How to Travel, Eat Whatever You Want, and Still Lose Weight (Really!)
I just returned from a big convention and I lost two pounds! Did I starve myself? No. Did I bring “diet food” with me? No. Did I count points or calories? No.
So, how did I do it?
First of all, I have to – in the interest of full disclosure – say that whereby some people find it easier to lose weight (or to follow their program) while at home, I’m the opposite. I seem to do better when I’m “on the road.” Whether that’s for vacation, business, or even on a cruise, I seem to have a much easier time losing or maintaining my weight while away from home, rather than in my house.
So, if you’re saying, “Oh, well, that explains it. It’s easier for him while he travels; it’s not that way for me. No need to read on…” that would be the wrong approach too. The reason I do better when I’m on the road is because I have come up with some simple tools that hold me in place. Follow these give tips and you’ll do well.
1) Never bring any food into your hotel room
I have often said that if I went to bed five minutes earlier, I’d be 50 pounds lighter.
The biggest reason I do better when I’m out of town is because my major problem with regards to weight loss is that I tend to eat a lot of my food later in the evening. Whereby it’s “calories in – calories out,” eating late puts the bulk of your calories in you right before you drop your metabolism (sleep). In addition, if I eat a lot late at night, I tend to adopt the philosophy of the practicing perfectionist, “I blew it. Well, as long as I blew it, I might as well really blow it. I’ll start again tomorrow.” From there, I go real crazy and that’s where the real damage comes from. If all that wasn’t enough, eating before sleeping affects how well you sleep and if you don’t get enough rest, you tend to engage in your bad habits (read “eating”) and some studies have shown that too little sleep also tends to make one feel he or she is hungrier than she really is.
Bottom line for me is if I’m traveling. I don’t bring anything into my hotel room. To be honest, once in awhile, I’ll bring something to drink or even a very, very light treat from a vending machine. However, by removing temptation room my hotel, I sleep better and eat less.
2) Walk! Walk! Walk!
If at all possible, I’ll walk wherever I’m going. I fasten a pedometer to my hip because I like to see how far I’ve gone. It becomes a competition with myself – and it works.
While I’m at home, I might put on 5,000 or so steps in an average day. When I’m traveling, it averages as much as 12,000. One day, I walked 12 miles. It wasn’t at once; a little here, a few more there, before you know it, you’ve got some real distance on your feet.
Tied to this, I walk after each meal, and I almost always take the stairs. Granted, in New York, I was on the 35th floor and I’m not THAT dedicated but when I’ve gone on cruises, I make a commitment to take the stairs every time. (If you’re not familiar with cruise ships, they are 10-15 stories tall and if you walk those stairs every day, you burn a whole lot of calories!)
If the hotel (or ship) has a fitness center or a track, I’ll fit in one mile a day. I’m not a jogger. I walk casually. But it still helps.
Find excuses to walk. Even a small amount helps offset the weight gain.
3) Smaller portions and no seconds
If I’m traveling with my wife, we’ll split meals. At first, I was afraid I wouldn’t get enough to eat, but the portions served in restaurants are really quite large and if you split a meal, you’re usually full anyway. (And you save money that you can then spend on the sites or on buying souvenirs!) If you’re not filled, at least you get to feel virtuous when you order dessert or ask for something else. Total caloric intake is still reduced from what it would have been.
However, do not ask for more until you’ve waited at least 15 minutes! It will be the longest quarter hour in your life – or so it will seem – but it will make a tremendous difference in your weight.
(If you’re going a little crazy counting down the minutes, it’s a good time to utilize step #2 and take a quick walk.)
4) If you can get it at home, don’t order it when you’re on the road
One of the more common temptations of travel is the thought process, “I’m on vacation; I can eat anything.” I’m not sure why those two are so closely bound, but they are. Yes, it’s true; you can eat anything. However, be aware that the corollary is equally true, eating anything causes you to gain weight. Despite rumors to the contrary, the calories you consume do not stay behind at the hotel when you leave.
My method of handling this is to not order what I could get when I’m at home. For example, I’ll have (ONE) serving of Tiramisu if it’s available for dessert, but not ice cream. After all, I can get ice cream when I’m at home. But, when I’m on the road, I want to try different things. It adds to the feeling of being somewhere unique and it holds me in control.
When I tell people this, they tend to gasp, “Tiramisu! There are so many calories in that!” Yes, it’s true. But no one has a weight problem because they had one serving of a deluxe dessert when they traveled. It’s all those common desserts they ate the remainder of the year that did it for them.
5) Water, water, water!
Drink water when you wake up. Drink it when you’re at meals. Drink bottled water. Ask for it on the plane. Request it at the restaurant.
Not only does one run the risk of dehydration when traveling, but drinking oceans-full of water causes you to feel full and helps your digestion; two steps to avoiding weight gain.
It’s taken me some time to come up with these guidelines but when I follow them, I still enjoy myself, and I’m usually able to maintain (or even lose weight).
Bottom line is to remember, no one makes you eat. It’s a choice.
Well, OK, that’s not always true. A few years ago, I was producing a motivational cruise, so I was invited to sit at the captain’s table with eight others. The captain (referred to as “the master of the ship” in the invitation) was a handsome, gracious, Italian who took an interest in each of the guests, asking us where we came from, what we thought of the ship, and what we did for a living.
When he got to me, he asked what I did.
“I’m a THINspirational speaker,” I said, my standard response.
He laughed, as most people do, and said, “So, you help motivate people to lose weight?”
“That – and other things,” I replied.
“Did you lose weight yourself?” He asked.
“Yes, 70 pounds.”
“I see that you had dessert and a few glasses of wine. How do you keep your weight off?”
I explained that weight loss is not about avoiding everything; it’s about moderation. At that time, the steward appeared with a silver plate covered with small cakes.
Referencing the treats, the master said, “Please help yourself.”
“Oh, no thank you,” I said. “Besides, I already had dessert.”
“This is not dessert,” he gently corrected me. “These are the after dessert treats. They’re called petit fours. I insist.”
“I’m stuffed,” I insisted, feeling my resolve weakening. “Besides, I don’t want to gain weight. What will my people say?”
Despite my protestations, the captain motioned for the steward to place a few cakes on my plate. Then, gently placing his hand on my shoulder, he smiled and said, “We are at sea. While out here, the master – that’s me – determines all rules and laws. In effect, this ship is it’s own country and I am the president. I am requesting, as the leader of one sovereign nation, to a resident of the United States that you share these treats with me. If not, it would be similar to causing an international incident, don’t you think?”
“You’re right,” I answered as I reached for my fork, “the world has enough trouble; I wouldn’t want to add to it.”
That was the only trip where I gained weight.