Fit and on Plan during EuroTrip 2011!

May 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

I feel relaxed and fulfilled, realizing how lucky I am  to be able to say that I just traveled abroad to visit extended family in EUROPE.  Just returned from a trip to Hamburg and Paris (oooh la la!) where I was able spend much-needed QT with family and explore both the historic and ultra modern parts of both cities. To describe my trip in one word – FREEING. It was my first vacation after almost EIGHT months (since my last week of time off) of intern insanity and not a singe two day weekend since that time. It was needed and well deserved.

The most remarkable part about all of this, keeping with the purpose of this fitness blog, is show how I managed to stay on track while enjoying traditional Afghan and European meals.  I was actually terrified to go; I know my appetite and the fact that I was traveling to food & wine-rich places with opportunities to eat my way fat again was almost overwhelming.  I am also proud to say that I come from a long line of talented cooks who know their ingredients and NEVER measure.  While this is a blessing, it’s also hell for me because once I taste a morsel of well-made Afghan food, I find it almost impossible to control my portions.  I was also going to spend a considerable amount of time with my cousins so I was fearful that we’d frequently go out to eat and that I’d have a hard time controlling my cravings from the flavor and lipid- heavy menu options.  Point is that I didn’t think I had what it would take to control myself in Europe and basically didn’t trust myself to make smart decisions. Thankfully, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

My tactic once I arrived at Manchester airport: Simple, really. Just followed the Points system.  I didn’t want to spend the money on an internet package for my phone so I picked up a few paper trackers during my pre-trip weigh-in.

  • tracked EVERY SINGLE bite I ate. And I mean every, from each bit of cucumber to chocolate croissants
  • I did NOT limit myself because I knew I deserved the hell out of this trip and I was not about to leave without tasting some things I had dreamed of, I just tracked each bite
  • Walked almost everywhere, except taking flights, driving from one city to the next in which case we either took the train or my cousins drove
  • made sure I had a bottle of water with me at all times and made sure to drink at least 3 daily
  • told my cousins that I was trying to keep track of what I was eating (love my family but regardless of how Westernized my family is, all Afghans have the same habit when it comes to feeding your loved ones…they pile food on your plate regardless of whether you can eat it or not and love to buy snacks/food for you everywhere you go)
  • made sure to keep some homemade trail mix with me just-in-case
  • took the stairs where ever possible; train stations, museums, the Eiffel tower where I was determined to take all 669 stairs to the second level, and the  hotel room in paris…which was on the 13th floor
  • only had one dreamy cup of cafe while in Paris (I’ve been poison coffee  sober for almost 2 months! Living off of a daily venti iced unsweetened green tea.  Coffee/espresso makes my stomach feel like i’ve released a piranha in it)
  • wore comfortable, practical shoes so that I was able to get the most out of my trip without developing painful feet
Results: Weighed-in two days after returning; Lost 1.6 lbs!! Since then, at today’s weigh-in, I’m down another 2.6 lbs.
Reasons why I think I’ve been successful lately:
(1) continued tracking and being very careful in Europe + walking all over the cites,
(2) started to Spin again. I looked back to my lowest weight while on WW and realized that I was spinning at least 3-4 x/week. Lately (for the past 5 months) I’ve been spinning nearly ZERO times. I had been doing P90x at the encouragement of one of my closest physical therapy friends…that DID NOT work for me at all.  I was actually doing p90x Lean and still managed to gain weight despite continually tracking and staying within my points range for the most part. My clothes felt tighter and I felt uncomfortable.  It was not just muscle weight I was adding, there is just not enough cardio in that program and it didn’t work for me. I still occasionally use a few of the programs when I’m mixing up my weekly routine, but spin class, body pump and sorry attempts at running really give me my weight loss mojo.
(3) when i got back I re-read the WW Articles in search of the major pitfalls on the new PointsPlus system, because I really didn’t think was working as well as the old Points system for me.  I had been losing weight faster on POINTS and looking back on pics from November, noticed a clear difference in the way my face looked at that time…wasn’t as round as it is now.   I noticed that I might be eating too much fruit and probably underestimating volume.  This article was great. 
Just a tid-bit about European culture: their diet is generally not composed of the same processed garbage as ours.  Yes, they still have a McDonald’s and Au Bon Pain at every corner and have adopted the cafe culture like no other, but the food QUALITY is pristine.  For example, my cousin’s wife in Hamburg (and subsequently my cousin in Limoge) made the most amazing eggs I’ve literally EVER had.  Here’s why they were amazing; they were real eggs.  I wish I had taken a photo – the yolks were a deep orange, smelled like a farm fresh egg (if you’ve ever had one, you know exactly that freshness that I mean), and the taste…Oh my god…the taste was out of this world. Who knew that a simple egg seasoned with just salt and black pepper sould taste this heavenly.   Second, the MILK.  The 2% milk tasted like whole and it was naturally sweet.  Ice cream even tastes “cleaner” in Europe.
**Side note: I’m big into researching environmental impact on food quality and I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmingly upset that the europeans are light years ahead of the US when it comes to food quality and environmental standards.  It’s based on a EU policy which Germany has obviously adopted but perfected by working towards less fossil fuels and nuclear energy towards more natural forms of energy.  We have a long ways to go….even in terms of their modernism which makes all of the US appear like a third world nation (if you don’t believe me, check out the architecture of South Hamburg – it’ll blow your mind).**
Few Pictures of my trip

Croissant

In the Eiffel Tower

L'arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees

Macaron, Paris

Cidre and Galette

Cheese at the Market, Paris

Fois Gras....not weightwatchers friendly but very Foodie Friendly

Afghani Aush at my uncle's in Limoge, France.

Crepe with pureed apple, walnuts, vanilla ice cream, and more chocolate than even I could handle

Iranian restaurant with my cousins in Hamburg. total happiness

How have you stayed fit while vacationing?

Here are a few tips to review (which I should have done before I went abroad) if you’re about to embark on a trip abroad:

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