Updated: Mar 31
…or how I went on vacation and lost 3 pounds.
My wife THM Coach On-Plan Jan and I took our first vacation since the COVID-19 lockdowns recently. This vacation represented a specific challenge for us because we had committed in January to stay on-plan for 100 days. Our vacation started on day 81 of that commitment so we had to ensure we were keeping on-plan despite the challenges traveling might bring to that equation.
One of the keys elements in our on-plan vacation was ordering snacks in advance to make sure we had some alternatives handy when we were out of other options. Here are the things we ordered to have with us for this trip. *
We also made sure that we had a refrigerator available at the hotel and we packed the cookies and bars last just to make sure we could keep them cool.
When I was introduced to THM 6 years ago airports were brutal. I “might” find some cheese sticks and some peanuts, but other than picking the croutons off an occasional chicken Caesar salad I didn’t have much to work with. Now there are a lot of low-carb snacks and options.
We got what I affectionately call a cheese meat platter. I know there’s a fancy French word for that, but I come off like Pepe Le Pew when I try to say it out loud and On-Plan Jan doesn’t appreciate that. The only downside was the extras that were neither cheese nor meat. This particular snack came with Ritz crackers and grapes. No crackers obviously, and I try to avoid cross-overs so the grapes were out as well, but cheese and meat were good.
Late Night Check-In
This is the one thing we weren’t really “prepared for”. With all of my veteran travel, I knew it might be hard to find a restaurant when we landed, but I verified the hotel had a kitchen so I figured we could get something despite the late arrival. Turns out with COVID-19 the kitchen shut down early. While I’m in sales, I lacked Tommy Boy’s ability to get the fryers turned back on so we were stuck with a salad. It was good and on-plan, but not exactly what I was looking for.
Pro-tip: While waiting for your bags or ground transportation, call ahead to the hotel to verify you can eat there or get suggestions of what might be open nearby that will help you stay on-plan.
While the hotel didn’t have free breakfast they did have options. Three different on-plan egg dishes allowed the substitution of a fruit cup for the potatoes or bread. Unfortunately, the fruit was mostly melons, pineapple, and grapes with a few blueberries. That made two of the three egg options a cross-over if we ate the fruit. I left that on the side, preferring to keep my “S” meals an “S”.
They also had an option for just plain oatmeal. This is where some of our preparation came into play. We had Trim Healthy Bar – Chocolate Brownie Fix* and Xylitol-Free Gentle Sweet™ 16oz Bag*. So we were able to make very sweet banana oatmeal and had the protein on the side to make the breakfast filling while still being an “E”.
Pro-Tip: Packing some oatmeal just-in-case is a good way to ensure you can get an on-plan breakfast everyday without breaking the budget.
Our first outing took us to a beachside boardwalk with lots of shops and every type of of off-plan food you can think of. The smell of freshly baked waffle cones was everywhere, and it seemed like every fourth shop was an ice cream place. Being an oceanside venue there were multiple places serving fresh fried fish and chips. The temptation to go off-plan was high.
It took us a bit to find a place for lunch that had good on-plan options. We eventually found a place with many different choices, but I was still tempted to just get my stand-by chicken Caesar salad no croutons for simplicity's sake. It tends to be filling and it’s just about the same everywhere you go. But since we aren’t on the ocean side I decided to branch out on flavor and go with a wasabi-crusted tuna and Bok Choi dish. That choice might be best categorized as a culinary adventure. I would try the tuna again, but I think I’d want the Bok Choi prepared differently the next time.
As the day went on it got warmer and the call of the ice cream got louder. The sun came out from behind the clouds and as the heat went up we happened upon a frozen yogurt place. It was the kind where you fill a cup and they weigh it. Fortunately, they had a sugar-free option. With some berries, it hit the spot for that ice cream craving while staying on-plan.
Dinner out was at Bubba Gump shrimp. I find a place like this really hard to stay on plan, not for the lack of options, but that I really like battered and deep-fried shrimp. I had to remind myself that I can make on-plan batter and do that at home, and look for something I’m not so good at here. While I like to grill, I haven’t mastered the art of cooking ribs. So I went with the ribs.
Pro-Tip: When ordering BBQ most places will let you order with the sauce on the side. This lets you control what sauce you use and how much.
Appetizers for Lunch
One of the tricky parts about lunch is the predominance of sandwiches and wraps on most menus. You might find a salad here or there, but getting a hot hearty lunch can be tricky. That’s why I appreciate the trend lately that meatballs are an option on the appetizer menu. It may look a little weird but I like to order a side salad and then top it with hot meatballs to break up what can become a monotonous stretch of chicken Caesar salads.
Pro-Tip: Be careful with salads, they tend to have unexpected carbs. Make sure to ask for them to be taken off in advance or you could end up having to pick them off yourself.
On our last day out we decided to spend it on the beach. We traveled to a new beach but didn’t have a solid plan for lunch. Most of the beaches we’d been to had restaurants just across the street so we figured this new one might be the same. Unfortunately, this beach was tucked away in the middle of a park, and there weren’t any restaurants for quite a distance. However, there was a food truck on the beach.
This was your run-of-the-mill burgers and hot dogs food truck with the only vegetables to be found were in ketchup packets. This presented a decision. Did we just go ahead and go off-plan or work with what was available? Since we’ve committed to 100 days of on-plan eating we decided we should work with what we had. We did pack the Crispy Addictions: Sweetly Cinnamon Coconut Chips* and Shameless Crackers: Cheesy Kick* so we had filler to go with some protein from the food truck. Despite asking for no-bun our order came on buns wrapped in wax paper. Other than wasting the buns the real down-side was the cheese on the cheese-burgers was glued to the buns which was an unfortunate loss.
Eating every three hours or so according to plan does tend to leave times when you just need an on-plan snack. While we brought a number of Trim Healthy favorites we also wanted some fresh items so we also took a trip to the grocery store. We picked up a big box of strawberries, some cheese, olives, and on-plan ice cream. This gave us some variety to munch on late at night or between lunch and our dinner reservations.
Pre-pandemic I traveled for work extensively and found it very difficult to stay on-plan. In retrospect, I see that it was difficult for two reasons.
I didn’t go into business travel with a mindset that being off-plan was not an option. I realize that we have food freedom so we always have the option. But the mindset allowed a one-off trip to Aunt Annies for cinnamon pretzels to turn into a downward spiral ending in a Big Mac and fries. For the type of short-duration travel I was on, I needed to take the same attitude we had for this trip that off-plan just wasn’t an option.
We were prepared to be on-plan for this vacation with a couple of minor exceptions. Next time we go to the beach, we’ll pack a lunch in advance for example. So you can stay on vacation too with a little preparation.
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*this is an affiliate link for @onplanjan Trim Healthy Mama certified coaching