Vending machines – a necessary evil

I travel a lot, and no matter how well I plan (making room for fresh, healthy snacks in an airplane-sized carry-on is just not always feasible), all too often I find myself facing this for my lunch:


Ugh! What’s a traveler to do? I have found that the two healthiest options available from most vending machines are a bag of nuts (not sweetened) and – yes I am going to say this! – non-flavored potato chips. Seriously. The nuts are a given, even salted and roasted (as long as you are not allergic, naturally). But the chips? My explanation for this choice is that they are often the least-processed selection and only use three ingredients: potatoes, oil and salt. They wash the potatoes, peel them, slice them, fry them, put on some salt and then package them. You can argue that the oil is not good for you, but at least I know what it is. You can even argue that the sodium is too high, but I’ve done several comparisons to the other available choices, and the chips are always one of the lowest-sodium options. Surprising yet true!

Talk to me: when life hands you a vending machine, what do you choose to eat?


Food check-in

Guideline #2 in my core behaviors is: “only eat food for which I know and understand the ingredients.” Originally, this was intended to remind me to avoid artificial preservatives, food coloring and other random additives, at least whenever possible. I am really pleased to say that after 5 months into this experiment, I have dramatically minimized the amount of additives I ingest. I do feel good, but it’s hard to tell how much of that can be attributed to this particular eating habit. I will confess that I do feel smugly virtuous each time I make a food choice now, since I really believe I’m doing something great for my health. A discussion of my ego, however, is probably best saved for another forum…

Here’s the really interesting part of living out this guideline. Somehow, it has morphed in my head to include 2 additional habits: I’m now avoiding processed white sugar (and all of its derivatives) most of the time, and I’m choosing foods that are minimally processed in general. I can say without doubt that avoiding sugar has had a beneficial effect, as I have discovered that eating sugar gives me a hangover! I have not written off sugar completely, and I will still indulge occasionally in a piece of pie or a great scoop of ice cream. But, I have realized that eating sugar, especially at night, makes me feel much worse in the morning than having an extra glass of wine before bed. This discovery has completely floored me, even though I know nutritionists will not be surprised to hear it.

I’m so glad that I can continue to surprise myself, and that I’m capable of making such dramatic changes. It gives me hope that I can be flexible enough with my life choices to live to be 100!

Balancing act

I have just returned from another solid week of travel and am happy to report that this time, I was able to both stick to my routines a bit better AND enjoy myself a lot more! I suppose this is indicative of becoming accustomed to traveling, and I accomplished it in spite of the fact that I completely overbooked my work schedule.

However, I am certain that my ability to maintain balance while on the road is a direct result of the promises I made to myself ( to eat real food and to get regular exercise. I now find myself consciously choosing to eat certain items because I can easily name the ingredients (conversely, I reject choices often because I just can’t tell what is in the food). As for exercise, it’s not hard to get enough as long as I have correctly defined “exercise.” For example, 2 hours of steady walking in a major city counts just as much as 30 minutes on a stationary bike. And I practice yoga as-needed (one good example is a light sequence of hip-opening poses after I drive for 4 hours) in addition to my standard hour-long sessions.

On this trip, I kept reminding myself to just relax and enjoy the local offerings, which included micro-brews (beer and coffee!), culinary delights, and sightseeing. All in all, the trip was far more enjoyable than my last adventure! Now I just need to remember not to book quite so many meetings next time.


I am traveling for work this week, and yesterday was a rather long day of airplane rides and car rental shenanigans. It was not a rough day, just long, culminating in attending a beautiful choir concert and dinner with lovely girlfriends (who were surprised when I ordered Jamaican beer, which turned out to be absolutely delicious – I can’t remember the name of it, alas!).

So I awoke this morning in a strange hotel room and tried to figure out my agenda before heading off to a lunch meeting today. I realized, much to my surprise, that what I really wanted was not breakfast or even a shower first, but a phone call to my husband and kids, a hot cup of coffee, vigorous yoga, and some spiritual music. This was a mighty odd experience for me, as I’m fairly certain that even 6 months ago I would have started my day with a big breakfast and a long read.

How interesting that when I stopped to really ask myself what I needed, my answer was not food. I will meditate on this today and seek understanding as to why this change has occurred in me.

Burning the Candle at Both Ends (or, I’d Forgotten What This Feels Like)

I had the distinct and lovely pleasure of spending Mardi Gras with a dear friend, Kaitlin, and her family last night. Kaitlin is one of many friends taking turns nurturing me while I am living apart from my family for a few months. (If you are new to this blog, I have moved to a new city to take a new job, but several months in advance of my husband and 2 young boys).

This was my first-ever Mardi Gras celebration, and oh my we did celebrate! Kaitlin treated us to delicious homemade crawfish etouffe, french onion soup AND king cake. Of course we washed it all down with plenty of beer. Then Kaitlin’s family went to bed and we stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, just laughing and talking.

Well, I’m really paying the price for all of the celebrating today. And I’m not talking about a hangover! No, this is just paying the price for staying up too late. I remember now: I didn’t even do this when I was younger, because this kind of exhaustion is not my style.

Yet last night was just plain old fun, and I hope we do it again. Just not until next year…