When I first started on my health journey at 200 pounds, eating out was terrifying. I assumed if I ate out, or had a "cheat" meal, it was downhill from there. I mean, that IS how I got to 200 pounds.
Since being in weight maintenance for the better part of 8 years now (wow!) I have been practicing how to be flexible. And I am here to say that is has been a slow process. But there is also no need to rush.
Since last July, I have flown to Las Vegas, Disneyland, Mexico, Hawaii, San Diego, spent a week staying at Wallowa Lake for school, took a week long road trip with my family, and finally Costa Rica. I made a goal to travel more, and I am doing my best to see it through!! There have also been countless weekend trips to add to that list. Through it all, I have learned how to indulge without gaining weight. This includes a few alcoholic beverages (a detail I am adding for those clients that struggled to find balance with alcohol).
Here are some guidelines that have helped me, and might help you:
1. As a general rule, I limit alcohol to 1 drink per day, if at all. During long vacations I might allow one day where I enjoy more than one, but typically this is still only one day.
2. If dessert is ordered, which is often is, we share it.
3. Exercise never takes a vacation, instead, I take it on vacation with me! I find it fun to run in new places and to workout in gyms that are at the places I stay at.
4. Whenever possible I prepare my own breakfast. Oatmeal + Protein Powder requires nothing more than a microwave OR hot water.
5. When eating out, I try to make one meal more healthy and simple each day. For example, maybe a light salad or subway sandwich for one meal and then something more calorie dense for the second meal.
6. We try to be active while on vacation. Going on hikes, walking parks like Disneyland and the SD Zoo keep you moving. This means I am not just laying on the beach with a drink all day .
7. I always pack things like protein bars to keep the hunger at bay. The worst scenario to find yourself in is being overly hungry come time to order out.
8. Another tip that isn't necessarily related-- I try to order foods that I would like to try preparing at home or have never had before. I used to tell clients that before they write off a food entirely (like fish or asparagus) order it at a nice restaurant where it will be properly prepared by a professional. You just don't know, maybe you WILL like it!
9. Get a room with a kitchen! We use Airbnb for 90% of our trips. You will save money eating in 1-2 meals a day, therefore you can prepare your own meals. See #10!
10. Use grocery pick up. Twice now I placed a grocery pick up order to grab as we pulled into town. For example, in San Diego we stayed in a space that had a kitchen, so we scheduled a Walmart Pick Up for after our flight arrived, got the car, groceries, and went straight to our place. We ate 2 dinners out and 2 dinners in and never had to waste time grocery shopping.
I used to log my food and weigh myself daily. Even on vacation. I don't now. Most of time time I don't log food at all.
So what about after the trip is over?
Here are my "coming home" tips:
1. I don't log my food consistently anymore, but if I do, it is the first couple days after a vacation. My best advice is to EAT 100% normal. Likely, your normal intake will be a deficit compared to how you were eating on vacation. No need to make yourself more miserable by increasing the deficit. Eat your normal at home breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
2. Resume exercise routine. No need to go crazy and punish yourself for going on vacation. Just get back into your routine. If you didn't have one, go for a walk and start one.
3. I skip the Monday morning weigh in, and 9.9 times out of 10 my Tuesday morning weight is the same OR even lower than the weight I saw before I left. After our wedding, I expected to see the scale up a bit. I enjoyed desert, drinks, and several meals out as I DID NOT pack any food for our weekend away. But the scale was down from where it had been the previous Thursday. I find the less I fret about it, the less it is affected.
4. Most importantly, change your expectations for travel. If your goal is currently weight loss, decide that the best scenario for your week away is to maintain your weight. This avoids setting you up for disappointment.