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Monday, March 14, 2016

The Long Game

I really appreciated the wonderful responses I got from January's "Eating Clean With a Dirty Mind" post. I loved hearing from readers who have been through the same struggles and I hope that by sharing my story, I can help someone else realize they aren't alone. There are so many of us who struggle with our weight and, on a larger scale, changing the correlation in our minds between food and love. I don't feel great so I'm going to eat a cookie to make myself feel better = you hurting yourself, not making yourself feel better. It's just a temporary band aid to avoid the real problem.

I've come a long way on my journey and I feel like I've achieved a really good balance between weight loss and health. Unlike some of the tips I shared in January's post, today's story is more about maintaining the healthy diet and weight I've already achieved. When you're maintaining as opposed to losing, the dynamic changes and frees you up to have a few more indulgences. I've learned to navigate those pretty well too. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that there aren't still hard days and set backs, unforeseen circumstances and moments where you're feeling bad and just say "f&$# it!".

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle while traveling for work is something that I still particularly struggle with. I love traveling and I feel very lucky to get to do it as part of my job. I meet great new people, explore big cities and small towns, all the while doing exciting work. There's also long travel to get where I'm going - planes, trains and automobiles -, stressful situations, sleepless nights in beds that aren't my own, limited food options, unlimited food options, amazing food options, little time for exercise and IF PRETTY SOON I DON'T GET FIVE MINUTES ALONE IN A QUIET ROOM I'M GOING TO LOOSE IT moments.

When these types of moments happen they chip away at my resolve until I make a bad decision and then hate myself for it. The longer the trip the worse it can get. Imagine a piece of paper you're taking notes on. At the top of the page your handwriting is pristine in it's form and resolutely uniform in it's spacing. As you keep taking notes and the person speaking keeps talking faster and faster, you struggle to keep up, so your writing becomes bigger, more erratic. By the bottom of the page you've drawn a hieroglyphic that takes the place of three sentences and you hope to God you remember what it represented. That's how my healthy lifestyle goals seem to shrivel and die sometimes when I'm traveling.

Today, I'm going to share what a good day and bad day look like for me. Yours may not look exactly the same, but if you struggle the same way I do, I'm sure you'll see a bit of yourself in the behaviors. Realizing what we do and why we do it are the first steps to managing something.

Here's a bad, by this point I'd been on the road for three weeks straight and hadn't been able to really re-charge my batteries on the weekends.

6:30am Wake Up. Well, that's not entirely true I was already up. I didn't sleep well at all because my dog was sick at home so I was worried, there where down pillows - which I hate- and it took five of them to prop my weak neck up but I still never really got comfortable, and the toilet in the room next to me kept running. Yea, I didn't sleep much. I also realized I forgot to pack my multi-vitamins, which I normally take at this point in the day. I'm always a bit low on vitamin d, so my Dr. encourages me to take a healthy dose each day.

7:30am After getting ready, I head down for breakfast at the conference I'm speaking at. If I start the day off right, I'm much less likely to make bad decisions later, so I really try and always have a good breakfast. Today, there are what look like scrambled eggs with cheese - already in them- on the conference breakfast buffet. Other than that, there are croissants, sugar-filled pastries and fruit. I opt for the - I hope- eggs, half a croissant and fruit. As I finish and take my plate up, I glance over at a corner of the lobby and see a coffee shop that I hadn't noticed before. I walk over only to find lovely looking Greek yogurt and fruit which would have been a far better choice. Damn!

1:00pm Done with my panel, the last before lunch, I venture upstairs with coworkers to have lunch in the hotel restaurant. There was a full plate of speakers that I actually enjoyed listening to so I didn't have to fight any hunger pains, but this is still a late lunch for me - or at the very least I've normally had a snack by now. I contemplate a salad because the one at the table next to me looks great and low-carb tends to settle better when I'm traveling, but I end up ordering a lunch combo of half a BLT sandwich and tomato basil soup.

2:00pm Our food comes. After the third time we asked it finally showed up. I was cranky by this point and really hungry. Low-blood sugar and I don't agree. On my plate the "half" a sandwich contained, literally, 8 slices of glorious thick-cut bacon. I chomp into it with gusto. The soup is delicious, and a very healthy option, so feeling good about that, but let's get back to the sandwich. As I'm stuffing my face with bacon, I'm thinking - maybe you should take a couple pieces off this really is excessive, it's like a whole pig on bread. Or maybe you should take the top half of the bread off?- neither of which I do. At a certain point my stomach lets me know it's full, but the bacon tastes so good I refuse to believe the yumminess is too much and so eat the whole thing.

2:45pm I'm full from all the bacon. God it was good. But I ate way too much of it and now I'm worried about dinner knowing I should have been better at lunch. I look up the menu to try and plan out what I'll order to make myself feel better.

3:00pm Break. I walk into the hall to get some hot tea when I encounter the dreaded conference snack buffet. There's potato chips, chocolate things and fruit. I'm actually not hungry, the bacon is still keeping me company. But I keep staring at the Smartfood White Cheddar Popcorn. That's healthy, right? Everyone eating it looks so happy. I don't want my stupid hot tea I want something salty to eat! I look up the calorie count and realize that won't work with my newly-planned dinner choice. You're not even hungry, stop it! I grab a bag and eat the whole thing. Damn it!

5:45pm The conference ends for the day and there's a cocktail reception before we head to dinner. I order one of the cocktails they're making but only take one sip because it's waaaaaaay to sweet for me. I do eat a mini-grilled cheese hors d'oeuvre. It's gross. Well done, Fitzgerald.

7:00pm We're at a seafood restaurant so I'm counting on some healthy options in my corner. The woman next to me asks if I'd like to share a salad? Perfect! Then she orders the Wedge Salad which is delicious, but has bacon - oh god more bacon - and blue cheese all over it. I could take these off when it comes, but I don't. At this point I'm sort of thinking I've already had a not-so-great day so what the heck. Blah!

7:45pm Dinner arrives. I've ordered grilled Chilean Sea Bass which is out of this world fantastic! The sides are large and come for the table so I reach for some asparagus and sauteed mushrooms. There's these potatoes though.....sitting across the table. They look so good. There's cheese and cream all over them. Everyone is making these sounds as they're eating them. I wanna make that sound! 

7:48pm Can you please pass the potatoes over here please?

8:10pm I've had probably four spoonfuls. Not much, but because of what restaurants put in them, that's the caloric intake of pretty much what a whole day should look like.

8:40pm Dinner finishes and  we start walking back to the hotel.

8:43pm We walked here and we're walking back. That will burn some calories right? Cause there's an ice cream shop right there and I would really love a scoop - a kids scoop!, yes, a kids scoop - I haven't had ice cream in forever. The butter pecan tasted really good.

9:40pm I kind of fall asleep. It's probably a bacon coma. Did I mention there were two glasses of wine at dinner? Day totally blown. Damn it!

Here's what a good day looks like.....

6:30am Wake Up. Maybe I haven't slept through the whole night, but I've only woken up once. I drink two glasses of water with lemon.

7:00am Drink my coffee - black- while I get ready.

7:30am Have a piece of Rudi's gluten-free Multi-grain Bread with an over-easy egg on top. Maybe a little salsa and Sriracha on top? Yum. Throw in half an avocado and some fruit and I'm a happy girl. I also take a few multi-vitamins at this point. If I don't have time to make an egg, I'll have some Greek yogurt or almond butter on toast. I like a lot of protein at breakfast.

10:30am Snack time! I love celery stalks with Justin's Almond Butter. They make all different yummy flavors. Or maybe some carrots with hummus and Sriracha.

12:00pm Lunch: I made a conscious decision this summer to not eat lunch out as much as I used to when I'm at the office. Not only has it saved me money, it's also obviously a healthier choice. But this does mean I have to be prepared. If I'm running low on time I'll take a healthy choice or lean cuisine meal. I usually have an additional vegetable that I bring to go with it too. If I have more time, I love tuna fish salad with spinach or maybe chicken with roasted vegetables. Then maybe a piece of fruit or a bite-size piece of chocolate to give me a taste of something a little sweet.

3:00pm If I've had enough for lunch I don't normally get too hungry at this point. If I am, I'll have another piece of fruit or maybe an instant soup which is really good like Miso.

6:30pm Dinner: If I'm not out to dinner for work or with friends, I love cooking at home. I turn on some music, pour a glass of wine and unwind from my day. It's really relaxing. I've also gotten really good at seafood preparations at home so I love baking salmon for dinner or having some fresh shrimp or scallops. I also like a good steak or rotisserie chicken which is always super-easy. Vegetables always round things out and then I throw in some quinoa or egg noodles. I'm not a big desert person, so if I'm cooking at home it's pretty easy to talk myself out of that. If I really want something sweet I keep coconut milk ice cream on hand or bake a piece of fruit in the oven with honey and butter.

I hope you've enjoyed a glimpse into some of my days. Each is different. Some are really good and some really bad. Most are in between. Hopefully the good ones outweigh the bad and that's where that balance thing kicks in. If there's more good than bad, I also don't beat myself up as much when I do decide to indulge. And for all of my talk about beating myself up, I'm also my biggest cheerleader. When I've had a good day and knocked it out of the park, I'm the first to be so proud of myself because I know how hard it is for me sometimes.

I think the biggest thing for me is that I want to feel strong and healthy every day. I want to have enough energy to conquer all I want to accomplish in my day. The better I eat the more that happens.
As much as I would love to not have to worry about it, it has to be a deliberate part of my life. A deliberate choice every day. I play the long game.

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