The problems of travelling

Whether travelling for work or pleasure, it’s difficult to food optimise when you have little control over your diet.

I’m away this week on a business trip to the USA. The flying each way takes up two whole days, and the rest of the time I’m staying in a hotel and either eating out at restaurants or in the office. And I know already that my diet is going to be terrible.

Up up and away

Plane travel is tough. You’re tired, you’re uncomfortable, you’re bored, you’re often dehydrated, and the options for food and drink are often limited. So how is anyone meant to food optimise in these conditions?

The meal options at an airport are restricted, and other conditions such as feeling tired or being limited for time mean that it’s hard to find healthy options. Most of the food outlet menus offer the same options – most of which is deep fried. And the options on-board the plane are even worse.

The only real way to stay on-plan is to bring your own food with you, which is a pain. Packing a bunch of healthy snacks in your hand luggage will stave off the temptation to buy meals in the airport or on the plane. Although doing so may require a super-human degree of pre-planning. Particularly as on the return leg of your travels you may not have access to the same sources of healthy food as you do at home.

Staying away

I’ve talked before about some possible coping strategies for eating out, and some of those might come in handy when eating at your hotel or restaurant.

The biggest problem, however, that I’ve found is in the catered lunches provided in offices. Invariably they will involve sandwiches and wraps, crisps, pastries, and maybe some fruit if you are lucky. Faced with a platter of sandwiches there’s often little option but to tuck in. It’s not like you can bring your own lunch from home, because you’re staying away.

You also may not have the time, inclination or local area knowledge to hunt for lunch from a different – more healthy – source.

So what do you do? Well very little really. Just try to minimise the damage, and maybe ask colleagues if it’s possible to order in a salad for you rather than sandwiches.


Five stones, and then some

I wrote last week about how the idea of going for my five stones peaked my competitive spirit. Well it seems to have paid off!

I was so determined this last week, that nothing would derail me from my goal of getting to my 5 stones, and as it happened I ended up losing 4½ pounds this week, and have now lost a total of 5 stone 1½ pounds! That’s the lightest I’ve been in about 10 years!

Even on Friday night when we went to a leaving drinks party for some friends who are emigrating to Spain, I kept my determination. When everyone around me was downing pints and scoffing pizza, I nursed two gins & slimline tonic (4 syns each) over the course of the night. And that was with the rugby on!

When the misses bought me some chocolate eggs as a treat, I didn’t eat them. When there was cake at work, I didn’t have any. When everyone was having Chinese takeaway for lunch on Friday, I was happy with my salad.

I didn’t feel I was depriving myself of anything. I was making conscious decisions to avoid things that would derail the progress towards my goal. And I’m so delighted at having achieved it!

Onwards and upwards towards the 5 and a half!

It’s amazing what a bit of healthy competition does

At class this week it was pointed out to me that both me and the misses are just 3 pounds away from our next ‘stone’ awards! In my case, I’m 3 pounds away from my 5 stone loss, and for the misses, it’s her 3 stones.

Having lost 3½ pounds this last week, it seemed to me to be a ‘big ask’ to lose another 3 pounds the following week, so I dismissed the idea at the time. But we talked about it when we got home, and agreed that we’d give it a go, and see if we could both lose 3 this week.

Now my dear lady wife is generally the more competitive one between the two of us, but the idea of working towards a target has really solidified my determination for this week. Of course, it also means that I’m going to obsess about my progress for the whole week, and will probably be jumping on the scales every day to track progress.

The weigh-in is next Wednesday. Wish me luck!


Willpower is not a long-term solution

I don’t like the word willpower when talking about weight loss. It has too many negative connotations for me.

The website defines willpower as “control of one’s impulses and actions; self-control.” To me maintaining self-control equates to fighting against my natural urges – my natural urge being to eat the face off me!

The thing is, I don’t like this idea that I need to exert willpower in order to lose weight, because that’s just setting myself up for a fall. Anyone can resist against their impulses for a short period of time, but it’s not a long-term strategy. At some point the willpower is going to fail, and I’m going to ‘fall off the wagon’.

Put a box of donuts in front of me, and my self-control will hold out for a while, but eventually I will crack and scoff the lot!

And that’s the thing about willpower – it’s only temporary. Willpower requires us to resist an impulse, but does nothing to try and change the underlying impulse itself. If I could reprogram myself to address the impulse and modify it, then I wouldn’t need willpower at all!

So instead of using the word willpower, I prefer to use the word determined. I know it’s only a change of word, but to me it’s also a change in mind-set. When I am determined I have made a conscious and positive decision to follow a certain path. I’m not fighting against an impulse, I’m not resisting temptation, and I’m not “being good”. Instead I am making positive choices in my life to achieve my goal – to lose weight.

I’ve talked before about every little decision, and I’ll be the first to admit that many of my little decisions aren’t the right ones. I lose sight of my goals just as much as the next person. It’s hard to keep focus all the time. But hopefully by harnessing the positivity of being determined I can make a few more correct decisions in the future.

So when I look at the donuts in the future, instead of thinking to myself “I would really love to eat those donuts, but I will resist” (a negative emotion) I will instead try to think “I don’t want those donuts, because it will impact my weight loss” (a positive emotion). And by doing so, I hope to end up eating a lot fewer donuts!

What is a Countdown?

A countdown is a discounted pre-pay plan where you pay for a set number of classes in advance.

You can buy two types of Countdown:

  • A 6-week countdown, which costs the price of 5 classes, so you get 1 class free!
  • A 12-week countdown, which costs the price of 10 classes, so you get 2 classes free!

At certain times of the year there are also additional promotions for people who buy 12-week countdowns, where you typically get a free copy of a newly released book.

Buying a Countdown

You buy a Countdown at the normal check-in desk in class. You don’t need to give notice. Just tell the person checking you in that you want to buy a 6 or 12 week countdown.

You’ll need to specify any holidays you want to take at the time of purchase, which will be entered into the computer and automatically applied so that you aren’t paying for those holiday weeks! Once bought, however, you can’t change the holidays, so think ahead!

Using the Countdown

On subsequent weeks you still need to check-in as normal. Your account will be checked on the computer, and you’ll be told how many weeks left you have on your countdown, and when it expires. At the end of your countdown you can choose to buy another or go back to paying week by week.

I use countdowns all the time, and I feel they offer some advantages:

  • You pay less to come for class – in the case of classed here in Ireland, it’s €7.50 per class under a countdown as opposed to €9.00 when paying week by week
  • You don’t have to worry about remembering to bring cash – I’m so used to paying with cards for everything these days that I often don’t have enough cash in my wallet
  • It motivates you to attend – If you’ve already paid for it, you’re more likely to go!

If you’re in the middle of a countdown and qualify for a free week at class – such as for a Club 10, or when you take advantage of an introduce a friend promo – you can save up those free weeks till the end of the countdown (you don’t lose them!). The computer may not prompt the person doing check-in that you’re due a free week, but it’ll still be stored in the system, so don’t be afraid to ask for it!