Vacation Aftermath: Fails Included.

So, as promised, I would be remiss not to take a peek at the things I think I did poorly/well on vacay and look at the possible implications for other busy times. I’ll start with major fails.

1. I ate some of this:

A "chocolate bag."

This is a chocolate bag. It is a bag. Made of chocolate. It is filled with custard and berries that I doubt count as a serving of fruit. I did split it 4 ways, but still. A chocolate bag.

2. I also ate some indulgent meals, including this delish piece of pizza which was roughly the size of my torso from D’Bronx in Kansas City:

Not pictured: Willpower.

I only had one and I ate it slowly, but this should give some idea of the vacation foods that found their way into my repertoire. This is like a 2-day period.

3. I drank some Diet Cokes (mostly at movies, but I realized when I said we hardly ever see movies I was definitely delusional as we saw about 4). I also had a few cups of coffee (2, to be exact) because my mom buys the good stuff and I LOVE COFFEE.

4. HFCS. Just whoa. This is way too hard while traveling, even with access to a kitchen. It’s in everything. I’d like to say I tried to limit it, but if I did it was in the most round-about and incidental ways possible, like trying to eat non-processed foods when I could.

5. I did get a little exercise-lazy. Yeah, we walked, but none of it felt particularly strenuous. I did wrestle Louie out of bed for exercise time some mornings, but equally as many times, we made excuses. A day guest pass to my mom’s gym is 15 dollars! PER PERSON. I know. If we had gone every day for the 2 weeks we were home, it would have been $210.00. There are worse ways to spend that, but whoa.

6. I did hit the Wendy’s to bust a hangover and followed that up with a chili dog. I also did a lot of late-night nomming when we were out drinking. I’m going to need to get the drunk-eating in check.

Major successes?

1. I DIDN’T SMOKE. Not one time. Not even when other people were around me. Not even when I drank. This confirms my suspicion that I needed to be ready to quit, but once I was ready that could do it. I am not saying it wasn’t hard. It was totally hard. It was not, however, impossible, and if I got through that I think I can get through anything.

2. I mostly switched to water and iced tea. I know that iced tea is questionable on the caffeine thing, but it’s better than all that artificial sugar that makes me so hungry. I think I can make Diet Coke and coffee special occasion treats that only come around maybe once a week at the most. I’m proud of that because it’s a DRAMATIC decrease in my consumption of both.

3. I moderated many of my restaurant meals. Louie and I split entrees and ordered veggie-packed salads with no cheese and dressing on the side to fill up before digging into less-healthy entrees. I did feel like a tool, but you can’t argue with feeling full and content but not ready to go into a coma after dinner. I also enjoyed wine, but I traded some good glasses of wine for the bread plate and dessert and only had one of the three.

4. I drank a lot of water and made sure to keep hydrated so I didn’t just mistake thirst for hunger.

5. We started a walking habit. We’ll see how that goes.

6. We ate a few healthy meals whenever we had control, like veggie scrambles for breakfast (protein and veggies!):

Magically delicious.

So I’m home, and … I’ve definitely had worse vacations for my health. I think we did do a few key things that cut down on the unhealthy vacation behaviors that we usually indulge in. This had an impact. My shorts are looser than when I left. I was energized enough to wake up yesterday and do stuff. I definitely feel nothing like the sore-joints, mood-swing zombie that left debate camp. I’m more even tempered. It might be a placebo, but it’s a damn good one.



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Busting Vacay Brain?

Soooo … I’m back. I haven’t posted in awhile because if Missouri was a whirlwind then Ohio was a hurricane. We were so busy every waking moment wedding planning, catching up with family, and introducing my family to Louie’s family that I hardly remember sleeping.

I’ll post a more extensive recap later, but I think I’m going to dedicate this post to emerging from the vacation mindset.

What is the vacation mindset? It’s the relaxed, celebratory, one-more-glass-of-wine-won’t-hurt-me, I-only-get-to-eat-this-when-I’m-home-so-I’d-better-eat-nine feeling that vacation engenders. I think both Louie and I indulged a little bit at home in good wine, too many restaurant meals, etc.

I will give the caveat that we were really good about walking almost every day, split most dinners, and mostly only ate what we were hungry for. As always, I’ll recap what I think we did well and poorly in a separate post, but back to my point: I needed to ditch the vacay mindset and I was worried about it.

Nothing historically throws me off track like a vacation or a holiday. I stop working out because I’m tired from travelling, the house gets cluttered with my not-yet-unpacked bags and I settle into sweatpants while I embrace a few days of “recovery” which I’m always convinced I need. This often translates into eating crap because there is no food in the house (icing on the self-destructive cake, if you will … I am awful with metaphors) This is often also the product of hangover/tired munchies and a few days of eating with some abandon.

I think I’m doing okay thus far. We went to the grocery store as soon as we got home, even though it was 10:30 at night (which I of course bitched about but begrudgingly did). This set me up for a nutritious HFCS-free breakfast of organic milk and Kashi with some sliced bananas. I ate a salad for lunch topped with hot sauce instead of dressing. I went to the store after and bought some healthy snacks.

I also got our bags unpacked and started the laundry, which helped me transition out of vacay brain. Huge victory. So we’ll see. I do hear my sweatpants calling my name, but I have no Haagen Dasz or Sonic to pound down while vegging out in them. I’d say this has gone about 88% well.

This time, though, credit goes to Louie for ensuring that

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Vacation Update: Mexican, Movies, and Tapas.

What up, Internet. So, I did go to the gym last night. It was good — I did the elliptical for an hour then cooled down on the treadmill. I rediscovered my love for working out to Robyn, whose music is just as badass now as it was when I was in college.

Conclusion # 1 — I am out of shape and this exercise thing is dire. I am sore from one hour on the elliptical, people. Whoa. But it’s a good sore and I like how I feel today. More exercise is in my future.

Conclusion # 2 — I need to figure out this strength training thing. I’ll rip a workout out of Self and try it because I just did cardio yesterday and I need to firm up.

So, I tackled my arch-nemesis yesterday: Mexican food. When Louie suggested Mexican food, I was like yikes. I love Mexican food an unhealthy amount. I love salsa, cheese, refried beans, chips, the whole deal. I didn’t know if my weak-willed soul was ready, especially after the gym (I get hungry after working out) and especially after I had cashed in a lot of willpower at lunch. I could just feel the thoughts creeping in: “You worked out!” “You ate healthy earlier today!” I always ruin any healthy eating plan with feelings of entitlement and deserving it. Here’s why I think I was so successful (because I consider this Mexican restaurant foray a huge success):

1. On the advice of Louie’s mom and sister, I ordered the naked burrito (it was burrito Thursday, so it was a deal!). It was lettuce, chicken, tomatoes, whole beans, and I think a little bit of parmesan cheese. It was a lot of good protein and veggies and plenty filling. I got the Mexican flavor without ordering my cheese-filled rich favorite with refried beans: the chicken sour cream enchilada (which I love, but I can’t do in moderation.) I also saved money.

2. I ate enough chips to feel like I’d had some but stopped before it even made a dent in my hunger. Because they are an APPETIZER. I used to just NOM chips until I was practically full when my food came and then eat all my food, too. I had five chips broken into pieces with salsa and one dipped in queso. I stopped way before the food came and was just like, that’s enough, you have more food coming in a minute. Yes, I could have skipped the chips, but … better, not perfect.

3. I drank water, not a margarita.

I didn’t get a picture, but I had plenty of my burrito/salad hybrid left over that I took it home and ate it with some scrambled eggs and peppers for breakfast. I DO have a picture of that:

Breakfast Eggs

Having leftovers? Solid.

So, I’m pretty jazzed about it because instead of eating all of my dinner, I ate a reasonable amount, was full but not stuffed, and had enough to finish it for breakfast. Louie and I split that! It really drove home just how much food restaurants GIVE you. I ate that dinner for two meals and split one of them and was full. I need to start bringing home a portion; that way, if I want it later, I can have it so I don’t feel deprived but I don’t need to eat it all right there.

I’ve also been snacking on this:


Farmer's market melon!

That said, we also went to the movies last night. I also planned the same as I did last time: three handfuls of popcorn and a little Diet Coke. I may need to re-think movies as a special occasion, though, because we’ve been going so often.

Tonight I think we’re going to get Tapas at this place in Kansas City. I’ll post pictures and hopefully eat in moderation/healthfully. I’ll try to figure out what lessons I can take from this later, but I wanted to let you all know that I’ve been planning and being mindful, even up to tackling some of the foods I don’t do a good job with.

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Moderation Success?

So, on the way home my fiance insisted we visit one of his fave bars from grad school. I had been there before and it’s actually really fun. The food, however, is enough to give you a heart attack. Mostly burgers. I love burgers. One in particular that my fiance also loves, the Fernando, is totally delish — blue cheese, jalapenos, and it comes with these giant awesome fries. Now, I knew I was in NO position to eat that. As a matter of fact, I knew if I ordered it I’d finish the whole thing, (portion control is not a strong suit. Just seeing cookie dough makes me nervous) I would feel bloated and sluggish and like I’d had a setback. I’m working on the guilt thing. It’s a process.

I think I handled it well. For starters, I ordered this:

Lunch Salad

Mmmm... salad-y.

This delicious lunch salad. I was a little crabby that I had to be all healthy, so I’m not going to pretend I was prancing around joyfully. I also always feel like a tool ordering something “no cheese, dressing on the side.” But it was good, I mean … the chicken had filling protein and the veggies filled me up the rest of the way. The balsamic dressing was good (I still can’t bring myself to just like, dip my fork in it … I poured about half over the salad.) I had skipped breakfast so I ate it a little bit fast. I need to start carrying HFCS-free dressing because this stuff I honestly have no idea but it was really sweet so I can only assume the worst.

Also, I had some fries and a few big bites of this monster:

The Fernando

The illustrious Fernando.


Yeah, check out that burger. The fries were good, too. That said, I think I did a couple things poorly and a couple things well. We’ll start with the poorly:

1. I NEED to start carrying my own dressing if I’m gonna order salads. It’s a sugar bomb and I do not need the sugar. Sugar makes me hungry. You won’t like me when I’m hungry.

2. I skipped breakfast so I could eat more at lunch, as I said. I need to STOP this. I should have eaten breakfast so I could have eaten lunch much more slowly and mindfully instead of inhaling it. Skipping meals sucks. I should have known better and eaten a light breakfast so I wouldn’t be crabby and craving crap.

3. I need to stop looking at eating healthy as deprivation, but as an opportunity to feel better about myself and to feel physically better.

Things I Did Well:

1. I didn’t order and eat the whole burger myself. Which is a big victory. Huge, in fact, especially considering my hungry and grumpy state. I didn’t even eat like half of it. And I only had three fries, which is big because fries are my weakness.

2. I got the salad, and I got it without cheese (because really, I was going to have some of the burger, which is covered in blue cheese).

3. I got dressing on the side and I did not USE all of it, thus defeating the purpose of getting it on the side.

4. I didn’t make the perfect the enemy of the good. I did better and I still enjoyed a few bites of something I really wanted in moderation.

AND … I’m going to the gym, now! With Louie’s mom! When she asked I initially said no because I was tired and because I was trying to finish this post and … well the irony of blogging about trying to be healthy as an excuse not to go to the gym kind of hit me over the head and I was like, wow. No.

So you won’t be reading a post later about me bitching about not having the time to exercise because I made that time right now. Boom.

4. I drank water and LOTS of it

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Leaving the Lake: Lessons

So, phase one of our Big Summer Trip Home is complete! We’re all packed and almost all showered, ready to head back home soon. I wanted to make a quick post about the things I learned living at the Lake House that made it such a relaxed, healthy time for me so I can implement them in real life.

1. Walking where you need to go is great. I know that our town in Texas is not really set up for walking places, but I am going to make an effort to park further away. I used to risk life and limb (okay, so maybe just parking tickets) to park as close to my office as possible. I’m not doing that anymore. When exercising, even a little bit, is a part of my life I feel less sluggish and more energized.

2. Farmer’s markets are awesome. We ate such high-quality produce that it didn’t feel like eating that flavorless, rock-hard genetically modified crap that supermarkets carry. I’m going to make an effort to buy what is in season and eat THAT. I don’t think I ever hated vegetables or fruits, but I did hate the ones that were bred to last a long time and taste terrible.

3. Reading a book at night is a great way to relax. I always have my face in a computer or a TV, but I feel good reading before bed. It gives my mind time to shut off and I sleep better. This, combined with my decreased caffeine intake = GREAT nights’ sleep.

4. The SUN! I always feel great when I have a chance to go outside and be in the sun. I always leave in a great mood, and it’s not like being outside is only something I can do here. Unwinding on our porch at the end of the day with a glass of wine is something I can do at home. I can also relax outside with a book on weekend mornings.

5. I hate to say this because one of the great loves of my life is TV and that probably won’t change (I HBOGo’d True Blood like 10 minutes after the episode was posted on Sunday night). However, not having a TV for anything but movies up here was good, I think. Maybe for my next three week rule goal I could make a goal of decreasing TV time spent just watching crap . . . like the two hours of Rattlesnake Republic I watched the other day. I can at least see if it’s worth it. At least I’ll stop sleeping with the TV on.

6. Walking on hills. I should do it at home. It’s challenging but utterly do-able and felt better than my typical walking workout. Score.

So, hopefully this helps me formulate my new goals. It’s been one week without a cigarette or a coffee, with minimal HFCS and I must say I feel better. Here’s to that — see you in KC!

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Vacation Update: I Effing Exercised!

I. Effing. Exercised. Not incidentally walking to somewhere I was going anyway, not counting doing laundry, I effing exercised. I exercised in the way that you like lace up your tennis shoes and go outside wearing workout clothes and a sports bra and carrying a bottle of water and purposely sweat it out for more than like 5 minutes. I did it and I’m excited.

Yeah, so I know that many of you will be like “Yeah, awesome … I do that every single day and I feel no need to alert the Internet.” I used to be like you, so listen up:

I confess I was a former Smug Exerciser. In high school and college, I was a gym rat. I loved the social aspect of going with my friends, loved the personal goals I could set, loved the relaxed feeling I got afterwards, and, shamefully, I loved the feeling of superiority it gave me when I darted back into the apartment with a towel and a water bottle to think judge-y thoughts about my roommates or friends om nomming cookie dough and watching ER (yeah, I was kind of a bitch and karma and stuff). I also loved having the freedom to indulge in one of my life’s great loves (food and drink) with a little less guilt.

So why did I stop? Well, a million reasons. Chiefly among them, I wasn’t really getting what I wanted out of my competitive debate career in college at the end of it, and I felt like I needed to devote every waking second to changing that (which failed, and should have been a lesson to me that neglecting your health is never worth it). After that I moved to a new city. I started grad school. I got into an awesome relationship where I no longer felt like I needed to do the single-girl body obsession thing (which may indicate I was exercising for all the wrong reasons).

I was busy but more than being busy, I FELT busy. I was overwhelmed a lot in work and at school and I just never had the energy.

More reasons include but are not limited to:

1. I AM NOT a natural athlete. I am in no way someone who can expertly step aerobic(s? is there a verb form?), run a 10-minute mile with perfect form, or execute blissful yoga poses while looking all glow-y and magazine-like (although my balance is awesome, weird talent, whatever). I am an UGLY exerciser. I am always sweaty, red-faced, and making it look exactly as difficult as it is. That can be intimidating in classes or gyms where, even though I know better, I assume everyone is looking at ME.

2. I’m a procrastinator by nature, which is deadly to going to the gym. I always put it off until it’s too late in the day and they’re closed and/or I’m sleepy.

3. I always feel entitled to days off. I don’t do the work to make the time on vacations and work trips, so I fall out of a pattern and I can never fall back into one.

So, today lacing up my shoes was a big step because I overcame all that nonsense. I am on vacation and I exercised. Here. In the nature. In hot weather. With hills. I DID that. If I can just bottle how awesome I feel for having made the effort and the time, I think I would never skip it again. As soon as I get past my three weeks on smoking and caffeine and HFCS, I’m going to start formulating some exercise goals with the real reasons why I don’t exercise in mind, but until then, I’m just going to try to do it. Because I can. And I will.

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Vacation update: Farmer’s market win!

Hey all! So it’s been a few days since I posted (including one day when I actually did and my post didn’t show up . . . I’m assuming user error is to blame). I’ve been on vacation with my fiance and his family! They have a lake house and it is totally amazing. We’ve been swimming, walking, and boating all day and having nice low-key nights (last night we watched a movie).

That aside, I was dreading the food situation. First, I love summer vacation food: pasta salad, hot dogs, hamburgers . . . really any “-salad” that has a lot of mayonnaise and deliciousness. I also know that the last time I was at the lake house, I was doing great with healthy eating and totally de-railed myself on chips, dips, picnic salads, cookies, etc. I understand that this does not HAVE to be the result, but I was worried about a test of my resolve so early, especially when I’m trying not to smoke.

I’m happy to report a few major victories:

1. I resisted the temptation to eat fast food after the car trip here! Huge win, considering I forgot to pack snacks and was star-ving.

2. I have been able to eat the mayo-free pasta salad in moderation and enjoy it without over-doing it.

3. I’ve been filling up on farmer’s market fresh produce that is starting to taste better and better to me now that I’ve eliminated over-sweetened processed cookies and cereal bars.

4. We’ve been having some veggies with filling fiber at every single meal. I had gotten to the point where I was so over zucchini on the grill and I couldn’t make myself eat it, but now that I’m eating more fresh produce it somehow tastes really good to me again.

5. I haven’t smoked a single cigarette.

6. Or had any diet soda or coffee.

7. I make sure we WALK to the dock and walk back instead of taking the golf cart. Yesterday we swam for awhile without the floaties to get our hearts pumping.

8. I’ve been drinking moderately, enjoying it, maintaining my water consumption, and never getting hung over. I’m proud of that because I love beer + lake. Coors Light 4 Life.


I also have to confess a few major fails:

1. I have not been doing as well with the HFCS. I had some in a bun for a (turkey, at least) bratwurst. I also didn’t check the pasta in the pasta salad.

2. A lot of the activity I’ve been doing is purely incidental. Yes, I’m choosing to walk and swim further, but I haven’t been carving out daily exercise time.

3. I’m letting job-finding stress get to me a little. It’s made me want to nom like crazy, and I pretty much suck at meditation. Like, I try, but I mostly meditate on why I suck so much at meditating and only think about things like “Why do I suck a meditating.”

4. I need to be better with the sunscreen. I’m not fried, but I am a little red and I need to get over my desire to be tan.

Sidenote: Does anyone know if natural chemical-free sunscreens really work? Because toxins are the worst, but I have a family history of skin cancer so I’ll take the toxins to stay sunburn-free.

I need to keep this strategy going. We’re going out to dinner tonight, my first foray into the restaurant world since this all began. I’m going to try my best to maintain satiety all day with fruits and veggies so I don’t show up ready to nom the table and chairs, and I’m going to let go of all my baggage regarding special orders. I read an article that if you want to be healthy, you have to be kind of a pain in the ass to people sometimes. That’s another post, but I think I’m going to put it to good use here.

Wish me luck!

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