Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Packing up the kitchen, uhm, I mean, the suitcase

I am traveling again. This time to Atlanta – downtown Atlanta, not one of the cute little neighborhoods with fun shops, boutiques, and grocery stores. But to the empty, deserted, hotel and restaurant infested part of the city.

So, as always – and even a little more so than always – I am packing my own food. And, as per usual, it looks like I’m going to be bringing more food than clothes!

The list, so far:

Susan’s Kale Chips 2.0

1 bag of Organic Baby Spinach
1 box of cherry tomatoes
1 gallon sized bag of chopped veggies: broccoli, carrots, turnips, and zucchini
Enough Chocolate Rice and Protein Powder for at least 4 shakes
3-4 avocados
Energy bars
Psyllium Husk
Spirulina
Almond butter

Kitchen utensils:
1 spoon
1 travel sponge
1 large cup
1 travel-sized Magic Bullet Blender

I’m sure I’m forgetting something; as I almost always do!

So, why am I bringing all of this food – particularly since I have lunch and dinner dates planned every day that I am there?

The powders, the spinach, and the avocados (or maybe the almond butter, depending on my mood) are all for breakfast. If I don’t have MY breakfast, the day is pretty much shot for food for me. If I don’t start off with my regular 60+ gram protein BOMB, I can pretty much count on a bad eating day. When I do start the day off with a shake, no matter where I am, I am more sated, I am more grounded, and I am much more likely to be in control of my eating (as opposed to the other way around).

And as someone who is 85% (more or less) raw vegan, it’s hard to get a satisfying meal out. Most restaurants’ idea of a big salad (see earlier post on this topic) wouldn’t feed a rabbit! So instead of being all weird about it, I’ve decided to just go and order a salad (where possible) and eat it. Even if it’s not particularly satisfying, I know that I have PLENTY of nutrition in my room to fall back on. Using this approach, “eating out” with friends will really be more like “hanging out.” Eat a little salad, drink a little water – then go back to my room for my real lunch or, as the case may be, dinner.

Now, even though Atlanta – at least the part I am going to me in – is not that diet friendly, there is a Legal Sea Food, which does have a pretty generous Gluten-Free Menu. Given that gluten-free is the mandatory condition and the raw/vegan is just the preference, I should be in pretty good shape on Saturday night – as that’s where my very understanding friend made reservations. And, believe it or not, Atlanta also has a Raw Restaurant! It’s not downtown, but it’s only a MARTA ride away. As it turns out, I have a chunk of time available on Saturday, so I’ll definitely be checking that out for lunch! And as a service to raw aficionados everywhere, I’ll be sure to let you know!

Hudson News Find

I am traveling again – and hope to have a better day than the last time I took for the skies (it’s not looking all that promising, since I couldn’t find the bus station what I needed to find to actually get to the airport, but the day is young and the skies are blue).

While browsing in one of the many Hudson News magazine stores at Boston Logan, I found – much to my surprise – that they carry raw pistachios and raw almonds. Of course they cost an arm and a leg, but that’s beside the point. It’s good to know that they’re there and available should the need arise.

Unfortunately, Hudson News also carries a lot of other things – like a ton of trashy/pulp novels that I really shouldn’t be reading, as I have plenty of other more serious things that warrant my attention.

However, my goal is to make it through the day without rewarding/comforting myself with food – so light fiction here I come. If I get as little sleep tonight as I got last night, I’ll have plenty of time to get everything done (and then some).

Travel Fail

I just recently returned from a very badly planned out trip.

Don’t get me wrong, the trip was great. But the plan could definitely have used some work!

On the one hand, the plan was pretty good in that we packed a ton of raw seed bread, flax crackers, nut butters, and Clearvyte-CR so that we would have lots of good raw food and stay reasonably detoxed, but it was not so great in that we had planned to go to the grocery store upon arrival and buy lots of fresh veggies to supplement all of that fat-heavy – albeit it was the “healthy” fat – food!

Note that I used the word PLANNED.

We arrived late, burned out. We decided to skip the grocery store and scrounge. We did have some veggies – like some sugar snap peas and some baby carrots – but we were definitely short. The conference started the next morning at 8:30 and went long both nights – hence no store.

To make matters worse, my plane left early on Monday and in my hurry to get to the hotel, I left the $7.00 bunch of broccoli that I had finally broke down and bought from the hotel in the fridge – doh! I hate that.

Ostensibly, I was only 247 calories over my daily allotment of calories on Sunday and 500 on Monday, which, if you’re as calorie-crazed, er, conscious as I am, you’ll know that that’s only about 1/5 of a pound worth of extra energy.

However, I felt (last night) and still do (after 5 hours of sleep, an hour of exercise, and 5 hours of work), like complete and utter crap. I feel like there’s a big ball of lard deep inside my gut. I also feel completely clogged up and slightly nauseous.

My mother tried to reassure me that I’d get used to it; heck, that’s the last thing I want!

Chances are I’m feeling particularly bad because of how cleanly we have been eating this month – but it’s not necessarily something that I want to test.

Last night, on my way home from the airport, I stopped at a local grocery store and bought two bags of produce! It was beautiful, glorious, and green. It looked clean. It felt clean. It smelled clean. In fact, it’s not too far of a reach to say that I felt like I was literally being bathed in chlorophyll.

Even though I am still pretty full (it really is surprisingly gross how polluted I feel) I did manage to have a nice raw butternut squash soup, some zucchini, and some turnip for lunch.

Despite it’s still overfull state, my body literally sang~

Tonight, I think I’ll have some Swiss chard.

You probably think I’m kidding, but, seriously, I can’t wait.

And next time, no matter how late I get to where I am going, I will go to the grocery store – come hell or high water.

post script: even though it was a colossal fail on the fresh veggie front, I am proud to report that no sugar crossed these lips! I have five more days on the sugar detox cleanse and so far, so good. So, perhaps I should change the title of the post, because after all it could have been a whole lot worse!

The importance of planning ahead

I am going to be traveling again and the first thing I thought: what am I going to eat?

Instead of stressing about it too much, I just asked for what I need. It worked pretty well last time, so I thought I might try it again.

First things first, I asked the very helpful person who has been coordinating my upcoming visit if she could take me a to a grocery store immediately upon landing. This is imperative, as I typically travel with a blender – a travel blender at that – and love making green smoothies in my hotel rooms. I find that if I start the day off normally – well, as normally as anyone who drinks spinach, broccoli, red pepper, carrots, cayenne pepper and pear for breakfast can – then the rest of the day will go that much smoother. Of course she said yes.

Second, even though I am the keynote speaker at a banquet (hence the invitation to travel), I asked that a special meal be prepared: a large plate of uncooked vegetables or a large salad. No problem, she assured me. Now, who knows what the quality of the veggies will be, but that’s why it’s important to make sure I have snacks and high quality produce in my room for after the event.

Third, there are people who want to take me out to dinner when I get there – presumably after the trip to the grocery store and before the main event (which is the next day). When asked if I had any preferences, I simply said that i was currently on a raw vegan diet and that anywhere where I could get a big salad and perhaps an avocado – or at least someplace that wouldn’t object if I brought my own – then I was golden.

This is what she sent back, saying that it wasn’t raw, but she was sure they would accommodate.

Looking at the menu – particularly the appetizers and the salads – I think I may be the one to accommodate.

Given that the definition of High Raw is 80% raw or more, I think I’ll be okay. Meanwhile, that Cauliflower Miso is calling my name….

The moral of this story: I used to be really concerned about asking for what I need. I used to think that I was being bothersome or troublesome. What I’ve found as I have practiced this – and not been so apologetic about it – is that people are happy to help. But it helps if you’ve done your research. If you’re going to go visit someplace new, find out what the options are ahead of time. I lucked out, because my colleague happened to know about The Vegiterranean.

And for those of you who are traveling to a new place, without the benefit of helpful hosts, the internet is your friend. It’s amazing what you can find – and where you can find it – in just a few minutes on-line.

Leaving on a jet plane….

…and I am literally taking more calories than clothes! It’s crazy!

Michael J and I are going to a two day seminar on the opposite coast and this is just a sampling of what I’m taking, aside from two skirts, two blouses, a jacket, a scarf, and variety of other necessary unmentionables:

Larabars
A gallon bag of salad (no dressing)
Hummus
Multigrain Ricecakes
Carrots
Pink Lady Apples
Bananas
My blender!
Chocolate Hemp Shake Mix
Shelled Hemp Seeds
Nairn’s ginger stem oat biscuits
VerMints
Raw Unsalted Almonds
Prunes (don’t ask)
Green & Black’s 85% Chocolate (for Michael J)
?????

I’m sure I’m forgetting something! But you get the picture!

Last time we were there (back in the good old pre-gluten-free days) we were able to buy a brown bag lunch, but as it all had some sort of wheat that’s no longer an option. And the dinner break is short. Last time 20 participants had gone up to their rooms only to be stuck in an elevator. Thanks, but no thanks!

Luckily there is a grocery store within walking distance (about a mile away) where we can buy soy milk/Almond Breeze once we arrive and additional fruit if need be after our 10 trek cross country.

Despite the potential for food disaster, you might say that I am stocking (if not overstocking) my environment.

My plan: eat small meals every two and a half hours and, as you may recall from my last post, only eat until I’m 80% full.

I will keep you posted!

What are your best travel strategies?

Getting my groove back

Usually my summers are the time that I reconnect with my body, the last two years through doing P90X with my favorite workout partner and really getting serious about food.

Not this summer.

This summer has been about travel and disruption. It’s been about illness (my 19 year old cat had a stroke two months ago). It’s been about tubing and fluids and shots. In all fairness, it’s also been about vacations, wine tours and the forsaking of valued identities (that is, spinning instructor) for the sake of overall balance in my body.

In some ways, this summer has felt like more of a struggle than the spring, even though I was overwhelmed with work in the months of March, April, and June in ways that I am simply not at the moment. There’s still a lot of work to do, more than I have time for in fact, but the deadlines aren’t as frenetic. The penalties for not getting it done seem less severe.

I made three trips to California (from the east coast) in the last two months; two with Michael and one alone. On these trips, I learned how to pack food and exercise gear for travel. I learned how to use my new iPhone to broadcast via Twitter (KJLively), though I couldn’t quite manage to blog remotely, hence the long gaps on occasion. I also learned how to use the mapping function to find grocery stores and how to make salads in hotel rooms with cutlery borrowed from in-house restaurants or once, when I was desperate, lifted off of someone’s room service tray that had been left in the hall. I washed the knife with shampoo and dried it with a washcloth. I learned to travel with a blender and, when necessary, how to pack soy milk for shakes in airtight containers in my checked baggage. I made peanut butter sandwiches ahead of time and sealed them in baggies before placing them in hard plastic containers for safe keeping.

I lost track of calories at weddings and conferences, mostly through my consumption of alcohol. However, I also learned the finer points of most cardio machines in most hotel fitness rooms. I can get my heart rate up and keep it there on a treadmill going 3.6 miles an hour (a brisk walk) on an incline of 6. The recumbent bike – somewhat surprisingly – is harder than it looks. And the StairMaster – somewhat ironically – is less so.

Now that I am home, I am attempting to revisit my old routines. The nordic track, followed by K-Bells (either Cardio Balanced or Total Body Blast) or Jillian Michaels (either the 30 or No More Trouble Zones). I am also using my foam roller once or twice a day to smooth out the knots in my abductors and tennis balls to dissolve the rocks in my calves.

Throughout all this, my body is changing and not always in ways that I would chose.

I keep trying to skirt around negative words like “losing ground”, “getting old” and “betrayed” and use more positive words such as “journey”, “process”, “maturing,” and “natural”, instead. I know it’s all in the framing! Luckily I have good friends around to remind me when I slip up and return to old patterns, only to engage in the familiar ritual of self-recrimination.

Needless to say, I am not going for perfection at the moment, but I am trying to take my victories where I can find them.

Tonight, I bent at the waist and – keeping my legs straight – touched the floor. I didn’t scrape the floor with the tips of my fingers, mind you. Instead, I put my whole palms on the floor. I’ve never been able to do that. I went downstairs and immediately showed Michael. His response: It will be worth trying that again in the morning!

You know what? It’s progress and I’ll take it.

Product Recommendation – Food

Admittedly, the first time I tried these things, I wasn’t a fan. The second time, however, yum! You may be wondering why I would try something again that I didn’t like the first time? It’s simple. They were on sale. They are way better for you than the replacement product (that is, potato chips), and I am once again traveling and in need of snack options. And, truth be told, there are only 3.5 servings per bag, so if I were to eat the whole bag in a day (not hard to do on a 6 hour plane ride), it’s really not that bad. I mean it’s not great, but it’s not terrible either!

Okay, here it is: Humbles (not as in pie, which – for those of you who know me know – would never be on the menu), but as in baked hummus chips!

There are several flavors, including Roasted Red Pepper; Olive Oil, Lemon & Feta; and Sesame Garlic. I am now a fan of the Sesame Garlic.

60% less fat than potato chips (4 grams per serving)! 120 calories, 1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of protein. And, importantly, there is only one item on the list of ingredients that sounds scary! (See one could literally eat the whole bag for 420 calories and 12 grams of fat, which is way less bad for you than a double scoop of Ben & Jerry’s!)

Just so you know, I found them cheaper than they are listed on-line at the local Coop, but as I already noted they were on sale! Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Strawberry banana smoothies at Starbuck’s

Surprisingly not so bad. A little sweet; I’m sure their definition of real strawberry purée includes sugar, but with soy milk it’s a relatively dairy free protein bomb (it is however made with whey powder) in a sea of nutrition free airport junk! It boggles the mind that HMS still hasn’t figured out that there is a large portion of travelers who would be willing to pay upwards of ten bucks for anything that even remotely resembles whole grain! (Obviously health food hasn’t made it to PHX.)

I ordered a sandwich earlier with no bread, no cheese, no mayo, no fries, sub a small cesear salad with no croutons or dressing.

Luckily the waitress had a sense of humor!

Airport Food

I am totally impressed! I just toured through one of the gift shops at SFO and there were four – yes four – displays of health food snacks and other nutritious options! Hopefully this trend spread east soon! Of course there were also displays of non-healthy snacks (actually fewer relatively speaking), sourdough bread, chocolate, and wine (the latter two are officially superfoods, but I’m not buying it at the moment).

Anyway, totally impressed, very envious, and more than a little hopeful given that there were a lot more Chips Ahoy left on the shelves than there were dark chocolate and flaxseed biscuits!

Setbacks (otherwise known as vacations)

I must admit that I am completely bummed! I caanot believe how much my body has changed after ten days of no k-bells, four days of no cardio, and a six stop winery tour! I barely recognize myself! I look five months pregnant! I mean seriously, I am trying not to use the word “disgusting,” but it is a close thing.

It is at moments like this that I understand how and why people give up on their diets! And this was with me being a pain in the ass about having to make a spiru-tein shake most mornings, eating mostly vegan (when available), and exercising every other day! Not to sound bitter, but if I had known it was going to be this bad I wouldn’t have even bothered! How do people survive who don’t watch what they eat? As I stated earlier, I am most bummed! (And I am sharing it all with you, in all of its gory technicolor detail, because some have suggested to me that I am sanctimonious and that it’s easy to be so when everything’s going okay)! It’s not going okay, but I’m pretty sure – if not absolutely positive – that I can get it back to good.

So what’s the plan?

Well, most likely it will be lose the last ten pounds yet again! I hope it is no more than that but it is hard to say standing naked in front of a mirror beneath the flourescent lights of the airport Hampton Inn! Ugh.

I keep hoping that at least half of it is water because it is well known that your body retains water in order to protect its vital organs from the acid in alcohol. But not even I am delusional enough to think that my body felt so threatened that it decided to hold on to a body of water the magnitude of the Russian River!

Enough, KJ! It would be all too easy to beat myself up over this (and, hey, I’m doing pretty good without even trying), but what I really need to do is develop a reasonable and sustainable plan. Step one: stay off the scale for at least one week after resuming my normal diet and exercise routine. Step two: drop back down to 1200 calories a day. Step three: no matter what, don’t do anything extreme (like try exercising 8 hours a day) or give up. Overkill in either direction at this point, would be a very bad idea!

Who knows? This could be the best thing that happened to my weight loss endeavors!

How so, you ask? Well now that there can be no doubt that I’m taking in enough calories, the weight should just roll right off when I start exercising again, right? Well, it could happen! And, theoretically, it should, holding all else constant.

I’ll keep you posted. And once I’ve been back at it for a week I’ll even tell you how much damage was actually done!

I had a great time, but suffice it to say that I’m glad to be on my back home. I missed my routine, I missed my cats, and I missed having steady Internet access!

And just as an FYI (as if this whole post has been anything but), given the quality of airport food, something tells me that I’ll be having at least one of the new smoothies at Starbuck’s (complete with fiber powder – at Starbuck’s, can you believe it?) all for a mere 280 calories each! Now that I’m back in the real world, I’ll also be sure to let you know how they taste!

The best laid plans of mice and men

Well, my intentions were good.

I’m writing this, really, as penance and to simply put it out there that I have off days (weeks) just like everyone else!

I missed exercise for two days. The first day was just insanely busy and then yesterday I stupidly let myself be talked into going to conferences and meeting people. You know what? I would have been much happier working out and I am pretty darned sure that my eating would have been better as well!

I suppose that when one is at a professional conference, you should take the opportunity for professional development and for social and professional networking. And it is true that I made a lot of contacts with publishers and got some great ideas for future projects while I was not at the gym. In that sense, I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. But not going to the gym seemed to invite over eating (and, in some cases, over drinking).

Prior to this conference, I hadn’t had more than two glasses of wine in a month, but it seems like I’ve developed a three glass minimum these days ;( Alcohol is a slippery slope when it comes to diet. Why?

One, alcohol is full of empty calories!

Two, alcohol lowers your inhibitions when it comes to food!

Three, alcohol lowers your blood sugar, which causes you to store fat (always a plus – not)!

Four, alcohol is highly acidic and once you start creating an acidic environ in your body, your body craves additional acid! In other words, you crave things like white bread, sugar, alcohol, etc. Essentially, once you get started, it’s hard to stop.

I haven’t managed to stop entirely, but I have managed to put on the breaks.

After a pretty indulgent day on Sunday, yesterday, I had my normal shake breakfast (even though hotel ice blends much quicker than ice cubes from a tray, the people next door hate me!), a bagel (highly acidic, but decidedly yummy), a beet salad with avocado and feta cheese, some cashews, a Lara Bar, a salad, some whole wheat bread sticks, and a plate of fabulous veggies (sauteed spinach, baby carrots, and grilled asparagus. (And , uhm, a third of a bottle of pinot noir – nobody’s perfect and we are, after all, in California).

I’ve been drinking my highly alkaline green stuff daily (sometimes three times a day!) but I feel like I’m losing the battle.

This morning, I decided no more excuses. Instead of procrastinating (or networking) I immediately rolled out of bed and went to the gym. All of the machines that I liked were full, but I hopped on the StairMaster anyway. An hour and close to 600 calories later, I realized that for the first time in two days, I felt like myself! I’m not saying that those 600 calories are going to change anything when it comes time to step on the scale when I get back home, but the psychological benefits were definitely real!

I literally danced my way back to my room, still plugged into my iPod shuffle! And even though tomorrow is our last day in a hotel with a gym, I am re-committed to move my body even if it means – poor me – a long walk on the beach!

(Notice, I said nothing about reducing the wine)!

Traveling Tip: Fresh Veggies in a Bag!

Before MJ and I left for our trip, I decided to clean out the refrigerator! As it turned out, we had a lot of fresh veggies: zucchini, carrots, broccoli, some spinach, red peppers, etc.

Instead of just binning all of it, I cut it up and threw it in a ziplock bag (no dressing). Instant snack mix! It was great. I also fixed up some healthy pita breads with a teaspoon or so of hummus (three loaves cut into six halves).

It was wonderful, as well as wonderfully economical, to have a huge bag of fresh veggies to snack on all day and to make sandwiches with using high quality ingredients.

I commonly pack fruit when I travel, but from now on, it’s me and a gallon ziplock bag of veggies. Personally, I would recommend sticking to less “wet veggies” and avoid things that are likely to squish or make things too wet. For instance, lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers (given their super high water content) would be more likely to get messy and to also make your other veggies to go bad more quickly. As it was, my less wet veggies made the trip no problem. Cauliflower would also be a natural win in this regard!

If you’re going to take tomatoes or fruits such as grapes or cherries, just fill up an old quart yogurt container. They’re nice enough that they will product your precious cargo, but not so nice that you’d feel bad about ditching them as the trip progresses.

The hidden plus in all this is that by the end of your trip you’ll have more room in your luggage (as you’ve eaten your way through your “stuff” ) and you’ll have saved lots of money.

More space and more money doesn’t have to mean more space and resources for guilt-free shopping, but it certainly could do! I am writing this from the Apple Store by the way (and trust me, I’m not talking produce)!

Stay tuned for more travel trips!

I’m leaving on a jet plane….

Sorry about the lag between posts; it’s been crazy albeit with a minimal amount of nervous eating! That’s something to celebrate.

MJ and I are heading off for twelve days! Part of that is business, while the other part is pleasure.

In terms of maintaining my regular eating habits: impossible.

In order to not completely get off track, I am not only packing clothes (including fast drying exercise clothes and good sturdy cross trainers; it’s very hilly where we’re going!), but also food.

‘You’re going on vacation!’ you might be thinking. ‘Why the heck are you packing food?’

I am packing food precisely because I am going on vacation!

One reason is that I am cheap; there is nothing worse than spending $15.00 a day on a hotel breakfast when all I’m likely to eat is a bowl of oatmeal, some fruit, and maybe some tea.

A second reason is that I like what I like for breakfast: protein shakes made with bananas and soy milk. When I have this breakfast, I can predict (at least in terms of food) what my morning is going to be like. Don’t you hate it when you eat about 500 calories worth of pancakes only to be hungry 30 minutes later? I know I do! So, by packing a blender and all my stuff (purchasing the bananas and soy milk when I arrive) I’m in better control of my day. I also save a lot of money.

A third reason is that I like to snack during the day, whether I am at home or out and about. By taking my favorite snacks with me (that is, apples, green stuff, baby carrots, pita and hummus), especially on flying days, I can assure that I have healthy options readily available. This doesn’t mean that I won’t stop at Cinnabon and scarf down close to 750 calories in four bites, but it does mean that I won’t be able to use the excuse that there was nothing else to eat!

So, with all of the issues with flying and carry-ons, how do you go about packing your own in an economical and healthy way?

If at all possible, fly Southwest! They let you take on two bags for free, whereas most of the other airlines charge you for one! I have one bag that is dedicated solely to food – natural peanut butter, Ezekial bread, Chai Latte Spirutein, cashews, Lara Bars (my favorite is pistachio, but MJ likes Apple Pie, Cinnamon Roll, and Ginger Snap!), Emerald Balance travel packets, vitamins, etc.

If you are planning on mixing anything in water – like the Emerald Green stuff – then pack an empty bottle and fill it up between flights at the water fountain. I use a Sigg bottle and it’s wonderful.

Also, if you like tea, most Starbucks will give you a venti cup of hot water for free! Carrying your own tea if a great way to save $4.00 between flights! Or every morning if you find yourself near a Starbucks!

Depending on the hotel where you’re staying, request a refrigerator in your room. It may cost you $50 for the stay, but it will save you money in the long run (especially if there’s two of you), not to mention calories.

When I am traveling, either for business or pleasure, I usually say okay to one “serious” meal a day. I try to keep it as close to normal as I can at breakfast and snack times, have a light lunch (usually a salad or something that is vegetable based) and then go out to dinner, where I usually start with a salad, go for the lightest entree I can (all sauces, etc. on the side) and skip or share a dessert.

I also try to exercise every day, even if it’s just 30 minutes. Luckily, during the business portion of the trip, there is a gym and I am committed (and committing, here, in writing) to go every day. The other days, I will do yoga or go for a walk. I also bought Jillian Michael’s Hot Bod in a Box, which I’m sure if I actually did would kick my butt! I’ll let you know!

What’s your best tip for staying healthy while traveling?

Overview of the trip with the folks

I’ve been rereading my last couple of posts and it’s all about the food.

But the trip really was about lot more than that. It was nice to hang in my parents’ world for a while. And, equally important, they got to hang out in (or at least glimpse into) mine. Every morning I got up and exercised. Mostly long walks (ranging anywhere from an hour to an hour and half — or from 400 to 520 calories, depending on the temperature). But, on more than one occasion, my mother watched while I did K-bell Total Body Blast in her living room; my father, on the other hand, merely shook his head and headed outside.

I made them tabouli and salad. I hung with them. I hung with old friends. Mother and I went shopping, at malls as well as at garage scales. She didn’t say a word when I bought a pretty fitted pair of trousers for her to give me as a not only as a Christmas present, but as a fairly serious piece of leverage to see me through the summer and the fall holidays. She also didn’t say a word, other than it was nice, when I bought my first ever skimpy, spaghetti strap halter top. Well, she did ask if I’d ever really wear it!

From a diet/exercise perspective, it wasn’t that bad; in fact, it was actually quite good. Part of what made it so great is that my parents didn’t make any judgments whatsoever about what I ate. If I stuck to salad and shakes they were fine with it. When I ate close to 1/2 lb of brisket, they didn’t say anything either. They didn’t accuse me of being obsessive or compulsive or annoying when I passed on the wine and cheese at dinner. Nor did they accuse me of wrecking my diet when I had two martinis. In other words, they were great! Thanks guys! They also didn’t razz me about my appearance. They didn’t say that I needed to eat more or that I was too skinny, like they have done in the past. They also didn’t comment if they thought I was looking a little rounder around the edges than I’d been when I’d arrived. They were very accepting. And their acceptance made being there — being with them — being myself — that much easier.

In sum, I had a great time and I know just where I’ll be applying my free round trip ticket from United!

Six airports in 72 hours (unbelievable)!

I’m sitting in Ronald Reagan International, which wasn’t even on the agenda, if you recall. My original flight was scheduled to arrive at home at midnight on the 24th!

After having to report to the airport twice, I made it to Chicago, only to get stuck in Dulles. I stuck to my food plan, other than the portabello burger that I ordered from room service at the Sheraton Reston. It came with fries or a fruit cup. I skipped the fries and saved the fruit cup (strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries — that may have been worth the $25.00) for breakfast.

Once I got to Dulles and realized that I was going to get tossed from the oversold flight, I scarfed down two chocolate zone bars (380 calories) and a banana (90 calories). A little stress with your processed soy product? Sure. Why not?

I lovely woman who doesn’t make nearly enough money — and whose supervisor will be getting a very complimentary letter from me — set me off with a hundred dollar cab voucher, a new ticket (this one leaving from Ronald Reagan International Airport across town) and a another voucher for a round trip ticket to anywhere in the United States. No wonder the airlines are bankrupt, as I was not the only person in a very long line that got this deal.

Although it was only 11:20 when I found my gate at Ronald Reagan, I was ravenous. Unfortunately, the choices were pretty grim: the best being Panda Express and FuddRuckers. I scoped out all of the options (more than once) and went to FuddRuckers.

Believe it or not, it was great. It was also reasonably healthy. I had a veggie burger on whole wheat toast, no cheese. I also, admittedly, had a small order of hand cut fries, which were surprisingly ungreasy. And very tasty. There is also a condiment bar, where you can get tomatoes, lettuce (iceberg, admittedly), pickles, onions, and pico de gallo. I was very filling and I’m sure that it will hold me until I get home, assuming, that is, that I get home anytime — that is, any day — soon.

However, if I don’t, Panda Express does have nutritional values posted and the Mixed Vegetables looked surprisingly fresh!

On the road again (well, sort of….)

My 6:18 p.m. flight to Chicago O’Hare was delayed to the point of missing connections yesterday, due to the weather. According to the woman behind the desk, this happens 90% of the time. So, really, why bother?

Regardless, at least they let me stay home another night with my parents instead of shelling out a hundred bucks for a hotel in Chicago. My new flight leaves at 10:30 a,m., and goes through Chicago, then Dulles, before finally getting me home at 6:38 p.m. Yuck. My other option was to be sitting at Chicago for ten hours! No thanks.

Of course, my biggest concern is not about the number of transfers, but about the food. Eight hours and two meal slots later. Lovely.

Plan: two veggie wraps, a bag of carrots, and (if we have time to run by the store) three or four apples. I’ll also be packing protien bars as well, but hopefully only as a last resort.

I should probably (notice how much possibility of failure is wrapped up in that little phrase) go for a walk, since my parents are still asleep and I have the time. It would undoubtedly make the entire day go smoother — it always does.

Okay, scratch that. I am going for a walk, since my parents are still asleep, I have the time, and it will make the day go much smoother.

I’m off.

An old friend and new patterns

Yesterday, I spent the day with a tweenage friend that I hadn’t seen since highschool (and even then we hadn’t been close since junior high). We reconnected on Facebook.

Because of my evening of over-indulgence the night before, I got up, did k-bells Total Body Blast (again, it’s a much more serious workout in the heat — yielding a 220 calorie burn instead of the 170 that I usually manage at home) and made a shake — destroying my parent’s blender in the process. Oh, how I miss my Blend-tec! Luckily my mother had a spare blade, so she wasn’t too annoyed!

When my friend arrived, we immediately went for a walk! Keep in mind that we hadn’t spoken in at least 20 years! The activity was good. We walked (and talked) for about an hour and 20 minutes, burning 520 calories in the process. Not a bad way to get reacquainted. We both showered and then went and hit the streets.

We browsed, chatted, shopped in boutiques where we would never actually buy anything. We had lunch (a veggie wrap with feta in a spinach tortilla and salad for me) and wandered around some more. Then, partly because it was so hot, we went to the mall. And because I knew she’d have no reason to lie to me, we went and tried on bathing suits. It’s been 10 years since I’ve had on a bathing suit! And, much to my surprise, they looked pretty good. Granted, I stuck to the one pieces, but they weren’t bad. There was one that was very 1930’s Hollywood starlit-esque with a tiny little skirt and a heart shaped neck. We both agreed that I needed a pair of stilletos and a big tray from which to sell cigarettes! I decided that it wasn’t practical as I was looking for for something to wear swimming (not selling). Although I didn’t buy anything, it was fun! It was also good to have someone there with me who challenged my initial preferences and urged me to take a second look at things I wouldn’t normally try. It was also good to go with someone who doesn’t really know my style, but it going on looks alone.

We when then went to my favorite Mexican restaurant, where I had exactly what I wanted: Pork Carnitas and a frozen marguarita. Not the healthiest choice, but it was a choice, as opposed to the out of control bienging from the day before. It was also absolutely delicious.

I’m heading back home today. Part of me is relieved that I am leaving the land of bar-be-que and frozen margaritas, but the other part will miss it — not the food and the drinks, but the people, the friends, and (believe it or not) the heat. There is something wonderful about the heat, especially when an unexpected breeze offers a much-appreciated moment of relief.

Falling off the food wagon

The last couple of days have been more indicative of family vacations, I’m afraid.

Ironically, it wasn’t even them. It was all me.

Monday, we were off for an unexpected family funeral that was scheduled at 2:00 p.m. I got up, went for a walk, had a shake, packed up some blueberries and that was it. And although my mother has a medical condition that requires that food be readily available, my parents hadn’t packed anything else either. At some point my Dad said, “Why didn’t you bring one of those little bags of carrots you’re always carrying around?”

Good question.

Bad answer: Poor planning on my part!

As it turns out, my Aunt lives truly in the middle of nowhere and we were having lunch after the funeral (that is, dinner), not before.

Luckily I had a Dark Chocolate Zone Bar in my purse.

The funeral ran long (as they often do when held in a church in the south). We stopped at a gas station, where I scrounged a bottle of V-8 juice and a bag of Baked Lay’s. Has anyone ever noticed how Baked Lay’s taste like cardboard?

Back to the story: it was also as hot as hell and when we got to my Aunt’s (along with 30 other people), the air conditioning was out and she still insisted on frying fish and potatoes, making it officially hotter than hell! These were to accompany the pork roast, the brisket (no more brisket, please!), the pork and beans, the spiral ham, the brownies, the cake, and her world famous chocolate cream and coconut cream pie. Not a vegetable (other than corn on the cob swimming in butter to be found).

Luckily, it was literally too hot to eat. Though I did try a sliver of chocolate pie; it’s still as good as when I was a child.

We got home at 8:30. I made a shake, went to a friend’s house (the friend that I was supposed to have had dinner with). We ended up going to a local pub, where, still ravenous, I had two dirty martinis and split an appetizer with her of her choice, which turned out to be a thin crust, wood fired pizza. Not so bad, though I probably should have skipped the second martini.

It was when I got home at midnight that it went even further south. I bienged. It was unbelievable: icecream, lavash with hummus, and tabouli (not in that order). When I finally forced myself out of the kitchen, I felt disgusting, and not unlike I was about thirteen again!

But, unlike the thirteen yeat old I once was, I at least realized what went wrong.

Poor planning and inadequate nutrition leads to poor dietary choices. I was also tired and even though the person that died wasn’t a close relative (she was my mother’s sister’s husband’s mother), there was something about the funeral, the energy, and being around my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins, that set off my desire to emotionally eat. It also may have something to do with the fact that everytime I come home, it seems, we’re going to a funeral. In fact, this one was unplanned, but I had had the foresight to toss in a skirt. Maybe it’s the fact that my parents are getting older and I’m afraid that the next time might be them. Whatever it was, it was an ugly combination for food. And I’m sure that the inhibition olive dressed libation didn’t help either.

Planning a Good Travel Day Tomorrow

Between airport security and the garbage that passes for food in most airports, it’s really a challenge to have a good travel day.

My plane leaves at 5:45 p.m., with a short layover and final destination arrival time: 10:45 p.m. Not such a bad slot as meal planning goes.

So, what’s the plan?

I’m going to start my day as usual. In other words, I’ll get up at my normal time, have my typical breakfast shake (though I may add blueberries to up the calorie count).

I’ll exercise (an hour cardio and a thirty minute k-bell routine). I’ll probably do about fifteen minutes of stretching and ab work for good measure.

I’ll have to spend some time packing, including what I plan to carry on in terms of food.

Lunch (my most substantial meal of the day), will consist of a fairly generous portion of left over Khatte Chhole (otherwise known as sour chick peas), brown basmati rice and a green vegetable of some sort.

As for the time in the plane, I will carry on a bag of baby carrots, a couple Clif Mojo Peanut Butter Pretzel bars, a 1.5 ounce bag of Sweet Potato Chips, and a couple of apples.

I’m also packing my nifty new Shake it Up Cup (wiped dry of course) and a handful of packages of Emerald Balance that I can mix with water once I get past security.

Wow. You may think that that’s a a lot of food for 5 hours. But I eat every couple of hours and my layover airport is notoriously bad — no matter the time of year (day or night).

I’d rather arrive at my parents’ teeming with snacks than to be sitting in an airport, hungry, surrounded by fast food and — my own personal Achilles heel — soft serve icecream.

Wish me luck.