The mind is a terrible thing to waste.
And the waist is a terrible thing to mind.
Here is my current situation: I forgot to bring the flat of peaches up to Steamboat with us on our camping trip, thus derailing the Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler I had planned. Yum, right? But not so yum when the peaches were left waiting in Pa’s refrigerator in Denver.
Fast forward one week to our return from Illinois last night. We spent the week smack dab in the “mid” of the Midwest, in the land of Steak n’ Shake and frozen custard. Although we did not eat at Steak n’ Shake, I did eat frozen custard… and pizza… and fried food…oh my! Shocking, I know!! Hence on our way home from the airport we stopped by the grocery store to stock up on all the fresh fruits and veggies I hadn’t been eating whilst away.
But I forgot that I already had blueberries in the fridge from before we left. And they are still fresh.
So now I have an abundance of fruit that lends itself to dessert making… and abundance of overindulgence lurking on my waistline.
What’s a girl to do??
First of all, let’s be clear that it is disturbingly easy to gain weight while on an extended vacation, like home leave. You’re out of your normal routine, travelling frequently or all the time, staying in hotels or with friends and relatives, and eating in a way that may or may not (usually not) be your habit because you’re with cherished people you haven’t seen in forever. And that lends itself to celebration. It takes only 3500 calories eaten in excess of what you expend, to gain 1/2 kg (1 lb) of body fat. Spread that out over a week, and it’s only 500 extra calories per day. So easy!! 500 calories can be knocked off with one 16 oz frozen margarita (that’s a medium, by the way)… not even counting the chips! Oh my. Or let’s say you do what I did and skip half your workouts due to being on the road or sleeping in, eat out 3 nights in a row, and eat dessert every. single. day, including southern Illinois frozen custard at least twice – I reckon it put me in an excess of around 1000 extra calories per day. My overindulgence took its toll not only on my waistline, but also on my energy level and general sense of well-being. I admit I get cranky when I’m not eating well.
But let’s get some perspective too. We do have to allow ourselves to enjoy vacation, to eat things we normally don’t (hello onion rings!), and to just take a break from our normal routine and go with the flow. Where we run into trouble, I think, is when we let the “outside normal” indulgences become our new definition of normal. Worse yet is to shame ourselves so severely for gaining a couple of pounds that we re-define ourselves in our minds as “hopeless cases”… and abandon our usually healthy habits for good.
Can anybody relate?
So, back to my original question…What’s a girl to do??
First of all, we have to take a deep breath, step back, and remind ourselves that temporary overindulgences are just normal fluctuations from our usual healthy habits… and all a part of normal eating. To redirect ourselves after a few days (or 10!!) of overindulgence, I think the best thing we can do is just remember our boundaries. By boundaries, I don’t mean going on a crash diet… or setting up a rigid set of rules… but simply following the healthy routines that keep us fit and sane the other 48 or 50 weeks of the year.
For me this meant getting up and doing a kick-a__ strength circuit. Working out reminds me why I love to take care of my body- it’s everything good and I only feel better afterward.
And then, I eat something that will only make me feel better afterward too. Eating well for a few days puts me back in the mindset that promotes even more healthy eating- it’s what my mother used to call “a happy vicious circle.” Eating well means something different for everyone, but for me it means eating predominantly unprocessed plant foods, limiting my sugar intake, and most importantly, minding my hunger and full signals. Sometimes things taste so good that I can plow right through that little voice saying, “that’s enough… I mean, that’s really enough!!” I did a lot of plowing these past 10 days… and wish I hadn’t. Bites 100-105 are never as good as bites 1-5, know what I mean?
I know you’re all dying to know… what did I do with all those blueberries and peaches?? Instead of a dessert, I made my favourite breakfast chia pudding and folded in all those blueberries and peaches- well ok, not all…
Everyone has their own recipe for chia pudding, but if you don’t, I’m giving you mine. It’s very flexible- if you don’t have Greek yogurt (it’s hard to find and expensive in Southeast Asia,) you can leave it out and sub more almond milk. Just let it sit longer to thicken. I added toasted old-fashioned oats- but if you want to skip the toasting, that’s fine too. And if you don’t have all these peaches and blueberries, well, just add whatever fruit you have on hand.
For me, this was the perfect breakfast- high in fiber from the chia seeds and toasted whole oats, high in protein from the Greek yogurt and chia seeds, and decadently sweet from that gorgeous, juicy fruit. And it was so rich and creamy that it recalled a slight (ok, very slight) reminiscence of that delicious Annie’s frozen custard…
What gets you back on track after extended overindulgence??