Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Challenge of Staying Thin On Vacation

Vacation can be a challenge when it comes to keeping off weight that has been lost.

Here I am in Hawaii on vacation--a great place to be. We're staying in Waikiki and there is food everywhere.

It's amazing how many people invest months and months to get rid of their excess weight and then at some point after they succeed they go on vacation. What happens to their diet? It's real easy for the diet to go out the window. And then when they come back home, they step on a scale and find that they gained five or more pounds.

Rather than treat the five pounds as a "day tight compartment," they get disgusted with themselves and continue gaining more and more weight until they gain most or all the weight back. And yes, it may have taken them two or three months to get rid of the weight and they end up gaining it all back in a month or so. Why?

Answer: It's important to realize that being on vacation brings a totally new set of emotions than we're accustomed to. I mean, how many people actually go on vacation to lose weight? In all my years as a weight management coach I have never heard a client say, "I went on vacation to start my diet." No, diets and weight loss programs are generally started at home in familiar surroundings and familiar life stressors. So you kick in your diet or weight loss program and start losing weight. There is discipline. And the discipline and determination brings success in losing weight.

Then we introduce vacation and we have a totally new set of emotions--many of them varying degrees of happiness. The days are not filled with chores and work, but instead the main chore is to fill the day. There is a lot more time to fill the day with food. Many opportunities and it's easy for the pounds to start accumulating.

If one is able to recognize these dynamics, one can identify the new different emotions that come with vacationing, take them straight, and leave the excess food out of the vacation. On the other hand, one can choose to be gluttonous knowing that when vacation is over, so is gluttony.

Both approaches are effective to enjoying vacation and staying thin. On the other hand, guilt sets in, self loathing sets in and all the weight is gained back.

The good news is that when you connect emotions with the desire to eat, you can take the emotions straight and leave food out of your life. Yet, while there are many coaches who deal with emotional eating, they generally have difficulty explaining the relationship between food and various degrees of happiness. Want to know more? Pick up your copy of the Scale Conspiracy which gives you the keys to dealing with the full range of emotions--not just the undesired emotions.

Now back to vacation. Tomorrow we're skipping breakfast and will choose to be gluttonous at a Luau. And then we'll chose to skip breakfast the following morning. My wife is a skin care specialist so she avoids the sun like the plague. Fortunately, we found this incredible tree right on the beach which provides an abundance of shade. So far we've seen two gorgeous sunsets and plan to soak up every moment while we're here. I can definitely say one thing. The last time we were here was three years ago just as Obama took office. This town was depressed and the restaurants and stores were empty. Today, the Waikiki is buzzing again--restaurants full and stores loaded with shoppers. It's a night and day thing in just three years. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see the sunset at Waikiki Beach.

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Warren M. Levin, M.D., F.A.A.F.P, F.A.C.N

World Health Medical Group


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