The goal: To not gain more than 2 pounds in a 24-day period while traveling, including over New Year’s and through 4 countries. The results: 0 pounds gained. So how did this traveler do that?
The things going for this writer on the trip:
1. IF THE LOCALS ARE THIN, EAT WHAT THEY EAT. The trip was an adventure tour to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. How many fat Orientals do you see? Well, more than you used to (especially if they have visited the U.S.), but the majority are still petite, and weigh around 85-125 pounds. The women are tiny, with waists not more than 20-25 inches, my guess. The people in all 4 countries ate mostly vegetables, lots of delicious soups, and sticky rice. The surprise was seeing the amount of fish that was fried either tempura style or with some breading. The rice servings for the locals were not large at all. Since this writer is not much of a rice eater in any form, portions were limited to about 1/2 cup, with sometimes no rice eaten at a meal. Rice was served at EVERY meal, including breakfast.
The surprise came when bread first appeared at the table. It was delicious French bread, and this writer went crazy a few times, given the first appearance of bread was nearly a week into the trip (not having it caused withdrawal symptoms for this bread lover!). Even when the meal includes bread, stick to the really good stuff and limit yourself. No sense wasting calories on ordinary bread. As for whole wheat bread over there–forget it. Never saw it.
2. THE WEATHER DID NOT INDUCE OVEREATING. Temperatures hit the 90s, possibly 100 (not sure) with humidity close to 100. At times, we were constantly wiping off the sweat with washcloths. Our clothes stuck to our bodies, and this was January, their “winter.” Despite being on our feet most of the day, with a lot of walking, you just didn’t feel like eating a lot–just too hot to eat. Never saw any iced tea, either. Hot tea was served at all meals. What the weather did do was to cause you to drink water–up to 5 bottles a day. So that helped tremendously with not gaining weight. (Of course, that meant sometimes using a non-western style toilet–you know the kind, holes in the ground.)
3. EAT FRUIT FOR DESSERT. The joke got to be not what we were having for dessert, but whether there would be any variety. The “dessert” was the same at EVERY meal–watermelon and pineapple for sure, and often papaya, with occasional Mango. We did have one treat of birthday cake, as a member of our tour group had a birthday while on the trip. Now THAT was a treat, given the repetitive fruit plates. Actually, 2 places gave him a huge cake. So, the second cake was a very small piece for this decadent chocolate lover.
4. PARTICIPATE IN AS MANY ACTIVITIES AS POSSIBLE. The tour included a lot of walking, sometimes on uneven and rocky paths, and climbing steps with up to 12-inch rises. So we got that exercise in. Some of the hotels had a fitness room in them, although by the time you got back to your room, it was so late, there was no time to use that room. Besides, you were exhausted.
5. IF AN AMERICAN-STYLE BREAKFAST IS SERVED, EAT WHAT YOU WOULD NORMALLY EAT AT HOME ON YOUR WEIGHT LOSS PLAN. We had a choice of American-style breakfast foods as well as the local flavor menu (rice, noodles, steamed everything, etc.) at every hotel. Sometimes the bacon was crispy, other times it looked nearly raw. So that limited the intake of bacon (and 2 pieces were 70 calories, if crispy). Eggs were available in any form you wanted, including soft boiled. As for omelets, mine were ordered without cheese and no meat, just veggies.
6. PACK HEALTHY SNACKS. Small boxes of raisins and South Beach bars were great when the munchies hit which was, admittedly, very few times during the travel period. The snacks were consumed when there was no time for the meals on our own (very few), and the time was better spent sightseeing or checking in at the Internet cafés. But, to make sure you don’t arrive at the included meal starving, a healthy snack is always good to have. Also packed was a bag of hard candy, to take the edge of my sweet tooth. Unfortunately, the heat melted most of it, making it impossible to get the wrapper off. So much for the hard candy.
7. NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTY EATING LIMITED: Knowing there would be a lot of food at the party before leaving for the airport in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, this writer kept busy helping her sister keep the place clean, going around collecting empty glasses, plates, etc., and generally serving as the “maid” (actually, a fun job!). Overindulging was just not part of the plan, as flying on a full stomach is not comfortable.
NEXT UP: If you are thinking, hey, not gaining weight in Asian countries should be easy, stay tuned for what didn’t go so well on this trip.