After staying in a beautiful tropical paradise for a week, I feel renewed and calmer. I had a great time in the Dominican Republic, and I came back with a lovely tan and no major illnesses. I also learned many new things that could impact my relationship with food in the future.
It became abundantly clear by the first night that I would not be able to stick to my eating plan. We were on a layover in Chicago and my deep dish pizza dinner alone was probably over 2,000 calories. But you know what? It was absolutely delicious. I enjoyed every single bite of it. I would fly to Chicago (if I had the money) just to eat that pizza again.
And so began the theme of my vacation. I was staying at an all-inclusive resort that had buffets open all day and night, several different restaurant choices for dinner, and bars serving fruity, coconutty drinks 24/7. After that first night in Chicago, I made the decision to eat and drink whatever I liked on my vacation.
The food and drinks were outstanding. At every meal, I selected and ate food that I genuinely really wanted to eat, rather than picking options that were lower in calories but less tempting. I ended every meal – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – with dessert. I wasn’t kidding around with dessert either – sometimes dessert would be four different slices of cake or an ice cream sundae with assorted cookies and pastries on the side.
Normally, I hardly ever drink alcoholic beverages or any kind of calorie-containing drink. But I let loose and had a few drinks every day, including the ones I knew were loaded with empty calories, like strawberry daiquiris and coco locos (my new favourite!).
Was this healthy? No. Was this a smart idea? Probably not. Am I glad I made those choices? Yes.
Let me explain why. I was so excited for every meal. There was always something new that I had never seen or tried before. I was actually hungry before every meal. Due to my eating plan and the fact that I cook for just myself, I aim for variety but it can be tough. I certainly don’t have 20 different side dishes to choose from for every meal. To stop myself from binging, I usually graze throughout the day, therefore I’m not truly hungry come mealtimes. During my vacation, I rediscovered the simple pleasure of feeling hungry, anticipating good food, satisfying my hunger, and feeling contentedly full.
There were times when I felt that I wanted to binge, especially after I had already eaten quite a bit during the meal. I wanted more. Having so much food freely available to me was very tempting. Luckily, I ate every meal with my boyfriend, and simply being in his company was enough to keep me in line while still being able to indulge. Being able to talk to someone when I was feeling anxiety and tension build inside me helped to significantly diffuse the urge to binge.
I weighed myself the morning after I came home. I was prepared with excuses (it might be water weight, 15 hours of flying causes bloating, etc.). Surprise: I didn’t gain any weight! I was shocked. Given how much I ate and drank on vacation, I expected to gain at least a pound.
Was it because of exercise? I didn’t force myself to sweat it out at the gym. I didn’t count repetitions or intervals. I walked along white sandy beaches with my boyfriend or on shaded walkways while admiring the tall palm trees. I swam in the astonishingly blue ocean. None of it felt like exercise. That’s something else I rediscovered – exercise doesn’t have to be terrible.
I also learned that I don’t have to be so restrictive or feel so guilty about overeating. After a week of heavy overeating, I’m blown away that I didn’t gain any weight and I found getting back into my eating plan less difficult since I was able to satisfy all of my crazy cravings while I was on vacation. I am also more comfortable with the feeling of hunger, which is helping me recognize when I am eating out of boredom or due to stress.
This vacation was special to me in so many ways. I will always cherish the time I spent with my boyfriend there, and I will forever hold the lessons I learned near.