March 11, 2016

Losing weight while traveling

Lately, I've been getting up at around 4:00 every morning. I don't set an alarm to get up that early, but apparently, my body is ready to start the day at that ungodly hour. I don't even feel tired, though--I wake up and I'm ready to jump out of bed!

It's been kind of nice to relax under the electric blanket, have a cup of tea, and reply to emails or something when the house is so quiet. This morning, I updated my SparkPeople page, and I started reading some of my old blogs on SparkPeople (there aren't many). I came across one that kind of impressed me--I had totally forgotten that I used to do this before a trip!

The title of the post is "Losing Weight on Vacation". When I was losing weight in 2009-2010, I actually went on four trips and lost weight on each of them.  This post was written in July 2010, and my views have changed a bit since then, but I still thought this might be worth reposting.

Currently, I think that vacation is a great time to enjoy local food and splurge a little (key word being "little")--but there is a way to stay balanced without going totally overboard. 

I've gone on a couple of trips since I started calorie counting, and I handled it well! I usually choose one meal to spend most of my calories on for the day, and I eat lightly for the other two meals (maybe something I've packed ahead of time, or just something small that I buy while I'm there). Choosing one meal to splurge on each day is a nice way to get to try local food, and enjoy vacation, but not stuff myself like it's my last day on earth ;)

I also ask myself, "Is this something I could eat at home?"; and if it is, then I usually pass. Why spend my splurge calories on a regular old pizza, when I could try amazing seafood in Key West, delectable New England Clam "Chowda" in Boston, or rich cheesecake in NYC? If the food is worth the splurge, and something I couldn't otherwise experience at home, then I will happily spend my calories on it.

You can't go to Key West without experiencing a Key Lime mojito! This pic is of Ada, Andrea, and me after Ragnar Florida Keys.

In 2009-2010, I was super-focused on my weight loss goals, so I was extremely prepared for trips (as you'll see below). While I don't think it needs to be quite so extreme, I thought some of these tips might come in handy for anyone who has to bring food along somewhere.

(The most surprising thing about this post I wrote is that I actually ate YOGURT, my least favorite food on the planet--wtf?! I don't remember that--it must have been a short phase, haha).

Anyway, without further ado, here is the post I wrote in July 2010 about losing weight on vacation...

July 24, 2010

Throughout my 11 months of weight loss, I've gone on 4 trips--and each trip, I went home a couple of pounds lighter than when I left. Staying on track while on vacation can be very difficult, especially if you're not prepared. But if you plan everything in advance, you never have to stray off of your weight loss plan.

I don't treat vacation as a time to "cheat" or "relax my eating" or a "free-for-all". I count calories (or WW points) just the same as I do at home. At home, I don't eat out very often--so I make it a point not to eat out much while on vacation. The best way of doing this is to BE PREPARED.  

First, I know that we will be eating out once or twice... so before we leave, I research local restaurants to where we are going and I print off the nutrition info for that restaurant. I highlight a few things that fit into my plan, and I bring it to the restaurants with me, KNOWING what I'm going to order before I even walk in the door.

If we are staying in a hotel, I call the hotel beforehand to ask if our room has a refrigerator and/or microwave, so that I know what I have to work with as far as food goes.

For the meals we eat at the hotel (or wherever we are staying), I prepare my own "convenience" foods. You know I'm a HUGE fan of oats, and I eat oats every single day in one form or another. Lately, I've been eating them uncooked, mixed with plain, fat free yogurt, and some yummy mix-ins like chocolate chips, coconut, walnuts, muesli, etc).

To prep these, I weigh out 40 grams of oats, and weigh out any dry ingredients I want--throw it all in a baggie, and it's ready to go. All I have to do is add 4 oz. of yogurt and it's a meal. I write on the baggie how many WW points or calories are in that baggie, so I don't have to look it up later.
"Instant" oats--Just add yogurt (or milk)

I bought a bunch of little plastic cups with lids (2 Tbsp. size, and 2 oz size) from Gordon's Food Service. In those, I weigh out portions of peanut butter, Nutella, almond butter, PB2, etc. I write the number of Weight Watchers points or calories on the lid and it's a single serving ready to go.

I can make PB&J sandwiches with the PB already measured out, or I can use the PB as a dip for baby carrots (a favorite snack of mine). I can eat the Nutella on a banana, or a english muffin.

PB2, Nutella, and Peanut Butter

I also made some convenient lunch bags--Taco Style Lentils & Rice. In a quart-size ziploc bag, I measure out: 3/4 cup lentils, 3/4 cup Uncle Ben's brown rice, 1 Tbsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, and a couple of beef bouillon cubes. All I have to do with that is add 4 cups of water, bring it to a boil, and let it simmer for 35-40 minutes, and I have lunch for four people.

Taco Style Lentils & Rice

When we get to our destination, I like to go to a grocery store and buy the perishables that we'll need--fruit like bananas and apples, almond milk, baby carrots, bread or english muffins, etc.

Before we leave for vacation, I'll sometimes make sloppy joe meat or taco meat and freeze it. Then when it's time to leave, I put it in a cooler and we can use the microwave at the hotel to reheat and that's dinner.

As far as drinks... I know that vacation is time for relaxing, so if that includes alcohol, you can prepare yourself in advance for that as well. I used to love margaritas--and I'd always order those huge fish-bowl size ones.

Little did I know that a margarita is one of the highest-calorie cocktails you can order! You can drink light beer all day long for the same number of calories in one of those margaritas. I prepare for this by picking a "go-to" drink--in my case, I choose a very light beer like Beck's Light or Bud Select 55, or a 5 oz glass of wine--and I stick with that, counting the calories. 

If you reeeally want a cocktail, just do your research before you go. Look up the calories in a few favorite cocktails and just make sure you keep track of how many you have! ;) 

This counts as ONE beer, right? ;) In Portland, it does!

So, the whole point is, if you really prepare, you CAN stay on plan on vacation. You just have to do some research about where you're going, and get a little creative. But think how happy you'll be to come home LIGHTER than when you left!

In combining those past ideas with current thoughts, I think staying on track while traveling all comes down to preparing and planning ahead, but allowing yourself the freedom of enjoying some things you wouldn't otherwise get to experience!


  1. This is a great post Katie! We're going to Orlando in a few weeks and staying in a timeshare so I know I will have a fridge - and thankfully there's no prob bringing food into the parks

  2. I really like this! I pre-plan but never pack foods, I have a family reunion in October and will be doing this!


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