I went on vacation and failed epically so you don’t have to!

I am finally back to work following a two week road trip extravaganza.  It was a jam-packed end to a jam-packed two months of crazy goodness.  I’ll be honest – I am pooped!

The first morning I woke up at home I stepped onto my bathroom scale to see “how I did.” In it’s usual mater of fact way the scale reported back that I had “failed”.  I failed to lose weight, I failed to maintain my weight, and I failed to keep my gain from creeping up more than just a couple of “water weight” pounds.

I was going to throw myself a post-vacation pity party and I was all ramped up to make it a good one, but then I read my Post Vacation Reality Check post from last summer. Reading the post got me thinking about all the things that have happened since last year’s big vacation.  It occurred to me that my post-vacation 2012 weight is below my pre-vacation 2011 weight. And I realized that I am not finished healing my systems of self worth measurement. Looks like I already have a good place to begin next year’s vacation recap.

When we went to New York last month Mr. Second Helpings and I did not have a car and took minimal taxi rides.  We walked e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e.  We enjoyed cocktails and wine at dinner, ate amazing food, and managed to return home two pounds lighter – each.   I absolutely went into our family vacation feeling a bit cocky after our “successful” NYC trip.

Unfortunately cockiness is not the same as planning and without a plan for success; it really is no surprise that I gained weight.  I always do better in unusual situations when I have taken some time to think about the choices I want to make before the moment I have to make them.  I have found this technique helpful for single events, vacations, and entire holiday seasons. It is not complicated to plan for food events and it can be done anywhere from the shower to the grocery store checkout line.  All it takes is a little time and even less imagination.

Things I should have thought about the week before our vacation:

  • Make a mental list of all the meals we would eat during the two week period.
  • Note the meals where the food preparation would be out of my hands vs. the times that I could choose the foods and ingredients for myself.
  • Visualize myself filling at least half of my plate with fruits and vegetables at all meals.
  • Visualize myself saying “no thank you” to offers of alcohol beyond the limits I have pre set.  I realize this may sound like a complete buzzkill but it has saved me thousands of calories over the past four years. Yes. Thousands.
  • Decide in advance what splurges will be “worth it” and resolve to decline unplanned splurges.  For example, make a plan to eat wedding cake (or a wedding cupcake) and decline any other sweets or high fat snacks earlier the same day.
  • Resolve to wait to eat until I am actually hungry. Conversely, don’t snack and “spoil” my next meal.

While on the road I try to make sure to stock a cooler with a balanced selection of picnic foods. I did pretty well keeping the cooler stocked in the early part of our trip but the whole thing sort of fell apart by the end.  I knew I was paying for a lack of preparation when I found myself trying to choose the best of the worst options from a late-night diner menu. At the time our cooler contained a single beer, half a carton of coconut milk, and a container of cherries.  If I had followed my own advice and kept the cooler stocked we would have stopped any place that looked gorgeous to dine al fresco.

Our favorite roadside picnic foods:

  • Easy to eat or prepared fruits & veggies – bananas, apple slices, blueberries, baby carrots, & sliced cucumbers
  • Part Skim String Cheese
  • Laughing Cow Light Cheese Spread
  • Thin Bagels – “everything” flavor
  • Sliced Lean Deli Meats – honey ham or smoked turkey
  • Crunchy Snacks – pretzels, Special K Cracker Chips, multigrain tortilla chips
  • Fruit Leather

Ultimately it always comes down to feeling good about the choices made moment to moment. Initially I felt like my balance of activity and indulgences were right where they should have been.  As our trip progressed I moved less and ate more.  By the end of our second week I was having a great time with our family and taking in all the beautiful scenery but I just didn’t feel good in my skin.  That general yuckiness more than the scale let me know I had lost my way.  It is always better to choose health over instant gratification.  Calories do count on vacation, even when you are having a great time. Lesson re-learned.

Travel Slides!

Want to see some pictures from our trip?  Ready or not here they come!


  1. Hi Rose:
    I enjoyed seeing all of the pictures of your fabulous trip. I too am glad to get back to a routine although I have also enjoyed my summer very much! Pam

Leave a Reply