Friday, September 9, 2011

Rule of the Belly: The Eating Vacation

A friend of mine just gleefully announced that the two pounds she gained on her vacation were already gone a mere week after she got back.  I love hearing stuff like that, by the way! Brag to me all day long; it makes me so happy to hear about people connecting the dots of their health! Anyway, I wasn't surprised about her fast weight loss: as long as your vacation-style eating ends when the vacation does, that weight you gained will disappear in about as much time as it takes for the reality of post-vacay laundry to smack you in the face. It's when vacation eating extends beyond the vacation that the problem creeps up.  So kudos to Sue for first making decent choices on vacation and letting vacation food stay in its rightful spot!  I'm proud of you!

It made me start thinking about the way I've been eating while pregnant related to vacation eating. Granted, just one week of vacation eating makes me cranky, but I've definitely relaxed my usual rules while I've had a few hundred extra calories to play with each day.  I've had to employ my three rules of cravings a few times and yeah, there have been some downright sketchy choices, but all in all I feel like I'm kind of in vacation mode: healthy cause I wanna be but definitely not what I would be eating for weight maintenance, muscle development, or training for an athletic event. After the baby is here, it's back to my standard egg whites, spinach, berries, and chicken so I can love on my muscles and really get into some hard training again.  Until then, if a bowl of gluten-free cereal sounds like breakfast (or lunch or dinner) to me, well that is just what I am gonna do! Go ahead and judge me, I don't feel bad!
Vacation eating and pregnancy eating are alike: they're both temporary, a welcome break from the usual routine, and feel a little scandalous. What's important to remember, however, is the first part - they're temporary!  When you start with the end in mind - that is, a plan to get back to "normal" - you can embrace that kind of diversion and enjoy it!  Here's how:

1. Make a plan. Duh, isn't this almost always my first step of anything?  Health success favors the prepared mind, so go into your pregnancy with a plan to stay healthy cause you wanna be, and know in advance where you plan to splurge. If you have a fancy dinner planned, scale back the rest of the day just like you would when you're not pregnant. If you have a hankering for frozen yogurt (like I do just about every dang day), read the ingredients to make sure you're eating something that's not loaded with junk and try not to eat it directly out of the container (I know, it's hard). That is, if a splurge is even part of your plan, which brings me to...

2. Stay true to yourself.  Remember, diverted eating does not have to be a calorie-coma. Being healthy or unhealthy is a choice. There is absolutely no rule anywhere that says you have to eat stuff you normally wouldn't just because you're pregnant or because people are telling you to "enjoy yourself."  Personally, eating crap is not enjoyable to me in the slightest.  You don't have to divert if you don't want to.  Unless you usually eat crap anyway and then you totally should.

For the next six weeks (OMG JUST SIX WEEKS) I'll be trying my best to strike the balance between eating well - fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein - and enjoying my little vacation from uber-strategic eating. I hope you'll do the same: get out there and get healthy!

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