Friday, August 23, 2013

Vacation Lessons

I'm back, after an awesome vacation and some much-needed relaxation.  My husband and I spent the end of June and the better part of July in Europe. We hiked the Ring of Kerry in Ireland, 130 miles in 9 days. Awesome and breathtakingly beautiful. It was a wonderful experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys hiking - though the 11 day hike that we did was quite challenging (it is advertised as "11 days" but we didn't hike the first and last day). We also did some kayaking and a couple of wonderful day hikes in other parts of Ireland. Then, we spent four days in Paris over Bastille Day. This was quite a different experience, but still amazing and fun. We walked around the city and took in the sights, shopped and ate on the Champs-Élysées (I could even shop in the boutiques, the clothes fit!!! yay!...I bought a cute skirt and some pants...but I digress...). On Bastille Day (July 14), we watched the parade down the Champs-Élysées, spent the day walking around and enjoying the city and the festivities surrounding the celebration, then ate a picnic dinner on the Champs de Mars (In front of the Eiffel Tower) and closed the day watching an amazing 45-minute-long fireworks display - complete with laser light show and soundtrack. Awesome.

Then, we got back home after 130 miles of hiking, lots of walking, kayaking...and one month of no scale and no tracking my food = 15 pounds up!!! Yikes. I nearly fainted when I stepped on the scale the day I returned. My clothes were a bit tight, I noticed, and when I was shopping in Paris, I had to buy the equivalent of one size up from what I usually wear, but I wrote that off as European tailoring. Nope. I had gained quite a bit of weight. Proof positive that "you can eat whatever you want as long as you exercise" is a myth at best.  That's not to say that exercise is not vital, but the eating right - I think that is about 75% of the battle. The weight gain probably had a lot to do with the bread and cheese and pastries in Paris, and the Pub Grub at the end of my time in Ireland. Note - next time schedule the intensive exercise portion at the END of the vacation. :-) All that said, I have absolutely no regrets.

I had promised myself and my husband that I was not going to obsess about my diet (again, when I say "diet" I mean what I put in my mouth every day, not a temporary fad or reduction in calories) when we were on vacation and, honestly, I was ready for the weight gain - just was not prepared for how MUCH weight I gained. Anyway, that was a month ago. I was back on my routine within two weeks - recording everything I eat, exercise daily (if nothing else, I make sure that I walk 1/2 an hour),  balancing my calories...and so on.  I lost six pounds almost immediately, I'm thinking that the day I returned, I must have been retaining a lot of water or something, because within like four days, I was down 6 pounds and feeling quite a bit less bloated. I have since lost another 3 pounds. I am still up 6 pounds from when I left for vacation, but I'm on my way back down - so, I'm okay with that. As long as this weight does not stick around, I'll be fine.

This whole weight loss and maintenance thing is a learning experience. I know that I am going to slip up once in a while, and gain weight. But now that I'm paying attention, I am starting to become very aware of what I need to do to be successful.

Vacation Lessons Learned:
(1) Enjoy vacation and do not obsess about my diet and my weight. This may be different for different people, but I am not going to ruin a vacation with ridiculous obsessing.

(2) That said, balance - again - is the key.  I can still eat healthy even when I allow myself to splurge and eat higher calorie food now and again. I caught myself  eating a LOT of sweets and breads and eating when I really was not hungry on a couple of occasions. I don't need to do those things to enjoy my vacation. Plus, when I stuff myself or eat unhealthy food for days on end, I don't enjoy myself as much because I don't have as much energy. So, mitigating the junk food - without obsessing about it - actually would add to the enjoyment of the vacation. I just over-did it this time. Next time, I'll be a little more careful.

(3) Schedule a lot of physical activity into the vacation. It's fun. Walking tours and hiking and kayaking - we saw SO much more than we used to when we took bus tours and boat tours... When we were hiking in Ireland, we could stand up on the top of a mountain (well, an Irish mountain anyway) and watch the tour buses go by below us. Let me tell you - our view was SO much better! And kayaking on the lakes was amazing. It was peaceful and gorgeous, we kayaked out to an island with a castle - it felt like we had the entire place to ourselves (we did, it was just us and our guide, and some red deer :-) ) And the same was true when we were hiking - we were in the middle of this gorgeous landscape. Just us. No hordes of other tourists.  So, we were getting this great exercise and getting way more out of our vacation time as well. I will say that it was also a LOT more relaxing. The food tasted better and we slept really well after a 10-hour day of hiking in the hills, forests and around the coast of Ireland.

I am having a great summer! I hope you are as well.

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