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Conquer Your Weight

Episode #12: Going on Vacation: How to Make Exceptions to your Food Plan

Show Notes

May 11, 2022

This week we are going to talk about going on vacation! We are going to question common beliefs about vacation, so you can continue to lose weight on vacation, enjoy your vacation, and come home feeling great!


Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: This is Dr. Sarah Stombaugh and you are listening to the Conquer Your Weight podcast, episode number 12. Announcer: Welcome to the Conquer Your Weight podcast, where you will learn to understand your mind and body so you can achieve long-term weight loss. Here's your host, obesity medicine physician and life coach, Dr. Sarah Stombaugh. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Hi everyone. Welcome back to each and every one of you. I am so grateful to have you as my listeners and thank you for letting me support you along your weight loss journey. One of my goals is to reach just as many people as possible so I can also support them along their weight loss journeys. And in order to do that, I need your help. If you have been enjoying my podcast, I would appreciate if you took just a couple of minutes and left me either a rating or a review or both on Apple, Google, or Spotify, wherever you listen to your podcast because leaving a rating or review helps search engines to direct people to my podcast specifically. Thank you so much for taking the time to help me out. I think I say this every week, but I am really excited to bring you today's episode. I have to tell you, about a month ago, someone asked me, well, it seems like you've addressed most of the aspects of weight loss. Will your podcast be ending soon? And I literally laughed out loud because the idea was just so preposterous to me. There are so many things I have to talk about and share with you all and ideas are popping into my head constantly. Maybe I will address just all of the things eventually, but it is gonna take a while. So , don't worry, we will be together for a while yet. So last week we talked about making a daily food plan and this week we're going to talk about going on vacation as an example of how you might decide to adjust your food plan and accommodate your vacation schedule. As you know, my family was just on vacation a couple of weeks ago and it really got me thinking not just about food, but really about vacation in general and how that plays a role in all of the decisions we make that are a lot different from our usual routines and especially in the context of food. It's so funny because people say all the time like, okay, I'm going on vacation so my whole diet just goes out the window, and it's such a commonly accepted belief that vacation means totally disregarding our planned eating habits. And this is one of those times I want you to stop and think why? Why do you and why do so many of us think it's okay to let our food plans go completely out the window? There are so many reasons we believe vacation is just a free for all when it comes to eating and all of it comes back to the thoughts we are having surrounding vacation. You may be having thoughts like this is the time to relax. Being on a diet is so restrictive, but the food is going to be so good. I don't have the chance to eat this type of food all the time. I don't want to miss out. Being on a road trip means stopping for fast food. I can't make a plan because I won't know where we're going or what's on the menu. Back in episode eight, we talked about life coaching 101. We talked about the difference between a thought and a fact and every single thing that I just said, those are all thoughts. You might really, really believe them to be true, but I promise you none of them are. And now we're going to review each and every one. So the idea, this is time to relax totally, you should relax on a vacation. I completely understand that. But what does it mean to you when you say you want to relax? Is eating off of your food plan the definition of relaxing when you come home and realize you've gained five pounds in a week? Does that make you feel relaxed? Being on a diet is so restrictive. Well, this isn't a diet, this is a food plan. This is your food plan that you created to best serve you and your body and your needs. There's no reason it has to be restrictive. You can set out expectations for the exceptions you're going to make while you're on vacation or in different circumstances and we'll talk about that later in the episode. But no one is restricting you. This is just about you making loving choices for yourself. Alright, here's another one, but the food is going to be so good. Remember, this is just a thought. Again, what you think is so good someone else might think is terrible. And are there things that really appeal to you and also fit within your food plan? Probably Can they also be quote so good? Yep. They can be so good. You can and should enjoy your food. No one's telling you to eat food that you hate regardless of the type of food too. We sometimes use the thought it's so good to forgive ourselves for overeating a food. So think about this as well. Even if you make a decision that goes outside of your food plan, think about the portion size. Would the food be just as good or maybe even better if you had the appropriate serving size as opposed to overeating that food and maybe even feeling physically uncomfortable afterwards. I have the chance to eat this type of food all of the time. Oh no, if you don't eat it right now, you are never ever going to have the chance to eat it ever again. Our brains fall really quickly into this trap in life coaching. We call this the scarcity mindset. Scarcity is one of the most common tools in the marketing industry because our human brains totally fall for it every single time. And you know what I'm talking about. Buy this item before we're out of stock or after this date, the price will go up and you'll never get this great of a deal again. I have to tell you, learning and understanding and refuting the scarcity mindset has been one of the most powerful things that life coaching has taught you. Because honestly, like 99% or more of the time you'll be able to get whatever it is in the future. And sometimes just recognizing that you could have it again makes you realize you didn't even want it that much in the first place. But even if you really do want it, you can plan and accommodate for how you will eat that food item. But you get to do it from a really deliberate mindset as opposed to that mental freakout of, oh no, I have to eat this now before there's not a chance. I don't want to miss out. If you're having thoughts like this, I want you to question it a bit on what are you missing out when you worry about missing out? What does that mean to you? What do you imagine? Are you worried that everyone else is going to be gorging themselves on delicious food while you just have to sit there and sadly pick at your wilted salad? Maybe your friends and family should be worried about missing out on the opportunity to lose weight and feel comfortable in their bodies. Maybe they are the ones missing out. If this is the thought that's coming up for you, stop and get really clear on why that's the case. Because personally I love when I go out with family or friends and they order a quote, unhealthy food, something that's not on my food plan because I can still order something on my food plan. I can eat blackened fish with a side of cole slaw and ask to have one french fry or just a bite of their macaroni and cheese. And if I can order a meal that satisfies me and meets my nutrition goals and also trying a bite of the indulgent food item from someone else, count me in because that is exactly what I want. This isn't even a hypothetical example, this is an actual example from our recent family vacation. Here's another thought. Being on a road trip means stopping for fast food. And y'all, this one totally blew my mind. I remember when I had a moment of like, this is completely optional. And if you can picture one of those cartoon people with like the top of their head coming out and just zig zag lines, that was totally me because life coaching teaches you to stop and think and question the decisions we make in our life. So many things we believe to be true because they are deep-rooted beliefs maybe within ourselves or our family or our society. I never even stopped to question that going on a road trip meant eating fast food. It was just what our family did. And then I moved out on my own and it was just what I did. And for years into our early marriage into having kids, my husband and I would stop on road trips to get fast food because what else did you do? And I remember being on a road trip in the summer of 2020. I had that wake up moment like, what are we even doing here? Our second son was born in June of 2020. Of course you remember the height of the pandemic. And we planned a road trip to see my parents in early September before I was returning from maternity leave. It was a nine-hour drive to see them, which with breastfeeding and changing a newborn baby would become about a 12-hour drive. And we had worked out all of the logistics and we felt good about how we would protect ourselves from COVID. And somewhere along the line we stopped for fast food. My husband and oldest son needed to use the restrooms, so they masked up and went into the restaurant to use the restroom and buy our food. And I sat in the backseat of our car, wedged between two car seats, breastfeeding our youngest son. And it wasn't particularly hot that day, but as you know, we had turned off the car and the keys weren't in it and a car heats up really quickly. So I'm sitting there in this cramped backseat, breastfeeding my newborn child and it was totally miserable. So I decided I'll just get outta the curb out of the car. I'll sit and feed him on the curb. I don't even care. And I have no qualms about breastfeeding anywhere or any time, but feeding in a fast food parking lot didn't totally appeal to me. But nonetheless, it's hot in his car, it's uncomfortable. So I get out, the car had been locked, so the stupid car alarm starts going off and I'm standing there and my newborn baby is screaming, the car alarm is blaring. My husband had left his cell phone in the car and I was like, what are we doing? Like why are we sitting here at this fast food restaurant just so we can eat like eating food that we don't even want or don't even really like? And it was almost good that we had such a dramatic incident because it made me completely reevaluate what was going on. We quickly realized that packing food and instead stopping at a rest area would meet our needs for far more than stopping for fast food. We could pack foods that we like, foods that were healthy. I could sit and breastfeed on a bench in the shade. Our oldest son could run around and get out his wiggles. And it was such a night and day difference. We've taken a handful of road trips in the last year and a half since then. And every time we've done exactly that, we've packed a cooler, we've stopped at a rest area and it's been amazing. I can't believe we ever did anything else. And again, that decision specifically was about me and my family and our needs. And it makes perfect sense for us. And I want you to stop and question what are the decisions that make sense for you and your family and your needs? Not just about fast food versus rest areas, but all of the beliefs you have surrounding vacation. And the last thought, this one comes into play both for vacation, but really a lot of times in general, this idea of I can't plan because I won't know where we're going or what's on the menu. This is one of the most common thoughts that people struggle with. And it's almost funny if you stop and think about it. It's like giving yourself permission to fail without even really trying in the first place. Okay, maybe you don't know the exact restaurants at which you're going to eat, but you can still make plans either whether you're talking about vacation or just your regular life. And I want you to think about planning vacation as a whole. When people think about planning vacation, they think about the logistics of driving and flying their lodging and accommodations. Maybe a few big events that they'll do. And certainly those are the first steps of vacation. And of course you should do all those. And as you get closer to your actual vacation, I want you to consider if you need to plan it in a bit more depth. And some of you are already protesting, vacation should be relaxing. I don't wanna feel like I'm on a schedule and you absolutely don't have to plan your day down to the minute. But I'll challenge you to say that waking up every morning and thinking like, huh, what do we wanna do today? It's actually very mentally taxing. You have to think through all the possibilities, weigh the pros and cons and make a decision. And you might be doing that over and over again for both the activities and the meals of the day. And you might get to the end of the trip and realize like, oh shoot, we didn't get to go to this one place we were really looking forward to, or that one restaurant we were looking forward to. So planning can be a good way to both engage yourself day to day and not have to worry about making those decisions over and over as well as just understanding what your whole trip will look like. Have you ever had a vacation that was supposed to be relaxing and then you came back home and you felt like you had overeaten and over-consumed alcohol? Maybe you hadn't exercised or moved at all, you slept poorly and you didn't really feel like you did anything? 'cause I've totally had vacations like this. The one that stands out to me the most was our honeymoon. My husband and I got married during medical school between third and fourth year, and we didn't have the time or really the money to take a honeymoon. So we took a short trip to Kansas City for a couple of days, but a year later we did get the chance between medical school and residency to take a week-long vacation to Cozumel, Mexico. And we stayed at an all-inclusive resort and most of our time was dedicated to hanging out on the beach or on poolside. We did have one day where we went over to mainland Mexico and we saw Chichen Itza, the ancient Mayan ruins and another day where we explored downtown Cozumel. But honestly, most of our vacation was spent lying around eating and drinking. And you might be saying, well, what's wrong with that? But let me tell you, we ate plenty and we drink far too much. And I'm almost embarrassed to share this with you, but I will because it's important for you to know that I am human too. So we're at this all-inclusive resort, and that's tempting, right? You can eat a lot, you can drink a lot. And we did. My husband and I drank a lot while we were there, like a lot, a lot. , I can't give you the exact amount because one, I was tipsy a lot of the time. And two, this was eight years ago. But I'll tell you, my drink of choice is a pina colada and I love a good pina colada, especially when it's made freshly and not for some like pre-mixed, gallon-sized plastic jug. And our resort had the best homemade pina coladas and I drank a lot of them. They were large, like probably at least 16 ounces and I had like five per day. So keeping in mind, there's a couple of shots of liquor in each of these that's a lot of alcohol, not to mention a lot of sugar and a lot of calories, but we were young and it was an all-inclusive resort and we were on our honeymoon after graduating medical school. If anyone deserved it, it was us. And I hope you realize that I say that totally tongue in cheek because we came home from vacation and we were bloated and hung over and exhausted. And when I look back at our honeymoon, I still have fond memories of it overall. But dang, we really drank too much and we didn't really do that much. We felt a bit underwhelmed by the whole trip. And it was such an important lesson because we realized we would never do vacation quite like that again. One of the most important things that has been so good for us is to set vacation goals. And I want you to consider doing the same. Think about the foods you'll eat, the drinks you'll consume, if you'll exercise, what your sleep goals are, and the activities and sightseeing you want to make sure you do while you're away. So consider your whole trip. Let's say you have a week-long vacation planned. How would you like to incorporate your food plan into your trip? I would encourage you to follow your food plan. Then consider what exceptions you want to make. How many times do you want to eat bread? How many times do you want to have dessert? Be very specific with yourself so that you can choose the number of times that both allows you to experience the food while also honoring your goals for yourself and your weight loss. You are using your developed brain, your prefrontal cortex to make these decisions. Remember, your goal is to learn to trust yourself and honor the decisions you make. Set a goal for yourself that is consistent with your needs and also achievable. If you're thinking about your vacation and already dreaming of your favorite ice cream store, set a goal to have it once that week or maybe twice that week. You don't have to have it every single day to enjoy it, but you also shouldn't set a goal of having ice cream zero times. If you already know that goal is not achievable, consider the meals that you'll have and the restaurants that you'll eat at. Well, you'll be having some meals at home. Will you go out for every meal? Take some time to really think about this. Go through Yelp or another resource and decide what restaurants you'd like to go to. Review their meal, their menus and see what are the foods that you like that will still help you to achieve your weight loss goals. And if you don't know what restaurant you'll be eating at, set a more general food plan. For example, at dinner tonight, I'm going to have a protein and vegetable. On our recent trip to Florida, we decided to have breakfast and lunch at our condo most days. We went to the local grocery store and we bought all of our usual breakfast and lunch foods. And doing this saved us both a lot of money as well as to help choose foods in line with our traditional eating habits. And then we went out for dinner every night. So every afternoon I'd review the menu and decide what I was going to have, setting any dietary goals aside. As the mom of a new nearly four-year-old and two-year-old boys, being able to sit down in a restaurant and already know what I wanted to eat was super helpful because instead of reading the menu or attempting to read the menu while wrangling our children, I could instead just focus on them and enjoy their company instead of having to focus on the menu. You should also make plans for alcohol, exercise, sleep, and activities that you'll do on vacation. How many total drinks do you wanna have on vacation? Do you wanna have a cap on the number of drinks you'd have in one day? Do you wanna put any limits on the timing of your drinking? For example, maybe you're going to drink in the afternoon so it doesn't impact your sleep that night. If you want to incorporate exercise into your trip, how will you do that? Do you want to do that? Is there a gym where you're going? Do you instead want to take walks on the beach or plan trips kayaking or skiing or exploring town? What would be the ways you want to be active and how could you enjoy that? How much sleep do you want to get on the trip? You can set your goals however you like, but make sure you're planning adequate sleep so when you come back, you actually feel like you've been well rested. If you're traveling with a group of adults, you might have a bit more flexibility, but as parents traveling with young children, we had to remind ourselves, okay, you better go to bed early 'cause the kids were waking up at 6 or 7:00 AM regardless of when we went to bed that night. Plan out the activities you'll do. You may have already done this a bit, but even having a general plan of how many days you'll spend just lying on the beach or what sort of other activities you wanna do while you're there is really valuable. That way you won't come home feeling like you missed out on something you would have really liked to do. When you incorporate a blood broad plan into your trip, consider all of those elements, food, alcohol, exercise, sleep and activities, and you can come home from your vacation feeling both accomplished as well as well rested. Remember, these goals are only about you and your needs, so set your goals from a deliberate place and from a loving place. Alright, that's all we have for today. Thank you so much for joining me. If you're interested in learning more about me or if you live in Illinois or Virginia and you would like to be my patient, check out my website That's S-A-R-A-H-S-T-O-M-B-A-U-G-H-M-D dot com. If you've enjoyed today's podcast, please subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts and please share th is with anyone else who might benefit. Thank you so much for joining me today. I look forward to seeing you next week. Bye-bye.
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