Barbara: Getting back on track

Here is my confession: I have not been very healthy the past week.  I’ve been guzzling alcohol, consuming the things I never let myself have like berry pies and nachos and eggs. If I slept six hours a night, it was a good night. There wasn’t a hint of exercise, although I have friends who got up and walked or worked out before the day started.

Uh, yeah. Never gonna happen.

I’ve just returned from the RWA conference, where I happily got to meet some of you (and you said you were eating more vegetables! And walking sometimes!).  I let most of my good habits go while I was there, because my focus is on the fun to be had with my friends, on the business information I might be picking up, and the roar that is the national confrence.  I love it. This year, I had dresses I loved, and good friends I felt comfortable with, and lots of good news, so it was an especially great time.

Now I’m home again, getting back on the wagon, and thinking about what makes us healthy.  Is it bad for me to eat all that fat and drink all that booze?  Yeah, kinda.  But I have rules even when I travel.  Here are some of those modifications.

#1  Sleep. I don’t have breakfast meetings unless I just cannot possibly avoid it, and I never schedule anything before 9, period.  I am a big sleeper and at the conference, I don’t go to bed early. At all. So if I want to function without all the crashing sobbing depression that comes from too much emotional overload combined with a lack of sleep, I have to give myself the morning hours to re-enter. I have to be able to sleep in, like a college student.

#2 Drinking. I love wine on a normal basis, bphotout it goes to my head pretty fast, and I don’t know if it’s the sugar or some additive, but it can give me headaches.  So I stick to beer.  It takes longer to drink beer.  I like the refreshing nature of it, and these days, there’s great craft beer everywhere you go.  Yes, it would be healthier to leave the alcohol alone, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon.  I LIKE beer.

#3 I bring healthy snacks with me and keep them in my room.  I asked a friend to take me to the grocery store when I arrived and brought pistachios, hummus, bananas and pita bread. Nothing brilliant, but it was better than eating eggs every morning.

#4 If there were vegetables in any form on a dinner or lunch menu, I ordered some of them.  Sometimes, as this was Atlanta, this was sometimes only a salad or some lightly prepared potatoes. It still counts.

#5 I skipped desserts.  Mostly. (There was that one dinner at bacchanalia with the peach empanada….but seriously, would you expect me to skip all of them?) I also don’t keep sweets in my room.  It’s easy to gobble down sugar under stressful circumstances and then crash, eat sugar, then crash, eat sugar, then crash.

#6 Whenever possible, I checked out the menus ahead of time to see what I could eat. I got into the habit of this when I became a vegetarian, but it works on all levels—it’s easy to get overwhelmed by a menu and then end up ordering some impossible rich thing you don’t even really want

It’s also possible, if one so desires, to check the calorie count of things ahead of time.  I do this for Starbucks, which is omnipresent in the US, and where a glazed doughnut is 450 bloody calories.  Not worth it when I can get a normal pastry for a couple hundred.

#7 Walk if possible to every outside event. Swim if I can. Don’t sweat it too much—just walking around such big hotels all day long every day is a lot of exercise.

#8 Give myself a pass if I have an indulgent day and get back on the healthy train when I get home.  Now that I’m back, I’m eating fresh fruits and veggies and my lentils and beans. Even though it was really difficult, I went to see Tabor the Trainer on Monday, partly to get more red blood cells back into my body after being at low altitude, but partly to honor the habit of trying to be healthy.  The reward was a deep sleep and a sense of confidence.

How about you? How do you handle vacations—and what are your biggest challenges? Food prepared by people you love? Habits that are hard to keep on the road?  What is your best trick?