Wednesday, 28 January 2015
Break from routine - challenge accepted!
The last couple of weeks have been simply crazy for me. My comfortable routine of workouts, healthy, delicious meals, and quality time with the Nerd were transformed by a series of conferences and business trips.
Last week I had two days of leadership conferences at a hotel north of the city, complete with buffet breakfasts and lunches and a sit down dinner (the first night) and a cocktail party (the second night). Not to mention the numerous coffee breaks full of pastries, cookies, and full size chocolate bars that they were passing around. I was able to work out at home each morning, but I was exhausted by the end of each day - - in part because of the full schedule and in part because of the challenge of making sensible food choices and the effort of distracting myself when snack time came around. (!)
The day after this two day conference I had - you guessed it - another full day conference, this time at a downtown hotel that I could walk to from my apartment. Another day, another buffet breakfast and lunch, and another gauntlet of cookies at the break to avoid.
Right after this conference I had to jump on a plane to go to Boston so that I could attend at a couple of our New England production plants. This trip spanned Thursday night through Monday afternoon, and involved a hotel stay over the weekend, plus two take-out lunches eaten at the plants and one (delightful) dinner out with friends at Legal Seafood.
The Nerd and I drove back to Toronto from Boston on Monday and survived yet another fast food meal and snack on the way home.
I had one entire day back in the office (largely spent trying desperately to catch up on work) and then today I was back at it, with a class to teach out of town that involved a 2-hour train trip (each way), train food and lunch at an Italian restaurant with the other teachers.
All in all, these past couple of weeks have been a series of temptations interspersed with stressful work meetings and broken routines. On the good side, I have learned a few things along the way:
1. Buffet breakfasts can be my friend, especially when they have a good supply of proteins. I stocked up on eggs, bacon and sausages with fruit and coffee most mornings, and managed to avoid the french toast, waffles, pancakes, hash browns, croissants, muffins, bagels, and danishes on offer. By focusing on protein (even slightly higher in sodium protein) and avoiding the carbs I felt great all day and didn't crave the cookies and muffins on offer at the breaks. I was impressed with how many carbs the typical breakfast buffet features, especially when I had to avoid them.
2. Buffet lunches can be my friend, especially when I focus on filling my plate with vegetables and concentrate on eating only partial pieces of the main course (usually something cheese covered) to ensure that I was only eating one serving. Added bonus - - the extra vegetables took me a long time to eat so there was no time to linger over dessert.
3. Avoiding desserts and high carb/high sugar snacks when I am by myself is critical. I could have seriously gone off the rails with all the snacks on offer at each conference, and only my refusing to make eye contact with any of the delicious snacks could I escape break time unscathed.
4. Hotel gyms are a great tool. There was a time a few years ago, that I would never have dreamed of setting foot in a hotel gym. On this trip to the US not only did I set foot in the gym, I made it a regular part of my daily routine. The only days I did not work out at the hotel gym were my travel days. When I did work out, I took advantage of the facilities to use machines I don't have at home, and to go for swims in the pool. I was sad to leave when we did, frankly, because I was kind of looking forward to another swim in the pool.
5. I can enjoy decadent foods (like Parmesan fries or desserts) in moderation, which in my case meant sharing them with the Nerd. Sharing these treats kept me from feeling deprived, but also took what would have been a major calorie hit and turned it into something reasonable. Win-win, I say.
6. Burger King sells salads. Who knew? Frankly, I never even considered having a salad at a burger restaurant, but they are a surprisingly practical choice. Much lower in calories than the Whopper with Cheese that I would normally have ordered, and if not entirely satisfying per se, it was a good meal on the road.
7. I can leave food on my plate. Because we were eating so many meals in hotels and restaurants I could not control the portions of many of my meals. But I could control the portion of what I ate, and that worked very well. I made a point of tracking my food and considering reasonable serving sizes so that when the meals arrived, I could decide how much of each part to eat - - for example, all of the vegetables, but only a portion of the wild rice or half of a bun on a chickpea burger etc. This is kind of new to me - - usually I clean my plate and go back for more, so leaving food to ensure I was eating a normal portion was novel.
I took the plunge and weighed myself this morning and after an entire week of hotels, buffets, fast food, and temptation, I was delighted to see that I weighed exactly the same as I did before all of this excitement. Score one for disciplined eating habits.
Among my excitement on this recent trip was the fact that the Nerd and I were in Boston ... the day the Snowpocalypse (aka Winter Storm Juno) hit. Monday morning I was in our Hartford plant when I learned that the Governor was closing the highways at 9 pm, and the rest of our day was spent racing back to Needham (just outside of Boston) so we could quickly check out of our hotel and drive as fast as we could to try and get home ahead of the storm.
We agreed that if conditions deteriorated to the point that driving was unsafe that we would pull over and check into a hotel for the night, but the Nerd was able to persevere and push through all the way home, fortified with a couple of peanut butter cookies on the way to Buffalo. We arrived home at 2 am after a 10-hour drive, and although we were both well and truly thrashed the next day, we were home, which is all that mattered.
Today was my last day off from my routine, at least for a while. Tomorrow I will do my normal high intensity elliptical workout in the morning, and then I am working out with Mr. Fitness in the evening. I predict that my ass will be kicked, as usual. But it will feel soooo gooood when the workout is over, it is almost worth the discomfort.