Last weekend, my Godmother asked me a question. She said, “I see all of those photos you post on Instagram of fabulous food you eat on your travels. You just take a bite or two and then stop… right?”
I looked at her sheepishly. “No. I eat the whole thing…”
After seeing her shocked face, I felt the need to qualify. “I mean, it’s all so good. It would be a pity to waste it… right?”
She just shook her head and replied, “How on Earth do you eat all that and stay so… slim?”
I’ve never really thought of it that way. Like everyone, I feel like I have a constant struggle to stay thin, and it’s even more difficult than it used to be since 1.) I’m over 30, and 2.) I’m traveling –and eating– so often.
To be completely honest, I’d love to lose 10 pounds, but food is an essential part of the way I learn about what makes a place tick. Food –everything from the produce that’s grown and sold in the local farmer’s market to burgers the greasy spoon diner down the street– can help reveal a local culture and pride. How can I possibly provide my readers with an authentic view on a destination I’m covering if I don’t enjoy the best, iconic food that each destination has to offer?
So, I just want to make it known that when I travel… I eat. My saving grace is that I’m primarily a weekend traveler, which means I mainly splurge just 2 days out of the week.
Now, to answer my Godmother’s question… here’s what I do to eat like a travel writer, and stay (relatively) slim:
I walk… a lot.
When I do my weekend travels, I am busy. I always have a ton to do in very little time, so I’m up and out the door like it was a normal work day and I keep going until long after the sun has set and it’s time to sleep.
As I run from place to place, I sometimes eat not-so-good-for-me food, but then I’m moving to the next place on the itinerary. Just the simple act of exploring counterbalances the extra calories and mitigates the impact… at least a little bit! And, to that point…
I measure each step.
I have a Fitbit pedometer that always keeps score, and I typically clock 7-10 miles a day on my various #TravelLocal adventures.
During the week, I maintain the walking routine, aiming for at least 5 miles a day. Working in downtown DC, I can easily reach 2.5 miles a day through the normal commuting process and by walking around during work. I add the extra 2.5 miles by taking the longer route to the office, walking to a farther away Metro stop after work, or going for a walk during lunch (if I have the time). 5 miles a day is pretty easily attainable for me if I’m aware of it, which I am thanks to the Fitbit! (Seriously, I’ll do anything to keep that little guy from taunting me with his “get off your butt and move!” face.)
I try to eat really healthy during the week.
If I continued my “eat everything” approach during the week, I’d be in a bit of trouble. Luckily, after a weekend of splurging I’m usually in the mood for some healthier eating. I try to stick with salad’s or lean proteins for lunch, snack on fruits and nuts and then cook a lighter dinner. Does it always work out? No. But, I try my best!
I do one big diet a year. (This will probably be the most polarizing tip on this list, but I’m not holding anything back! )
I’ve gone to Cancun every Thanksgiving since I was 15 years old. But nothing makes me feel the pressure to stay thin more than this trip or the endless number of photo taken on the beach. Ugh! While I put this pressure on myself, I’ve learned that, for me, the best way to feel confident is to really dedicate myself to leaning up the month of November.
What works best for me is the South Beach diet: basically lots of lean proteins, vegetables and exercise while avoiding all sugar, alcohol or carbs. I lose weight and feel great stepping onto the beach, and the healthy-eating and exercise habits continue throughout the December holiday season and the new year. For me, it’s a win-win.
When all else fails… I wear flowy clothes.
No matter what I do, there will always be those days where I just don’t feel 100% happy with the way I look. I think that’s just part of being human. So, for those days, I never feel shame in wearing a loose-fitting top or –even better– a cute dress that hides the trouble spots. Tomorrow’s a new day… hopefully tomorrow my skinny jeans won’t feel quite so tight.
So, that’s what I do… what are your tips to stay thin during and after your travels?