Quick tips for navigating travel, holidays, and special events while tracking macros
What does Miley Cyrus eat for Thanksgiving?? TWERKY!!
Well…I hope that you are laughing and not rolling your eyes! The holidays should be filled with joy and laughter. But for so many of us women and struggling moms, the holidays can add to the on-going stress of motherhood with the difficulty of traveling with tots and ALL the gear that has to come with, hosting, pressure to create beautiful memories, dealing with in-laws/family, and -although it shouldn't be -navigating holiday eating.
Figuring out how to navigate the challenges of traveling, the holidays, and blending that with family during the holidays can seem overwhelming. But it does not have to be. During my contest prep cut, we did a weekend trip to Vegas, four days in Texas on an adults-only group trip complete with private chef and wine pairings, my hubby’s 36th birthday staycation getaway without the kids, and a weekend trip to the boonies of Arkansas to visit my brother’s new baby (where I ended up stranded overnight in DFW when I missed my connecting flight). It just takes some preparedness, planning, and willingness to improvise in order to succeed.
Here are my tried and true strategies for getting through without gain. Notice that I said "without gain". The Holidays are a pretty challenging time to diet. Remind yourself that it's OKAY to not be in a deficit for a couple of months. Chances are your mind and body could use the break.
Ok, let's get to it:
First of all, do not freak out. Let us assume that you eat two Thanksgiving meals and four Christmas/Chanukah/Festivus dinners in two months. Let us also assume than on a normal day, you eat about five meals a day. That’s roughly 300 meals between November and December, seven of which will be off plan because of the holidays. 293 meals will be within your control. Just like seven meals of salads won't make you lean, seven meals of indulgence won't make you fat.
Speaking of, remember that you are still always in control. Period. The second that you admit defeat, you do not stand a chance. Always know that even if you do not have control of all your options and that surprises can happen, you are always in control of how you deal with those options and how you adapt to the surprises. I always tell my clients that their success to long-term health and wellness is not about how perfect that can do everything, but rather how well that they can adapt to changes and surprises. So, always stay in control. There is a BIG difference between binge eating and over eating. Do not let over eating turn into binge eating.
If traveling, be prepared. Stuff your purse/carryon/diaper bag with protein bars, jerky, nuts, single serving packs of protein powder (like those found here) so that you are (1) never without access to any food which may lead to hunger and over eating later, and (2) you are never without access to a lean source of protein. You can mix the protein powder into a Starbucks frapp, with water, or any convenience items easily found at a gas station, airport snack shop, or on the plane. Bring along your shaker bottle. It doubles as a reusable water bottle, and you should be hydrated extra while traveling anyway. You wouldn’t forget to pack snacks/food for your little one. Likewise, make no excuses for packing your own.
Once you get to your destination, find some time the first day to make a run to the grocery store to get your perishable food items, like Greek yogurt, egg whites, berries, fresh fruit, bottled water, cottage cheese, etc. If you’re staying with a host/hostess and do not want to come off as rude or imposing, state just the opposite! Here are some of the things that I say when staying with friends or family so as not to look like a health freak, but to also not seem rude with what they already have offered for me to consume: (1) “I’m so hungry from breastfeeding/being up at night with the baby/my new exercise program [insert excuse here], that I don’t want to eat you out of house and home, so I picked up some extra snacks to have on hand.” (2) “I want to cook you breakfast to thank you for your generosity in hosting, so I am running to the store to get some special things that I need for it.” (3) “I had to run to pick up some diapers/wipes/pouches that I forgot to bring for the baby, and I picked up a few extra things that looked good, and I thought you might like, too.” If I want to be discreet with your snacks, simply sneak it away with your while nursing or pumping in a different room. It’s really easy to get 20g worth of shake, Greek yogurt, or jerky down in the time it takes to feed baby or pump. No one ever knew what I was doing or that I was on a special diet.
Be okay not tracking. But if you like to stay consistent and not break your streak, then definitely don’t weigh your food while visiting others for the holidays (as if you needed to give your mother-in-law yet another reason to judge you). Simply estimate the best that you can.
A meat portion the size of a clenched fist is roughly 4 oz
A side portion the size of a clenched fist is roughly 1 cup
A portion the size of a deck of cards is roughly 2 oz
A portion the size of your palm is roughly 3 oz
A shot glass is 1 oz (a large shot glass is 2 oz)
A portion (oils, butter, cheese, mayonnaise, sugar) the size of your thumb is roughly 1 oz/1 TBSP
A portion (oils, butter, cheese, mayonnaise, sugar) the size of the tip of your thumb is roughly 1 tsp If the recipe/dish is complex and hard to evaluate for ingredients and macros, simply choose an equivalent entry in My Fitness Pal and err on the more liberal side (i.e. choose an entry that is higher in calories and carbs/fats). It doesn’t have to be perfect. Again, remember is just a few meals out of several hundred.
On the day of the “big meal” (this goes for holidays, weddings, birthday parties, date nights, and any other time where drinking and dining will be enjoyed to the fullest), protein load. Try to make all your meals and snacks until the main event protein-based. If that means you have a protein shake mixed with water for all your meals and snacks until the big one, sometimes that what it has to take. Feel free to nibble on fruits and veggies, but try to budget your macros for the big meal. It’s like a month where you know you will have a big trip the last week with shopping, dining, and experiences. You have to budget appropriately for it, so during the beginning of the month you may cut back on discretionary expenses to be able to blow your monthly budget on your trip. Think of your macros in the same way. And then when it comes to the meal itself, protein load again! Load most of your plate with veggies and protein, and then have a little bit of each of the sides. Each the protein and veggies first and then eat enough of the sides until you are full. DO NOT EAT BEYOND FULL. We live in the land of plenty, and I’m sure that most of you aren’t food insecure, so there is no need to binge eat for the sake of eating what’s in front of you. This day in age, if you want mashed potatoes or pie or gravy, you can have it most any day of the week. Do need to eat like it will be your last meal. It is when we treat food as a scarcity and a “treat” that we tend to go overboard with the mentality that we have to eat all that we can while we can. Not the case, right? As I said before, don't let over eating turn into a binge.
Alcohol. Enjoy! Have 1-3 drinks, it won’t totally derail you. Rule of thumb is: If you love your family, have a drink. If you hate your family, have three :)
Don’t punish yourself with exercise or starvation afterwards. Simply get right back on track.
I hope that this helps!!