Before leaving Europe to move to the United States, our family took a week vacation on the island of Mallorca, Spain. Unfortunately, I took more than just a killer tan home with me. Thanks to the deep-fried…everything, the butter-drenched…uh, everything, the free-flowing dessert bar, and the zero-calorie-burn lounging by the pool all day, I came back with an extra seven pounds on my 127-pound frame. That first day back, I couldn’t believe the scale. I told myself it was probably just water retention and the effects of flying but sadly, day after day, the scale wouldn’t budge. I had actually gained seven pounds of fat in seven days. I thought that over time, everything would go back to “normal” but alas, with an international move to the US and a huge decrease to my regular physical activity (now driving everywhere instead of walking), that fat was getting more and more comfortable right where it was. And mommy no likey.
As you may have read on these pages, I put the balls to the wall to get rid of that chub. And let me tell you, that seven pounds came on much easier than they came off! I cut excess calories, peeled myself off the gym floor after doing some of the most extreme workouts I’ve ever attempted, denied myself sugar for an entire month, and was often found returning to the gym for a second workout of the day when I had the chance. It was hell! But it all paid off and I slowly melted those seven pounds off my frame (plus a few extra!).
And here is the lesson in this somewhat self-absorbed story: We often encounter things in life where we have the opportunity to see the hurdle as a challenge to rise above or we see it as an opportunity to wallow and feel sorry for ourselves. Because I chose to do whatever it took to get over the hurdle, I turned a crappy negative into a great positive. Instead of accepting the current situation as my new norm and adopting an attitude of “I guess that’s the way life goes”, I let those uncomfortable seven pounds motivate me to work harder, try new things, and dig deeper than ever. In turn, I lost the pounds but also gained an entirely new mindset toward fitness. The more intense style of working out transformed my body and that extra demand then led to me getting more serious about what I eat and how I fuel my body for peak physical fitness. There is no room for slacking on the appropriate amount of protein, carbs and fats when you’re pushing your body to the limit!
Now I can forget about the bod I had back in Spain. I’m more fit, more toned, and more proud of myself than ever. And to top it off, I’m stronger…both physically and mentally.
This whole experience taught me a valuable lesson: That being on vacation doesn’t mean you get to say “screw the diet”. We often hear things like: “ahhh, live a little! You’re on holidays!” or “This is why you work so hard — so you can enjoy yourself once in a while!”. Well, I did that…so in addition to all my happy memories of the vacation, I have the brutal memories of burning off all the jugs of Sangria and deep-fried hashbrowns. Although I can laugh about it now, it sucked working so hard to get back to square one and I don’t ever want to do that again!
So last month, as I hit Disneyland for three days with my kids and then followed it up with a 10-day trip to Switzerland (the land of melt-in-your-mouth white bread and to-die-for chocolate), I knew I needed to do things differently. I didn’t want to come back from my trips, right at the onset of summer, and be two steps back from where I had been before I left.
And then it happened.
I officially became that fitness-crazed woman that packs a cooler of food wherever she goes and is mixing up some weird concoction of wheat grass and protein powder every time you turn around. Even though this was just temporary for while I traveled, a lot of my little tricks would be just as helpful for those of you who work all day and have difficulty making real meals. So whether you want to travel light during your next trip or you’d like some quick tips on packing healthy lunches, make sure to read Traveling Light (Part II): Food on the Go!