These last few weeks I’ve had to hit the road for some business trips. And I’ll admit it, it does stress me out a bit. Even though I’ve been rocking the plan and losing weight for over six months, I still worry when I’m tossed out of my routine. I’m a television producer and director, so often the business trips involve shooting in various locations. Now, if you’ve never been on a film or tv set, let me first educate you on what that means when it comes to meals.
First, I’ll tell you all about craft services. Craft services or the “crafty” table isn’t where tv professionals make yarn art. Nope, it is simply the term used for the table that has snacks and beverages. It’s available throughout the day, and as you can imagine, most of the snacks are of the grab and go variety. Most of the time it’s a flour and sugar festival with sugary sodas, energy drinks, bags of chips, protein bars and cookies. In general, I just make it a hard and fast rule that I won’t have anything on the table. Since there is no snacking on on this plan, it’s a pretty straightforward option: No thank you. As for beverages, I usually just request seltzer be on hand so I can enjoy some bubbly soda in addition to lots of water.
The trip I took last weekend involved two stops: Boston and then Amherst, MA. Boston was just one night, and I knew I probably would end up having a late dinner since we would be shooting until about 9pm, at Symphony Hall. And that means, no dinner while shooting. So, I made sure my lunch was later that day.
I checked ahead of time on restaurant options. As luck would have it, a very good Asian restaurant was right next to my hotel. I decided on a couple of options I could have and checked how late the kitchen would be open.
The next morning, breakfast was provided at the hotel. I assumed I could get scrambled eggs on the breakfast buffet but instead they had these bagel egg pizzas with, I swear, a centimeter’s worth of scrambled egg with cheese melted on the top. So, I asked the buffet staff if they had any boiled eggs or could I just get scrambled. Turns out they had some boiled eggs. I grabbed a banana, a little oatmeal, and my 2 boiled eggs, and hit the road.
Next stop, Amherst, MA. I knew there was a Whole Foods near my hotel. Score! Their salad bar is a lunch made in heaven, and with it being so close to our shooting location, I knew it would be a fast easy way to get the lunch I wanted and even purchase some dinner to go.
In the ‘old’ days, I would have considered all this thinking and planning ahead a nuisance. I’m usually very busy during shoots, and I barely have time to go to the bathroom let alone do some serious meal planning. But here’s why this isn’t such the imposition I thought it would be: I feel GREAT. I am almost 60 pounds down with another 40 to go. I am more rested and seem to handle stress better than ever. And I know that those few minutes spent trolling the internet for a good healthy place to eat is really the modern version of hunting and gathering. I’m sourcing my food, I’m thinking ahead. And once I’m done? It’s out of my head and onto my work.
The one thing I do not travel with is my food scale. I do my best to eye the portions. I make sure to ask the wait staff at the restaurant how things are made. And any bread or side dishes that I don’t eat (like any starch at dinner), I simply ask if they’ll double the vegetable side and leave off the potato or rice or pasta. Most restaurants are very accommodating when you ask up front. In some cases, I’ve had to order more vegetables if they have a no substitution policy, but generally, I think many restaurants get that people are changing what they eat. It may be a slow, gradual shift, but quite often now you’ll see menu selections that will say gluten free, or give more details on ingredients.
The most important thing I’m discovering is how little I actually took care of myself on the road. I was always so focused on the work to be done, the logistics to be managed, the talent that needed to be corralled, I lost sight of me and my own needs. This plan forces me to take care of me. And the result is I’m actually BETTER at my job. I don’t feel as much resentment about long hours because I know I’ve got a plan of action. I don’t have an issue with suggesting other places to eat when going out with colleagues. Most find my new food plan pretty interesting (go figure), and so it’s not a big deal to be the ring leader when it comes to eating out.
This plan has taught me self-care in a way nothing else has. I may still find it a challenge to hit the gym or go for a long walk more often, but my food management skills are at an all time high. Even when I’m not home with my usual supplies in the pantry, I can still plan ahead.
Have I gone off the rails on occasion? I will admit I have. While on the road, I’ve allowed myself to have a glass of wine, and sometimes that glass turns into 2 or 3, so I’m not perfect. But I’m practicing. It is a practice each day to get better at managing what is a huge game changer for me. To say that I’ve been pretty spot on for most of these last several months is a point of pride for me. It’s what makes me want to shout from the rooftops, “THIS WORKS. IT WASN’T ME. IT WAS MY BRAIN!” I haven’t suddenly developed Zen-like discipline. I haven’t unleashed magical willpower. I’ve just gotten into new habits. And I’m feeling such amazing effects from these new choices, it’s hard to even think about going back to the ‘old’ ways.
Do I judge others who can’t seem to get on this bandwagon and stay on it? Absolutely not. The brain and the addiction to flour and sugar is awesomely powerful. It had me in its clutches for YEARS. So no, I don’t judge. In fact, I know that if I hadn’t felt so desperate to do SOMETHING, if I hadn’t felt so terrible that I was willing to try ANYTHING, I may not have gotten on this road. But if there’s one thing I wish for anyone who has had a life long struggle with weight gain and overeating, it is that they try this for 7 days. Hardcore, like REALLY try this. Surrender for 7 days. Does the addiction completely leave you after 7 days? Not completely. But what DOES happen, is you move through withdrawal very quickly and the physical effects diminish rather quickly. If you go hardcore, you begin to reap the rewards in about a week. And then, you want more, so you go another 7, and so on. Is it perfection every day? Hell no. But I can say that I can count on one hand how many times I’ve had a slip over these last several months. Literally, on one hand. And that, my friends, is something I’ve never been able to say.
So whether it’s on the road, or whether you have a crazy schedule, it is ABSOLUTELY possible to rock this. And what you may discover in the process is how little you’ve been taking care of yourself, and how much you love how you feel by taking those few minutes here and there to insure your success.