Hi there, long time, no read. I’ve taken a bit of a breather recently, ignoring the internet and concentrating on myself instead. The diet is part of that recalibration attempt, and even though my initial 12 week run of WW at home already finished two weeks ago, I am still on the programme. Full disclosure: I have actually slipped up in terms of my food diary. Even before the last week of the programme, I had stopped noting down what I had eaten – due to a short holiday to London where, between eating out and eating irregularly, it simply was not practical to keep the food diary. However, to my astonishment, I was able to keep to the regime. I was able to do so because my travel companion aka mum and I stayed in a hotel that had self-catering facilities. Instead of going out for breakfast, we opted for breakfast in our room. Avoiding the otherwise irresistible full range of English Breakfast, croissants, cereals and mueslis, I had my usual piece of Weetabix with banana and almond milk in the morning. It also helped that I chose salads and low carb options from the menus when we ate out. And thanks to daily, long sightseeing walks through London with a daily average of 13 kilometers covered, even the occasional carb overload was balanced out. In fact, when I returned from the trip, I had lost 0.8kg.
The experience has given me great hope. Because I have a couple of breaks coming up, and I had been worrying about keeping with the programme while dealing with the impossibility/inconvenience of sticking to the diet during a a hotel stay. There is a short stay coming up soon in the North West of Ireland, and then the long summer holiday in Majorca (in a half-board hotel). But here’s the thing: It’s possible to enjoy a holiday, including eating out and eating on a whim, while still keeping the diet goals in sight. Here are my conclusions/tips:
1. Expectation Management
First of all, go into your holiday/break with realistic expectations. Don’t put yourself under pressure to continue with the previously established rate of weight loss. Maybe adjust your weight goal temporarily to “maintain weight” rather than “lose weight”. You are on holiday. That also means enjoying the cuisine on offer. However, don’t throw the whole diet over board completely. Just be realistic about what you can achieve. And enjoy your time off!
2. Minimise the Damage
Ideally, avoid any “packages” that include big breakfast buffets.
Well, at least for me, those are usually my downfall because stingy me can’t resist filling up on breakfast “because I have paid for it”.
- If you can opt out of the big breakfast buffet and have self-catering facilities at your disposal, consider stocking up on some low carb breakfast cereals, fruit, fat-free yoghurt and non-dairy milk.
If the buffet is unavoidable, forget the “but I paid for it” argument and opt for low carb options: Go for scrambled eggs and smoked salmon; porridge; fruit; yoghurt. These items are usually available at breakfast buffets, too.
- Eating out for lunch? Instead of paninis and sandwiches, opt for a wrap filled with salad and chicken. Soups are also a good option.
- Frequent café stops means constant exposure to temptation. If you don’t like black coffee, order a skinny cappuccino (preferably with soya or almond milk, but skimmed milk also keeps the calories low).
- For dinner buffets and eating out, stick with vegetables and chicken and explore the salad options. Steer clear of pasta and potato-based dishes. If you stick to this, you may even reward yourself with a nice desert!
3. Balance the Food Intake with Activity Output
Time off on holidays in a different environment means there’s plenty of opportunity to explore, no matter whether you are on an activity-based holiday or on a beach break. You don’t have to go jogging every day, or climb a mountain, or swim 50 laps in the hotel pool. But if you are on a private, self-organised holiday, factor in at least an hour and a half for walking, so you are burning some of those inevitable extra calories.
Take an after-breakfast/after dinner walk on the promenade or in the vicinity of your hotel – to the shops, to take some holiday snaps, to a café (for a skinny cappuccino ☕). Bring your travel companion for a chat or load your phone/iPod with some audio chocolate to while away the time. David Copperfield provides 36 hours of velvet, calorie-free deliciousness.
- On a beach day, get up off your sun-lounger for five 20-minute strolls along the beach, or make an effort to actually swim every half hour for 10 minutes.
- On a city break, do as much as you can by foot – not only good for your fitness, but also good on your wallet. And you’ll see so much more of your destination than if you were travelling by bus or underground.
4. Reward Yourself
Denying oneself the pleasure of food, is not the solution, either. Keeping the golden mean is the best way forward. Why not consciously reward yourself every day for generally economising with the calories? Factor in a guilt-free indulgence every day – a scoop of ice cream from the desert buffet at dinner time. A piece of chocolate with your cappuccino. Something to look forward to every day, to lift your mood, and to indulge in without a guilty conscience.
These are the rules/ideas I am keeping at the back of my mind as I am setting off on my next trip. I won’t lie: It’s hard to stay focussed on diet goals, especially when there is much temptation around me, and when I am travelling with companions who can eat as much as they like. OTOH, having successfully managed my diet for more than three months now, I am unwilling to cancel out my achievements with some imprudent overindulging. It’s doable. With a bit of discipline and planning.
If you have any other tips for weight management on holidays, I’d love to hear them!