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Sometimes you just have to let go.

After 113 days of consistently writing in my journal and 117 days of tracking my calories, it was time for a vacation. We actually had a family/friend vacation planned, so I used that same time to take a break from this “busy” job as well. I did not stop exercising, though. Working out will always be one of my most favorite hobbies. (I know – I am a crazy person.) Nothing makes me happier or de-stresses me as well as a good burnout with loud music! Taking a break from dieting is always one of my biggest fears, so I did not make the decision lightly, but I promised myself that I would get right back on track as soon as we got home. (So far, so good.)

After my oldest daughter’s 18th birthday, I only had 2 nights after work to pack and get ready for a 9-day vacation. In that time, I had a haircut appointment, too. Since I would be gone from work for a full week, I also stayed late each night, trying to get as much done as possible, which meant I had very little time to finish packing. Therefore, I had no time to write in my journal. I did, however, continue tracking my calories until the day we left, so I had no guilt – YET.

But the overeating began almost immediately. As soon as the “drug addict” got the green light, she did not stop until her stomach hurt, which was most nights. Each day started out relatively even with eggs, toast and coffee with creamer for breakfast. (I ate almost twice the calories than normal, though.) But as the day progressed, I would eat a cookie here and have a soda pop there, along with lunch AND dinner, which was also unusual for me prior to the trip. (For the past month or so, I have been limiting lunch so I would have a calorie deficit for the day, leading to weight LOSS.) Well, after all of the extra meals on this trip, I had no doubt that I would gain weight, rather than lose it, like I have for the past 3+ months.

While I wish I would have abstained a few more times, I had zero guilt about the rest of the trip. The weather in Florida was above average, making it perfect for spending more time in the ocean. Our rented condo was right on the beach of the Gulf of Mexico so we spent a majority of each day on it – walking, reading, visiting, swimming and just sitting there, watching the world go by. There were very few clouds, but lots of wind and waves, providing perfect conditions for body-boarding. I even took my turn a few times! The salty taste of the ocean was a bit much for this fresh-water, North Dakota girl, but I practiced my spitting skills when needed. (It was not pretty.)

Since Florida was experiencing some record warm temps for October, I tried to get outside and do my 1-hour walk as early as possible. At first, I walked along the beach, close to the water line, where the sand was solid, allowing for more traction. But the wind and the waves became a problem halfway through the trip because they pushed me further onto the beach, where the sand was too soft and my feet and knees started to ache with each step, so I moved my walks to the street. It was there that my speed and endurance kicked into gear again. It was invigorating!

At the beginning of the week, I listened to my favorite music, which always inspires me to walk faster and push myself harder. Then I remembered that I pay a monthly fee for Audible so I should try and find a book or something to listen to instead. In my search, I came across a series of Podcasts called Start Here by Mel Robbins, an inspirational writer and speaker. Her topics included related themes such as Emotional Eating, Goals and Self Love but I also enjoyed her take on happiness, careers and anxiety. There were moments when my eyes filled with tears because she had me pegged and knew exactly what I needed to hear to help me make some needed changes in my thinking. I could give a ton of examples but the most notable advice from her was to stop cutting myself down so much. She said I should name my “negative Nancy” and actually tell her to “SHUT UP” when she is saying nasty things to me. (I keep picturing a certain bully that was mean to me in college but I can’t quite remember her name.) Anyway, I was reminded that I need to practice cheerleading more and criticizing less.

The trip ended on Halloween, when I decided to completely gorge myself on chocolate, pizza and ice cream cake, to make good and sure that I made full use of the last day of vacation before getting back on the wagon the next day. (So if I hadn’t gained enough weight in those 9 days, I was sure to gain at least 5 pounds in this ONE day! What is wrong with me?)

The next day was my funeral, though. I reluctantly got out of bed, proceeded to the bathroom and got on the scale. Instead of seeing 208, which was the last reading before I left, I saw a one in the middle, and not the zero, therefore reading 218. I had gained 10 POUNDS! But I was not shocked. Since I had eaten so badly the day before (on Halloween), I knew that a few of the pounds were simply water weight.

But as promised, the next day I opened up the My Fitness Pal App and started eating the same lighter meals and tracking my calories again. It was much easier than I was predicting, too. I ate my favorite one-egg and toast breakfast and a protein shake for lunch, followed by a pork chop and baked potato for supper. My work-outs got right back on track, too. I took a 10am Zumba class and I walked Buster for about 45 minutes in the afternoon. At the end of the day, I was actually 400 calories UNDER my recommended amount so I was proud of myself. (GO Rhea!)

Ironically, I forgot to weigh myself the next morning. I had too many other things on my mind – like going to work after being gone a week and going through all of my to-do lists revolved around the children and their activities. But I actually think it’s a good sign that I did not run to the scale, thinking that I had miraculously lost all 10 pounds in one day.

When I began this journey, I told myself that I was making a life-style change and life-long commitment to eating healthier, with smaller portions, and tracking calories as often as possible. Today was just another one of those days. Not only do I know that I will eventually lose the weight I gained in the past 9 days, but I will lose even more weight the longer I am consistent with my strategy. There is no stopping me. (Well, unless I go on vacation again, but that will not be anytime soon. That was really only a “pause” anyway.) Now it’s time to hit “play” again and watch my dreams continue to come true, right in front of my eyes!

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