Healthy Living on the Road: It’s Not About Perfection


We’ve all been there — we’re going along in the direction we want to go, then life happens. In today’s post, Beth tells us how she turned a common challenge for weight-worried women into a learning opportunity. It’s all good!

Why Perfection Sabotages Your Health Efforts

healthy eating on the roadI haven’t been posting recently because I was driving across the country with my 22-year-old daughter, from Philadelphia to Aspen.  Lily has been living there since last spring and she wanted to get her car packed with clothing and ski equipment out there. So Mom to the rescue. There were some tense moments involving Lily’s lousy driving skills but we arrived with the car, its contents and our good relationship intact.

Planning For Nutrition And Exercise On The Road

Our goal was to get there as quickly as possible so we loaded up a cooler with snacks and munchies that would satisfy us well enough that we need not stop for meals.  We took protein bars, fruit, nuts, some deli meats and plenty of water. My on-the-road, easy-to-eat, but slightly off version of the plate model.

As for exercise, the only muscles that got a work-out were the ones in my right leg as I thrust it forward in the passenger seat to engage the imaginary brake pedal.  Well, maybe my right hand too as it clenched the armrest.  We drove 9 to 10 hours a day, checked in to a hotel, grabbed dinner and went to bed.

Dinner.  Hmmm.

The Reality Of My Food Choices

I’d like to say that my eating choices on this trip were because we stopped at road side truck stops and greasy diners but that would be lying.  We drove into major cities and ate at great restaurants in Cincinnati, Kansas City and Denver.  But still, my choices were questionable.  Lots and lots of cheese during our nightly Scrabble game (Lily and I are hard-core Scrabble players) and devil-may-care food choices for dinner.

This went on for 2000 miles!  Several times I commented to my daughter that I wasn’t feeling great with my food choices and lack of activity and she repeated that mantra of any 22 year old on a road trip: “Mom, get over it!  This is an adventure!  We’re on vacation!”

And so I let it go.  I gave into wild abandon across 5 states.

Then I flew home.

Healthy Eating: It’s A Journey

Okay, trip’s over, now it’s time to reflect, examine and find the learning information.

  • I knew that the scale would show a rise in my weight so that was not a shocker.
  • I had successfully not given in to self-loathing during the trip so that was a success.
  • I felt out of sorts and that my body needed to get back on track with both  healthier eating and  physical exercise so that was eye-opening in that that my body was giving me cues that I was able to realize and act upon.

All good stuff, right?

What I didn’t expect to learn (but am sure glad that I did) is that I still have a long way to go in completely internalizing a healthy approach to food which includes letting it go sometimes, as my daughter suggested.

The Diet Mentality Strikes Again

I realized that, despite my supposition of the opposite, I was still thinking of my new Green Mountain-learned behaviors as a diet.

Yup, that dirty D word.

Convinced that I had left that mentality behind in the Vermont hills, it had been there all along.  When Lily and I left the driveway and headed west, my brain said, “Whoopee!  Girl trip!  Just skip the diet and worry about it later!”

Diet mentality was lurking there all along.  It’s a powerful thing and I have a lifetime of thinking that way.  I have always been either on one or off one and my eating patterns were always defined by where I was in that destructive yo-yo cycle.

I could have made better food choices on this trip. I could have gotten some exercise in as well.

But I didn’t.

Imperfection: It’s Part Of An Overall Healthy Eating Approach

I can’t look back at those choices, though as anything but that, choices made during a wonderful adventure with my daughter.

Sometimes life offers you the structure to make better choices than at other times. That’s okay.  It’s all part and parcel of an overall healthy approach to food and health, not a diet failure.  That’s a tough concept for a life-long yo-yo dieter to wrap her head around but I’m working on it.

Road trip, anyone? How do you feel about your own food choices when you travel? Tell us!

Learn Why Our Non-Diet Approach Is Different.

2 responses to “Healthy Living on the Road: It’s Not About Perfection”

  1. Beth Warner says:

    Beth, Thank you for the reminders in your posts. It is so helpful for me to hear your words in my head. I have been worrying about spending 10 days at Christmas in France with family. How will I manage, what can I eat with no dairy and no gluten and all that cheese and those wonderful croissants? I will make choices and takes lots of walks and enjoy those ten days. GM in Toulouse will be wonderful. Thanks you.

  2. AmberLynn Pappas says:

    Hi Beth, great post! I went home for Thanksgiving and drove my two small children and my sister from NC to Iowa in two days time. I tried always to choose places that had healthier options for them and myself. Places that offered fruit and vegetables instead of just meat, bread, and cheese. It may not have been ideal food choices, but we packed the healthy snacks as well. At home I felt the dreaded pull to sit the majority of the week. This after having sat in a car for two days and another two days to come. I feel your pain about both feeling guilty about not exercising, but also wanting to just be present in the moment and enjoy the adventure. Upon returning home I felt like I was suffering from “holiday hips” as that is where all of the weight from lack of activity seemed to go. But you did the most important thing to getting back on track….you didn’t beat yourself up over the situation, you just kept going in the right direction. I commend you! So many people (and women in specific) give up those healthy lifestyle behaviors they have established when one little thing goes off course during the holiday season. They wait until New Year’s Day to amp up again. Keep at it; you’re doing great! I was right out for a run that Monday morning upon my return. It felt AMAZING! Best of luck in the remaining weeks of 2014!

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Beth Turchi

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