How to Not Completely Forget Your Wellness Goals When Traveling

 
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I recently took off on a last minute trip home to Louisiana to visit family. I am always so happy to go home to see all the family that I can. It warms my heart.

In the past, I would say that all wellness goals fly right out the window when I went home. It was all about seeing how much fried, smothered, and covered food I could eat during my visit. I would eat out pretty much for every meal. I would carry Tums with me and would often need them in the evening, right before trying to stuff some leftover food or dessert in my mouth. I also made sure to try all the beer and other alcoholic drinks that were calling my name. I mean I was basically on vacation, right?

 
Chargrilled oysters are a must when I visit home. I think I got one or two of these, thanks to my nephew :-)

Chargrilled oysters are a must when I visit home. I think I got one or two of these, thanks to my nephew :-)

 

The one thing I would always try to do is at least get in some exercise. I was usually successful here, but couldn't say that I exactly felt my best during said exercise, considering my pre-exercise fuel. 

 
Got a lot of walking in at the local park with my nephew and brother!

Got a lot of walking in at the local park with my nephew and brother!

 

During my most recent trip, I followed a few guidelines that, not surprisingly, helped me to feel much better physically AND emotionally during this trip.

1. Eat at least one meal "at home". 

In the past, I found a way to eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This visit, I ate breakfast at home. Simple eggs and veggies to get the day started. Thanks to my sis for already having some pre-prepped when I got there. ;-) This guideline alone probably saved me from overeating at least 500 calories a day. Another thing we did a couple times was order food out and brought it home to eat. This can also be helpful for a few reasons: 

          *You may be less inclined to order fried food as it will be soggy by the time you eat it

          *Since you are not in a rush to eat and leave, you will eat slower, becoming more full before overeating

          *By transferring food from the to go container to a plate, you can create a more appropriate portion size, not feeling you have to clean the plate of the original portion

2. Chill on the fried food.

And this goes for all rich foods. This includes pre-packaged fried foods like potato and corn chips. I know, fried food and bananas foster bread pudding with ice cream is the bomb. I get it. I LOVE crunchy french fries. I grew up on fried food. But it provides no positive nutritional value for you (besides keeping you alive in the scenario of actual starvation). Sure, have a taste of some of the specialties you'll never see at home...but you don't need to eat platefuls of it. Chances are, in a few hours, there will be something else you just HAVE to try. When I used to go home, I ordered fried food almost every meal (probably why I needed the Tums). I had fried food twice this past visit. One was on accident, which brings me to a lesson in ordering food. You really need to ALWAYS ask how a food is prepared, as they may not list it as fried on the menu, yet it will be fried, which is a real bummer when you DON'T want your food fried (To my Louisiana friends, who fries BBQ shrimp???).

3. Chill on the alcohol.

Yeah I know, tough one for my alcohol connoisseurs out there. I am one of them. It's a triple threat because I love wine, beer, Mezcal, whiskey, and sometimes other stuff. I get it, especially when away from home, you want some fun drinks. The best strategy here, I think, is just to think about the facts...alcohol wreaks havoc on your insides. Just google Youtube videos "what alcohol does to your body". Acetaldehyde, fatty liver, heart and stomach issues, liver and brain cell death, cancer, anemia, organ malfunction....just think of those things the next time you're reaching for a third drink. Our bodies are incredible in the way they detoxify themselves as we constantly beat them up. Eventually, your body will start to wear out if you don't practice more self care.

4. Be very aware of your food choices, and your portions.

 So often, when we eat out, we order food, not really thinking of how it is cooked, how many vegetables come with the dish, how big the dish is, etc. I know most of us don't go out to eat healthy, BUT, there is a way to compromise by eating smaller portions and not ordering the dish that's fried, covered in a creamy sauce and cheese, with a huge side of buttery potatoes, or creamed spinach. It takes practice, and you won't get it "perfect" every time, but the more you try, the better you will get. Seriously, check yourself on portions. If you eat part of an appetizer, and entree, salad, sides, a dessert, maybe some bread or whatever free stuff they give you in the beginning.... that's a lot of food! 

 
Awww, Mom bought cupcakes for my birthday. I graciously ate a couple bites of one.

Awww, Mom bought cupcakes for my birthday. I graciously ate a couple bites of one.

My niece showing me how it's done.

My niece showing me how it's done.

 

5. Eat slowly.

This goes for food and drink. When on vacation, or sometimes with family or friends, we become excited when eating out. In that excitement, we may be influenced to eat faster, with gusto, often reinforced by seeing the same behavior exhibited by those we are eating with. Take the time to taste your food, chew it, feel the texture, and relish in this moment of happiness, taking in the ambiance, company, the food, and drink. Take a mental picture, put your fork down and talk, play the "guess the ingredients" game, which really helps to slow down everyone's eating, tuning in to every detail of their food.

6. Get the exercise in.

Don't become a couch potato when you are away from home. The less you move, the less calories you're burning, which is not good if you are also eating more calories than usual. You don't have to visit a gym or sign up for boot camp. It's also not only about getting one exercise session in each day. Find ways to keep moving throughout the day. Go for walks or a jog. Go window shopping. If you are with kids, find a playground or park, and bring a ball or frisbee. Hiking, swimming, cycling, kayaking, ziplining, indoor rock climbing, trampoline park....google activities wherever you happen to be, and get out there! Not only are you burning more calories, you are giving yourself a mental boost, having fund, and exercising two very important things, your heart and respiratory muscles!

 
Working off some calories at the local trampoline park. Need exercise? Find a 6 year old boy :-)

Working off some calories at the local trampoline park. Need exercise? Find a 6 year old boy :-)

 

7. Be a food/drink snob.

When I met my husband, he was not picky about food, and he'd drink almost any glass of red you would put in front of him. He is much pickier after 4 years with me. Unless you are dealing with a food insecurity issue, please do not feel the need to gobble up every morsel and drink you buy, just because it's there and you don't want to waste it. For many of us, our food problem is an issue of overabundance.  You can be picky, save your calories for the good stuff! Sometimes it's not just about being a "snob", it's about being able to push away the rest of the food. I know this is hard when the food or drink is really good, this is your brain talking. Try listening to your stomach too. When you start to physically feel full....move away from the food.

Unless you are on an epicurean cruise or a foodie trip to wine country, not every trip should be centered around food. For instance, when visiting family, even if your family eats out a lot, focus more on the time you're spending with your family, minus the food. Think of things you can do together, unrelated to food. When on vacation, what are the things you can do besides eating out? Go for a hike, or sightseeing. Take a healthy sandwich or some small snacks to keep you from getting too hungry. You can experience so much of a place, of people, unrelated to food. Food is only part of the whole picture.

 
The grocery run when I returned home. Fresh veggies and fruit for days!!

The grocery run when I returned home. Fresh veggies and fruit for days!!

 

I'll leave you with this thought. No matter how your next vacation or trip away from home ends up, no matter how bad you "fall off the wagon", do not feel like it is now an excuse to throw all goals out the window and continue down the road away from good health. This is often the case. How many of us get to that point a year down the road thinking, "how did I get here??". Allow yourself the fun time, regroup, and set some goals going forward to get you back on track.

If you need help with setting goals, figuring out the right goals for you, and reaching those goals, please reach out to me. I can help you whether you are in San Diego, Louisiana or anywhere else! 

-M

Michelle AbbeyComment