A little bit back to reality…

I wanted to take a break from my back blogging – but I will get back to that.  Essentially – I wanted to take a moment to look at my trip from the health and sticking to my program perspective.  Even though it’s been over a week – I am still not completely unpacked – both mentally and physically.  I really need to get on that – but it was just such an emotional experience. Looking at it from a health perspective the trip went really well for me.

To be honest – it was a major source of anxiety for me.  I was very nervous about being away from home and being out of my comfort zone   I was very anxious about not having what I needed to be successful.  I was worried that I would be stranded without the basics.  I have such a fear of failure that I totally psyched myself out before I even got on the plane.  Not only was I worried about the food aspect – but I was also worried about getting my exercise in.  I am in such a routine that I feel it has a psychical effect on me.  If I miss my workouts or runs…I just don’t feel right.  I was excited to run around the city but at the same time, I was worried that I would get lost or hurt and no one would help me.  I was also worried that I would be bothering my roommate with getting up wicked early to get my runs in.

Before leaving town – I talked to a couple close friends and of course my Hubby about my fears and anxieties.  They all pretty much said the same thing – which, of course – makes perfect sense.  I was headed to one of the busiest cities in the country.  They would have everything that I needed and most likely in walking distance.  I would have more access to the things I wanted in DC than I do in Machais.  After I got thinking about it – I realized that they were right!  I also Googled the locations of Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s…guess what?  Both of these stores were literally a couple blocks from my hotel!  I knew that I could navigate my way there to get what I needed.  This also made me realize that I didn’t have to pack all the food that I wanted to bring with me!

My Hubby suggested that I just take the week off and enjoy myself.  He said that I could probably take a week off of exercising and eating correctly and still end up being OK.  The truth is – this is probably true.  However, I have been there before.  I have been in a place where I felt comfortable to step out of my routine and this where I get into trouble.  I know that I should embrace balance and moderation but this is what is working for me.  I knew that if I was going to be successful on my big trip that I would have to try to stick to my routine as close as possible but also be able to roll with the punches!

So – with a bit of confidence and both my protein powder and PBFit packed in my suitcase…I hit the road for my grand adventure to the BIG city – our Nation’s Capitol!!  I also packed some of my homemade trail mix, seasonings and some Tupperware containers so that I could transport some goodies to the museum each day!  I also packed some other snacks for the day to make sure that I would be all set for the travel day.  I refuse to pay ridiculous prices at the airport for things that I already have.  At the Bangor “International” Airport a small bag of beef jerky was $8.00 – ummmmmm….no thanks!!

Once safely on the ground in DC I made my way to the hotel and then out and about to the Whole Foods.  I got myself all the things that I needed for the week – goat cheese, tuna, salad, hard boiled eggs, yogurts, peanut and almond butter, crackers, and some cold brew.  I unpacked the crap the hotel had in their fridge – which was essentially a mini bar.  They had lots of candy, cookies, sodas, beer, liquor, and wine.  None of this was my idea of a good time – so I put them all in a drawer and stuffed the fridge with my essentials.

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After a successful trip to Whole Foods – I hit up the Starbucks and had a snack.  I got everything I needed on one block in this glorious city!! #winning 

I knew that the Museum was going to provide both breakfast and lunches.  I was worried that the options that they had would not work for me.  Most of the time I was correct – at least when it came to breakfast.  They offered things like pastry and coffee cake.  Do not get me wrong – they looked DELISH…but I knew that a piece of cake was not going to satisfy me and keep me full until lunch.  I need a protein packed breakfast to keep me going.  So – each morning on our way to the Museum my awesome roommate and I stopped at a Starbucks.  I would get a cold brew (I brought my own creamer) and a breakfast sandwich.  I ended up with the egg white, cheese, and turkey bacon on an english muffin.  I would also fill up my water bottle while we were there.  My goal was to drink a full bottle before we left the hotel, one on the way to the Museum, and then another after eating breakfast.  It was so hot and humid that the ice water was very refreshing!!  Once at the Museum – we would meet in the classroom where the food was and enjoy breakfast.  I would eat my egg, cheese, and bacon and toss the English muffin.  It was really a good and quick breakfast for me.  It kept me full and focused until lunch time.  I had one morning freak out – on our walk to the Museum we ended up getting blown off course and lost.  We got to the Museum just in time for our day to start and had no time to stop at Starbucks!  Luckily, we were able to get into the Museum’s Cafe.  It was AWESOME.  I was able to buy a bagel, egg, and cheese and bought a side of smoked salmon!!  This was a huge WIN for me because I was really nervous about not having what I needed and I was able to pull it together and get something that worked and it was SO GOOD – honestly probably the best breakfast of the week.

Lunch time was another issue.  Again, because I was nervous that the Museum would not have what I needed – I packed my own.  I brought a pouch of tuna, salad, a half of a hard boiled egg, some goat cheese, and a cracker.  I would join my classmates for lunch each day – but I would just eat my own!  To be fair – the Museum did offer a few good protein options for lunch.  I would not have been stranded.  In fact – on the same day that we got lost heading to the Museum…I forgot to pack my tuna!  I was a little stressed out but lucky for me on that day they had thinly sliced steak for lunch which was served with rolls.  I had my egg, salad, and cracker so I just added the steak and it was perfect!  The Museum also had an after lunch snack around 3pm.  Again it was cookies, cakes, etc. I just threw a yogurt in my bag each morning.  I also packed some peanut and almond butter and a hand full of mixed nuts.  This was the perfect late afternoon pick me up.

Almost every night we were in town dinner was on our own.  One night, however, we all went out as a big group with your teachers and leaders.  We went to a great restaurant in the city called The Old Ebbitt Grill.  The place is pretty cool!!  It’s really old and located right across the street from the White House.  It’s also HUGE…it goes on for what seems like miles and miles!  It’s also a bit fancy…which was fun!  We had had a very long day at the Museum for our first day and it was really nice to unwind with everyone and just relax over a nice meal.  The menu was very large – which was great for me because there were a ton of options.  My roommate and I split the Hummus Plate – which was awesome!  I liked that they also served it with cucumbers slices so I could eat the hummus without the pita chips! For the main course I had the Halibut.  It was delish!  I don’t get to eat a lot of white fish around here because my hubby and the kids don’t like it.  This shocks me because they eat salmon – which I also love – but it’s a much stronger fish I think.  Anyway – the halibut was divine and there was some steamed veg with it.  Perfect!  I washed it all down with a few sips of a red wine sangria – thank you very much!  It was refreshing although a little too sweet for me!

Other dinner nights my roommate and I and sometimes a small group would go out exploring for good eats.  We found a lot of really nice places with good choices.  I ate a lot of salads with a protein option and I felt good about it.  We went to a pizza joint one night and I had a huge yummy Greek salad with grilled chicken and fresh feta…it really hit the spot!  We also went to this awesome place called Ted’s Bulletin.  Basically they serve comfort food in large portions and breakfast all day – #winning. I had the taco salad – without the huge taco shell bowl and I added an poached egg over the top.  It was SO GOOD!!  This place was really cool.  They even made their own Pop Tarts.  One of my friends got one and it looked really good.  I am looking forward to going there again next year!  Georgia Brown’s was another great spot.  They also served comfort food.  I’m not going to lie – the fried chicken looked unreal – but I could not go there.  I haven’t eaten fried food in so long I would honest be afraid of pooping my pants on the way home – TMI I totally understand but this is the God’s honest truth!  I enjoyed a lovely salad with corn, grilled chicken, big chunks of stinky gorgonzola cheese and caramelized onions.  I also had a taste of their corn bread and homemade biscuits – Yes, Lord!  They were so good! Perfection!  Perhaps one of the best meals I enjoyed while away was actually breakfast at this really neat little place called The DINER.  A 24 hour diner that served large portions of yummy fresh eats.  My roommate and I walked there on our last morning – it was a good walk but fun to check out different neighborhoods in the city.  I had this delish egg white scramble with feta, spinach, onion and tomato.  It was huge and so tasty!  My roommate got this amazing egg dish called Migas – which was like egg nachos with chorizo, corn, cheese, avocado, and lots of other yummy stuff.  I thought the place was charming and affordable!  I will definitely go back next year!  Once we got back to the hotel room for our long day I would get ready for bed, read, blog, or journal and then make my evening snack.  It was great having my PBFit, trail mix, and protein cookie every night – just like being at home!

Here are some of the meals and pictures of some of the menus of the places I went to when I was in DC!!  I did not have one meal that I didn’t like – I also felt like every place we went to there were options for me and that was a really great feeling!

So in terms of exercise – I really got in my steps while I was away.  I was also able to run every day.  I was really proud of myself for doing this and keeping up with my routine.  I am also SO LUCKY that I was assigned a roommate who also thought that exercise was important.  We ran together a couple days and then the other days she went to the local gym – which was complimentary with out hotel stay.  We were up each morning at 530am and typically out the door by 6am.  I am not going to lie – I was tired by mid day…we had loooong mentally challenging days and some late (fun) nights!  However, running really helped to clear my mind and allow me to focus on the day ahead.  I loved running in the city too!  There was a lot of starting and stopping with traffic and crossing the streets but it was still a lot of fun.  In terms of milage…it was really low for me.  I am used to running 4 to 6 miles daily.  While in DC – my typical morning run was either 2.5 or just over 3 miles.  On the last morning I banged out a 3.5 mile run.  There were a few reasons for my low milage – mostly IT WAS HOT!  It was literally in the high 80ies some mornings with like 100% humidity.  I am certainly NOT used to running in those conditions here in Maine.  That being said – I still did it but I paid attention to my body.  I made sure to get all my water in daily.  Also – my roommate and I walked EVERYWHERE.  No, like, for real – EVERYWHERE.  I only took 3 cab rides the whole time I was there – to and from the airport on arrival and departure days and one Uber ride from all the way down town when I met up with my gal pal from college Ryan.  She would not let me walk home alone at night!!

This is me and my girl Ryan!  She and I went to college together 150 years ago!  She lives outside of DC and we have been able to connect each time I’ve been down to work at the Museum!  This time she took me to China Town and we ate at Matchbox.  This place is known for their pizza…I’m a pizza snob…so I had a really good salad with chicken,apples, pears, and blue cheese!  

Every morning Lauren (roommate) and I would walk to the Museum and every evening we would walk back to the hotel.  We also walked to all the restaurants or other attractions that we went to.  I loved it!  I am so thankful that she was interested in walking too.  I would have had no problem walking alone – but was grateful that she was into it!  Part of the reason I enjoyed walking so much was because I don’t get to a big city often and I love to check everything out!  There was so much going on in DC.  I would have missed so much if I was in a cab or on the Metro.  Also – I did not think that anything was really terribly too far away.  Everything is pretty much walking distance.  It was also easy walking – and running – for that matter.  Everything is flat and it’s pretty much a grid.  If you know your address and cross roads you’re good.  Google Maps was also a big help most days!  Knowing that we were walking everywhere else made it OK for me to cut down my runs and feel good about it.

Here are some of the fun places that I got to see by spending my town walking around the city.  I met some incredible people and saw some pretty amazing things! Walking is defiantly the best way to get around this great city!!

My take aways – in terms of my health and sticking to my program – were many over the course of the week.  I really proved to myself that I can stay on track and be successful away from home.  I also proved to myself that I could be away from home and family and still function.  I missed my kiddos and hubby SO SO SO much – but, I learned that they can function without me and I can do the same.  I will admit that we work together BEST as a team – but – being apart is, at least, doable.

Probably the biggest and strangest realizations throughout my time in Washington DC was that people thought that I was “so healthy” and “ate so well.”  I mean, I know that I do – but I’ve never been in a situation where people have really pointed out it or identified me as the healthy person in the group.  One night the group was going out for dinner after our day and the person organizing came over and said, “…I know you like to eat healthy and all but we are going to a pub.  Can you eat a burger?” Ummmm….of course I can eat a burger.  And, really, I do eat healthy but there wasn’t a place that I went to where I couldn’t eat.  I can make pretty much anything work – I might have to be that obnoxious person that orders everything on side and substitutes everything….but, I’m also a very good tipper…so be it.

There were many other comments.  Let me be 100% clear – I was in NO WAY, shape, or form offended by these comments.  These are just things that two years ago would NOT have applied to me.  I mean – yes, it’s weird to be sitting down to lunch with someone who takes seasoning, salad dressing, salad, and a pouch of tuna out of their bag.  I totally get that.  Why do that when you have perfectly good food available for free?!  For me, it just works.  I like to be prepared and know that I can provide for myself if the place I am at does not.  After a few days, I totally opened up to the people in my group about my journey.  I told them that I had surgery and what I used to weigh and even shared some before and after pics.  These are people who before Saturday July 8th, I had never met before.  I was a little nervous at first – but I think they understood the lengths that I was going to.  Also – I found out that there were a few other people in the group that were running in the mornings or going to the gym in the wee hours of the day.  I loved that these people understood and were respectful of my journey!  I was able to go to almost all of the places they went and I don’t mind missing out on a drink while everyone else is partaking – doesn’t bother me a bit!

At the airport on the way home I was sitting on the floor at a very crowded gate.  I had my carry on bag in front of me and I pulled out – a yogurt, almond and peanut butter, trail mix, and a spoon.  The gentleman sitting across from me said, “Geez, do you have a kitchen sink in that bag too?”  I laughed and told him that this was my Marry Poppins bag and I could probably find a kitchen sink if I looked hard enough.  He said, “You could have just gotten a snack at the airport.”  I said, “Ya know mister, eighteen months ago I weighed close to 300 pounds.  I have worked my tail off to look and feel the way I do now.  I have found that the number one way for me to look and feel this way is to be prepared.”  His jaw was on the floor.  He took his foot out of his mouth and told me that I do in fact look great and that he grabbed a burger and fries from Five Guys that he was currently regretting.  He than offered me his seat and didn’t have too much to say for the rest of the wait!!

This trip was an extremely eyeopening experience for me.  I learned A LOT about myself.  I feel like I did a pretty great job of being myself and sticking to my program and I’m proud of myself.  Special shout out to my MTF peeps for putting up with my craziness and especially to my roommate for running with me and always asking if there was something on the menu that worked for me.  It all works – just gotta put in the prep and time!  I am already really looking forward to going back next year!!

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My post-run self series from each morning!!  I LOVED running in the city – can’t wait to do it again next year!

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