Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I Don't Know How Much "Labor" I'll Have That Day . . .

Ah, the unofficial end of summer is upon us. Gone are the summer vacations of America's youth. Used are the vacation days of America's working generations. Expired are the excuses to wear jeans and a t-shirt and flip flops to the office. Lost are the long, long days and the hot, hot nights. I can't say I will miss you, heat and humidity. I CAN say I plan to see you off in style.

My family and I will be journeying to our favorite home away from home this weekend, Wichita, Kansas to spend time with my Joy's family.

And with travel, for me, brings food anxiety. NOT that I am afraid that I won't be able to eat enough or that I will eat to much but more - that I am out of my element so I have to be more flexible with my food intake for the four day weekend we plan to take.

I'll still pack my protein bars that I eat for breakfast, I'll still find myself some fat free milk for my morning snack. I'll still be able to pick up some reduced fat Triscuits that I eat instead of bread and I will still have tons of proteins available to me (cold cuts, BBQed chicken breasts, reduced fat cheeses, powders, bars, etc.) BUT I won't have it all in its normal places and at its normal time.

Traveling and vacation, for me, USED to be an excuse to eat like some sort of recently escaped kidnapee. At the airport? You HAVE to eat Cinnabon - nothing else to eat, right? On the road? You HAVE to eat at McDonald's - no time to stop, right? Spending time with family? Four cookies and a slice of cake are just being polite, right? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The reality is that the challenge of eating on the road for me is just a way of me seeing how out of control my eating used to be and how many excuses I would make just for the sake of eating whatever I wanted.

My lovely mother-in-law came to be with us during my surgery and then I didn't see her for four months. When I finally did, I had lost 100 pounds and my entire mentality on food had changed. She made several comments, all positive, about the changes in my eating habits and how wonderful I looked and how well I seemed to be doing. Her compliments alone make the flight and the layover in Atlanta worth it (smile).

I would give the following advice to those of you who might be traveling for the first time on your post-surgery diet this weekend (or those that struggle with eating on the go).

1 - Plan Ahead. Look at the whole day ahead of you - where are you going? What are you doing? What is the general mood of the crowd you will travel in? Do you KNOW you will get three good, sensible meals and a snack? How about fluids? Will they have water where you are going? Will it be cold and refreshing? If not - how can you improvise to ensure that you get what you need?

2 - Speak Up. Don't be that whiner in the group BUT you can't just eat "anything" anymore and you can't go all day without "anything" either. If you are needing something (fluids or protein) and your group doesn't seem to be giving you opportunities - remind them that you are a different person than you were and your diet is different too.

3 - Pack. I don't leave home for more than a few hours at a time without a bottle of water and a protein bar - as emergency nourishment - in the car or in my wife's purse or Ava's diaper bag. It's doesn't take up much space and it could save your life.

4 - Make Good Choices. You are on vacation so - live a little. A LITTLE. Don't eat just for the sake of eating and don't break the rules for the sake of "embracing the break from real life". It's not worth it. Sugary sweets might look good at the amusement park but - does dumping syndrome? Not so much.

5 - Take All the Puzzle Pieces. Make time to excercise. Take your medicines and your vitamins and suppliments. Sleep enough. Eat right. Drink enough.

So that's my thougthts. Enjoy the weekend. Enjoy the rest of summer. Take a moment of pause to remember that NEXT summer will be very different than this one and that the fall and winter might seem colder than last. Life after surgery is all about change - the seasons AND you. Enjoy it all!

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