Winning the Battle of the Vacation Bulge

There's nothing like a family vacation. I am talking about the real, American one. You know, where you pack up the SUV, head to nana and grandpa's house and spend the week at kiddie parks, horse races, family cookouts, and baseball games.

As I packed the car for our trip I had visions of lazy afternoons, outings to the pool, and a little time off with my hubby for a movie or dinner date.

A bulging waistline, too? No, that was certainly not in my plans.

But it was a risk.

How does a girl navigate this risk without coming off as annoying, neurotic, and anal? How does a girl who likes to exercise and eat well manage to put all the meals and activities in someone else's hands?

It's not easy, but you know what? It has to be done. We can create wonderful microcosms in our own homes, where chips don't exist and the meals are rich in omega 3's. But we do have to engage with the rest of the world, and the rest of the world, unfortunately, doesn't look much like that.

Here's what I mean:

  • Yesterday we went to the horse races. The plan was to eat lunch there. You can imagine the choices: pulled pork, hot dogs, hamburgers, fried catfish sandwiches, and turkey burgers. All were served with heaping portions of fries. Make the best choice given your options and forget about it. Feeling guilty and obsessing will truly get you nowhere. I ordered the turkey burger and threw out the fries. I had water to drink.

  • My sister-in-law hosted a cookout to celebrate my niece's baptism. She announced we'd be having steak, which my mother served to us the evening before and my husband made the night before that. I believe that red meat is good on occassion: it is a wonderful source of iron, which women are often deficient in. But three nights in a row? Here's my secret: at a cookout, no one pays any attention to what you have on your plate. I had a very small piece of beef and loaded up on the side dishes: green beans, roasted red potatoes, corn, watermelon. It isn't a banner meal, but it won't kill my diet either.
  • The next morning I was greeted with a baptismal fete complete with ham, quiche, fruit, and, of course, cake. Now there isn't much good about getting up with your 4-year-old at 6:00 am, especially when you are on vacation. But everyone once in a while you may find an advantage. I did today. I was able to have a pre-party snack. I got up, made coffee, and had one of those wonderful Greek yogurts with 14 grams of protein in a serving. This held me over, and allowed me to eat smaller portions at the party.

All of this may seem like a lot of scheming, but you have to learn to navigate all kinds of food situations if you don't want to disengage from life. Like it or not, many many of our activities revolve around food. Get comfortable with it by trying out different eating strategies and finding out what works for you. It is important both to your physical, as well as your emotional health. This is the real world ladies, learn to live in it, eat in it, and enjoy doing both.

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