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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Roadtrip Challenges

I recently got home from a 15 day working road trip and after putting in 20 hour days for a majority of this time, without a regular meal schedule, I was nervous to step on the scale when I got home. I was faced with some "funny" challenges and I discovered that habits are really hard to break.

When I took my first business trip for my current company 11 years ago, I was taught that when you travel for work you should eat really well (including dessert) because the company is paying for it. I had grown accustomed to this practice and would always look forward to my next trip because I would order things that I didn't have the luxury of eating at home.

Knowing I was going to be gone for two weeks, I had to be prepared. I shipped some food items before I left and carried a few things in my luggage including my little bowl and fork because I don't eat from a regular size plate anymore. It is easier to manage quantities with a pre-measured bowl and using a small cocktail fork helps me to take smaller bites. I even packed my lunch box so I could transport my meals to the office. After I arrived at my first destination, I had purchased some additional items at the local market to keep in my refrigerator in my hotel room. Needless to say, I was fully prepared with my own meals.

What I wasn't prepared for was the room service menu. I didn't realize until I was staring at it face-to-face that ordering room service was my "thing" when traveling. It was my "thing" to look over the menu when I checked into my room. I would carefully review each item and make my meal selections for however many nights I would be there.  Breakfast was always the meal I would spend the most time pondering because I never ate breakfast at home. I think I studied more breakfast menus than I have dinner or lunch in all my years of travel. Every night I would look forward to ordering my dinner AND dessert. I would also always order a pot of hot chocolate too. Again, this was my "thing".

So, there I was...sitting in my hotel room after I had checked in and I found myself staring at the room service menu out of nothing but pure habit. At that moment, it hit me like a ton of bricks....I need a new "thing".

I managed to get through the first few days fairly well with eating my own meals but after working late one night (and a bit short on my daily protein intake) I decided that I couldn't be afraid of restaurant or room service menus. I knew that I would have to eventually face this anyway so I took the bull by the horns and ordered the healthiest thing on the menu...Grilled Atlantic Salmon. To be safe, I asked specifically for just the salmon and nothing else that came with it. Of course, they didn't listen and served the whole meal. Now...after eating out of a bowl that holds less than 1 cup of food, this plate looked GINORMOUS. I could only eat about 1/3 of the salmon before I was stuffed. Now, I was faced with a new challenge...being wasteful.  I remember thinking, "Geesh, this is going to be a long two weeks."

After being in one location for five nights, it was on to the next. I figured the new place would be easier to deal with because I knew I would be putting in long days and wouldn't be in my room for very long. Again, I had my refrigerator stocked with essentials (protein shakes, cheese, egg beaters, etc.) so I was fully prepared. What was the challenge this time you ask?? Working in a conference room on the bottom floor of the hotel and not being near my room to prepare my meals. I had to face the darn menu again.

To make a long story somewhat short, I got over it. I was very selective in my meals and got over my "being wasteful" challenge. I did eat well while I was away. I just ate very small portions and didn't have dessert or an entire pot of hot chocolate.  I enjoyed seared Ahi Tuna, grilled Halibut, grilled Atlantic Salmon, and grilled chicken. I even indulged in a Tim Horton's famous Double Double coffee.

I ate until I was satisfied and full (which wasn't very much at all) so I had no idea how many calories I was consuming.  It was driving me crazy. I knew that if I focused on eating mainly good protein and little or no carbs I would be okay. Not being able to weigh myself was driving me insane also and there just wasn't anything I could do about that. I had to tough that one out.

I couldn't wait to get home but at the same time I was very nervous about stepping on the scale. What if I didn't lose any weight at all or worse...what if I gained? There was no immediate joyous reunion with the Hubs or the Fam when I got home. I walked (more like ran) into the house while stipping off my clothes, emptied my bladder, took off my shoes and socks and stepped on my scale. I was prepared for the worst (a gain) but I discovered that I had lost nearly 6 pounds while I was away. I had stressed over nothing!

I learned a lot over the past two weeks. I went shopping during lunch one afternoon and learned that I am currently wearing jeans that are four sizes smaller than what I was wearing two months ago. I learned that you don't have to obsess over a restaurant menu and that it is okay to tell the waiter that you are on a special diet and don't want the sauce on your dishes (he won't give you crap and it is not announced over the loud speaker that you are a difficult/picky customer). I learned that a tall non-fat caramel macchiato from Starbucks only has 140 calories and it is okay to have one every now and again as long as you don't go crazy with it. More importantly, I learned that you have to take control of your habits and face your fears/challenges dead in the face in order to move past them. 

It's safe to say that I am ready for my next road trip.


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