Vacations: Good for the soul, bad for the diet

I am writing this blog post whilst sitting at a bar in JFK airport, drinking a wheat beer.  I’m very pleased to tell you that I am on vacation for the next 10 days!

Don't worry, I tracked the beer calories
Don’t worry, I tracked the beer calories

Well, I’m SORT OF on vacation.  You see, I live in the good old US of A, northern NJ to be exact, but I am originally from Glasgow in Scotland.  I’ve been living here for 3 years and need to renew my visa so that I can stay in this lovely country.  In order to renew a visa, I need to visit a US Embassy outside of the country and give them my passport for a week – so it makes sense to travel home and wait out my passport returning whilst catching up with my family.

I am so excited!! I have 3 days in London, then 4 days in Glasgow, then 4 days in south Yorkshire.  I’m planning to catch up with family and friends, and see my nieces for a few days who I absolutely love.  Get me on that plane already!

There’s just one problem with disrupting your regular routine:

How do you stick to your diet and exercise regimes?

Let’s be honest – it’s not easy.  Vacations are good for the soul, but definitely bad for the diet!  While we’re on vacation, all routines go out the window, we eat more, drink more, exercise less, and generally have an all-round good time.   However, I don’t want to let the next 10 days unravel all my efforts of late.  Although I am starting to see a difference in my clothes, I’m struggling to see the numbers move on the scales right now and this is motivation enough to keep me on the right track during vacation.   So what’s the plan?  Well, the plan has 4 steps:

Step 1: Pick your battles

There are a lot of unhealthy things that I would regularly eat when I lived in the UK.  If I’m not careful I’d probably eat all of them at least once within the next 10 days.

  • Scottish Fry-Up: Black pudding, bacon, square sausage, potato scone
  • Irn-Bru (the most amazing Scottish soda)
  • Indian Take-Away: Lamb Madras, Peshwari Naan, Chicken Pakora
  • Chinese Take-Away: Crispy chilli beef, fried rice
  • Chips, cheese and kebab meat with garlic and chilli sauce
  • Pizza crunch (basically a battered, deep fried pizza.  Welcome to Scotland)
  • Munchie box (a pizza box full of kebab meat, chips, pakora, samosas, onion rings)
  • Chocolate.  Oh lord, the chocolate.  Cadbury’s, Galaxy, all of the chocolate.
  • Picked Onion Monster Munch, the food of Gods
  • Biscuits – Jaffa cakes, Bourbons, Custard Creams, Hobnobs

(Anyone else hungry now?  No, just me?)

As you can see, I have a big opportunity to partake in some gluttonous feasting while I’m at home.  I say NO! NOT THIS TIME!

Eat ALL the chocolate

My strategy: Have SOME treats, but I don’t have to have everything on that list

I’ve picked 3 things and I’ll fit these in without going overboard: Scottish fry up, Irn-Bru, Indian Take-Away.  I know if I deny myself everything on the list, I’ll fail.  So let’s be realistic – I’m still going to treat myself and enjoy my vacation, but I won’t be going overboard.  Life is all about compromises!


Step 2: Set exercise goals in advance

I have packed my running gear, and I’ve checked out in advance where I can get a workout in.  I’ve found a timed 10k in London to run and a parkrun 5k.  Now, we all go away with the best intentions to work out, but it can be really difficult to find the time once you’re away and other things take priority (like eating lush food and drinking!)

My strategy: Set REALISTIC goals in advance, and stick to them.

At home, I run 3 times a week and work out in the gym twice.  This isn’t really feasible while I’m away, so I will be realistic.  This is what I’m targeting for the next 10 days:

Thursday – 5k run

Saturday – timed 10k run

Sunday – 5k run

Monday OR Tuesday – workout in gym

Thursday – 5M run in Glasgow

Friday – workout in gym

Saturday – 5k parkrun

This is challenging but not unobtainable.  Exactly what I’m going for.

My carry-on consists of: visa paperwork, laptop and running shoes. Clearly my priorities are in order...
My carry-on consists of: visa paperwork, laptop and running shoes. Clearly my priorities are in order…


Step 3: Track EVERYTHING

Yup, pretty simple.  I’ll be tracking everything I eat and drink this weekend.  Even on the days I’ve allocated for my unhealthy treats, I’ll record them.   Now, it’s really hard to accurately track calories when you don’t eat at home, so I have a plan for how to overcome this:

My strategy: Utilise myfitnesspal and eat where there’s calories listed

Basically: eat foods in places where myfitnesspal already has calorie information for their menus.  This is the most accurate I can be while I’m away.  Of course, I’m fortunate that I’ll be at home for some of my vacation and I will get SOME home cooked meals, but I feel more confident knowing I have a strategy for everything else.

(I will admit, the curry will be harder to track, so it may be the only exception to this rule)


Step 4: Be accountable!

I’ve told the interwebs my plan, I’ve put it out there into the stratosphere, so now I’m accountable for it.  Feel free to ask me how it’s going, and remind me of my goals throughout the week!

I won’t have a weekly weigh-in this week, I might have a mid-week weigh in when I get home, and I really hope that my 4-step plan keeps me on track to start losing some damn weight already…

Let the holiday begin!
Let the holiday begin!

Have a GREAT week everyone!  Next post I write will be from another country!

Pam x




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