What Chuck Ate Issue #1: Canada Edition

What Chuck Ate Issue #1: Canada Edition

The Reason For This Series

One issue that was always a stumbling block for me when it came to dietary choices was eating while traveling. For the most part, for myself and for most people, I’m a fan of not being super strict during vacation. I’d rather you just enjoy yourself. As long as you return to your normal habits immediately upon returning (like..the day after, not the week after..yes I’ve done that too), any scale weight will likely drop right off…especially if you don’t stress over it!

It’s not what you do ON vacation that usually causes you issues, it’s when you start to return to bad habits BEFORE and AFTER vacation!

However, since my wife is a teacher, we tend to travel often during the summer as opposed to one really big vacation. That means that I needed a way to do that without feeling like I was backtracking. One way to keep myself accountable (outside of having a coach myself) was to keep a journal of what I ate and did, so I’d like to share that with you in the hopes that you can get an idea of what maintaining a 200lb weight loss (and maybe even making some progress) looks like when I’m away from home.

I think it’s important to lead by example and to show you that while it’s possible to incorporate mindful eating, make choices that are aligned with your goals, and maintain your weight loss (or keep losing weight!), I am not perfect. Even after 8 years, I still sometimes make choices where I could have done better. I am STILL learning. I am STILL a student of myself. My journey is everlasting.

One thing that I’ve learned is that by not feeling guilt or stress over these choices, the learning becomes more objective. Being able to do this IS a skill, though. And like any skill, you only get better at it by TRYING, FAILING, LEARNING, and then APPLYING what you’ve learned.

So with that said, here is a quick summary of my recent trip to Toronto, the first weekend in June, for a conference. Since this was within driving distance (~6 hours), I decided to drive, and figured that I’d bring the family along since Toronto is an amazing and beautiful city with lots to see and do! Oh, and we could stop in Niagara Falls on the way there and back, thanks to some insane Groupon deals.

Day 1 – June 2nd 2016

This was a travel day so I skipped breakfast, ate my normal lunch of chicken breast, a salad, and then an apple during the car ride. We were driving to Niagara Falls, so we stopped around halfway for dinner in Erie, PA at a Chick-Fil-A. Knowing that I’d had fewer options the next few days, I opted for a high protein, high volume meal of chicken salad, grilled nuggets, and a fruit cup.

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With extra strawberries from home: 734 calories, 63g protein, 20g fat, 82g carbs, 12g fiber. Who said you can’t get lots of protein at fast food places?

We arrived at Niagara Falls, did some sight seeing and had some gelato. Because I had eaten 175g of protein in my 2 prior meals, I was able to be under my calorie goal, and I’m OK with that.

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~440 calories, mostly fat and sugar.

Food Summary

Total for the day: ~1900 calories, 175g protein
http://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/diary/chuckgross?date=2016-06-02

Activity Summary

Activity wise, I easily hit 10,000 steps despite spending ~4.5 hours sitting in a car and 8 hours of sitting at work.

Day 2 – June 3rd 2016

We woke up in Niagara Falls and had a coupon for IHOP. I am a sucker for coupons if you couldn’t tell. So even though I don’t normally eat breakfast, I knew that I might not be able to get lunch when I normally do and wanted to set up my day for success. I wanted to ensure that I got 20-30g of protein and some veggies, so the egg white spinach omelette with a fruit cup was a great choice

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310 calories, 27g protein

After arriving in Toronto and before heading out on an adventure, I had two apples.

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That afternoon, it was a family oriented social event that was taking a ferry out to an island/park and lots of walking around, then a group lunch. I opted for a Caprese salad (mozzarella/tomato) with an added chicken breast. My son dropped his hamburger on the ground before even taking a bite so I gave a bunch of this to him. I also later had an Ostrim beef jerkey stick

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After resting for a bit in the hotel, I had a social event at 7:30pm, so we grabbed a quick bite to eat at a Toronto burger place.
My wife and I split a burger and milkshake.

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It was OK, basically the same as a big Mac, taste wise too so I tracked it as a Big Mac.~540 calories.

I went to the social event and over the course of the evening, had two drinks: whiskey and diet coke and a glass of red wine. I watched the bartender pour the drink and he shorted me a full shot glass. Oh well.

I came back to the hotel room and was starving so had two protein bars.

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Food Summary

Total for the day: 2185 calories, 149g protein.
http://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/diary/chuckgross?date=2016-06-03

Activity Summary

I ended up getting a TON of activity too (~16,000 steps)

Day 3 – June 4th 2016

Day 3 was a whirlwind day! I didn’t get much sleep and was up early as the conference started at 9am but I had to register at 8am.

As you may know, one of the big catalysts for being over 400lbs was that I was addicted to MMOs, specifically World of Warcraft. One of my former guildmates who was also morbidly obese had also lost a large amount of weight, 173 lbs, and he also lives in Toronto! We knew that we had to meet up, and we made lunch plans. He bought me Chipotle, and then we got this super sweet picture outside of the convention center.

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I entirely forgot to take a picture of it since we were so wrapped up in conversation, but what I ordered was a salad with double meat (barbacoa), black beans, veggies, cheese, and the green salsa for ~600 calories and 62g protein. So here’s an image from Google.
chipotle

I was starting to get hungry around 5pm so I had an apple and an Ostrim beef jerky for a total of 160 calories and 14g protein. I had pictures of apples and Ostrim before so just scroll up.

We had a dinner planned for Medieval Times at 7:30pm. What an awesome experience. They gave us a free upgrade to the front row because they said I had an epic beard.

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I knew in advance that a complete dinner at Medieval Times was about 2500 calories so I knew that I’d be over on calories, and I was OK with that. This is where I didn’t do as great as I hoped, and could have done better. I also had a beer and was really caught up in the mood of the place which was screaming/yelling/cheering for our knight (The Red Knight), and eating with my hands (no utensils!). I ended up having two beers, finishing my daughter’s meal and having 2 extra pastries.

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I am not sure if this meal was 2500 calories or not. I mean it could have been drenched in butter. It was delicious, and I tracked it as more than the 2500 calories because I wanted to overestimate rather than underestimate, especially when alcohol was involved. To reiterate: I prepared for overeating in advance. It wasn’t a failure. No guilt.

Food Summary

Totals for the day: ~4500 calories, 325g protein.
http://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/diary/chuckgross?date=2016-06-04

Activity Summary

Activity wise, I hit about 9300 steps which I’d say is pretty good for having sat in the conference for ~8-9 hours!

Day 4 – June 5th 2016

I woke up still feeling incredibly stuffed, and headed to the conference and was almost late despite it just being next door to my hotel. I started getting hungry at around 3pm so I had some fiber one cereal in a protein shake and a banana.

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This was about ~440 calories, 45g protein.

After the conference ended, I said my thank-yous and goodbyes, we got our trusted minivan and drove to a neighborhood north of Toronto my meet my cousin and her mom who I hadn’t seen for a good 15-20 years, and who my wife and kids had never met. We met up with them and went for burgers, poutine, and a shake.

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I only tried a bite or two of poutine. We had ordered our burgers medium rare and my wife wasn’t a fan so I ate my burger and most of hers and skipped the poutine. The shake was Nutella and peanut butter. While delicious, when combined with the greasy burger, I think it was too much, and it upset my stomach. I think the next time, I’d likely split a shake like we did on Day 2. That meal was about ~1800 calories, 94 of protein and 168g carbs!

We then drove back to Niagara Falls, and were able to see the falls lit up at night.

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I wanted to watch Game of Thrones but I couldn’t get access to my DVR on Canadian internet, and was starting to get hungry so ended up having some wine and 2 protein bars.

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Food Summary

Totals for the day: ~3000 calories, 181g protein.
http://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/diary/chuckgross?date=2016-06-05

Activity Summary

Activity wise, I hit 8500 steps.

Day 5 – June 6th 2016

The last day of the trip and a travel day as well. My son was sick most of the morning so we got a late start. I was still stuffed from the day before, so I ended up waiting to eat until about 3:30pm. We did some more sightseeing and then ate lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. I got a beer, and a mixed grill plate with shrimp, chicken breast, and 4 ribs. I asked for a caesar salad instead of the fries, but they gave me both, and I ate both. This was a delicious and filling meal; however, in retrospect, I could have simply not eaten the fries and skipped the ribs to have had another day closer to my calorie goal of 2100. Still, though, no regrets or guilt over it, I just know for next time.

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~1700 calories, 65g protein. Please note, this example shows how bad some of the MFP entries are. Ribs are 0g protein?

orly

Since we had a late start, I was getting hungry at around 8pm and had more cereal and protein.

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~370 calories, 62g protein

When finally arrived home, unpacked, put the kids to bed, I finally got to watch Game of Thrones, and had my usual snack of frozen berries, greek yogurt, fiber one, and added another glass of wine to finish off the bottle.

Food Summary

Totals for the day: ~2800 calories, 166g protein.
http://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/diary/chuckgross?date=2016-06-06

Activity Summary

Activity wise, I hit 8200 steps. This would have been more but with my son being sick, we opted to take a cab rather than walk the 1 mile and back from our hotel to the falls.

Summary

The end result of this weekend was that I was down on the scale and waist measurements afterward (June 7th) and learned some things (drinking combined with an expensive meal combined with sword and horse combat = lowered willpower and increased overeating).

Most importantly, I’m immediately back doing my normal routine!

5 days

  • 1 day calorie overage
  • 1 day right at budget
  • 1 day calorie under budget
  • 2 days over budget but right at maintenance

When speaking about “budget”, I mean my target calorie goal for continued weight loss, as I’m currently trying to lean out.

Given my higher level of activity, and the fact that I had been consistent with my weight training leading up to the event, it looks like my metabolism, combined with my lack of guilt and stress over my choices allowed it to have negligible negative impact on my continued weight loss goals. In fact, there was a positive change on the scale, my mentality, and energy, especially since the trip felt like it really “recharged my batteries”.

Pre/Post Weigh-Ins

Pre-trip weight: 208.5
Post-trip weight: 206.8

Bite-Sized Tips

  • Remember that MyFitnessPal has some really crappy entries, so be aware and be prepared. If you are tracking, and the restaurant isn’t in there, try to use a comparable item from a large chain restaurant.
  • As long as you return to your normal habits immediately upon returning (like..the day after, not the week after), any scale weight will likely drop right off…especially if you don’t stress over it!
  • If the scale REALLY messes with you emotionally, SKIP IT for up to a week!
  • Opt for a high protein, high volume meal when possible such as a large salad or grilled veggies as a side to grilled chicken breast.
  • Being able to not feel guilt or stress over choices made IS a skill. And like any skill, you only get better at it by TRYING, FAILING, LEARNING, and then APPLYING what you’ve learned.
  • If being able to include vacations into your fitness goals appeals to you, consider working with me as your coach!