Spry editor Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what it’s like to be an “after.” This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girlshed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes–and has kept it off for 20 years. She answers your questions here each week.
QUESTION: I’m going to be traveling to visit family this holiday, and I just KNOW I will get off track. How can I make it through the season without losing all my healthy habits?—Gina
DEAR GINA: I know what you mean. Last year we took a 13-hour road trip and spent a week with my family over Thanksgiving. Holiday travel can be one of those potholes on the road to a healthy weight because they usually provide ample opportunity to overindulge and little opportunity to exercise. But over the years, I’ve discovered tricks for staying on track (or at least not getting so far OFF track that you can’t find your way back) while you’re on the road. Here’s a sample.
1. Adjust your goal. Set yourself up for success by making it your goal just to maintain your current weight, rather than to lose more. You’ve got plenty of time to hit it hard when you get back home!
2. Move as much as you can. I sing this refrain constantly—but it’s worth the reminder. Skip the moving sidewalks and trams in the airport (if you have time) and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Do lunges and stretches on bathroom breaks during your holiday travel itinerary. Run around with the kids rather than lounging with the other grownups (who says you can’t play too?). Every little movement adds up!
3. Stick with a healthy breakfast. I know: BORING! But talk about setting yourself up for success—physically and mentally! I always feel more positive about the day when I eat right first-thing. But if I indulge, I’m more likely to continue down that oh-well-what-the-heck-I’m-on-vacation track the rest of the day.
4. Use your sitting time to your advantage. Try this during those long stretches in planes, trains, and/or automobiles while traveling for the holiday: Puff out your stomach as you inhale, then pull your stomach muscles in toward your spine on the exhale. End by slightly tightening your abs. You’ll get a great core workout (no crunches required!), and no one will be the wiser.
5. Chew gum! Tempted by road food? Pop a minty stick of sugarless gum in your mouth, and chew away. Somehow, cheddar Chex Mix seems much less appetizing when your mouth is full of spearmint.
6. Opt for “slow snacks.” I’ve discovered the magic of Tootsie Roll Pops—these sweet treats are great because the last forever (well, not exactly), and they satisfy my need for something chewy and chocolatey. Plus, they’re only 60 calories a pop. Savory slow snacks include pistachio nuts and peanuts in the shell—the longer they take to eat, the more satisfying they are.
7. Plan active activities instead of (or in addition to) eating activities. If you get a bit creative, you can infuse any trip with more activity. For instance, I did a little research (very little!) before our odyssey, and found several short hiking trails along our route.
8. Give yourself a break! Remember, you’re on vacation! You deserve to have fun and let loose a bit. The problem with vacation isn’t so much letting yourself go physically for a week or so—it’s not getting back to it when you return to your routine. So if you do gain a few pounds, DO NOT DESPAIR. Think of it as a little diversion on the lifelong journey of living healthfully—not as a total disaster—and get back on track when you return home.