AIM: Road Maintenance

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This month’s topic is incorporating travel into a weight maintainer’s life. How DO you do that? I suspect that for many folks its like it is for me–enjoying good food has been a HUGE part of traveling. I have actually written quite a bit about this on my blog–you can click on “vacation” or “travel” if you’d like to read more of my musings.

From the time I was a little kid and we took family vacations, having “treats” was always a big part of travel. And then, to be truthful, as you get heavier and heavier, some of the other pleasures of travel are too difficult to enjoy, so you are limited ever more to just enjoying the food.

So pleasure eating and travel are still very linked in my mind. I sometimes spend a great deal of time thinking about this (see the large number of posts written about vacation and travel!)

Luckily, actually PLANNING food for travel does not take that much time. I’ve come up with a number of strategies over the years, depending on the destination and the mode of travel.

If I am driving, and my destination is a motel, its pretty easy to pack an ice bag with a few favorite foods. I almost always try to get a motel with a refrigerator and a microwave in the room. If its too hot, or its too far to take an ice bag, I get directions via the internet to a grocery store in the town I’m heading to. Come to think of it, visiting new grocery stores has become a kind of replacement for ‘vacation treats.’ Of course, you can still get in trouble in a grocery store! I like to have breakfast food and dinner or lunch “snacks” available in my room.

If I am flying, I really try to plan foods that I can eat during the travel days. Airport food is generally pretty dismal, and also very expensive. Plus, depending on your layover time, and how far you have to run through the airport, there can sometimes be NO time to get anything. Non-melting protein bars, fruit, baby carrots, and my new love, jerky, work great for this. I have packed protein bars, nuts, and even those little containers of half and half for my coffee when I was traveling to Africa and Haiti!

Another thing I do is to research area restaurants. I have some favorites (Baja Fresh) and am always glad when one is nearby. Most restaurants have their menus and nutritional information online, so its pretty easy to do this too.

But here’s the thing. Food, when we travel, is not going to be exactly the same as when we’re at home. I don’t even want it to be. I want to enjoy a few special flavors that I don’t normally even keep in the house. As time has gone on, I have become more confident that I would return to my healthy eating habits when I return home. In fact, by the end of most trips, I can HARDLY WAIT to get home. Vegetables are always the thing I miss the most. No matter how many salads you eat, its still not the same.

So do I gain weight when I travel? Yep, I usually do. Is it that much weight? No.

I do not weigh myself the minute I get home. That is just useless information. Even with car travel, you tend to retain a little water, because your schedule is just not the same as it was. I weigh myself about a week after I return to see how much I actually gained, and continue to eat my healthy diet. Eventually the weight comes off. For example, on my recent trip to Ohio (12 days total) I gained four pounds. Two and a half pounds have come off in the last two weeks. I’m happy with that.

The one thing I didn’t address was being active on a vacation. Truthfully, that has not been my recent experience. I try to get in some exercise, but the trips I have taken recently have not been planned around activity. I think it would be fun to take trips that were activity oriented, like bike trips, or like my BF is starting to do–scuba diving! But right now I am taking the same relaxed attitude about exercise that I do about the food. I am confident that I am going to return to my very active lifestyle when I return home, so I am not going to agonize over not getting in my quotient of exercise when I travel.

To read more about “Road Maintenance,” be sure to check out my friends and maintaining experts:

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you’d like us to address!

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15 thoughts on “AIM: Road Maintenance

  1. Even though I eat lots (and lots) of salads when traveling, I’m always eager to get home and make my own. I hadn’t really thought about that, but I think it’s the act of chopping, slicing, and assembling that I find appealing.

    We all have different approaches to road maintenance, but I’m noticing the common thread of confidence in our ability to get back to our new normals when we come home, and that’s kind of cool.

  2. I usually bring some “normal” snack food with me if we’re on a driving trip, and weirdly, that includes some Dove dark chocolate Promises. Because we usually have one or two in the evening, and I’ve discovered that if I don’t have that bit of chocolate, I’m usually the one to suggest going out for dessert, which (GASP) isn’t always necessary (I KNOW!). The chocolate saves me from myself.

    As for exercise, I’m leaving a hot state and going somewhere nice (like your state), so getting active is a pleasure compared to what I deal with here. But if I were you, and leaving your state for the hot places (Africa? Haiti?), I wouldn’t be doing much, either.

  3. For someone like me who travels a LOT and planning to increase that even more, this month’s topic is of particular interest. We abandoned hotels and picked up on the cabin/cottage/apartment rental concept strictly for the purpose of being able to prepare our own food. Covers two purposes…we eat healthily and save a lot of money. But in today’s travel environment, even those one & two night hotel stays can most always include a microwave/fridge or even full kitchen facilities. I know my approach is different since we travel so much, but our mantra has become that our healthy eating plan shouldn’t go on vacation. Interestingly, it took our most recent trip to get me off the slope I was heading down before I left!!

  4. I forgot to mention how much I like the ‘home away’ rentals. Truth be told, even there I don’t actually want to cook. I like ‘assemblage’ on vacation much better! Last time I was in one of those I bought a pre-roasted chicken. It worked for a variety of meals.

  5. When I was a kid, my mom packed all those foods we never got at home when we’d go on vacation: chips, pop tarts, those variety pack cereals. My brother and I would spend the first part of the trip divvying up who got which box! No one wanted to Raisin Bran or All Bran, but we had to flip a coin over the Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops!
    I can’t imagine traveling to Africa and Haiti like you have and stay on plan! Talk about planning! As for staying active on vacation, next time we meet, we’ll split a Rice Krispie treat and then take a walk!

    • Well I didn’t exactly stay on any plan while I was in those countries! I just did the best I could. Most of the time I did the best I could 😉

  6. I had forgotten that on our last few road trips, I have taken along fruit in a cooler. When plane traveling, as we did on our last two trips, however, that becomes difficult. I loved this comment at the beginning of your blog, “And then, to be truthful, as you get heavier and heavier, some of the other pleasures of travel are too difficult to enjoy, so you are limited ever more to just enjoying the food.” This is what my vacations had become–just one food orgy after another, because any other activity was out of the question due to my lack of energy and morbid obesity. Now (after losing 175 lbs.), I love walking everywhere and taking in the sights. We got to go to New York City last November (I was featured on the Today Show’s Joy Fit Club), and we walked all over Manhattan. In April this year we traveled to Washington D.C., and we walked from one end of the National Mall to the other. That’s activity! I didn’t gain a pound on either trip. I wish I could say as much about my time at home since then….

  7. Laughing at non-melting protein bars because I *still* put those in my bike bag on hot day and every time I wonder why I did that.

    Isn’t it cool now how healthy eating is the norm that you are eager to get back to and not just your own bed?

  8. Part of vacation is food for me since we go to Italy most of the times and Italian food is delicious and if you choose the right restaurants: healthy too.
    My hub and I are very active on vacation and I don’t gain anymore the past years. I eat whatever I want but no snacks and hardly ice cream because I don’t like ice cream that much.

    But in the end I’m always glad to be back home at my own routine and cook my own meals.

    • Oh yumm! I just watched an episode of Iron Chef where they were cooking authentic Italian food. It all looked so delicious.

  9. When I was a kid, eating was a HUGE part of the vacation mentality. We camped and fished a lot, and at the bait store there was an ice cream freezer. There was an ice cream bar called Mississippi Mud Pie (chocolate, nuts, marshmallow, etc), that I would get every time we stopped. Thus began a really bad habit of thinking I should eat anything I wanted when I was away from home. It’s taken me years to change my mindset, but now I do pretty well. One or two treats of the local flavor is always in order!

    • I used to make a brownie/cake concoction called Mississippi Mud. It was probably the best thing I’ve ever baked.

  10. I like that you don’t weigh yourself until a week after you get home. That is an awesome idea. I usually pack a cooler with healthy food when we are on a road trip. We do a combination of eating out of the cooler and eating at restaurants. If we fly I seek out a grocery store when we arrive and buys some things to fill in the gaps – like fruit and veggies. I allow for a splurge or two if there is something splurge worthy and we get in lots of exercise in the form of walking, hiking or biking.

  11. I enjoyed reading your view on the subject. I love that you know you’ll get right back to the better eating when you return. Not weighing for a week after returning is an interesting idea…I usually need the slap in the face so my vacation eating doesn’t extend to my home life. *embarrassed grin*

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