Are you feeling crazy because of stress lately? Do you want to control your weight? Go on a vacation.
Stress results in high levels of cortisol, and according to this MSN article, stress might be making your arms chunky and your waist expand. Tsk tsk. So what do you do? Take a vacation! Or at least, just plan a weekend away to relax and unwind. Just think: less stress = smaller waist.
But what if you fall into complete vacation mode, throw all caution in the wind, eat like there’s no tomorrow, and you actually *gasp* gain weight while on vacation?? Been there, done that. But not anymore. Now, I’ve learned how to stay on track while on vacation; to enjoy food while not sabotaging prior healthy efforts; to focus on the moments, and not on the calories.
Last weekend, my boyfriend and I went to Martha’s Vineyard with some friends for much-needed R&R. We left Boston on Friday afternoon to spend a couple of days at Oak Bluffs. And by the time Sunday night rolled around, I didn’t feel excessive, over-fed, nor exhausted. I felt happy, healthy, relaxed. Instead of using a vacation as an excuse to overindulge (remember, a vacation will help to lessen stress and control weight, not gain weight), I practiced some smart habits.
How I Stayed on Track at Martha’s Vineyard:
- I didn’t gorge on fried appetizers. We ordered buffalo wings and fried calamari at almost every meal, and while I l really like those, I only ate one or two pieces of each. I just wanted a little taste, but I didn’t want to eat an entire day’s worth of calories on appetizers. In her book Naturally Thin, Bethenny Frankel urges readers to taste everything, eat nothing. She says, “this rule helps you to stop fearing food. No food is fattening, in a small quantity.” So I ate some of the fried apps in small quantities, and saved my calories for my actual meal.
- I tried to squeeze in some exercise, even if it’s just walking. I spent a couple of hours just browsing around Oak Bluffs and walking by the beach; while it’s not a major cardiovascular workout, it kept me from feeling lethargic. I felt energized the whole time!
- I chose to eat healthier options. At Season’s Eatery and Pub, one of the more popular burger spots, I noticed that they had a sushi bar menu, so I ordered steamed edamame to munch on, instead of the greasier sides. For lunch one day, I went to Skinny’s Fat Sandwiches (love the name) to get a Greek salad with marinated tofu.
- I stopped eating when I was full. I never though the day will come when I will say no to fudge. Actually, I didn’t say no, but I didn’t eat the entire block. Instead of eating a full bar of fudge, I only ate a little square because – surprise! – I was actually already satisfied. I gave the rest away and everyone was happy (really, who wouldn’t be happy with rich, made-on-the-premises, chocolate-walnut fudge?)
- I didn’t finish it just because I ordered it/I didn’t eat it just because it was there. For our last dinner at the Vineyard, we ate at Fishbones, a charming restaurant located right on the harbor. I ordered the lobster mac and cheese, because I had to eat lobster while at a New England vacation right? Well, the dish turned out to be… just okay. I was expecting a creamy, cheesy, lobster-filled luxury, but it turned out to be a little bland and just not that amazing. So I only ate a third (mac and cheese is still one of my favorite things ever) of the dish and gave the rest to my boyfriend, who was still hungry anyway. As for the famous clambake? In all honesty, the best thing I like about clambakes is the sausage. I only wanted the linguica and my friend offered to give me some, so we didn’t have to get another order of the clambake – and I was happy as a clam (sorry, couldn’t resist).
- I ate what I really, really wanted to eat. I knew I wanted to try Mad Martha’s ice cream and I did. I got the Oreo flavor, which was so well-churned it was brown – I couldn’t even see the specs of cookie. It was perfect: thick, creamy and had the perfect amount of sweetness. I’m still thinking of it, to this day.
What made the weekend really special was that I was able to indulge, but didn’t go overboard. I didn’t go crazy. The weekend at Martha’s Vineyard was filled with good food and great company. It was fun. It was stress-free. It was what a vacation should be.