What happens in Vegas...


    I have a tendency of being quite spontaneous when it comes to vacations. Most recently, a few of my girlfriends invited me to go to Vegas with them for the weekend after they finished writing their national nursing exam. I have been incredibly busy with work and they were studying like crazy so the idea of a weekend away to just have some fun was very appealing. Little did I know this would be such an enlightening adventure for me. 

    For those of you who haven't noticed. I spend basically every waking hour at the gym - minus a couple in the afternoon where someone else comes in so I can get other errands done or take a nap if I need. Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely without a doubt love my job but your body and mind can only take so much before they explode. My way to prevent spontaneous combustion is by going on little vacations. I will work for several weeks straight and then take a few days to just completely get away and recharge. And like shampoo, I lather, rinse, repeat. In fact, I have my next three vacations already planned and I like to compare it to the strategy they always tell you to use for studying. Work hard for an hour, take a 15 minute break, and then get back to work again. Having these little breaks helps me to focus in the time that I am here and makes me more productive. Like a reward system. My travels are like rewards for hard work.  I try to have the same attitude when it comes to fitness and nutrition.

If you constantly destroy your body (and by destroy I mean work it HARD) day after day in the gym at some point it is going to give under all the pressure. You need breaks from workng out and 'eating clean' the same as you need breaks from work, school, people, etc. You need to reenergize so that the time you are putting into your workouts or your nutrition are as effective and efficient as possible. Now this isn't a free pass to be a slug in the gym and eat cheeseburgers on a regular basis so that you don't go too overboard. Balance is key. Have a cheat meal every week. Take a day off from the gym and go for a walk or go rock climbing. Do something spontaneous and fun. Enjoying little indulgences or doing activities purely for the entertainment value lowers your cortisol (the evil stress hormone that prevents you from losing body fat) and will help your health and fitness journey in the long run. Believe me, if anyone understands stress, it's me. My brain is like the energizer bunny on cocaine and redbull and if I don't keep it in check then I get fried.

That is what this Vegas trip was for me. I am pretty strict on myself when I am home and I eat well and workout all the time (I mean I basically live in a gym - it's hard not to workout). I hate taking rest days even though I understand how important they are in terms of muscle recovery and rebuilding. I too get stressed out by the number on the scale and how it fluctuates depending on the time of the day, time of the month lol, how much water Ihave drank, how much sleep I got, etc. It is ridiculous to let that number dictate your attitude that day but even I fall into that nasty little trap from time to time. That was me last week (pre Vegas). I don't usually go anywhere near my scale but for some ungodly reason I decided to torture myself that day and was appalled by the fact that I had gained 5lbs seemingly overnight (it didn't help that I was feeling extremely bloated). So on came the panic attack  about the piece of chocolate I ate three days ago or the hamburger I was craving last week. Thoughts like that are psychotic, but hey we are all prone to fits of insanity now and then. Vegas was perfectly timed.

I learned how to vacation the hard way last year when I tried to maintain my 'perfect' (and I put that in quotations because the idea of perfection is dumb) eating habits while on a roadtrip to Disneyland with my sisters. I would eat celery, nut butter, hard boiled eggs and cottage cheese, while they had sandwiches or would stop for ice cream. End of story, I was miserable and I gained 8 lbs in the week I was gone. It dropped back off again in 2 days once I was out of that stressful environment and back in my element but it just goes to show how much stress affects your body. On this trip I did things differently. I knew I couldn't control every ingredient of every little thing I put in my mouth and I didn't care. I was there to have fun with my friends, not win fitness model of the year. We went to the buffets and because I cannot justify spending $20 on a single meal, I tried my very best to eat $20 worth of food for breakfast each morning. Epic fail for the record. I did however eat alot, I eat my normal eggs and fruit, and healthy fats but on top of that I had things like french toast, covered in syrup, whipped cream and white chocolate chips. I had eggs benedict. I had bacon and sausage. On the last day I am pretty sure I had an entire plate worth of dessert for breakfast. There was some serious food baby going on for the next couple hours as I tried to waddle down the Las Vegas strip. And naturally I went shopping right after epic meal time.

Shopping is not my favorite activity because I have always been very critical of my body. So as you can imagine, shopping after I have just stuffed my face with garbage food seems like a brilliant plan to boost the self confidence and body image. Guess what, I was fine! I tried on tons of clothes and instead of getting into a 'which body part do you hate more today' battle with myself I had a great attitude and decided to dish out some self love. In fact I bought my first ever Victoria Secret bikini this weekend and for once I felt fantastic showing that much skin. I maintained that same positive 'i'm too sexy for [insert anything]' attitude while getting dressed to go out to one of the night clubs and for once I was not worried about if every person in the room was noticing my love handles in my dress (the one in the photo). I decided this weekend to ditch the self loathing and just have fun in my body and be proud of who I am and and what I have accomplished so far on my fitness journey. I ate, I drank, I saw my lovely Chippendale soulmate again, I slept, I had fun, and I checked the scale this morning just out of curiousity...I lost 4 lbs. Ha!

Moral of the story. Working outand eating only celery for one day is not going to turn you into the fitness model you saw on Pinterest. Eating a hamburger every now and then is not going to qualify you to be a contestant on the Biggest Loser. Balance is key. Make good choices about the type of food you put in your body and remember it needs calories and it needs nutrients, so it give it what it NEEDS. And then every now and then give it what it WANTS. Exercise regularly to be strong not to be skinny. Get sleep. Relax. Take some time for yourself and do/eat the things you enjoy because at the end of the day life is short and berating yourself about the cookie you had after dinner is not worth it. Enjoy and have a great dayu