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Staying on the healthy track during vacation

We recently were on vacation in Florida for nine days, with four of those days being on the road traveling.  My intentions were to eat as healthy as possible and to continue my half-marathon training as best as I could.

Intentions don’t mean much of anything when you don’t follow through.  Which I didn’t.

What is it about vacation that triggers a brain to completely forget every healthy habit it has developed, simply because “I’m on vacation.”  Have another beer?  Sure, I’m on vacation.  Should we order this “bucket” of alcoholic drink?  Sure, I’m on vacation.  Should I get a run in today?  No, I’m on vacation.

Not only do I feel like I drank my weight in beer every day, but I stayed out in the sun way too long without sunscreen, and I didn’t drink nearly enough water.  The major sunburn and swollen feet and ankles were my rewards for these bad decisions.

My running routine?  The weather in Panama City Beach was HOT and HUMID, and so I knew if I ran, it would have to be early morning.  The second morning that we were there, I got up early and went out running first thing and it was horrible.  I had GI issues, I had no energy.  So then I decided that I would run later after I had coffee and a bit of breakfast, but by then the beach would be calling me and I would skip my run.  I think I ran a total of 5 miles the 9 days that we were gone.  Sad.  (Sorry, Laura!)

However, the thing that I feel most badly about is now I strayed from my vegan diet.  Although we did visit some restaurants that had vegan items, they were few.  Pizza or burritos.  My omnivore family, bless their hearts, would have eaten these every day, but they wanted seafood and BBQ, too.  All of the restaurants within walking distance had tons of seafood, steaks, BBQ………but no veggies, no fruit, no appealing salads.  I ended up eating pretzel sticks, mozzarella cheese sticks, a salad that I was able to find that was basically made with iceberg lettuce, and on the last night, pasta with a cheesy sauce.

Here’s my problem:  I don’t like to make a fuss, and when I can make an easy, convenient request to make something vegan, I will do it, but when I have to ask for something that’s not even on the menu, I’m too shy to ask.  Why?  The worst thing that can happen is that I’m told no.  But more often, I’m sure that something would be fixed for me.  So what is wrong with me?  Why am I too shy to ask?

So this is something that I really need to work on.  If anyone reading this has some helpful advice, or has struggled with the same thing, I’d appreciate it.  And please don’t bash me for eating dairy.  I already feel horrible enough as it is.  It’s a struggle, and I’m working on it.  At home, I know what my options are for eating out and it’s so much easier, but when I travel to new places, it’s more difficult.  I just have to learn how to be more assertive, which is out of character for me, but I know it’s something that I have to learn to do.  My husband and I want to do more traveling in the future, and so it’s vital that I learn to eat vegan (and healthy) on the road.

I have to say, I loved being on vacation, though, and it was fun visiting Florida for the first time.  But you know the saying, “There’s no place like home”?  It’s really true.  I love being back home.  I love sleeping in my own bed, eating my own cooked meals filled with lots of veggies, I love being back in my running routine.  Life is good here at home.  🙂

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5 thoughts on “Staying on the healthy track during vacation

  1. No bashing from me! I can certainly understand your dilemma. As you know by my blog, I do quite a bit of traveling, mostly around the state of Florida, and appreciate the challenges of dining out in “vacation land” where seafood is prevalent. I think you did a great job, despite the dairy. You did your best, and you’ve probably learned a couple of things in the process. The only thing that saves me is looking up the restaurant’s menu ahead of time, and even calling ahead to ask if they can provide some vegan options. I’ve found that 99% of the time, the chef is more than happy to create something for me. Often I’ll even provide suggestions such as, “Could you please prepare the pasta w/marinara sauce and throw in some of the ‘vegetable of the day?” I’ve also found that some restaurants keep veggie burgers on hand even if they aren’t on the menu! I understand that sometimes those burgers contain a trace of dairy, or the veggies may be grilled near the meat, and I have to just do my best and let it go. I’m not a perfect vegan, but my intentions are good, as are yours, and that counts for a lot!

    Lastly: I lower my expectations when dining out at non-vegan restaurants. Even if it’s vacation, I understand that this may not be a memorable meal. Plain pasta, cheese-less pizza, iceberg salad, etc. are not delicious options but they’ll do for this one meal. 🙂 Oh! I travel most of the time in our RV but when staying in a hotel, I request one w/a mini fridge and microwave if at all possible. I will then bring serving size containers of my own food. This way, even if I’m forced to eat a plain salad or boring pasta for dinner, I can have my own soup or entree in the hotel before or after.

    Hope this helps a little, and welcome home! 🙂 Next time you visit FL, we’ll have to meet up!

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    1. Michele – Thanks for the support and encouragement! I love your comment about lowering my expectations when dining out. Although I tried to plan ahead by buying food for our hotel room (fresh fruit, veggies, hummus, almond milk, etc.), I should have purchased something for times when I wouldn’t have much to eat at a restaurant. I should have purchased some salad mix or veggie burgers just in case. I will definitely remember that for next time! And yes, I would love to visit other areas of Florida, so hopefully we can meet in person one day! 🙂

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  2. No apologies necessary, on either front, as far as I’m concerned! We do the best we can with whatever the situation at hand may be. Consuming a minor amount of dairy (which I also do here and there) is far better than ordering a steak, right?!

    I agree with everything Michele said as well. Especially the “lowering expections” part. I’ve ordered veggie burgers at restaurants only to later find out they had eggs and/or dairy in them. But again, it’s not like I ordered a chicken sandwich or something I “knew” wasn’t vegan.

    What’s most important is that you enjoyed your vacation, which it sounds like you did! 🙂

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  3. I agree with the others. It’s hard sometimes when we’re on the road. And veganism isn’t about perfection. We do what we can to alleviate suffering. Calling ahead is great (or checking happycow.com for restaurants in the area). If your family/travel buddies are sympathetic, asking them to help you find vegan options might be good. Even if they don’t eat the way you do, they might want to help accommodate you.

    I think being 98% vegan and socializing with your family is probably better than being a purist. If you’re the vegan in the corner not enjoying the meal, your omni family will not be easily convinced that a veg life is for them. Sometimes fitting in and showing others that you can be veg and “normal” is also beneficial.

    I have noticed that chefs pride themselves in creating great food and will jump at the chance to make a vegan meal. Don’t be afraid to ask (but do tip accordingly 🙂 ).

    Keep fighting the good fight!

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