How to Survive a Long Weekend Food Fest, and Still Enjoy Yourself

Overview:

  • Portions still matter, calories still matter
  • Maintain healthy eating patterns
  • Be active, however you can
  • Return to your routine as soon as the trip is over
  • Enjoy your vacation guilt free

Reuben Sandwich with fries, authentic Mexican fajitas + 20 oz. margarita, Denny’s Grand Slam* and Gino’s East – Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza. (*The Grand Slam was custom, more about this later*)

Rueben...

Rueben…

What do all these foods have in common?

 

I consumed them all this past weekend on my road trip to Cedar Point (the rollercoaster capital of the world) with my lovely fiancée, Amanda. You know what also rocks? After just one day of being back, my weight was right back to where it was before I left. (I’m not a huge fan of the scale, but I weighed myself purposely before the trip because I wanted to prove this point)

Fajitas...

Fajitas…

Now before you think I am trying to rub it in your face and brag about how much crap I ate, let me make it perfectly clear that I sorta am. That may sound harsh, but at the same time I want it to. I want to get rid of this notion that you have to starve yourself, forgo enjoying foods that you want to enjoy, and make all these terrible sacrifices while going on what is supposed to be a fun, and enjoyable vacation.

This being said I also want to make two very clear points:

  1. I am not overweight, obese, or really trying to lose weight right now. However, I do not want to gain weight either with my wedding coming up in 5 months (HOLY S#!T)
  2. I realize how hard it is to lose weight, I know that it is not easy, and I know this post may come off as offensive to people who really struggle with their weight. I work with people every day who struggle with their weight and body image. I was once there. I was once 260 lbs. (45 more than I am now) and I lost it and kept it off now for over 6 years.

20 oz...

20 oz…

In no way do I mean to offend, rather, I want to help people regain control of their lives without obsessing over food while trying to enjoy their lives.

Now, how the hell did I consume this food, along with riding in a car for 14 hours over the weekend, and not gain a single fraction of a pound? This is where the magic happens…

First off, go back to the word: vacation. This should be a time of enjoyment, relaxation and plenty of fun. It doesn’t mean pure gluttony. The foods I listed at the start may sound like pure gluttony, however I will argue they were purely part of the vacation. The follow-up to that reasoning would be; how are those foods not gluttony?

Gino's East...pure enjoyment, only 350 cals per slice!

Gino’s East…pure enjoyment, only 350 cals per slice!

This brings me to point numero uno:

1) Maintain Portion Control and At Least Match Calorie Goals

Yes I ate some less than “healthy” foods, but no I did not eat ONLY those foods nor did I eat ridiculous quantities of those foods. Here are the quantities of the foods I ate:

  • The whole reuben sandwich, half the fries, water for beverage
  • The entire plate of fajitas, and the 20 oz. margarita, water for beverage (this was the day we spent at the park, in which I tracked over 16000 steps, and had a tiny sandwich for lunch to avoid puking all over my fellow riders)
  • A build your own Grand Slam (2 eggs, 2 egg whites, 2 chicken sausages, and whole wheat pancakes) coffee as beverage
  • 2 slices of Ginos East deep dish

All of these meals (except the fajitas) were right around 700 calories, which for me, is my goal per meal to maintain my current weight. Yes, they weren’t very nutritious, but calorically they were “controlled” and consistent with my caloric intakes prior to the trip. I could have easily ordered a full Grand Slam or had a third slice of pie – making these meals closer to 1200 calories each.

"Healthified" Grand Slam

“Healthified” Grand Slam

This is where mindful eating can be huge. Slow down, and listen to your body. Eat until you are satisfied, but not bursting at the seams.

If you have NO CLUE how to guesstimate your calories, use an app like MyFitnessPal to check out your meal options BEFORE ordering them.

You can even use the strategy with fast food joint. Yes they aren’t optimal, but it also doesn’t mean you need to pound 1500 calories in one meal. Do your research BEFORE you eat it, or plan out a cute car full of healthy meals and snacks, like my good friend and fellow RD, Jen, suggests here on her awesome blog.

*All other meals on the trip were very light, because I knew we would be going on rides, or eating hardy later in the day.

2) Maintain normal eating patterns

I am not a big snacker throughout the day. If I do snack, it is usually a protein shake or another source of protein and maybe a little healthy fat. Therefore, the only snack we brought in the car for the drive was beef jerky. The big goal again is to maintain some consistency.

People tend to go crazy with snacks in the car, why, I have no clue. You are literally setting yourself up for boredom eating. Car rides suck, especially when you have nothing but flat ass northern Indiana and Ohio to drive through.

jack.links_.beef_.jerky_

If I would have brought M&M’s, sodas, chips, trail mix, etc. I can guarantee I would have pounded those foods like nothing. Only bring snacks if you are a snacker, and you know you snack responsibly. If so, only pack portions that you normally would eat so you can’t devour an entire bag of almonds in one sitting (almonds are healthy, but are still easy to over consume)

3) Physical Activity is a MUST

Notice I didn’t say exercise here. It doesn’t have to be an actual workout, but move around when you have the chance. Go explore the local areas. Find some state parks that are close by and walk, climb and hike them. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, then you may have to get a little more creative, but just don’t sit around all day. Find something of interest and go walk around. A museum, art gallery, shopping mall, anything to get you moving after sitting in a car or on a plane all day.

Lake Erie shore, precious.

Lake Erie shore, precious.

Every bit matters.

As I stated earlier, we got about 16000 steps in while at Cedar Point. The night before, we went up to Johnson’s Island and walked around the Lake Erie shore line, and checked out the area. As soon as we got back from our trip, I got in a quick bodyweight and band workout while Amanda went for a run.

It was just returning to the norm. Which brings me to my final point:

4) The SECOND Vacation is Over, Get Back to Your Routine

This is assuming you already have a good routine in place. You don’t need to go on some detox, or starve yourself, or workout for 3 hours the day after. Just get back to your routine. As soon as I was unpacked I was itching to workout (or maybe it was that I hadn’t showered yet…) It felt great to get a workout in as soon as I could.

Normal Breakfast

Normal Breakfast

Standard Lunch

Standard Lunch


Typical Dinner

Typical Dinner

Then the next morning I started my day off with my usual workout day breakfast, followed up with a standard lunch and dinner. No big deal.

If there were one word to sum up the process here it would be: consistency.

Anyone who takes their health seriously needs consistency throughout it. From your meals, to your workouts, to your sleeping patterns. Consistency is huge.

On the flip side, anyone who takes their LIFE seriously, also needs to know how to enjoy it, guilt free, knowing that they will return to their consistent patterns as soon as the vacation is over.

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