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Vacation free-for-all: one way to do it

Sunday, June 09, 2013

So I've been away from my home for the past 9 days, visiting some of the big cities in the northeast and eating my way through a number of local (and transplanted) specialties. I had an amazing time and I thought I'd write about what became of my healthier habits while I was on the road...

The vacation eating/exercise philosophy:
I had a plan going into this vacation that I would keep track of everything I ate but not worry about eating within my calorie range. I chose this plan because I didn't want to feel restricted when going out to eat and I didn't want to feel guilty if I overindulged. I considered sticking to my plan, or having a 'planned overage', but I chose to accept this 'setback' instead, to see how it would feel when I returned. When I got home today I spent about an hour and a half plugging all my walking and eating into my tracker for the week (I'm still not done!) and it looks like I was eating an average of about 2300 calories and walking about 4.7 miles each day--some of it with a 25lb backpack on (my normal average is about 1425 calories and maybe 2.75 miles).

The down side of this approach:
Well it was basically a planned setback, so I am 9 days further away from my goal. I did feel some guilt, knowing that I was blowing my calorie range out of the water and delaying my weight loss. I also felt some anxiety that it was going to be very hard to return to my good habits after so much footloose-and-fancy-free eating (I'll update you on that after this week!). It wasn't a lot of guilt, and I did expect it, but it was some. Had I chosen to stick to my plan I may not have felt this, but I may also have felt regret about not trying some of the great stuff I got to try.

The up side of this approach:
Oh man, the food. I ate a lot of stuff I've never tried before, and because I have been "good" for a few months I really, really appreciated it. I did feel some guilt about indulging but it was different than the long-standing shame I used to feel when I overate. What I felt was similar to the guilt someone might feel taking a break from any other responsibility, rather than the guilt of avoiding that responsibility in everyday life. I also thought the guilt served a good purpose--it was just enough to make me look forward to getting "back on the wagon" when I got home. Look away if you don't want to read the specifics about the amazing stuff I ate...

...are you looking away? I warned you...

Well I ate a Rhode Island lobster roll in a family-run restaurant looking out over the water; I had an incredible fine dining experience (including delicious duck confit fritters!) at a trendy new place in Brooklyn; I ate Long Island-style "grandma pizza" while watching cable in a houseboat; I had goat cheese and sweet cherry ice cream in 96-degree weather; I ate a "Fenway frank" at a ball game; I had my first ever shrimp and grits (so good!); I ate the best hamburger of my life (and that is saying something) with good friends and family after a day of basketball; I had french fries on the boardwalk of Coney Island at sunset.

Okay... it's over! You can come back now.

It was food tourism at its best, really, and nothing I could easily recreate at home if I wanted to (thankfully).

I suppose I won't really know how I feel about my decision until a few days in real life catches up with me. I did get on the scale (a moderate increase thanks to the 43 miles I walked) but I won't return to my calorie limits until tomorrow. I'm hoping it's not too painful as I'm already dreading my first day back to work!

At least I'll have the great memories to entertain me for awhile.
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