Weight Loss & Travel: How I Stayed on Track, Even at BlogHer!

Me, with my Happy Meal dinner at the BlogHer closing party

I’m lovin’ it: in moderation!

BlogHer’14 was the third of four conferences on my calendar for this year – all out-of-town jaunts that had the potential to put my weight loss goals in jeopardy. For each conference, I set a very simple goal: net neutral. What that means is that I wanted to come home and have my weekly weigh-in be no worse than where I was at the prior weigh-in. I weigh myself weekly, first thing in the morning every Sunday, and I track my progress in MyFitnessPal, so I have a way to see how I’m doing week over week. Little things, like the usual monthly hormonal fluctuations, have played havoc here and there; but, for the most part, I’ve been moving in the right direction.

Conferences can screw with all of that.

First off, my regular schedule is completely disrupted. I’m not sleeping nearly as well, and my usual level of activity often turns into the sloth-like drudging from salon to ballroom and elevator to hotel room.

Second, the food is often far saltier and fattier than what I cook at home, and the quantity is so large that it’s hard to track calories. There’s food everywhere and snacks tend to be abundant, so it’s tricky trying not to eat all day long.

For the first two conferences I attended this year, I either lost weight or came back net neutral. When I came home from BlogHer’14, I had actually lost weight. It seems improbable – or maybe even impossible – but it definitely happened. It’s not HUGE weight loss, but that’s not the point. In general, weight loss of 1-2 lbs per week is safest, and I kept pace with that.

Want to know how I managed to do it? It’s a simple formula:

How to Lose Weight While Traveling

Really, all you have to do is EatDrink, and Move. Seem a bit crazy? Here’s how it works:


Travel presents some seriously bad food options. You eat when you can, and the choices aren’t always the healthiest things out there. That doesn’t mean you should only ever eat salads – but don’t mainline bacon cheeseburgers and chili-cheese fries, either. Balance out your protein and carbs and try to eat at least one healthy meal per day. Most importantly, listen to your body: if you feel sick, like you’ve eaten too much, PUT DOWN THE FOOD AND BACK AWAY SLOWLY. I know, I know, sometimes it’s just so good that you don’t want to leave anything behind. But really, if you find yourself consistently feeling ill from the amount of food you ate, you’re probably overdoing it. I still sampled local delicacies while in San Jose – such as the Kouign Amann at Philz Coffee (DIVINE PASTRY OF THE GODS) – but I didn’t have one every day and at every meal. Pacing and moderation really saved me from feeling like I was going overboard.

My breakfast at Philz: coffee and pastry

The ultimate Philz breakfast: an XL iced coffee + a chocolate Kouign Amann



One of the funny things about BlogHer’14 was the distinct scarcity of water. Having IBS, I don’t drink a ton of alcohol or caffeine – dehydration can trigger illness and caffeine is definitely one of my triggers – so I rely heavily on water as my go-to drink. If you’re hydrated, you tend to overeat less; I’ve seen this during my regular day, too, that I may feel hungry when in fact I’m just thirsty. That’s not to say that I didn’t have any alcohol; I had several glasses of tasty eppa Sangria at various parties, as well as a mimosa at the opening night Expo party that had only a passing flirtation with orange juice. At one point, I had a water bottle stashed in my conference tote and just walked around with it, so even if I never found a water cooler, I had a way to keep myself covered. Whenever water was offered, I took some; and when it was only for sale, I bought a bottle and drank it right down.


Knowing that my conference days would be jam-packed with meetings, where the majority of my exercise would be going from floor to floor on escalators and elevators, I had to find some way to counteract the slothitude. For the longer of my two New York-based conferences, as well as for BlogHer’14, I brought workout clothes and my sneakers, and I got myself up at the crack of dawn on two mornings to hit the hotel gym’s treadmill. Even if it was a small workout (say, 45 mins), it was better than nothing at all. I really had no idea how much movement I would get on any given day, so making time to move was crucial. Whenever anyone else was up for a walk around town, I went for it and was willing to walk for miles.

On the last night of BlogHer’14, McDonalds sponsored an EPIC closing party that featured more of that free-flowing eppa Sangria, a selection of McDonalds Happy Meals, and music provided first by DJ Rashida and later by Rev Run of Run-DMC. I don’t remember exactly what song DJ Rashida put on that got me to drop my Happy Meal mid-chew, but once I got to the dance floor, I didn’t leave it until Rev Run left the stage a good 90 minutes later. I DANCED MY BUTT OFF. Rev Run had us partying so hard to such an amazing selection of tunes that if I gained any calories from my cheeseburger and fries, they all sweated right off in his hour-long set. Take your chances to move when you can, really. I did.

Apps at the eppa Sangria Soiree

Tasty treats prepared by Whole Foods for the eppa Sangria Soiree on opening night


So, what’s the ultimate lesson?

These tips I’m suggesting, things that worked for me, aren’t so dramatic that they require that you starve, abstain, or run a marathon every time you travel. And none of these are things that you shouldn’t be doing any other day of the week if you’re in the same boat I’m in as far as weight loss goes. What they do show, however, is that you can still have an insanely good time – eating Happy Meals, drinking sangria, eating pastries – and still lose weight. Moderation, Hydration, and Movement are the keys to having a fun trip where you can bring home the memories but not the extra pounds. I know for me, that’s yet another highlight of my time at BlogHer that I won’t soon forget.

21 books and 10 lbs (week 4): Restarting the clock

Honestly, it’s hard for me to tell what week it is. I’m still in a bit of denial about it being 2014 already – much less nearly the end of the first month of 2014 – so you’ll have to forgive my inability to tell what week it is. Furthermore, I’ve been in the grips of some kind of malaise, most likely brought on by my immune system fighting off the double-volleyed attack of dd’s stomach bug from last week and ds’ continuing cold. Actually, both kids have pretty awful colds, with dd having the worse of the two right now. I think Proctor & Gamble is making a FORTUNE off us right now, for all the boxes of Puffs with Lotion we’ve gone through in the last few weeks.

And so, not feeling particularly well for the last several days – plus just still very discombobulated for the last several weeks – my weight loss hasn’t been where I want it to be. Since I ended up losing about 10lbs last year off my starting point, I’d like to see if I can take off the other 10 I wanted this year. Sure, that’s backing down from the whole “losing 20lbs in one year” thing…but, sincerely, I DON’T CARE. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and I’d rather do this in a fashion where I don’t stress myself out so much about the numbers that I miss the healthy forest for the weight loss trees.

I’m up a couple of pounds, thanks to improper levels of hibition over the first few weeks of the month so…ONWARD AND DOWNWARD, yes?

I have, though, already finished off the first of the twenty-one books I’d like to get through this year. I set up a Goodreads account, so if you’d like to follow along, friend, peruse what I’ve rated, etc., you’re welcome to do so. My current read, partly because dh bought it for me as a present and partly because I like to see if I can challenge myself, is “A Dance with Dragons” by George R.R. Martin. I’m not quite sure if I can manage to stick to the pace I need and yet get through that book; it’s 1,050 pages long. I’m giving it a serious try, though it may take me just over a month to get through it and then I’ll be running at a rabbit’s pace the rest of the year to catch up. I also have a lovely box from Barnes & Noble sitting in my living room with the next several books to follow. Ahh…reading…

Book 1: “Jim Henson: The Biography” by Brian Jay Jones


Jim Henson: A Biography by Brian Jay Jones

I grew up with “The Muppets” and “Sesame Street”, and Jim Henson has always had a somewhat god-like status in our house, because he managed to be so funny, clever, inventive and astonishing. Reading Jones’ incredibly detail-oriented biography of Henson, you see that he’s all that and more. Through the book, I heard about projects I never knew he’d done (such as the incredible amount of advertising the Muppets did, the shows he did in Washington, DC that preceded my appearance on the planet, and several other works for TV that I just don’t even recall, such as “The Storyteller”). I also read about things that were less joyful – sad things that happened to Jim and his family, sad things that Jim did (humanizing him by really showing that he was, in fact, a human), and the sad details of his final hours.

What you walk away with is a sense that Jim Henson – and the amazing cast around him, particularly long-time collaborator Frank Oz – had a burning need to continue to do things that hadn’t been done and, through the variety of endeavors that did well (like “Sesame Street”) and that didn’t do as well (such as “Labyrinth” or “Dark Crystal”), he managed to make incredible advances in puppetry, animation, animatronics, engineering, set design, and cinematography. Things he did out of necessity, such as putting monitors out of view, where puppeteers could see how things looked to the viewer, became staples of the industry because it just made sense and it made it all that much better.

Jim Henson’s creations have certainly touched my life and made it better; I don’t want to know what life would’ve been like without Kermit the Frog. I just don’t.

Jones puts meticulous detail into the book, almost down to the level of “…and Jim had toast with blackberry jam today, because the nearby store didn’t have his usual orange marmalade…” (NOT A REAL EXCERPT), but the book stays readable and comfortable. For someone like me, who had more than a passing acquaintance with Henson’s work, I perked up when someone I loved was coming up in the story, and I loved hearing the back stories on so many different projects he did. I’m even more in awe of Henson now than I was before I read Jones’ fascinating portrait of the artist, from before he was born up through the time just following his untimely passing.

Fans of Henson’s work should read this book, for sure, and those who don’t have familiarity with his work should study it and then go rent a messload of DVDs. Jones’ rich and vivid descriptions do Henson justice through what Henson himself always strove for: passionate, gripping, and uplifting storytelling.

20 books & 20 lbs (week 47): {insert snappy title here}

Yeah, I guess you could say I’m a little punch-drunk from not having made much progress with my weight. I’ve maintained that 10lbs I took off since the start of the year – which is FANTASTIC – and I’m still struggling on how to get rid of the other 10lbs without doing something severe.

I’m not even sure what to say, at this point. I’ve written and erased three other things prior to getting this onto the screen, so clearly I have a lot of internal conflict I need to work out. My annual physical is scheduled for February, so if I haven’t lost MORE weight by the time I get to then, I’ll ask my doctor for her opinion on the best next steps. As it is, she’ll be over the moon if I took off 10lbs and kept it off for so long, but I know she’ll be even happier if I can take off more. So, I’ll continue to work on it and figure it out. Somehow. I may not make my goal, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to quit working on this.

I heard something interesting on NPR the other day about how gamers go against the paradigm that people set for themselves. Many people quit trying something that they can’t do, yet gamers fail more often than they succeed and they keep going until they eventually DO succeed. I’d like to see if I can somehow keep my feet moving until I do reach that point of success. After all…why give in when I still have the ability to try?

Speaking of trying, I have not one but TWO books under my belt as of yesterday…so that leaves me with only 2 more books. In 5 weeks. *crackles knuckles* Time to get this done.

Book #17: “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” by Douglas Adams

Quite a long time ago, I read “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (which allows me to bond with my fellow geeks about how one should always carry a towel), but I’d never gotten around to “Dirk Gently”. I have to admit, the book was a bit odd (even for Adams?). I found myself wondering what kind of mobius strip of a novel I’d wandered into, where the storylines folded and wove through, under, into and around each other in such complicated ways that when the threads are pulled tightly it’s completely clear how easily you got lost along the way.

The book follows several characters – a programmer, his boss (a tech magnate), the boss’ sister, an addled Cantabridgian professor, a robot monk, an arrogant but ultimately useless scion who failed at being a publisher, and an incredibly eccentric yet not-quite-attentive detective, to name a few. Along the way, one character dies and spends the majority of the book as a ghost, one crosses through space, one reveals themselves to be a time traveler, and all of the main characters stumble into each other like water molecules in a pot set over an open flame.

I can’t say that I disliked the book, but I can’t say that I fell in love with it. It certainly had its funny moments – and more than a few puzzling ones – and I ultimately don’t know what I thought of it. So, there’s that. I can’t say that’s a rousing review in favor, but I wouldn’t say to avoid it, either. If you’re looking for a strange read, this is TOTALLY the book for you.


Book 18: “Where Angels Fear to Tread” by E. M. Forster

Now this book wasn’t odd in the least…which, frankly, was a disappointment. Forster could’ve used some odd. “Angels” gives a view through a cloudy window into the lives of Victorian busybodies, focusing more on what’s proper than what’s right.

The story opens with the departure to Italy of a maiden and her companion, the widow of a man whose family was clearly at least one rung higher on the ladder than that of his bride. The widow (Lilia) leaves behind her young daughter with the in-laws, who seek to reprogram the girl into being tolerable by their level of society. Meanwhile in Italy, Lilia falls in love with a the handsome son of a local dentist, and her sneering mother-in-law dispatches her other son to demand that she return before any wedding can take place.

Arriving in the lovely town that he himself had recommended, Philip finds that Lilia has already married the local boy – Gino – and he returns home in defeat. Life turns out not to be all wine and roses for Lilia once Philip departs, since the dream of marriage to a weak-willed young man doesn’t match the reality she experiences in this foreign culture. Without going into too many spoilers, Philip makes another trip to Italy – this time not to save Lilia but to affect a rescue of another kind – to a highly unsatisfactory end.

This incredibly short book just didn’t sit well with me at all. It’s slow-paced and brooding; Forster’s Victorians are so stuck-up they couldn’t see past their own up-turned noses. Worse still, it seems that no one manages to have a happy ending. I don’t always need a happy ending, but the coldness of it all just makes even the pursuit of love such an impersonal need for improvement of status or financial situation…and even what little joy you see through Philip’s or Lilia’s eyes is tempered heavily by the oppression of the society in which they live – its repression and limitations.

I’m sure that Forster has better work; they’ve made plenty of movies out of his later pieces (“Howards End” and “A Room with a View”). Focus on those and definitely give this one a pass. Its brevity is really its primary redeeming quality.