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Enjoying a vacation without losing ground

Sunday, May 26, 2013

So! I spent 7 days in Maui, and upon returning home, weighed EXACTLY what I'd weighed when I left. And in fact, as it turns out, I must have actually LOST weight (the loss having been hidden by water retention or whatever other factor), as my weigh-in this week put me down THREE pounds. I didn't lose three full pounds since last Saturday; some of it had to have fallen off in Maui someplace.

Did I suffer from feelings of deprivation while I was there? Heck no!

Did I enjoy the food I ate? Heck yes!

Was I presented with the challenge of having a way-too-big portion set before me in a restaurant? Well heck. I think we all know the answer to that.

Did I go "overboard" with food or drink? Oh heck. Yeah. But only a couple of times.

Sooooo just how did I maintain-without-impacting-my-
vacation's-enjoyment? What did I eat? What did I do differently than what I would "typically" do when given the freedom-to-be-bad and license-to-party that the word "vacation" seems to offer?

Well, firstly, I did not go there thinking "I will stick to 1200-1550 come hell or high water." I accepted that this would more likely be a "maintenance week" and counted on eating 2000 calories a day. Which - after 5 months of 1200-1550, seemed pretty extravagant already!

Secondly, I went with the mindset that I would eat to ENJOY. Not eat till it hurt. Not eat because it was there. Not eat because I'd paid for it. Not eat because it would be wasteful and/or embarrassing to leave half a plate of food behind. Not eat because "I was free to eat what I wanted, so let's eat everything in sight - get it while the getting's good!" I ate GOOD DELICIOUS food the entire time, at appropriate intervals, in sufficient quantities to ensure I was satiated.

I knew this trip would be a challenge, as I place a significant reason for my success-to-date on the reintroduction of "mostly home cooked" to my daily menu - and here I was, confronted with 7 days of no stove. So yeah, I was nervous. But I did have a plan...

Our hotel had a bar fridge, microwave and sink. On the first day there, we dropped into www.manafoodsmaui.com/ and picked up a few "staples" - greek yogurt, muesli, hummus, salsa, rice crackers, apple-bananas, a pineapple, a papaya... some Pop Chips for my husband, a small whole-grain baguette....

This formed the basis of my "everyday" eating. A papaya with yogurt and granola/muesli for breakfast. Some apple-bananas in the car for snacks when we got hungry. Hummus and salsa in the picnic cooler, or for nibbles on the lanai when we returned to our room at night. These sorts of snacks were replenished at intervals with cherry tomatoes from the farmer's market, some longans, a packet of beef jerky, a pre-made salad from the deli... and supplemented with a bottle of wine (or two... or... yeah ok let's say two :) ). We were forever laying out delectible nibbles beachside, or toasting on the deck at sunset. Romantic, convenient, delicious - and NOT OVERLY INDULGENT on either portion size or calorie content.

And yes, I DO like papaya with yogurt as much, indeed much more, than a Denny's Grand Slam. I can eat Denny's ANYWHERE. Why would I eat it while in Hawaii?! Hurrah for fresh tropical fruit!

We did end up eating one to two meals per day in a restaurant. This was definitely more challenging. There is almost always "too much" brought to the table. And it definitely does feel counterintuitive to leave the excess behind. The toughest one was Fred's Mexican Restaurant in Kihei... (why Mexican food when I'm in Hawaii? I don't know!! They had a nice deck!)... they also made very tasty food. I ordered Cabo Carnitas, "spicy marinated pork with sauteed veggies & topped with cheese Served with warm corn tortillas"... and received this large oval platter the size of a tire rim:

Yes, it was delicious. But no, I could not eat more than about 1/4 of the platter. I dug a furrow through the pork, wrapped some of it up in a tortilla, had a forkful of rice just to taste it, a forkful of the beans... didn't even touch any sour cream or guacamole... I was STUFFED and it didn't even look like I'd done more than play with my food! I felt BAD, like, the cook would think I didn't like it, perhaps? But I shook that feeling off as best I could, paid the bill, and left feeling treated, energized, satisfied, and NOT bloated.

I did the same thing at breakfast, at the Kihei Caffe, where they served me an order of huevos rancheros bigger than my head (Mexican again! I sense a theme... and a probable destination for my NEXT vacation)...

I ate the eggs, salsa, and most of the beans. Removed some of the excess cheese, left the entire tortilla (treated it as if it had just been the "plate upon which the actual food was displayed" and didn't feel an obligation to consume it). Despite leaving so much behind, I was actually pretty darned full after this breakfast - no matter! It fortified me for the rest of the day, so I was able to eat lightly at lunch and dinner, making the overall day turn out quite well. Breakfast - the most important meal! :)

My favorite meal of all, was the day we bbq'd. We bought a packet of charcoal, two GIGANTIC ribeye steaks, some steak spice and a bag of salad, and headed to the beach (there are bbqs available in many of the beachside parks). We enjoyed the beach while the charcoal heated. Then I shook some of the dressing into the salad, right in the bag, and poured it out as an appetizer, while the steaks cooked. Then I sat there on a picnic bench and devoured a huge succulent steak, tender enough to be easily attacked with my flimsy plastic cutlery, watching the waves break and the palm trees sway. Best. Steak. Ever. And without the bread basket, baked potato, cheesecake-dessert and mixed drinks, it's an on-target meal! Oh yes, One Big Steak and nothing but, beachside. What a good "treat meal" when you really want to feel extravagant.

Now add into this mix, a whole ton of physical activity (walking hiking swimming snorkeling), and I ate freely, while evidently still maintaining a calorie deficit, or at least not inducing a gain. emoticon

It was great to approach "food" a different way. Or, more to the point, in the way I WOULD have approached food "back in the day" when we didn't have a lot of disposable income, and basically *had* to do "picnics on the beach" because who could afford restaurants 3x/day. Turns out, just because I can now afford the luxury of restaurant dining, it isn't really what I WANT. Free-spirited on-a-shoestring eating is as delicious (or more), easier to portion out, and WAY MORE FUN.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Perfect timing for me to read this. I leave for San Diego next week and I'm already thinking of the fabulous seafood I'm going to eat. A part of me has also been looking forward to the "necessity" of splurge eating 3x a day. Of course, this is ridiculous. My hotel room will have a mini-fridge, a microwave and a toaster (loving the toaster). There is no reason whatsoever that I need to eat out for breakfast--unless it's a unique cafe or something. I can pack my cooler and take yogurt, fruit, and my Archaic Grains Bread (best bread EVER), and other healthy snacky stuff. Thank you for the reminder and the accountability. I can enjoy the other meals knowing that I'm not bingeing on every possible meal.

    You also addressed one of the hardest things for me: leaving food on my plate in restaurants. I throw food away at home often because I didn't get to it or something. However, when I pay for some of the outrageously priced meals (for my budget, anything over 10 bucks is expensive) in restaurants I feel pathologically obligated to eat every bite. It's something I struggle with. Especially if it's good--trying to tell my mouth to stop at that point invites full on mutiny. lol

    Loved hearing about your vacation and your triumphs. LOVE papaya. Haven't had any in years. So hard to find good, ripe papaya in Arizona (same thing for tomatoes). LOL


    2541 days ago
  • CLARK971
    great blog! it is filled with so much inspiration! sounds like it was an amazing vacation! emoticon
    2564 days ago
    Yay for "way more fun"!! That's what makes vacations special --- not overindulgence on the same old stuff you can get anywhere else. Isn't it wonderful that your husband was in to enjoying it the same way you wanted to? I honestly can't think of anything more loving and romantic than sharing things like this out of pure joy. Soooo happy for you!

    I had a similar experience last time I was in Mexico --- coming from a land-locked province, I don't see much fresh seafood and fruit around here, so that's what I lived on while I was there (and loved every delectable bite). Swam, hiked, explored, indulged... and came home smaller (and happier) than I left. Now THAT is a vacation!

    Thanks for making me smile this morning - smiles for your happiness and success, smiles at my memories, and smiles for the reminder that this is most definitely a lifestyle worth living for the rest of my life.
    2566 days ago
  • KD7IEM
    Great post and great photo's of yummy food
    2566 days ago
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