Guest Post: Low Calorie Eating on Vacation

Watching calories for your healthy lifestyle is difficult throughout the year, and going on vacation can often derail progress. However, it is actually easy to stay consistent with healthy habits while on vacation; all it requires is a some planning and research.
At the start of the trip, it is important to plan ahead and have an idea of what healthy options will be available while traveling. Make sure to eat breakfast before heading to the airport so that you won't be hungry. This will allow you to know exactly how many calories that you are putting into your body. At the airport itself, it may seem overwhelming to have so many food options, but stick to the plan. While you are waiting for a flight try to walk around and take the stairs instead of the escalator to burn some easy calories. Pick something like, like a salad or pieces of vegetables to get you through the flight. During the flight itself, avoid alcoholic and sugary beverages, as they contain empty calories. Stick to water as this will keep you hydrated and alert without adding any calories to your body.
Once you have arrived at your vacation location, it is important to scope out the area to see what options are available. Many travelers rely on using the mini-bar for snacks, but they are often filled with calorie-laden treats. A better idea is to stop at a local store or the hotel gift shop and pick up the options that you know you can eat without going over your limit. You can also select options like oatmeal or soup if there is a microwave in the room. Careful planning will help to ensure that you make healthy choices.
Determining information and amenities about hotels and restaurants can often be difficult but can inevitable be the difference maker in staying around your calorie limits. I recently took a trip to Sin City and found a great site that listed reviews for the amenities and services of each of the Las Vegas hotels and restaurants that made eat easier than ever to plan out every aspect. This allowed me to ensure that I could maintain my calorie count the exact way that I wanted to.
Since it is a vacation, you will most likely go out to eat for a number of meals, and the best way to make good choices is to have a good sense of the menu. Before selecting a restaurant, do some research; many restaurants will include menus and calorie counts on their websites, so spend some time taking a look through the options. Seek out locations that offer very lean proteins, such as fish or chicken, as well as a variety of soups and salads.
Once you've entered the restaurant, take a closer look at the menu and consider any specials for the evening. Make sure to avoid any descriptions that include words like creamy, fried, breaded, or buttered, as these items are often unhealthy. If you plan to eat a salad, try it without the salad and you could be eating a virtually calorie less meal. In terms of side dishes, pick a variety of vegetables. A good dinner option might include a chicken breast with the skin removed, a salad, and a side of vegetables. Finally, avoid the dessert menu at all costs. Even though the choices sound delicious, it is more important to keep up your healthy habits.
While eating healthy on vacation may seem difficult, careful planning can help travelers make smart choices. Planning ahead and having a number of alternative options is beneficial to keep your diet on track. Similarly, being conscious of your choices will help as well. Keeping these ideas in mind will lead to a healthy, successful trip.

Cole Millen, is an avid traveler and foodie who never forgets that life's best memories are made through real life apprehension of legitimate "experiences." Follow his blog at Cole’s Mill.


ADF Side Effect - Smaller Feet

Day 83, Fast Day #38

I completely forgot about the Mexican-themed lunch for a co-worker's birthday yesterday, so I officially failed at making this a 4:3 week. So now it is only going to be a 5:2. Womp womp. I guess I am also trying one week of the 5:2 diet. 

Oh well. I weighed in this morning and am down another pound. This makes for a total of 22 lbs lost in about 12 weeks without any changes in my physical activity. My weight loss is now averaging less than 2 lbs/week. Mind you, I have been throwing in extra feast days with all of the social events lately, so this isn't surprising. Lots of booze calories are on the books this week.

One weird weight loss-related change I noticed is that my feet are about a half-size smaller. I am not tracking shoe size as a weight loss measurement, but I tried on the shoes I bought for my wedding the other day and they are too big now in both width and length. This is a bit irritating because the shoes are well beyond the store return policy. So I guess if there is someone that wants brand new 7 1/2 W ivory heels, I would barter with you. I ordered a different pair of heels a half size down today, so hopefully those work out.

Back on the subject of shrinking feet, while I have seen this topic discussed by other women in online weight loss forums, I haven't found much research done on this topic. I can't think why anyone would fund such a study, so I'm not too surprised. Feet are boney, but they still contain fat tissue. So it seems logical that the 22 lbs of weight I lost could have been partially distributed in my feet. Those extra 22 lbs were also putting more pressure on my feet, which can could have created swelling. In fact, as obesity has risen, so have doctor visits for foot and ankle pain. I guess a tip I would have for future brides in light of my shrinking feet would be that if you plan on losing weight before your big day, to hold off on buying shoes until you need them for your dress fitting.

Today's fast is going well. I am at about 411 calories for the day, so I have a little bit of an allowance for a dinner-time snack. So far I've consumed a cup of black coffee, salt & pepper pistachios, a trail mix made with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, dried papaya, dried cranberries, and dried apple bits (yum), some fresh cherries, a multi-vitamin, and some guava kombucha. I am going all vegetarian today because I feel like I really need to clean up my gut after the last two days of feasting. 

The margin of error for tracking calories, much less remembering food and beverages, might be high this weekend in light of my bachelorette party. On that note, I will post my 12th week summary a bit later than usual (Monday or Tuesday) because I will be busy being a woo girl this weekend with some of my favorite gal pals:


Fast(ing) Food - Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Day 81, Feast Day #44

I remembered to get on the scale today and I have had zero weight gain despite this past weekend. Amazing! So, I am still down 21 lbs after 11 weeks of alternate day fasting. I don't have any body composition data to work with, but I have got to think a good portion of my weight loss must be fat versus water, or I would have certainly gained back some of the pounds.

My achievement of the day was surviving wedding errands with my brother, despite almost killing him when he got lost in the rain with my wedding dress while his cellphone was dead. Bridezilla made a short appearance when he somehow walked past the store while I was paying for parking and could not be found at the dress fitting appointment we were already late for. Now that the dress has been fitted, I need to try not to lose too much weight, as she says everything in the bust and waist fits perfectly and suggested I keep a little extra space (since apparently stressed brides tend to retain water according to her, plus I should try to eat at my own wedding).

After running errands, I relaxed with Zach and my brother with some hard cider and enjoyed some beef stew I made in the slow cooker this morning. I am looking forward to the leftovers for tomorrow's fast day.
The remaining stew after Zach and my brother ate most of it and drank all the broth.
I should have taken an earlier photo, oops!
Slow Cooker Beef Stew (Yields 8 servings) ~303 kcal/serving
Takes 7-9 hours on low to cook, prep time is only 5-10 minutes

The slow cooker was the best joint purchase Zach and I have ever made. If you don't have one, I highly recommend getting one to improve your overall quality of life. Ours was $30 or $40 at Costco and we have never regretted the purchase.

  • 1 large onion, chopped (I used a yellow onion) ~60 kcal
  • 6 red potatoes, eyes taken out and quartered ~714 kcal
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced (I used white mushrooms) ~107 kcal
  • 3 medium carrots with their leafy tops, sliced and greens chopped ~116 kcal
  • 2.5 lbs of cubed beef chunks for stew ~1,400 kcal
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce ~10 kcal
  • 1 14 oz. can of beef broth ~10 kcal
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary ~2 kcal
  • 1 tsp dried parsley ~1 kcal
  • 1/2 tsp paprika ~3 kcal
  • pepper, to taste ~1 kcal
  • salt to taste

In the slow cooker, add onions and carrots. Top with potatoes, mushrooms, beef, and carrot tops. Add Worcestershire sauce, spices, and beef broth.

Cover the crock pot and set to low and cook for 7-9 hours until the beef is cooked through and tender. Eat!

Feel free to add celery to this. I avoided it as I am newly allergic to it.


Week 11 Summary

Day 80, Fast Day #37

I had another triple feast this weekend on account of a retirement party, dining out, and drinking with the future in-laws. Today was a needed fast day after my weekend bender of Mexican food, cured meats, and beer. About 1/3 of my calories on Saturday were from alcohol alone.  That is pretty gross. Alcohol is clearly one of the main reasons I gained so much weight over the last few years.

I was not hungry at all today. I ate a large handful of salted pistachios late in the morning after some black coffee, part of a grapefruit, a pack of roasted seaweed, kombucha, and my multivitamin for 245 calories total. I didn't feel hungry all day. I broke my fast with a good amount of food at happy hour with the office girls and indulged in a couple glasses of wine. 

I forgot to weigh myself his morning, since I was running late to work. I probably don't want to know the numbers anyway after so much feasting over the weekend plus some hormonal water retention. I feel like a blimp right now, despite the loose jeans and belt on the last notch. On to the numbers:

Week 1: 1,437 kcal or 76% of baseline calories (-3,213 kcal/week)
Week 2: 1,938 kcal or 102% of baseline calories (+294 kcal/week)
Week 3: 1,680 kcal or 89% of baseline calories (-1,512 kcal/week)
Week 4: 2,196 kcal or 116% of baseline calories (+2,100 kcal/week)
Week 5: 1,829 kcal or 96% of baseline calories (-469 kcal/week)
Week 6: 1,531 kcal or 81% of baseline calories (-2,555 kcal/week)
Week 7: 1,954 kcal or 103% of baseline calories (+406 kcal/week)
Week 8: 1,196 kcal or 63% of baseline calories (-4,900 kcal/week)
Week 9: 1,638 kcal or 86% of baseline calories (-1,806 kcal/week)
Week 10: 1,637 kcal or 86% of baseline calories (-1,813 kcal/week)
Week 11: 1,681 kcal or 89% of baseline calories (-1,505 kcal/week)

While ADFing: 1,702 kcal or 90% of baseline calories
Baseline Days: 1,896 kcal

All Feast Days: 2,782 kcal or 147% of baseline calories
All Fast Days*: 471 kcal or 25% of baseline calories

For reference
Week 1: 3 feast days, 4 fast days
Week 2: 4 feast days, 3 fast days
Week 3: 4 feast days, 3 fast days*
Week 4: 4 feast days, 3 fast days
Week 5: 4 feast days, 3 fast days
Week 6: 3 feast days, 4 fast days
Week 7: 4 feast days, 3 fast days, 
Week 8: 3 feast days, 4 fast days
Week 9: 4 feast days, 3 fast days
Week 10: 4 feast days, 3 fast days
Week 11: 4 feast days, 3 fast days
*Includes faux-fast day that was my mama's birthday dinner.

I have been eating in this 80-something% of my baseline calories for awhile now. I hope that means I am leveling off in terms of my sky-high calorie feast days. However, this upcoming 12th week is likely going to bust through all previous feasting records because of my weekend bachelorette party and beach trip. It could end up just being a 5:2 week, but I may try to shortened my Thursday feast day so I can get in a 4:3 and still claim it as an alternate day fasting week. I feel like such a cheater with all of this weekend social eating. However, I am not going to let a diet stop me from having fun, so I am being flexible about special occasions.