When it comes to maintaining and losing weight, travel usually tends to be a nightmare for me. The change in routine and environment makes it difficult to maintain my eating and exercise habits. I always gain weight when I travel. In the past six months, I’ve been doing better dealing with travel and instead of gaining my usual 5 pounds (or 7 or 10) in a week, I’ve gone down to about 2 or 3 pounds. Heading to Kauai, I spent a lot of time planning for my trip and really thinking about how I was going to handle food and exercise. My goal for the trip was to maintain my weight and not gain or lose any weight.
I lost a little over a pound last week.
If you’ve never struggled with your weight then you might be wondering what’s the big deal? A pound? So what? But this is HUGE for me. Not only did I not gain weight, I lost weight! On vacation! In a regular week where I’m at home, I’d be pretty happy with losing a pound or two a week (my body rarely loses any more than that). Here is what I did that helped me stay on track:
- I took some non perishable food with me – peanut butter, cereal, Kashi crackers, and Cliff Bars. Having my own peanut butter and cereal with me meant that I could still eat the same breakfast that I eat at home (For some added protein, I usually eat one to two tablespoons of peanut butter after my cereal and milk). The Cliff Bars were great quick snacks to have around when I was hiking or driving somewhere. I could always count on having a somewhat healthy snack on hand. I took the Kashi crackers since they’re a pretty good source of complex carbs and I figured I could pair them with some cheese for a snack or quick lunch.
- I went grocery shopping as soon as I found a grocery store near my hotel. I knew my hotel room had a mini fridge so I did this right before I even checked into my hotel (I didn’t want to take any chances). I’ve actually been doing this one on business trips for a while now – I’ll usually try to find a grocery store as soon as I get my rental car. I usually buy small stuff that is portable, healthy, and helps me maintain my usual eating patterns. Just to be extra prepared for Kauai, I even made a grocery list before I went. I ended up buying food like Baby Bel cheese (good source of protein and goes well with crackers, which makes for a good lunch while hiking), cherry tomatoes (quick to eat, no need to cook, easy to wash), grapes (same properties as the cherry tomatoes), apple bananas, pineapple slices, nectarines, bottled water, Diet Pepsi, and skim milk. The emphasis here was to enable eating my own breakfast, have a few things around that I could make my own lunch, have things around that are easily portable (I ate several lunches while hiking), and have enough healthy snacks around that I never got so hungry that I ended up making bad food decisions. It is a lot easier to stay on track when you’re not eating out for every meal.
- I brought some zip lock bags with me. This is one of those things that I learned from experience. It’s great to have a giant bag of grapes in your hotel room but it isn’t of much use if you can’t easily take it with you. The zip lock bags helped me make healthy food portable and still maintain some portion control.
- I stuck to my eating heuristics. For the most part, I tried to eat the same way that I eat at home. I made sure to drink at least a 100 oz of water everyday (this meant that I kept having to buy bottled water every day, which got a little annoying). I made sure to eat every four hours. I made sure to eat when I was hungry and stop when I got full. I continued to write down everything I ate.
- I usually only ate out for dinner. I usually tried to focus on eating lean proteins and vegetables. I ate a lot of fish and sushi (it helped that Kauai has some amazingly fresh seafood). And when I wanted something that I usually don’t eat, I didn’t obsess about it and just let myself have it (in moderation). For instance, one night my swordfish came with mashed potatoes. Since it was only about a 1/2 cup or cup (and I had hiked the whole day), I figured it wouldn’t cause too much damage. I usually skipped dessert or just had some fruits from my room.
- I let myself eat whatever I wanted on my birthday. I decided before I went that I could do whatever I wanted on my birthday and I think that really helped me stay focused the rest of the week. There were a few nights when I thought about getting dessert after dinner and I just figured, “Well, my birthday is in a few days and I’ll get to do that then.” Even on my birthday, I didn’t really do all that bad. For instance, I only ate about half of my entree during dinner because I knew I wanted dessert (and wanted to enjoy it instead of being miserably full).
- I maintained my activity level. Just like at home, I aimed for at least 10,000 steps, which meant doing at least an hour of cardio every day. On days that I didn’t hike, I made sure to still go for a run. I also made sure to get my three resistance training workouts/week. Resistance training isn’t my favorite thing to do so I can easily skip it or procrastinate it. Before I left for Kauai, I made sure to add the resistance training workouts to my calendar – that way, I would be less likely to skip them. On top of the hiking, running, and resistance training, I also did a little bit of swimming almost everyday.
There were also some very unique factors about this trip that made it a lot easier for me to manage. I was on vacation so I had all the time in the world to attend to my needs (not always true when I’m traveling for work). Between the hiking, swimming, and just wanting to explore, Kauai really lent itself to being active (my hometown of Edwardsville, IL, does not). I was by myself so I could take the extra time to deal with my food needs and didn’t have to deal with any peer pressure around food. And unlike going home, I had more control over my environment – I could control what I put in my hotel room (I don’t have any control over what my parents put in their fridge). I’m also not totally sure I could have continued to be so vigilant had it been a longer trip. I got a lot sloppier about my food decisions towards the end of the week. Having to plan and think about my food in a new environment (where I couldn’t cook for a week or store a week’s worth of food) got really draining! For instance, due to some lack of planning on my part, I ended up eating a bag of Gardetto’s for lunch on the flight back from Honolulu to San Jose. Gardetto’s aren’t exactly the healthiest thing on the planet and eating them for lunch made me kinda sick!
All in all, I think I did pretty well, even if the planning and thinking about food got a little tiring. I’m hoping that with more practice, it won’t continue to feel so draining.
My week in Kauai was pretty awesome. Kauai was one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I’ve ever visited and I can’t wait to go back (one of these days). For the most part, vacationing by myself was pretty nice – I got to do whatever I wanted and without dealing with other people’s issues/whining. :) I enjoyed myself so much that I’m planning on making a habit out of traveling somewhere special for my birthday (suggestions are open for my 30th). Here’s a short recap of what I did last week:
Saturday, March 7
- Spent most of the day traveling from the Bay Area to Kauai. Both of my flights (San Jose to Honolulu and Honolulu to Lihue) were delayed, which added to my fatigue. I drove from the airport to Poipu (where I was staying) and managed to find a small grocery store in Koloa (close to Poipu) where I stocked up on some healthy groceries. I went running near the beach.
Sunday, March 8
- I went swimming in the morning (mostly in the pool since I’m still scared of swimming in the ocean) and then hiked Waimea Canyon, which was my favorite hike of the entire trip. For dinner, I had some amazing sushi at Sushi Bushido in Lihue.
Monday, March 9
- On the way to the gym in the morning, I saw a monk seal sleeping on the hotel beach. Despite all the rain and mud, I spent most of the day hiking the Kuilau Trail. On the way back from the hike, I accidently veered off the road and ended up puncturing the front passenger tire on my rental car. I can’t emphasize how much this sucked (especially since I was alone). I had to wait for AAA for 1.5 hours to come and change the tire and then had to drive the car back to Hertz to get a new one.
Tuesday, March 10
- After the flat tire incident, I decided that I needed a more low-key day. I think I went running in the morning and then got a massage at the Sheraton (thanks to my sister Nabeela for gifting me a couple of massages there!). OH. MY. GOD. Best massage ever. I hung out in Poipu the rest of the day. I visited Spouting Horn (which wasn’t very spouting when I was there) and toured the National Tropical Botanical Garden (which was AMAZING). I then tried going to lunch at the Hyatt (which is near the Sheraton in Poipu) but I was too late for lunch. I spent the rest of the afternoon swimming in the pool and reading my trashy vampire novel (New Moon) on the beach (heavenly).
Wednesday, March 11
- The weather was really nice today so I decided to make the drive up to the north shore and attempt hiking the Kalalau Trail. I didn’t get very far before my fear of hiking rocky trails got the best of me and I decided to go back. I was really disappointed that I couldn’t hike it since it took two hours to get there and it is supposed to be an amazing trail. Next time. I did spend some time walking on Ke’e beach (next to the Kalalau Trailhead) and got some photos of the Na Pali Coast. On the drive back to Poipu, I stopped by the Kilauea Lighthouse. Once I was back in Poipu, I decided to hike the Maha’ulepu Trail, which was pretty close to my hotel. It was a pretty easy trail but offered some really nice views of the ocean. I think I spent more time on the beach/pool after the hike and then had an uninspiring dinner at Shells.
Thursday, March 12
- My birthday! I went running in the morning, had breakfast at Shells, then had another amazing massage at the Sheraton. I spent the afternoon in Hanapepe, touring art galleries and petting stray cats. I had lunch at the Hanapepe Cafe and then bought a couple of tiles (for me and my mom) from Banana Patch Studio. I then checked out the Hanapepe farmers market, which was disappointingly small. In the afternoon, I spent more time at the pool/beach. For dinner, I had the best birthday dinner ever at the Plantation Gardens restaurant. I ordered the island stir fry and the baked Hawaiian – both were really really good.
Friday, March 13
- My last day in Kauai :( – I tried going hiking but it got really foggy/rainy/muddy by the time I got to the trail. I drove back to Poipu, went running, and then spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach/pool. I also made sure to watch my last sunset in Kauai. For dinner, I tried the Sheraton’s sushi place, Naniwa. The sushi was great, the atmosphere and service not so much.
Saturday, March 14
- Went for a short walk near the beach in the morning then had to get to the airport. Spent most of the day traveling. Watched Alpha Dog on the plane and read more trashy vampire novel goodness. Came home to two very cuddly kitties.
Yoplait has done it again! Aside from their marketing people leaving way too many comments about my review of their revolting Yoplait Whips! Chocolate Mousse Style Yogurt, they’ve recently discontinued my favorite flavor – Coconut Cream Pie! I’ve been wondering why I haven’t been able to find it at my grocery store recently so I even checked their site and it isn’t anywhere to be found. I was so distraught at the possibility that they discontinued my favorite flavor that I even contacted them, desperately pleading that they bring it back (BABY COME BACK)! The Coconut Cream Pie flavor was a perfect pairing with berries. Now I’ve had to resort to purchasing their French Vanilla flavor, which is also good with berries but not as good as the Coconut Cream Pie flavor.
The discontinuation of Yoplait Coconut Cream Pie Yogurt can only mean one thing – Yoplait is out to get me! I so know they did this to get me back for dissing Yoplait Whips! Chocolate Mousse Style Yogurt.
There’s nothing that I hate more than an over planned weekend or vacation. I think the whole point of taking time off is to chill out and not have to adhere to a schedule! Nonetheless, there is soooo much stuff to do in Kauai so I figured some prior research and tentative planning couldn’t hurt.
My notes are all over the place so I’m going to use this blog post as an opportunity to get organized. Apologies in advance for all the extra notes and page numbers (which refer to the Lonely Planet guide book).
Here’s some stuff I’m thinking of doing in Kauai (I have these loosely organized by their location on the island):
- hike the Kalalau Trail (Na Pali Coast State Park – pg 156) – I’m only going to do the first two miles – Ke’e Beach to Hanakapi’ai Valley. Depending on how I’m feeling that day (and how strenuous it turns out to be), I might continue on the Hanakapi’ai Falls trail (pg 159). [Hike both of these after a dry spell.]
- Hanalei Bay (pg 143) – There are a bunch of beaches here, although it sounds like they might not be great for swimming. My book recommends Hanalei (Black Pot) Beach Park. There is also supposed to be some shopping in Hanalei. It might be good to do this one on the day that I hike the Kalalau Trail (since they look close).
- dinner cruise of the Na Pali coast – I’ve heard from a couple of people that these are well worth the expense because you get a different view in the water than when you’re hiking it. My main concern with this one is that I’ll be alone – will I feel like a total loser being on a dinner cruise all by myself? :)
- checkout the Princeville Hotel (pg 135) – apparently the sunsets here are amazing
- hike Waimea Canyon (pg 199) – I want to do the Kukai Trail (2.5 miles) and the Koaile Canyon Trail (3 miles). I’m not sure how realistic it will be to do both trails so I might only do part of the Koaile Canyon Trail. I should checkout the Waimea Canyon Lookout on the drive there. [Best time to go is on a sunny day following a heavy rain.]
- hike the Alakai Swamp (pg 211) – I want to hike the Pihea Trail (3.75 miles) to the Alakai Swamp Trail (3.5 miles). Round trip, that’s over 14 miles but the elevation change looks pretty easy (it appears mostly flat). Again, this might be one of those where I only start part of the Alakai Swamp Trail and decide to head back before finishing it. On the drive there, I should checkout the Kalalau Lookout (pg 207).
- hike the Kuilan Ridge Trail and parts of the Moalepe Trail (pg 103) – The Kuilan Ridge Trail is 2.1 miles one way. I can walk 0.5 miles into the Moalepe Trail to see views of cliffs and waterfalls.
- drive Kuamo’o Road (HWY 580 – pg 98) to the Keahua Arboretum (pg 100) - This drive is supposed to be really scenic and I believe leads to the Kuilan Ridge Trail. It sounds like you can picnic at the Arboretum.
- Spouting Horn (Poipu – pg 167) – best time to see it is in the late afternoon
- Botanical Gardens (Poipu – pg 167)
- swim in the ocean (Poipu) – Well, as much swimming as I can muster with my pathetic swimming skills :)
- run on the beach (Poipu) – You know just because I can do that sort of thing now. I’m actually a little worried about getting my new running shoes dirty but I guess sand washes off.
- get a massage – I haven’t had one in a few months (I know, the tragic life I lead) and I’m figuring with all the hiking I’ll be doing, I could use one! I might get one at my hotel or get one at the St. Regis in Princeville, preferably on my birthday.
- snorkeling – I really want to try snorkeling but I’m not so sure about my swimming skills. After talking it over with a few friends, I think the best option for me would be to get a private instructor/tour and ask to be in a shallow area (maybe even wearing a life jacket). My hotel offers snorkeling lessons so I’m going to check into it when I get there.
- farmer’s market – I’ve heard from a few people about a farmer’s market in Koloa where you can buy local tropical fruit and flowers. I’m going to ask about it when I get there.
- have dinner at the Plantation Gardens restaurant – this might be a good option for my birthday
I probably won’t have time to do everything on my list but I’m not too worried about it. Needless to say, I’m really really excited and simply can’t wait until Saturday morning! :)