AIM: Road Maintenance

“Road maintenance” kicks in any time I spend a night away from home. I might not be on a true vacation, as in several days in a far-away place, just a night or two at my daughter’s house or a friend’s house. But whenever I’m away from my own refrigerator and pantry, I need to take the familiar with me. Otherwise? Yeah… Too much white stuff and “I’m-hungry-I’ll-eat-anything” foods get consumed.

Eating the way I do feels safe to me. It’s comforting to know I don’t have to reinvent my diet every day. I know what I like and don’t like; and I know how certain foods will make me feel physically and emotionally, so I make my decisions based on those factors.
Traveling started getting complicated, but for good reasons, when I got to goal in 2007. My first trip away from home was a 10-day road trip to Minnesota. I opted to drive, in part, because no airline would let me take “my” food on board. You know, fish, soup, low-fat cheese, spinach. Driving meant I could pack a cooler (albeit, I packed like there were no grocery stores west of the Ohio border).
I’ve also learned to choose carefully at hotel complimentary breakfast buffets. A small yogurt,  hard-boiled eggs whites, coffee, whatever fruit they have (usually mushy apples or under ripe bananas), and maybe cereal, like plain oatmeal or Total Raisin Bran, sans the raisins (not a fan), with skim milk.
Small trips matter, too. Like when I lived in Clarion and would visit my daughter in Pittsburgh, I’d  pack a little cooler of food, usually leftovers from the night before. Cassie once said, “I love how you have the most random cooler food.”

Ah, that’s the beauty of a well-executed menu. It seems random and laid back, but really it’s carefully – nay, painfully– planned hours, even days in advance.

Which brings me to my love/hate relationship with my food plan.

I love it because having a plan takes away the guess work, and I know at the end of the day that I’ve eaten enough to satisfy both my nutritional and “comfort” needs. I hate it because it’s time consuming and a pain in the butt when I’m going out of town.

Whether it’s a day in Pittsburgh or a week in Minnesota, planning what I’ll pack to eat gives me an eye tick. While I don’t eat it (or at least often), I understand the appeal of fast food and pre-packaged meals. How much easier it would be to drive through McDs for a crappy salad – even with all its sodium and low-nutritional content – than pack my own salad, dressing, bowl, fork, and napkin when I’m going on a picnic.

Alas, easier isn’t usually healthier, and because eating healthy is a priority, I plan (and sometimes b!tch a little). Even if I’m going on a hike, I plan. I’ll write my menu on a sticky note: “Bring water, apple, almonds, Hershey Kiss.” Yes, I plan right down to the Hershey Kiss!
Once, on a trip to Chicago, I reserved a hotel room that had a microwave. Early in the morning, before I left, I made Hearty Lentil Spaghetti and roasted broccoli to reheat for dinner. I also packed hummus, salsa, salad and sandwich stuff (including Miracle Whip Lite, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, spicy brown mustard), carrots, string cheese, shredded squash, eggs….good lord, you name it, I packed it!
I allow for treats and special meals while on the road, keeping in mind, as I said before, the types of foods that make me feel miserable after eating them. Take, for instance, on that 10-day trip to Minnesota, I went to the Original Pancake House with my daughters, son-in-law, grandbaby, and niece. I ordered an egg-white omelet with spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes (no cheese) and asked the server to ask the cooks to use no or very little oil to cook it. The omelet was p-e-r-f-e-c-t. I coupled it with an English muffin and some fruit…I was in heaven. I also took a few bites of my daughter’s pancake (OPH syrup is really quite yummy) and my other daughter’s hash browns. It’s the simple indulgences that matter most to me.
At dinner with a friend, later in the week, I ordered the grilled asparagus with parsley oil and Parmesan cheese, and a spinach salad. I ate half a slice of bread smothered in brie and thought I’d died and gone to food heaven.
Sometimes on the road, I’ll have something “special,” like a Rice Krispy bar and a coffee with half-and-half. It’s always fabulous because it’s exactly the kind of vacation indulgence I want. I don’t feel guilty. Never occurs to me to feel guilty. I feel…normal. And normal is good.
We all have to decide for ourselves how to navigate our food journeys, especially when we’re on vaca. If you feel like eating a pancake or an omelet or whatever, let your conscience be your guide. How will you feel about eating it or not eating it? How will you feel afterwards? These are questions only YOU can answer for yourself.
I’m always glad to be home, back to my own kitchen and my own routine. After all, vacation – whether it’s one or 14 days – is like a pancake or Rice Krispy bar. They’re nice once in a while, but getting back to “real life” and real eating is always a relief.
AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you’d like us to address!
Just a quick note to my readers: I am taking a hiatus from Lynn’s Weigh (the blog, not Facebook) for a few weeks (maybe a month or more?) as I get serious about finishing my assignments and preparing for my final exam. I’ll post when I can, but in the meantime, I’ll be reading your blogs. If you’d like to stay in contact, you know where to find me. Thank you…as always.  I wish you all the best.
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11 thoughts on “AIM: Road Maintenance

  1. I remember reading all about your ice chest when I first started reading your blog! I guess that's where I first got the idea that I could bring food with me when I travel. Thank you so much! I do love bringing my favorite foods with me on trips.

  2. Like Debby, one of the first things I remember reading about you was when you packed a salad for a road trip…I was at the beginning of my diet and it clicked with me that I was going to have to take charge of my food all the time, and not let any excuses get in the way. Seriously, you were such a huge influence in my weight loss journey; I can't thank you enough for being so open about every aspect of your way (weigh?).

  3. No guilt about eating food is the best feeling, isn't it?

    I remember reading about your coolers before and admired how prepared you were for trips.

  4. I always take food with me when I'm travelling. It makes me feel safe and secure. It is even better when travelling with friends. Shearing food is great!

  5. I love these AIM posts! I pretty much tackle travel and eating the way you do. If we go in the car we pack a cooler and do a mix of eating from the cooler food and eating out. If I splurge it has to be for something splurge worthy. Every meal on vacation is not a free for all!

  6. I am not a massive fan of travelling so when I do go I have to take a bottle of water with me.. I am not sure why I think it is my 'comfort' type of thing.

  7. Haha, my friends call my slack a' jack whenever I'm on the road (more often than I'd like) because I find it so hard to maintain my diet with no structure.

  8. I'm not sure you'll get my comment any time soon as I'm barely getting around to reading the AIM posts a week or so late, but anyway…

    I commend you for taking your food along on trips. I've only sometimes done this and it does prove helpful when traveling and trying to watch ones weight. (Like recently when I planned on having oatmeal at McD's on a road trip and the group planned to stop at Bojangles – solely chicken dishes, nothing healthy for breakfast…argh. I was wishing I had brought my own food that day.)

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