How many of you have put on weight whilst on holiday? Imagine 10 months of holiday temptation and a girl with very little willpower. It is no surprise that my waistline has grown, as have my thighs, belly, boobs… the list goes on. The wardrobe full of elastic waist trousers and skirts doesn’t exactly make me think twice about each meal choice either.
I will never be slim, I have never been slim and over the years I have thoroughly enjoyed all the creamy sauces, cheeses, steak, lager, the fast food, the mayonnaise and the coca cola but uh oh, I’m over 40 now and the size of a small bungalow. Eeeek.
They always say how hard it is to maintain a good size or lose weight in your forties and above. I will admit I’ve not exactly tried, travelling continuously has not been good for my already poor food choices.
I only need to share my variety of food porn pics to show you the challenge I face and yep, failed! Look at all these country delights – Portuguese egg tarts, Munich gingerbread, Zurich apple strudel and German Quarkballchen [like doughnut balls].
I know what needs to be done but oh phooey, it takes a lot of willpower. I’ll start by saying, out of all the pros and cons of eating positively to maintain a good weight, I have some excellent habits if I do say so myself. I am not someone who thinks about food all the time. This is a big contradiction. I don’t get hangry, I don’t talk about what I’m going to eat for dinner as I’m eating my lunch and I definitely don’t get all Pavlov’s dogs and start salivating at meal times. Maybe I should?
I eat extraordinarily slowly [much to the frustration of my family], what can I say? I chew! I love vegetables and only make meat-free options when I’m cooking on my travels, I’m not that fussed about bread or large portions. I’m ‘usually’ proactive at moving my plate away or covering the leftovers when I’m feeling full.
I drink but not that much at all compared to years ago and I’m no fan of drinking alone. I like the taste, it’s too good to decline so I’m careful.
The cons and food nightmare starts with missing meals then cheating with the short-term kick of sugary treats. Anything with pastry is a definite weakness, as is savouring the flavour of fast or restaurant food… Who doesn’t like someone else cooking for them but wowzers sometimes I could feed a family of 4 from my one plate of food. That schnitzel was huge, as was the plate of Pierogi, home-made flakey pastry Chorizo tarts, one plate sized potato rosti with my veal or Portuguese steak, eggs and mushroom sauce. Have to stop, the mouth is watering.
Not forgetting a Bologna deli is a snackers ‘taster’ heaven.
I can make food to survive but I don’t relish cooking. My accommodation occasionally has a kitchen to cook in, these have varied from a fully kitted ‘almost industrial’ kitchen with multiple hobs, all the equipment you’d have at home or at the other end of the scale, I had a microwave/fridge/kettle… I fed back that it was a stretch to call it a kitchen.
So what can I prepare that’s easy? It always ends up being pasta, maybe noodles. Little ingredients needed for a passable dish and a long shelf life for the main player. I carried around a packet of spaghetti for about 4 weeks at one point. The hiccup is buying veggies that don’t go off too quickly and how do I eat the same foods but not the same dish. Eating tomato, peppers, onion and pasta can get boring quickly.
Funny when I did forget foods in my backpack – wondering what the garlic smell is and it’s my half a lettuce or a leek gradually bending out the pocket over time.
Eating lunch while travelling is problem number one – what types of food are in train station shops or cafes, even airports are as awkward? I’ve may have had a reasonable breakfast or nothing at all then purchase a white baguette [some countries don’t know what a brown baguette is] sandwich with some fruit and maybe nuts but probably crisps and chocolate.
What else do you eat on the go when there are no pre-packed salads. The UK has a whole country-specific multi-million industry of prepackaged lunch options. I miss the range of options in a British supermarket. The continental European alternatives are the dreaded and delicious pastries: equivalents of pasties, pies or sausage rolls. Not forgetting, the croissant and doughnut. The carb-heavy grab and go food is not good for me and then I sit on a train for 10 hours. You can see the dilemma.
Problem number two. I believe the biggest calorific vice on my travels are McDonald’s and coke. After the same said long train trip, I do mean long, I arrive and 90% of the cities I have visited have the golden arches in the station and resolve dissolves. It’s a strange hankering because I don’t do the same for KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut or any of the other big fast food brands. I don’t like the taste so I can walk past as I would if it was tofu or pig trotters.
Sadly, there was even McDonald’s in Pompei, Rothenburg ob der Tauber and a ‘closed for the winter’ Fira, Santorini. The latter didn’t make much effort with their signage.
Sparkling water is my go to, was my go to. Athens does not sell sparkling water, hardly any 2-litre bottles let alone in 500ml. Pains me to say, I like the reduction of plastic use though annoying to purchase a pricey glass bottle of Perrier.
After a low day feeling snotty, bunged up and heavy-headed, I treated myself to the nectar that is kryptonite to me. How can I tail of coffee and cigarettes to nearly nothing but the coca cola? Nope. Obviously, the sugar hit.
I have been lucky as hell with the food provision for most of volunteering for example, in France, we dined on 7 Euros per day, per person – an amazing weekly shop for the 6 of us. For every AngloVille location, daily lunch options are always 2-course and wine every night.
I am a night owl with erratic insomnia, yes still, these biological traits don’t disappear just because I’m travelling. However, I don’t HAVE to rise for work anymore so I can still get the hours of sleep and lie in till 9am or 10am; no rush to get up. But. The consequence is an unbalanced diet of eating breakfast one day and not the next.
Easy to say I can rectify all of the above but to do is a different story.
I am pleased to have walked miles every day I’m sightseeing. I easily average the recommended 10,000 steps, unfortunately for any weight loss effect this is not at ‘bugger, I’m gonna be late for my meeting’ speed. No longer striding to the bus, harder and faster. Well, except the time I ran for the airport gate and the 2 trains I caught by seconds. Regular touristing is at a simpler pace, no fat-burning heart rate that’s for sure. The old work routine was naff but kept the body moving.
Living in London equals no car and walking to the public transport. Continuing exercise I used to enjoy, aqua aerobics and long distance walking have faltered at the first hurdle, I haven’t chased down details of the closest swimming pool nor countryside walking routes. I do still get nervous on my travels, I’m not immune and not keen on being lost, solo, in the middle of a Romanian forest or Greek island.
Diets don’t work. Denying myself certain foods, counting calories or ‘sins’ don’t work for me. I know the logic of ‘eat less, move more’ but y’know this takes a lot of effort. Lifestyle changes are harder rather than short-term. My genetics are fat sensitive 😉 I smell someone else’s calories and put on weight. A couple of years ago I lost around 3 stone [19 kg] with the help of hypnotherapy, eating the bare minimum and much exercise. Way more exercise than 30 minutes a day. It took over my life and once I’d passed my activity goals of completing 2 walking marathons, it all went to pot. Oh to be a person who can do one and not the other.
For many years, I’d think of myself as the chubby-cheeked happy plump girl you’d read about in a Famous Five novel. ‘Shucks, c’mon gang, let’s eat the cake, the toffee and the ice cream with lashings of lemonade’. If I like it, I’ll eat it and enjoy every mouthful!
But it’s kicked in…a little age concern. The aches and pains of being overweight and sitting in one spot on my bed when typing up blogs. My bum hurt! That is not normal. I’m only 41, not 81. I had felt a little inspired to tackle this in December when I had such a disappointing experience in Athens, I ate a lot of crap.
I have hard work ahead of me. I need to be focused. Now I’ve told ya, I have to do something. If my folks, 3 decades older than me, can lose lots of weight by a better control of food and no huge aerobic exercise routine then age is only a number.
I need to make food a priority. It’s an oddity to me but it’s not like I don’t have the time. I can work my day around my meals. I can menu plan around the days I’m volunteering or in a hostel with no kitchen. I can’t weigh myself each week so I will judge it by my blouse that doesn’t button up and a skirt that no longer sits on my hips as a guide.
My plan, my action assurances to me and to you:
- Everyday breakfast: water, banana and protein – scrambled eggs and ham
- Fish or vegetarian dishes when eating in restaurants with water
- Meat once a week
- Preparation snack attack: 1-litre water, nuts, carrots and apples
- Dig out my old hypnotherapy mp3s. The power of positive influence to your subconscious. I have no scientific proof that this will perform miracles but I am an advocate of positive thinking. The general overview of the past hypnotherapy was to imagine 2 paths – one is being overweight and one is where I want to be. Goes without saying which the mp3s focus on.
- Lastly, YouTube exercise gurus offer multiple yoga, Pilates and aerobic workouts online. I commit to 2 routines a week – 15 minutes or 45, either is better than none.
I’ll come back to you in 3 or 4 weeks with an update and hopefully, this blouse will button and this skirt will be too big again.
If you have any recommendations for exercise You Tubers or if you have tried the raw food diet? I won’t use the diet but I am interested in the dishes for when I don’t have a kitchen.
Wish me luck!