Saturday, October 10, 2009

Planning ahead for a healthy vacation

When I go on trips, depending on who I'm going with and what we're doing, I either gain at least 8 lb or lose 10 lb. With my upcoming trip to San Diego and L.A., I'd prefer the latter. I started thinking about the trips where I lost weight and tried to determine why. Here are the conclusions I have drawn...
  1. I went with someone who wasn't into food as much as me - and that's usually my girlfriend Molly. She's into food, actually, sometimes more than me, but she's not into eating all the time. Once we went to London for 10 days. We woke up late, finally got to breakfast around 11 at a little cafe across the street from Harrod's, we ate a traditional English breakfast (I just love the big serving of mushrooms!). We were full, so we didn't feel like eating until something like eight o'clock. Although I do recall stopping for a coffee and scone around three o'clock. Dinner was traditional English fare (Molly and I like eating native cuisine wherever we travel), but I never ate more than her. We enjoyed an occasional beer, wine or spirit. We were very relaxed about our food choices, but didn't try to eat everything.
  2. I went with someone who was disinclined to veg - and again, Molly loves to walk. Same trip to London...we never hired a cab or caught the bus. We walked everywhere. We walked a mile to breakfast. Once we were done with breakfast, we hit the streets and walked non-stop, all over the city. London is great that way. So much to see and do on foot. We walked at least five miles a day. I was determined to keep up with Molly, who is a runner. I made her slow her pace, but our duration was pretty evenly matched. By our fifth day, she begged me to stop for a break, telling me that I had worn her out. That pretty much blew me away! I was so proud of myself! And when I got home from that trip, I was rewarded with the 10 lb. loss.
  3. I went with someone who wasn't on a schedule - and that means a stress free holiday. We had the opportunity to sleep as much as we needed. We laughed a lot. We enjoyed ourselves immensely. We took in what sights we wanted and knew we could go back to see more some other time. Our activities were varied and interesting. We scheduled some spa time. We wore comfortable clothes and shoes. And we spent time apart as well to pursue what we wanted to do on our own, or to do nothing at all.

There have been times when I traveled with some who weren't supportive of health, but we did experience some rejuvination. Once I went to Jakarta with a group of American expatriate women. We all stayed in the same hotel, everyone went off to do their shopping, spent time at the hotel spa and then we agreed to meet together in one of the rooms before going out to dinner. We had all stopped at the duty-free liquor store for some wines, so when we got to the room, about 15 of us popped corks, order appetizers and enjoyed the rest of the evening until someone called security. I don't recall losing weight that week. I don't recall much else from that week. I do recall grown, middle-aged women jumping on the beds like school girls, mercilessly flirting with our cute and very young and impressionable "butler" (yes, it was a great hotel), lots of slurring of speach, and an agreement was struck similar to the what-happens-in-Vegas I'm not mentioning any names here. It was fun! Wish I could do that again!

Traveling with the ex during our marriage was never fun. There was a lot of activity. I recall a lot of knots in my stomach, tension, not enough sleep, and being dragged all over the planet in very uncomfortable vehicles in search for the ultimate thrill ride. I ate my way through all those trips.

So this time it's me and the boys. I'm in charge of this trip. I'm doing all the driving. I planned the itinerary, but the boys did have input. We will have one big challenge, getting them motivated to stay active throughout the trip. My older son is a bit of a loner at times. He likes doing some things on his own. He's 17, so I understand that. There might be times when I leave him alone in the hotel. But not everyday. He's going to be spending time with me and his little brother and do family things. Because this is why we're going on vacation, for some fun-based family bonding.

Another issue around vacationing with teens is diet. I remember going to amusement parks with my parents and having to go out to the car to eat lunch in the parking lot. And I hated it. I always wanted to eat at the Blue Bayou at the Pirates of the Carribean ride. I just looked up their menu. Jeez! Talk about pricey! So I understand why my parents preferred hardboiled eggs and celery in the car, but I still don't want to do that. I looked up the restaurants at the San Diego Zoo. I spied out some good, fresh cuisine, lots of veggies and grilled meats available, and some solid teen-friendly selections. Universal Studios is similarly outfitted, both inside the park and just outside along their City Walk. So, lunches are covered.

We're staying at the Holiday Inn. I can choose a healthy breakfast there. But I'm still packing the ice chest for a few snacks. I'm going to bring along some hard-cooked eggs, my stash of Trader Joe's sardines packed in olive oil and Wasa crackers. I'll pick up some local produce (avocados!) as well. Since we'll be in the parks for a couple of days and we'll eat lunch there, I have no problem resorting to soup and salads in the hotel for dinner. There's a Whole Foods just north of the zoo and a Trader Joe's close to the hotel in Hollywood. We won't starve!

I'm shooting for plates at least half full of veggies. I won't be drinking alcohol during the trip. No fried foods. Lots of water.

So, diet is well covered. As for exercise, while we're in the parks, there will be lots of walking. We'll spend part of one day walking the beach. We'll walk all over the historic downtown area of San Diego. We'll rent bikes and ride along the beaches. Walking is involved with marathon shopping. I don't know if we'll average five miles a day, but I'll do my best. I'm looking into a sailing trip or some kayaking. That may be pushing it.

As far as other activities we can do for fun and stress relief, the boys and I are going to see Spamalot one night in Costa Mesa. I plan to do a spa day with my girlfriend when we stay with her. We'll be visiting the Laserium in Hollywood one night, the Beatles show. I tried to get tickets for the U2 show, but it's already sold out. We'll head for the Griffith Observatory one night as well. I would love to go to some art museums, but that will be met with resistance.

I'm dreading the drive. Eight to nine hours to San Diego. Every time we stop adds time to the trip. My car holds 14 gallons of gas and gets about 20 mpg on the freeway. That's one stop at Tejon Ranch before we go over the Grapevine. Around half way to San Diego. We can stop there for lunch, I guess, but I don't remember finding good places to eat there. Starbucks, McDonald's, Foster Freeze, Jack-in-the-Box, Subway...

How about I just pack something.

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