Monday, August 20, 2012

Surviving Chicago

I love pizza. I especially love deep dish pizza. And Chicago deep dish pizza...forget it, no amount of willpower or planning can keep me away...and I just might eat it until I explode. So, you can imagine how nervous I was about my 3-day trip to Chicago for a work conference last week.

Instead of avoiding the beautiful Gino's and Giordano's and their decadent deep dish (or stuffed) pizza like the plague, I decided to let myself indulge, within reason. By that I mean, no eating pizza until I feel like I'm going to explode. I had 4 pieces of deep dish pizza in 3 days (at 800 calories a slice, according to!!!).

I decided to make sure I got some cardio to help to at least mitigate the damage. This proved to be more difficult than usual. I usually go and check out a hotel's workout facilities upon arrival at the hotel, last week was no exception. I made sure I knew where the workout room(s) were and what hours they were open. I woke up the first morning I was there at 5:30am (3:30am my time!), dragged my carcass out of bed, and went to use the workout room, only to find out that this hotel, unlike many others at which I have stayed, CHARGED for use of its facilities - $10 / day. Sigh. Fine, charged it to my room and proceeded to go to the workout area to discover that there was quite a line to use the cardio equipment. I did not have a lot of time to stand in line and wait because I had already slept as long as possible (my conference registration and meetings started fairly early). So, after waiting for several minutes, I left and walked back to my room. Ultimately, I walked every day I was there for about 45 minutes. No, walking is not the intense cardio exercise that going hard for 45 minutes on the elliptical provides, but it is something...which is better than nothing. It is always good to move, even if it is not going to be "enough," every little bit helps. Chicago is a beautiful city with a lot of character, so it was enjoyable, and my walks allowed me to move a bit and get at least SOME exercise, given my schedule and the unavailability of workout equipment during the hours I had set aside to work out.

In addition to ensuring that I got my daily exercise, I employed a couple of other strategies that I generally use when I travel. I brought some low-calorie blueberry-yogurt muffins with me to eat for breakfast in the morning. I had a muffin and then I went down to my meetings and went straight to the fruit tray for snacks between meetings. I was careful about what I ordered for lunch when I had lunch with colleagues and I was careful with the lunch that was served at the conference. I didn't eat the bread, avoided the sweets, and was very sparing with the salad dressing. In the end, I did go over my calorie budget every day. This was no surprise, given the pizza I ate and the fact that I did not get enough exercise every day. That said, I didn't do bad. I was down 3 pounds when I left for the conference and up 2.5 when I returned. I am reasonably certain that some of that is water weight from all the salty food. In any event, I'm not going to freak out. I know exactly what to do, I'm back onto my routine, which I've modified a bit. I'm having a shake for dinner every day and I'm on mostly fruits and veggies (save for my breakfast cheerios) - kind of a modified "healthy solutions" plan. I've done it before and it works for me. It'll probably take me a week to take off the weight I just put on. So, I basically set my weight loss back a week.

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