17 October 2017Losing Weight on Vacation

I challenged myself recently to lose weight while on a 10-day trip to visit family and friends. Why, you ask? I did this for a number of reasons:

  1. After years of coaching others about how to prevent weight gain while traveling, I wanted to challenge myself to put my words into action. (You know, RDs love food, too.)
  2. I have wanted to lose a few pounds in my personal quest to prevent diabetes. Like many others who are at high risk for type 2 diabetes, I am prone to extra fat in the midsection, a known risk factor for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  3. I wanted to prove that you can have a great time while on vacation without overindulging in food and drink.
  4. I now live near the beach and will be wearing warm-weather clothes all year round. Need I say more?

My goal to lose weight was going to be especially challenging since my busy social calendar included 1-2 restaurant meals a day! Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had met my goal by losing weight at the end of the 10 days. As confirmation, I weighed myself on the airport luggage scale before the outbound flight and upon my return, with the airline counter staff as my witness.

So, how did I do it?

  1. Food and Exercise Log: I tracked my food intake and exercise on MyNetDiary. I have to say this was the #1 factor for my success. It caused me to pause before I grabbed another handful of nuts, ordered another beer or got fries instead of a salad.
  2. Accountability: I shared my plan with family and friends. A few questioned why I would do such a thing. I responded that traveling is a big part of my life so I cannot afford to risk weight gain each time I am on the road. Most of them thought it was an awesome idea. Some of my friends who travel shared their own strategies, and others offered to split entrees with me.
  3. Exercise and Physical Activity: I tracked 565 minutes of exercise in 10 days (about 57 minutes a day). This is just shy of the 60 minutes a day of physical activity that experts from The National Weight Control Registry report is usually needed for weight loss. I packed exercise-friendly clothes and shoes to make sure there would be no excuses. Lately, I have been exploring yoga videos on YouTube. It is a fun way to stay active while traveling without having to rely on DVDs. I have a travel set of yoga gloves and socks that have grips so I can do yoga without a mat.
  4. Drink wisely: I drank a boat load of water during my trip. Traveling can be dehydrating, and drinking water regularly helped prevent the sluggishness caused by dehydration. I also pledged to limit myself to one alcoholic beverage at dinner.
  5. Portion control at restaurants: Here's what I did:
    • I ordered appetizer portions, salads and chose healthier sides.
    • I split entrees with another person or took half in a doggy bag.
    • I ate 1 slice of pizza along with a large salad.
    • I chose a 1/2 sandwich, 1/2 salad lunch, getting the dressing on the side.
    • I shared desserts and took only a few bites remembering that you get the most enjoyment from the first few bites anyway.
    • If I had a say in where we went, I chose places with healthy options.
    • I portion-controlled items such as fried pickles, fried cheese, French fries and sausage pizza.
  6. Plan ahead: When I knew I was going to eat a large lunch and/or dinner, I cut back at the other meals and snacks. I carried high-fiber snack bars with me to fill in for some meals. This worked out much better than picking up something from a coffee shop or at a quick mart. Portions are often huge out there! It is easier on the wallet, too!

Thanks to my game plan, I am happy to report that I actually lost 3 pounds. I averaged 1,758 calories a day and tallied 57 minutes of daily exercise. I would not have been as successful without exercising because my 1,758 calories a day would have theoretically resulted in weight maintenance (actually a reasonable outcome). For many women, we would have to limit ourselves to 1,200 calories a day, if not exercising, in order to lose weight. This would have been unreasonable for me in my social situation.

My hope is that sharing my story gives others motivation for weight management away from home. What are your strategies for weight management during travel?

Brenda Braslow, MS, RD, CDE

Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator in Indialantic, Florida

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Disclaimer: Please note that we cannot provide personalized advice and that the information provided does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit a medical professional.

Tags:

Meal Planning & Diets/Healthy Eating Travel/Maintain Don't Gain

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