picnic on the Danube.
  5. Go vegan/vegetarian: I’m not at all vegan or vegetarian. I love my meat, eggs, cheese. But, keeping my waist in check means upping my veggies. The good thing is I’ve found there are plenty of vegan and vegetarian dishes on restaurant menus in the European cities.
  6. Make Tom my tourist running buddy: Tom and I get out every other morning together to run some of our local trails. He is way faster than me. But, I run farther. This weekend he ran side by side with me for 4 miles (still short for me) rather than his typical 3 miles. And, he like it. Me too! So, I am taking some of the maps and looking at routes where we can do a fun run past local sites to scope out our surroundings.
  7. Bikes!: My mother went on a tour where the group got out in a couple cites where they picked up city bikes and cycled around. There are tons of bike trails in Vienna and city bikes available. I’m scoping out the kiosks/bike dispensers so we can go on our own bike tours.
  8. Just relax: I’m going to have a few bad days. There is going to be some amazing food. There will be lazy days. There will be our visits to the beer gardens and ruin bars that add empty drinking calories. But, that is what vacation is for. Tom is planning on gaining some pounds. I’m planning on holding the line. Ultimately, I don’t want to obsess but enjoy. Gluttony on a few days, just not everyday.
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On the road again

Philly this week. NYC next week and the week after that. Kansas City, Naples FL, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Europe (twice), still deciding on an invitation for China. All this before the end of April. Can I keep my healthy travel habits? Will I die trying?

Blogging in the hotel bed now and dealing with achy legs from my treadmill run at 8:3op after I checked in. A day sitting on the phone and then stuck on the plane left me idgy and ready to move. Eating was not quite on target with my choices but it did stick to my calorie goal. Running out the door and online ordering a Starbucks latte and ham and cheese croissant put me at 500 calories of caffeine and fat. I made up a bit at lunch with a cup of turkey and sweet potato soup and a few pretzels with hummus. Dinner was a mini turkey wrap and apple  from the airport concession. But I couldn’t pass on the Terra blue chips on the flight and my beer and skinny popcorn as my workout reward. Clocked in at 1400 calories with little of the veg variety to show for it.

Tomorrow is a new day and open for a new strategy. I didn’t quite have one going into today except to make sure I hit the gym and stayed in my calorie goal. Maybe I stick to fruit and yogurt for breakfast to save room for the mystery lunch at my client. They asked and took my request for healthy so I’m hoping for a chicken salad. That gives me a little wiggle room for the airport dinner. I need a rest day from exercise as my legs are a bit more sore and tired than I’d like, but think that means I’ll hit the gym in the morning for time on the elliptical rather than high impact treadmill running.

Where will my inspiration come from? Just got an alert about a Beach and Back run. Maybe its time to pick the first 5k of 2018.

I’ll Start Tomorrow is the Kiss of Death for Health

What statement is the kiss of death for healthy living? “I’ll start tomorrow.” As soon as it crosses your mind you are doomed. You’ve just started with procrastination. You’ve made up your mind that getting healthy or dieting is hard. You’ve already determined that this isn’t really something you want to do.

So, don’t start tomorrow. Just start. Start living.

Coming up on one year of my chubby girl journey (2 days to go!), I learned that the single biggest challenge is not the food, not the exercise, it’s the mindset. You don’t all of a sudden wake up and go from a healthy weight and lifestyle to a chubby girl couch potato. You trained yourself to be like this.

I’ve been taking a look at how I’ve changed my life outside of the obvious healthy living changes to understand what it took to reprogram me for life long health. What I realized is that it all came down to a decision to experience life. Here is what I did that was less about food and exercise and more about enjoying life as a healthy person:

  • Turn off food shows: I learned to cook by watching Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Charlie Trotter, and all the other PBS chefs. Saturday’s were my time to watch, compile my grocery list and try to recreate the dishes or use the techniques I just learned. Fast forward to cable TV and food became an obsession with competitions and diner food porn.  And so, my waistline went up. This year, I paired back to PBS Create to get back to the education of food using tips from the chefs that showed how to make recipes heathy, vegetarian/vegan options, and learn to enjoy clean eating.
  • Take in the sights: Traveling for work is grueling and rarely fun. I lived in airports, taxis, conference room and hotel rooms. The best times were when I could get out to eat where I could watch a hockey game or decompress with a colleague. Bar food, rich foods, beer, wine and desserts were constantly flowing. This year I made a choice to get out and about in the cities I traveled to. I squeeze in a museum or a last minute ticket to a game. Or, with little time, my running shoes took me on a tour of the city. I make sure I collect experiences in my travels.
  • Cut the cord: This was the hard one and something I had to work up to.  Cable food and home shows were first to go. Then it was my NHL network. The last was the cable news. It took a year to pair back and then finally be free. I haven’t had cable news in a month which was the hardest as I, like most, was glued to the reality TV of politics. But, I’ll be honest, going 100% to a news feed on my iPad and the occasional evening or weekend news show on local TV does wonders for my sanity. It has done wonders for my mental state to use cord cutting as a way to detox from toxic and minute to minute depression news.
  • Embrace rather than escape: My mindset over the past decade was how to escape the pressures of life. Anxiety was a constant in work and at home. Food was one way I escaped. But living in front of a TV, sleeping in and taking long naps on the weekends, and overall creating a cocoon for myself at home was the way I coped. This year I looked for ways to come out of the blanket of anxiety, depression and retreat. Even if that meant putting on a bikini while 150 pounds and laying out at a Florida resort, that seemingly small decision was symbolic of joining life rather than hiding from it.

One Simple Travel Tip To Stay Healthy – Just Keep Running

I realized I created a habit while not even thinking about it. While road warrioring, I get to my hotel room, change into running gear and go for a run.

It could be indoors or outside.

It could be slow or fast.

It could be for 30 minutes of an hour.

It could be morning, mid day or evening.

It doesn’t matter. I just do it.

The realization came when I took my son up to NH this weekend for a hockey tournament. I got to the hotel and had the most compelling urge to run. At 3:30 in the afternoon and sitting in a car for 2 1/2 hour, I had to just run. So I did.

Why is this so important to me? I realized that running is a habit. Not an exercise. Not strictly a passion. It is something I just need to do. Almost like brushing my teeth. I realized on the couple of days that I don’t run I feel like I forgot to do something or feel like something is missing.

I have only been running since May, six months. Running while at home is certainly easier. But the fact that I have a routine of hitting the road, trail or treadmill just after checking into my hotel when traveling is an eye opener. It means I moved from running as a way to keep my weight in line to a healthy living lifestyle.

Maybe running will be your thing. Or maybe you get on an elliptical, rower or bike. Doesn’t matter really. The simple trick is finding the one thing as a road warrior that will drive you to exercise and it isn’t a chore but a need to fulfill. Now your have a habit, drive and motivation.

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!