Recently I spent a week on vacation and decided to change my diet a bit. I made the decision to eat more freely, to enjoy some of the amazing local food, to eat dessert, bread, pastries, and …
My name is Patrick McGilvray, and I’m an experienced marathoner, ultra runner, Sports Nutritionist, Master Life Coach, and weight loss coach for runners. I’ve dedicated my life to helping runners just like you properly fuel your body and your mind. So you can get leaner, get stronger, run faster, and run longer than you ever thought possible. This is Running Lean.
Hey there, and welcome to episode 215 of Running Lean. My name is Patrick McGilvray, The Weight Loss Coach for Runners and today, Lessons Learned From Vacation Eating.
So recently, I spent a week on vacation, and I decided ahead of time that I was going to change my diet a bit. I made a conscious decision to eat more freely, to enjoy some of the amazing local food, to eat dessert, eat the bread, eat the pastries, and generally be a little less strict about my diet.
It was definitely an interesting experience. And I learned some very valuable lessons along the way. And I want to pass these along to you here today. So in this episode, it’s all the lessons learned from quote-unquote, vacation eating for a week, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
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Okay, so recently, I took a trip I went to Hawaii, my girlfriend and I decided we wanted to take a tropical vacation for her birthday, her birthday is in July, actually. But she was like I don’t want to go to Hawaii in July I want to go when it’s really cold and miserable here in the Midwest. So we decided that the end of January/beginning of February was a great time to do that.
So we plan this trip. And man, we’ve been really looking forward to it. It has been very cold here in Cincinnati over the last several weeks. So you know this, this trip came at a perfect time. But I made this decision going into this that I was going to be a little bit freer with my diet and I wanted to kind of do a little bit of an experiment, see how it would feel and how it worked out if I just ate kind of whatever.
Now I’m not the kind of person who eats a ton of I don’t eat much sugar, I almost never eat sugar. I don’t eat bread, and almost never eat bread. I love pastries. I love baked goods, you know, muffins and donuts and, and bars, you know, and all this all the good stuff that’s made with like with sugar and flour and more sugar and put on top like that’s my jam typically. And I know, but I don’t eat that stuff, you know, like in general, but I decided that going on this trip, I was going to be a little bit freer with this stuff. And that I was going to indulge a little bit.
I was going to eat the pizza and the fries and the burgers and the desserts and things like that. And so I made this conscious decision ahead of time. And I knew that going into it. I wasn’t going to feel amazing and I knew that I was probably going to gain a few pounds in the process and I was okay with that.
Alright, so I was very intentional about this, okay, so I just want you to know that, that when you go on vacation or you know a trip a business trip or when you’re traveling or anything like that, I want you to be very intentional about what your goal is for that trip.
And if your goal is to maintain your weight and maintain healthy eating patterns throughout, then make that your goal, set that intention, and then do that. If your goal is to indulge a little bit, enjoy the desserts have some you know donuts, eat the burgers with the bong I mean, oh my gosh, eat the french fries, whatever, then do that.
Be intentional about it, plan it ahead of time and do that. Know that you’re gonna gain a couple of pounds, that’s okay. It’s okay to do that. So that was my plan going into it. I was going to be a little bit looser with the diet. I was going to eat some sugar, you know we’re going to a place that has some amazing food. And so I was like you know, we’re just going to enjoy ourselves or I’m going to enjoy myself.
My girlfriend is a pretty good eater and she’s pretty small as she doesn’t gain weight, she’s always been pretty tiny. So like, she’s fine, like, whatever she does is going to be fine, you know, but for me, you know, I look at sugar and I gain weight, you know, essentially. So I have to be a little bit more mindful of these things.
So she was going to just do whatever anyway, and I was going to indulge a little bit here. Okay, so what did I do? So the first night we get there, we get to Hawaii. And she’s not feeling well. So she had a rough night. She had a drink at the bar at the pool, like we went to the pool as we got to our resort, beautiful Hilton resort in Waikoloa Village on the Big Island of Hawaii.
And we get there and she has a drink from the from the pool bar. And we get back to our room after hanging out at the pool for a while and she did not feel well. Could have been the traveling could have been the rum drink that she had. I don’t drink alcohol, but she does.
She had this weird drink and did not feel well. We had plans to go out to sushi that night. And she just was like, I can’t leave this room. All that sounds good to me is like cheese pizza right now. And I’m like, cool. I’m down with some pizza. And there was a cool pizza place on our resort, just a two-minute walk from our place.
I’m like, okay, I’ll go get us a pizza and I’ll come back and you know, we’ll just eat some pizza in the room. Wow, and that pizza? Good. So, so good. So I ate some pizza the first night I was there and I was like, this is going well so far. This is going really well. And I really enjoyed it.
And then throughout the week I had things like for lunches I would just do like a burger with fries and just get the bun. I never do that. I always get a bunless burger. I don’t eat fries typically. So I was like, I’m just gonna eat the burger and the fries. Who cares? It’s gonna be great.
We’re eating desserts, pretty much with every meal because they have all these amazing things they make with coconut and macadamia and pineapple. I had this amazing Kona coffee gelato. Oh my gosh. We had lava cake. Because you know, we’re in the land of volcanoes and they probably invented lava cake in in Hawaii, you know, so I’m like, Okay, we’re gonna need some lava cake.
We had pastries and muffins. And we went to this little town called Javi. And we had there’s a little coffee place there and we had some good Kona coffee. And like a breakfast burrito type of thing that we had as like our lunch that was really delicious.
But then they had this lilikoi bar so it looked like a lemon bar if you’ve ever seen like a lemon bar with like the crust on the bottom, the flaky crust on the bottom and then it has like a lemony middle and then they put a little bit of like sugar on top or whatever. But it was made with lilikoi which is Hawaiian passionfruit.
Okay, so I have to tell you, this is one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten in my life. It did not taste like lemon. It did not taste like anything I’ve ever tasted before; it was decadent and delicious. It wasn’t overly sweet either. I expected it to be super sugary, and sweet, but it was oh my gosh, it was so good. I regret not going back there and getting a bunch more of that stuff. Bring it home, whatever. Anyway, delicious.
Okay, I really enjoyed that. Another thing that’s interesting, we’re in this area around these volcanoes, one of them being Mauna Loa and there’s all these macadamia nut orchards all over the place. So we got some local macadamia nuts they make they sell macadamia nuts that are covered in chocolate like this is a thing there you know? So of course we’re eating chocolate covered macadamia nuts, like nobody’s business. Okay.
This is not the way I eat normally at all but I was really enjoying myself. We went to a coffee plantation, a Kona coffee plantation. We went down to Kona and had the most amazing experience touring the coffee plantation. Got to pick some coffee berries off the bushes, you know, got to chop down a banana tree and take all the bananas off the banana tree.
We drank some amazing coffee and had lovely steak dinners. We stayed at this beautiful hotel where they had this nice restaurant that was like on the water and overlooking the sunset so it was oh my gosh, it was so beautiful. And with that beautiful steak dinner, they had this purple bread and it was this bread that was made with something called a Molokai sweet potato which is a like a sweet potato but it’s purple. And so the bread was like this deep purple color. And they served it with butter that was dipped with or whipped with local honey.
Okay, that was amazing that purple sweet potato bread with a local whipped local honey, honey butter was amazing. I don’t eat a lot of bread, but I ate my weight in bread that night. Okay, so good.
And just a side side note here, I don’t drink alcohol. But if I did, this would have been a very different conversation because I would have probably drank a lot, because that’s what I used to do when I went on vacation.
Okay, so I’m just giving you a little bit of a breakdown of kind of what I did while I was on this vacation, we had a wonderful time we did a lot of walking, a lot of driving too. We drove all around the island drove up and down the coast many many times. Did a lot of walking, some hiking, we checked out the volcanoes and some little towns and went to Hilo like it was really, really cool. Such a cool vacation.
I was expecting this to be more like a lay on the beach under a palm tree on a white sandy beach. There’s not a lot of white sandy beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii, interestingly enough, because it’s a newer island, you know, when it comes to the age of these islands, and so it’s very rocky. And so the coasts are very, very rocky tons of lava rock.
And if you just look some volcanoes just come all the way from the, from the sky, I mean, you’re just looking up at this massive volcano, and it just sloped slowly all the way down to the ocean. And you can just see the trails of lava, and then the deposits of lava that are that make up most of the coast of this island.
So there’s not a lot of just laying around on the white sandy beaches, we did find a cool black sand beach, which was amazing. And that’s like the volcanic rock that’s been broken down into sand. So super cool place just a wild, you know, violent, you can see the violent history of this place everywhere you look.
But it wasn’t one of these places where you just lay on the beach all day because there’s not a whole lot of beach to lay on, you know. So instead, we did a lot of walking a lot of exploring a lot of hiking, so exercising was okay. You know, I’ll tell you more about that in just a second.
But from an eating standpoint, I did go a little bit off the plan. And I did everything I just said I did and probably more. But you get the idea, right? I was eating differently than I normally would. Okay. So here are some of the lessons that I learned. And this was, this was a big eye opener for me, all of this stuff.
So number one, I realized that the more sugar and bread that I ate, the more that I craved sugar and bread, like sugar and refined carbs make you crave that stuff like crazy. So the more I ate it ate of that stuff, the more I wanted that stuff. I just wanted to eat more pizza. After that first night of having pizza, I was like when can we get that pizza again, and we did get it again another night.
And when I had that dessert the first night, I was like when I’m just gonna eat dessert at every meal pretty much you know. And so the more I eat of that stuff, the more I crave that stuff. And what’s interesting is that when I’m in my normal day-to-day life, I don’t crave any of that kind of stuff. I crave the foods that I eat, so you tend to crave the foods that you eat consistently.
So if you’re eating you know chicken and broccoli a lot, you’re going to crave that more often. I know it sounds weird. Like you’re like who craves chicken and broccoli. It’s not the same type of craving. You don’t have that intense desire and craving for chicken and broccoli but you tend to be more satisfied from those foods if you eat those foods.
When you’re eating more sugar and carbohydrates and breads, you crave more and more of that stuff and the other food just doesn’t seem very appealing because this other stuff is amazing. Why would you want to eat chicken and broccoli when you can eat? You know, lilikoi bars and pizza, you know? Okay, so the more at that stuff, the more I crave that stuff. That was a big eye-opener right there.
Another lesson I learned once I started eating this stuff, especially sugar, I found that I could not stop. I could not stop. I would start eating some chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, and I could eat a whole bag of that stuff in one sitting. I could just sit there and my girlfriend was like, hey, you’re gonna save a few of those for me and I was like, okay, there’s like one left. She’s like, seriously, and I have a problem.
Like I start eating that stuff and I can’t stop you know, she bought this little bag of sour pineapple candy so it’s like sour patch kids, I don’t know what they call these things SOUR Gummies you know, sour things that are gummy whatever. She just likes to have one or two here or there. I eat like the whole bag and like 10 minutes and she’s like, what happened to all these pineapple candies? I was like, I don’t know.
So anyway, once I start eating sugar, especially sugar and the bread too I can’t stop, you know, I just start eating that stuff and I can’t stop eating. Okay, lesson learned.
Third lesson learned is that it’s so easy for me to go back to eating junk food all the time. Like, I’m so sensitive to the effect of eating these hyper-palatable foods, it really affects me, especially the baked goods, you know, all the muffins and the bars and the and the breads and things like that. I love that stuff, you know.
So I have to be very careful with those things, I found a great way of eating for me on a daily basis. throughout the whole year, it works really well for me as a lifestyle, I feel much better doing that. And it’s just too easy for me to slip back into those old eating patterns. So it’s better for me not to do that too often. Okay. That’s number three.
Number four, I do not feel good when I eat this way. I was bloated, I was lethargic, I had brain fog. Like I couldn’t think clearly. I had zero energy for exercise. Despite all the energy that I was consuming, like I was eating a ton of calories, a ton of sugar, you’d think I would have tons of energy for exercise, I was so tired all the time.
And we were doing a lot of walking and stuff. And I was staying pretty active. But I was just so not myself, I just did not feel good. And was not myself, especially the bloating, I could just tell I was gaining weight. And I thought I gained a lot more. But I had gained about six pounds in the week.
Okay, that was another big lesson learned that I gained a lot of weight, you know, six pounds is a lot and some of that’s water weight when you eat a bunch of sugar and whatnot. But some of that is fat, some of that is the body storing fat because you got too much carbohydrate, too much sugar coming in, probably too many calories coming in, in general, your body can’t metabolize it, some of that gets stored as fat, okay, so gained about six pounds, almost a pound a day, okay of like water weight and fat weight. That’s not good, I did not enjoy that part of it at all. That’s lesson number five that I learned.
Number six, I was hungry all the time. When you eat more often, you’re going to be hungry more often. This is why people say like, oh, you need to eat six times a day to keep your metabolism going. I disagree.
When you eat six times a day, you’re gonna be hungry six times a day, every single day. And you’re just always going to be hungry. And you’re always going to be eating and it’s really hard to control your appetite and control your eating when you’re eating constantly.
So for me, when you’re eating more often you’re going to be more hungry more often. Also the sugar, the carbs, the bread, the refined carbohydrates, they hijack your hunger sensors, they make you feel more hungry, even though you’re really not.
You may have just eaten something but they make you crave more carbohydrates, they make you more hungry, you know, they turn off your hunger signals, or they ramp up your hunger signals, and they turn off your fullness signals. So you know leptin is the fullness hormone. And it kind of suppresses leptin when you’re eating a lot of sugar and carbohydrates so you don’t feel full when you eat it.
So we that is one of those things where you’re going to be more hungry. And you’re going to not feel full when you actually maybe are full. You know the ghrelin is the hunger hormone. And it kind of suppresses ghrelin when you eat a lot of sugar and carbs. And so you feel more hungry constantly, even after a huge meal.
Like I was like, oh, I still need some dessert, I need more carbs, I need some, you know, I found myself going back to my hotel room. And normally I just go to bed, or you know, maybe watch some TV or something like that go to bed. But I was still hungry. I wanted some more of those chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. I never eat late, I never eat while I’m sitting in bed or anything like that. But I just found myself eating constantly and being constantly hungry all the time. So that was number six.
Number seven, I did not sleep well. I slept terribly every night. Now big time change then that messed us both up like so that’s Hawaii is five hours ahead of us here and we’re in the Eastern time zone here in Cincinnati. So five hours ahead of us.
So we were going to bed we’re trying to stay awake until like 9 or 10 o’clock. We didn’t really make it to 10 o’clock, I don’t think any night, but even staying up till nine. That’s like two o’clock in the morning here. You know and so we were like so tired by eight o’clock, nine o’clock at night.
And then we were wide awake at like three or four in the morning. Because that’s like, you know, eight or 9am here. So didn’t sleep well from the time change but the food played a huge role. So when you’re eating a lot more sugar and carbs, you have higher blood glucose, higher insulin levels, higher cortisol levels, means more stress on the system.
Your sleep really suffers from that. And then you put your body into even more stress, it’s sort of a vicious cycle to get into, you know, so the poor choices from eating really affected my sleep as well. And then that was number seven.
Number eight. And this is the last kind of lesson learned is that running was really, really hard. I did do one run, I made a conscious decision that I wasn’t going to run much because we did tons of walking, and I thought, I’m just gonna run maybe once or twice while I’m there no big deal. I’m only running about three times a week right now anyway, so it wasn’t that different.
But I ran one time, it was so hard. I ran this really flat route, just from our hotel out to this big road and back. So it was an out and back. It was hot, you know, it’s probably 75 degrees in the morning, and I just was like struggling the whole time. And looking back over the Garmin data, my heart rate wasn’t that high. And it wasn’t and I wasn’t like going as slow as I thought I was. But it just felt I felt terrible. You know?
So my running really suffered from all of this that I’m talking about here. Okay, so those little lessons I learned where I’m at today with all of this. So I’ve been home about a week. And as soon as I got back home, I was like back on track. I was like, okay, I’m done with all that. I’ve worked out every day weight lifted every day, I’ve run a couple of times this week already running already feels like so much better.
Just after about five days of good eating and a couple of easy runs, running feels so much better. I’m eating like I was pre-vacation. With a few exceptions, we did bring home some of those chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, which are finished now. So we had one or two here or there. But I was really very mindful about having like, one after my dinner or something like that or two. So not a big deal there.
I am thinking more clearly I can the brain fog is gone already. And I can just think more clearly, I’ve lost four of the pounds that I gained. So I know that that’s just water weight. And there’s a little bit of fat there, which will come off here in a few days a week or something like that. So I’m not too concerned about that.
But I have tons more energy throughout the day, I’m sleeping way better. Oh my gosh, I’m waking up feeling rested. The first few days were a little wonky. Because again, now we’re coming back to this time zone and got to do that whole change. That was a little wonky for a few days.
But now I’m feeling really good had a great night’s sleep last few days here. So all of that is to say that all that is working really well. I’m not hungry all the time anymore. Like I’m back to eating a couple times a day, the sugar cravings are gone, the bread cravings are gone. Pretty much. I mean, maybe diminished greatly.
But I’ve just learned so many interesting things about myself through this whole process. You know, some of the biggest takeaways for me is like, I enjoyed this experiment I did I mean it was it was fun eating that way. It really was. I felt like I was kind of cheating a little bit. You know, some people call it oh, I had it, you had a cheat week or a cheat meal or whatever.
I don’t like that word, you know, because I was very intentional about what I was doing. I really wasn’t cheating anything. I was like I had made a decision ahead of time that I was going to eat this way. And I did it. And I felt good about that. So I enjoyed the experiment.
I mean, obviously eating those foods makes you feel really good and lights up the pleasure centers in your brain and you’re like, oh my gosh, this is amazing. But also I hated it too. Feels good in the moment when you’re eating that way. But, you know, it’s just in the moment. And that’s it,
Like afterward, there’s like all these negative consequences, the bloating, the brain fog, the lethargy, the weight gain, the sleeplessness, I don’t want that. I really don’t want that I’d much rather just enjoy my eating pretty much the way that I do all the time. I rather enjoy my eating just a little bit less and feel way better all the time. Right.
And honestly, the way that I eat all year long, I love it. I love the way I eat. I eat high protein, low carb, I pretty much don’t eat any sugar. It’s very satisfying. It’s very satiating, keeps me fit keeps me healthy. keeps me happy. I sleep well, I can think clearly I have tons of energy. Why wouldn’t I want that all the time? Even when I was on vacation?
You know, it doesn’t matter where you are. Wouldn’t you want to feel good all the time? Yeah, I think so. So, that experiment was interesting. Okay, but I’m much happier eating the way that I normally do. Now, I think that we’ve been tricked into thinking that vacation means that it’s okay to eat all the junk food because you’re on vacation. Just enjoy yourself. Right?
That’s what it means, go have fun. But is it really fun? Because all that stuff I just mentioned the brain fog the lethargy, The weight gain, the bloating, all that stuff. Is that really fun? Or do we just think it’s more fun, because of the way the food we’re eating is lighting up those pleasure centers in our brains like Christmas trees, you know?
So, go on vacation, eat the pizza, have a dessert here or there. But for me, I gotta keep things real. I gotta like, be very cautious about how I approach something like this. I can’t give myself permission to go down that hole of just eating whatever for a whole week like that, because I just feel like crap, you know?
So anyway, interesting experiment. I’m glad I did it. Lots of great lessons learned. And it made me realize that I really do love the way I eat and exercise every day. Okay, and I’m gonna keep doing that. I’m going to keep doing that.
Alright, that’s all I got for you today. Hope you got something out of this episode. Love you all. Keep on Running Lean. I’ll talk to you soon.