Message from Shellie: Traveling and Weight Gain Go Hand in Hand

It’s that time of year again when we are all making New Year’s resolutions. The same one hits my list each year: lose weight. If I went back and added how much weight I have lost collectively through the years, I am sure it would add up to an entire whole person. We all have excuses for why we tend to gain weight: stress, lifestyle, and the big one: traveling. Maybe others are more disciplined than I am when it comes to eating the right foods. I love to eat. I love the taste of food and was always brought up to not leave any food on my plate (I am not sure what cleaning my plate did for the starving kids of Africa, but I did it anyway.) I believe when you are in a place away from home, especially when it is international, it is always best to eat “local.” I have never understood why you would eat at a fast food restaurant chain when you can enjoy that delicacy at home. I have tried some wonderful foods across the world, and most of the time they are healthier and fresher than what I make at home.

Winter is when I usually do most of my traveling. This does not fit well into my weight loss plan as I am trying to get back into my “skinny” pants that I threw in the corner of my closet during the holidays. Now I am faced with yet another will-power challenge as I travel. I realize I don’t have to eat like a saint during my entire trip, but there are a few rules I would like to share.

  1. Eat before going to the airport. Airport food is never very good, and since there isn’t food on the planes anymore (domestic) I usually pack some healthy snacks: bananas, granola bars, etc.
  2. Bring exercise clothes. If you have a fitness center in the hotel or ship, use it. It will help make up for the desserts you couldn’t pass up. If nothing else, bring good walking shoes so you can enjoy the local scenery.
  3. Do stuff. Relaxing on the beach is awesome, but don’t spend all your time lounging around. There are usually fun activities in any vacation setting that can be surprisingly effective at burning calories. Even if you rent a jet ski for an hour, let me know how your muscles feel the next day.
  4. Don’t be like me. You don’t have to finish all the food on your plate. Eat half your sandwich, split it with a travel partner, or order meals off the appetizer menu. If you have willpower, skip the dessert. I promise you won’t starve if you don’t eat it.
  5. Simple deletions: order grilled, not fried. Hold the mayo, take the mustard. Say no to the cheese. Ask for dressing on the side. Pass on the fries.
  6. Watch your drinking. This is hard when some vacations start with drinks in the morning. Monitor yourself by spacing out your drinks and making sure you are getting plenty of water. Always drink lots of (bottled) water. If you must drink, use diet colas and diet fruit juices with your mixed drinks. Drink light beer.  Add ice to your white wine to make it go further. Opt for big flavor juices like pomegranate, which just has 18 calories per ounce.

Vacations are for enjoyment, but you don’t need to gain weight in the process. It is much easier to bring home souvenirs than the extra luggage around your waist.

Bon Appetit,


Shellie Andersen ’88, Director of Alumni Travel
Iowa State University Alumni Association


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