Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Half Moon Bay California

View of Half Moon Bay from the Ritz-Carlton, where I would one day like to be wealthy enough to patronize for my overnight getaways

Last week, my husband and I went and spent a night in the charming little seaside town of Half Moon Bay, California at the ocean-front Cypress Inn.

This little vacation is exactly the kind of trip I think is perfect for chronic pain patients who haven’t done a lot of traveling with their pain yet, who are celebrating the diminishing of a flare, or who feel like they might be doing well enough to travel. At the moment I’m in category 2.

If you’ve got chronic pain and you can physically get up out of bed and walk around your house, and you can tolerate a car trip of 15-60 minutes, you can take this kind of trip. It may not be pain-free. But if you want to have fun, you can create a lot of fun.

Here’s my step-by-step guide to finding the joy in a one-night near-home getaway:

  1. Choose someplace near home.
    I love Half Moon Bay because it’s less than an hour’s drive from my house, yet it’s got a totally different atmosphere than the one I live in. It’s got a small town feel, complete with kitschy downtown, and it lies along the stunning Northern California coastline. Read here: Beach!I also like taking getaways to the woods, to the mountains, and to small towns with interesting history. I always try to pick someplace with points of interest, places to take slow pleasant walks, unusual or chic restaurants, and a nice inn that’s got comfortable rooms near to the places I want to visit.
  2. Drive out in the mid-afternoon.
    Midafternoon is the perfect time to make my short drive up the freeway and over the mountains. Between 1pm and 3pm, traffic in my major metro area smooths out. Most every hotel, motel, and inn known to man has a check-in time between 3pm-4pm. I timed my drive to get to the Cypress Inn just at check-in time, so I could lie down if I felt tired or achy when I arrived.
  3. Take a walk on the beach.
    I didn’t feel tired or achy, so my husband unloaded our bags into our room, we changed our shoes, and we headed out. The Cypress Inn sits just across the road from the beach. We took a long, shambling stroll. I collected a few shells, including some undamaged sand dollars. I breathed in the ocean air, stared out over the water, petted various dogs who’d taken their owners out for a romp on the sand, and just let myself feel the joy of being someplace beautiful…someplace different.
  4. Rest.
    After beachcombing for an hour, I felt tired. So I laid down on the wide bed and read a book for an hour. My husband and I watched the sun set over the Pacific from the wide windows overlooking the water.
  5. Go out for a nice dinner.
    Before we left home, I’d made reservations at Cetrella–a fancy California cuisine restaurant in downtown Half Moon Bay. I love dining out, especially when I’m traveling. Cetrella has a special $25 prix-fixe menu they serve Tues-Thurs. We took advantage of that discount and enjoyed a charming meal with a glass of wine. The restaurant is only 10-15 minutes from the Inn, so if I’d had physical trouble we could have gotten me back to the room quickly.Though it wasn’t strictly necessary, my husband and I dressed up some for dinner. I wore dress pants and boots rather than a dress and heels–walking in heels tends to cause me pain, and the cold weather would have added pain if I’d chosen a dress. But it’s still great fun to dress up, add some jewelry and makeup to my outfit. It makes the meal a special event, and that much more fun.
  6. Take a bath.
    Especially in chilly weather, baths ease my aches and pains while relaxing my muscles and soothing my skin. Knowing this, my fabulous husband reserved us a room with an oversized spa tub. We made use of it. ‘Nuff said.
  7. Enjoy the hotel room.
    All through our short stay, I enjoyed the amenities of the room at the Cypress Inn we’d saved up to be able to afford and of the Inn itself. The bathtub, of course, the comfy bed, the wide flat-screen TV with cable, the in-house Esalen-trained massage therapist, the wine and cheese in the evening, the room-service breakfast in the morning.
  8. Sleep.
    I can’t do without lots of sleep each night. So I put in my earplugs, locked the door and put out the Do Not Disturb sign, pulled the drapes, and slept.
  9. Eat breakfast in bed.
    The innkeeper delivers breakfast trays to guests who don’t want to appear in the dining room in the morning. So we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in bed.
  10. Check out at the latest possible check-0ut time.
    No point in bolting out of the room at 7 am–this was a vacation! So we packed up, husband loaded the car, and we checked out at 11:30 am.
  11. Shop downtown.
    I love shopping, and my husband gamely tolerates shopping. Shopping is another way to get in a stroll while seeing new things. Most downtown areas have benches if I need to sit down, there’s usually someplace that’s selling bottled water and coffee, and being a customer means the sales staff will let me use the restrooms.
  12. Have a light lunch at a cute bakery.
    Eating’s important. So we did.
  13. Drive home.
    In the early afternoon, we drove home. I have a tough time making it through a whole day without lying down to rest at least once in the afternoon. We went home so I could do that.
  14. Rest.
    We got home and I laid down and rested.

Totally successful trip! Try it yourself when you get a chance.


Photo (c) radzfoto on flickr


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Note from Liz: Here follows the second part of Laina’s post about traveling while managing her weight. I find it fascinating how similar some of the problems of traveling with pain are to traveling with weight issues. Just like Laina—I have a much harder time traveling for business than I do for pleasure. And the reasons for it seem remarkably similar. Lack of control over environment, requirements for physical presence in difficult and counter-productive circumstances, inability to communicate needs to fellow travelers, and transit that’s scheduled by somebody else.

This is how Laina manages:

Traveling for business can be a much greater challenge to weight management efforts. I frequently travel for business and almost every trip is depressingly similar – I fly somewhere far away to sit in a room at a table where my food choices are very limited.

This is a real challenge for weight management because I don’t get any exercise whatsoever during business hours, I don’t get to bring my food along with me to meetings, and often the choices provided are spectacularly unsupportive – pizza, burritos, pasta, fast food – things I would avoid in my real life.

This is where things get tricky for weight management. Record keeping, on the other hand, is a breeze on business trips, because often I find myself in meetings, bored to tears, looking for some task to set my mind to – a perfect time to make sure my food journal is up to date!

While I hardly ever seek out a hotel gym while I’m traveling for pleasure, I visit them religiously when I am traveling for business. If I can’t hit it at the end of the day I will set the alarm early and go before heading into work. Exercising not only helps with my weight management, but I find it helps me to clear my head and elevates my mood as well. These things are often desperately needed on a business trip!

If I can possibly swing it, I like to get out and locate a grocery store to stock up on healthy snacks on the first day of my trip. If I’m attending a conference or convention I can usually pop up to my hotel room during the day when everybody else is having their hotel-provided afternoon snack of cookies, brownies and sodas to eat some of my own healthier snacks.

When the meetings I am attending are catered, I am often stuck in the position of having to use my willpower, something I hate to rely on. First I survey the lunch options, and if there is any salad to be had I pile my plate with it. If not, I pick the vegetarian option if there is one (unless it is pasta in cream sauce, then there’s no benefit to having the vegetarian option). It helps to have a ballpark idea of the caloric content of various foods when I am making my selections. I do the best I can, and limit my portion sizes as much as possible.

Weight management while traveling does require some planning and foresight, but it is possible. In general, if I can hold my weight steady while traveling I feel like I’ve won the lottery. It’s all about striking the comfortable balance between enjoying my travels and paying some attention to weight management essentials.

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Note from Liz: My friend Laina blogs about one of the trickiest of hidden health problems–weight management–at Keeping Off 200 Pounds. I’ve asked her to write a couple of guest posts to help people manage their weight on the road.

Without further ado, heeeeere’s Laina:

Travel is one of the biggest challenges to weight management. I’ve successfully lost 200 pounds and maintained that loss for 8 years, all while traveling both domestically and internationally, so I’ve got a few insights on managing weight while traveling.

When I hit the road I bring along the key elements that work for me at home: record keeping, environmental control, exercise and making smart food choices.

Travel for Pleasure

Traveling for fun and pleasure is easier than traveling for work, because I tend to have a little more control over the environments I find myself in. I always carry a notepad so that I can write down the foods I eat. This is definitely harder to do on vacation than at home because of the nature of eating while traveling for pleasure. Often I am grabbing a quick bite on the go, I may not even be stopping to sit down! So I try to remember to write it all down, but if I don’t keep perfect records on vacation I don’t beat myself up over.

The nice thing about traveling for pleasure is that I usually get a lot of exercise – I’m walking all day long, up and down and around museums, through attractions, in and out of shops. I hardly ever sit down when I’m visiting a new city! That’s a lot of exercise that I didn’t have to make any extra effort to fit into my schedule. In fact, all the walking I do on vacation usually means that I can be a more forgiving if my other efforts fall a little short in all the excitement of having new adventures.

When I am at home I do what I call environmental control – making sure not to surround myself with foods that will derail my weight management effort. This means I don’t keep things like cake, candy, baked goods, etc, in my kitchen at home.

This is something that is much harder on vacation because I don’t have much control over my environment, but there are a few things I can do to manage myself, and they mainly involve not putting myself into situations where my willpower will be tested. I know that willpower is NOT a muscle, it doesn’t get stronger the more I use it, it gets weaker, so I don’t want to gratuitously force myself to invoke it. This means I don’t wander idly into candy and chocolate shops and ogle the wares. I don’t sidle up to sidewalk hot dog vendors and smell longingly after their goods. When I need a snack I look for a coffee shop or sandwich shop and I search for things on the menu that will be supportive of my goals.

When I travel in Europe I find that almost every place that serves lunch has a menu item that is essentially, “Soup and a roll.” I always get that for lunch. Soup is a fantastic food for weight management, particularly if it is a water- or stock-based soup because it has a low caloric density – it’s made mostly of water, often has high vegetable content, and fills me up.

Most places I visit have some version of a fruit and veggie stand that is easily findable by tourists. If I am wandering through a new city it won’t be long before I stumble upon the place where fruits and veggies are sold. And, honestly, I seek them out. I know that when I get hungry the best thing I can reach for is a piece of fruit, a bag of sugar snap peas, or similar. These things are always available, no matter where you are in the world.

As an added bonus, often you will find fruit that is not available to you at home. That’s what traveling is all about! I always pick up something new to me if I can, to get a little local flavor. The last time I visited Hawaii I packed a kitchen knife and cutting board (checked luggage only!) so that I could enjoy the local fruits back in my hotel room.

In fact, I usually carry a backpack when on vacation so that I can carry supportive foods such as fruits and veggies with me wherever I go on my touring – I never want to get so hungry that I’ll eat anything because that’s the most dangerous time to make a food selection. Eating a piece of fruit or other supportive snack every hour or so keeps me from getting too hungry, and keeps me going throughout the day.

Another thing I like to do is stay in lodgings where I can cook for myself – hostels, apartments and long-term-stay hotels. All of these lodgings provide full kitchens for the use of their guests. I love to find the local grocery and make myself healthy, supportive meals using local ingredients. Managing my weight is vastly easier when I know exactly what went into my food.

All of this is not to say that I don’t enjoy a fancy meal out or sweet treat occasionally while traveling. I do, and I relish them, I just don’t eat that way every day. I focus on the new experiences and adventures I’m having and let splurging on heavy foods be only an occasional indulgence.

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A cool little nugget of info about traveling in Italy with celiac–which is apparently an easier thing to do than I would have imagined. Awesome!

The Gluten Free Guide to Italy

So how do you say “I have celiac disease” in Italian? I suppose I should buy the book and find out.

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