Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Punta Cana! Part 2

Oh, wow, what an amazing week! I'm so shocked that's actually been 10 days since we left for Cleveland and then Punta Cana. The week went by ridiculously fast. While it was amazing and I had a blast, it definitely feels great to be back home. After a long travel day, we got home at around 10:00 last night--and the kids started school this morning! I'm going to try and recap the vacation, but this post will probably be all over the place.

We stayed at Dreams Palm Beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. My sister had been to Punta Cana a couple of times before at a different resort, so she's the one who told me about it. I get way too overwhelmed when trying to plan a trip, so I love that Jeanie enjoys doing it, because she basically did all the planning and research for me! She read good reviews of Dreams Palm Beach on Trip Advisor, particularly for family vacations (with kids), and it sounded great to me.

The closest I'd ever been to a tropical vacation was when I went to Key West in January 2013, and that was to run a Ragnar Relay! So this was totally new to me, particularly the all-inclusive resort. That was actually what appealed so much to me--a trip we could save for and pay off BEFORE getting there, without any hidden costs or overspending while we were there. We'd been saving for a big vacation for a long time, and I was surprised at what a great deal we got on it (it ended up costing half of what I'd been planning for).

Anyway, my main goal for this vacation was to relax. I've had a very tough year, between losing Sarah and Mark, and then having to put Paolo down, and I really needed some R&R time! That mission was definitely accomplished on this trip.

Basically, each day looked pretty much like this:
Wake up.
Get dressed in bathing suit and suit cover-up.
Go to breakfast.
Go to the pool.
Sit at the pool for hours, get in and out of the water to cool down, play with the kids, and sip lots of beverages from the pool bar.
Go to lunch (or just eat at the beach--they had hamburgers and hot dogs, french fries, and chips every day, and sometimes paella).
Sit at the pool some more.
Go to the room and get ready for dinner.
Go to dinner, either at the main buffet, or one of the restaurants.
Have drinks and play a board game or two in the lobby.
Try really hard to stay awake and go to the show at night (never successful at this).
Go back to the room and sleep.

I realize that list sounds incredibly boring--there were a TON of activities going on at the resort, and we were given a schedule every day, but I was honestly really content to just relax at the pool (which is strange, because I've never been a pool person!). It was really nice to read my book, or play with the kids, or chat with Jeanie and Jerry. Here is what a typical schedule might look like as far as the activities:

We did some of the things--we just kept the schedule nearby and made a last-minute decision when the time came for each activity. The kids and Jeanie did the scuba diving lesson a couple of times. Jeanie and I did pool aerobics, which was actually really fun (and the only real exercise I did the entire week). Jerry did horseshoes, and won a bunch of fake money to use at an auction. I did a fruit carving demo, and it was hilarious--I was terrible at it, and the girl next to me did better than the man who was doing the demo.

I have no idea what my apple was supposed to be--bahaha!

But the majority of our day was spent at the pool...

This drink was called a Tucan--so yummy!

The kids loved getting sodas from the guy who paddled around in a kayak

Jeanie and the boys with their drinks

Jerry and I used the kids' underwater cameras to take pictures of each other
We hung out on the beach a couple of times, but the kids liked the pool better, so that's where we spent most of the time.

I had been worried that I was going to get there and completely pig out on food, because it's all included in the cost of the resort. But that actually didn't happen. Most of the food was just so-so tasting, and I didn't want to eat it if I didn't really love it. Also, I was worried to eat meat or anything that wasn't kept at a good temperature, so I basically ate vegan, with a couple of exceptions, most of the week (but not to confuse "vegan" with "healthy"--I ate french fries, pasta, and hash browns and things like that). But I did eat reasonable portions, so eating too much food ended up not being a big problem for me (the drinks, on the other hand...).

A few things that we tried were really good, though! I ordered a vegetable curry at the Seaside Grill, and that was awesome. Eli and I went to a cooking demo on the beach where they made paella and sangrias, and the paella was phenomenal. Even the kids wolfed it down. The pasta station at the buffet was delicious, too--you pick out the ingredients you want (I liked onions, mushrooms, garlic, and bell pepper), the pasta shape (penne), and then sauce (I chose marinara and alfredo mixed) and then someone cooks it to order for you.

Vegetable curry at the Seaside Grill

The one food I tried that ended up being the shocker of the whole trip for me was actually a fruit. When I first saw it sitting at the buffet, I thought, "Ew! Do people actually eat that?!" because it looked like orange snot with ants in it (sorry for that gross description, but that's the best way to describe it, really). Then one morning, the butler brought Jerry and I a HUGE spread for breakfast, including a couple of plates of fruit. And on the plate was that fruit that I had no idea what it was.

Our "breakfast in bed" from the butler!

I do like to try new things, and since it was there in front of me, I did take a little taste. And I was shocked! It was SO amazing. I later learned that it's called passion fruit--I'd heard the name, but had never seen one before. After that one bite, I started eating that every day for breakfast with some toast. I made the kids take a bite of the passion fruit, too, and Eli then went up and got his own because he liked it so much. He even bought passion fruit-flavored gum at the airport on the way home ;)

Passion fruit (photo source)

I had wanted to eat intuitively while I was there, but it was nearly impossible--not because of eating too much, like I said, but because I couldn't go with my cravings. I was craving meat really badly several times, but I just couldn't bring myself to eat it (out of fear of getting sick). But I did my best to eat what I wanted and not eat too much, and I am happy with how it went. (For the record, my sister, Jerry, and the kids all ate meat and none of them got sick--it was just an irrational fear of mine).

The thing I'm finding hardest about intuitive eating is how to fit in alcohol. At the resort, it was impossible to say no--and I honestly didn't want to. I was there to relax by the pool and sip yummy cocktails, so I didn't worry one iota about what effect that would have on my weight. At home, I obviously don't drink like that, so this was a week-long special occasion as far as alcohol goes. I tried several different cocktails, and I paced myself (most of the time...), but I definitely expected that the calories in that many cocktails would add up. This morning, my weight was up 7 pounds from when I left for vacation 10 days ago (!), but I know that probably 4-5 pounds of that is just water retention, so I'm really not worried about it.

Something that was a big change for me was that instead of seeing the gain and thinking, "Okay, back to counting calories/points, and staying strict to lose that weight", I thought, "Okay, now I can truly eat what I'm craving, and I'm definitely not craving any more cocktails!" ;)  This morning, I wanted eggs with cheese (two things that I didn't eat in Punta Cana). For lunch, I was craving tomato and basil bruschetta of all things--this was VERY strange, because normally, I don't even like tomatoes! And after that, all I could think about was vegetables, so I made a ratatouille with probably a dozen different veggies for dinner. I really do think that my body knows best, and right now, after a week of drinking and eating junk, my body is craving some healthy food.

I was worried about fitting into the bridesmaid's dress I have to wear this Saturday (yes, my brother's wedding is just five days after coming home from vacation--terrible planning on my part!). I tried on the dress last night, and while snug, it's still fits. Whew!

I will save the bikini post for another day. I wore a bikini for the first time in my life, and I felt that deserves its own post! I'll even post a few photos ;)


  1. "Wild" is one of my favorite books!

  2. FANTASTIC !!!!! Sounds like an amazing time was had by ALL : )

    So glad you had a nice relaxing trip... and that you ENJOYED it ! Welcome home... I look forward to about loving life in your bikini !!!

  3. So glad y'all had a great trip, Katie. Thanks for the great posts about Punta Cana. I love reading about your adventures!

  4. Glad you and your family had a great vacation! Your take on intuitive eating during the trip was very interesting, since indulging on holidays is a slippery slope for so many of us, especially upon returning to "normal" life. Looking forward to the bikini post. :)

  5. Happy to hear you and your fam had a great trip! You look beautiful in the black dress with the pink flower. Also looking forward to your bikini post - you are so inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I just want to say that you have really inspired me and I think you're totally badass. I joined a gym 4 weeks ago after reading your blog and knowing I couldn't stand the depression and anxiety I was dealing with for so long (I'm in therapy, which helps a lot, but wasn't enough at this point). The first day, I got winded just walking at 3.6 mph on the treadmill for 15 minutes. 4 weeks later- I can't believe it- I just ran 3.2 miles this morning! I know it's the treadmill and in a very controlled environment, but just seeing how many calories I can burn in 32 minutes and knowing how much better and how thankful I feel being able to get out and move has helped me tremendously. Losing a few pounds hasn't hurt, either!

    Thanks for making yourself vulnerable for all of us so that our collective strength can shine!

  7. Now I just HAVE to know...does Jerry make his same photo-face underwater? LOL!

  8. Katie -- I enjoyed reading about your vacation! (I also really loved your anniversary post a few weeks back.)

    So now I've lost 30 pounds from reading your blog and counting calories. I still have 70 to go. Thanks for inspiring me to make a change I thought that I never could!

  9. The trip sounds amazing. It's reminding me of our cruise we have planned at the end of the month. Like your vacation, all of our food is included as well. I'm also trying the intuitive eating right now and so it'll be interesting to see what options I have on the boat vs what I'm actually craving.

  10. What a great trip and wonderful description of it! Loved reading about the relaxing, the food, the drinking and the activities too. You have to appreciate being able to wear that bikini without fear of judgment from others, I know it's always a concern as a formerly obese person, but you look great. I especially loved the underwater picture. What fun! The family picture is great and I LOVE that black dress with the big pink flower--so attractive!

    I find it interesting that after a week of eating NO meat, you return home and are still craving veggies. GOOD FOR YOU! I wish I craved them more. I had the petite sirloin lunch at Ruby Tuesday's yesterday. It's only 350 calories and delicious, but I always substitute grilled zucchini for the broccoli (I can hardly face broccoli anymore), and I have to say, I had to choke down the last few bites of the zucchini. I am loving the garden tomatoes right now however, and bruschetta sounds particularly good. I just wish there was a way to eat it where it tasted as good as it does on those little pieces of toast. Cause those little pieces of toast add up fast--calorie-wise.

    I too had a momentary lapse last week, as I kept my three grandchildren and nibbled on their carba-licious snacks way too much. I was between Dietbets, so I didn't have that motivation. But last night I weighed in for the next Dietbet which starts today, and so hopefully can quickly get back on track.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful paradise vacation with us. Makes me feel like I went somewhere wonderful too!

  11. I had almost the exact same experience with a passion fruit in Africa. I had no idea what it was, but when I cut it open and tasted it, I loved it. I had heard of passion fruit, but never had seen one. The really odd part was that as soon as I cut it, I knew it smelled like passion fruit. This was 3 years ago and I still can't figure out how I knew what passion fruit smelled like.

    Looks like you had a great time!

  12. Ahhh that just sound so awesome!

  13. Sounds like a heavenly vacation! I haven't been to the tropics in a long time. The 2 times I've done all-inclusive, I thought the same thing about the food - just eh, not wonderful. But all the drinks are hard to pass up - and cheap alcohol as well. I never have gone to the tropics with kids though so I usually went completely overboard with the drinks!

  14. So glad all of you had a fun vacation. I love the family photo and the one of you underwater!

  15. So awesome! I'm so glad you guys had fun!

  16. This makes me really want to go on vacation again! I'm glad you had a blast and aren't beating yourself up for those vacation pounds.

    I'm the same way when it comes to alcohol. I just can't do it intuitively. I have to put some restrictions on myself there, otherwise I go overboard. That's a tough one! Recently I've heard it explained this way - instead of thinking about going with your cravings when it comes to alcohol, think instead of caring for your body. Think about what your following day looks like - does drinking a lot right now fit in with what you plan to do tomorrow morning? By drinking now, are you doing what's best for your mind (craving) and body? Good questions to ask!

  17. Punta Cana is on my list of places to go! It looks like you all had a wonderful time! How did you like Wild? I liked it so much and can't wait for the movie.


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