One of the best places to visit in Maine and New England is Bar Harbor. It is known for its scenery— from its jagged, mostly rocky coastline, its low, rolling mountains, to the sweeping vistas from atop Cadillac Mountain, there is a special mystique to Bar Harbor not to be missed. Whether you’re in the mood for lobster, seafood, pasta, homemade desserts, breakfast, or any other favorites, there’s sure to be food here that you’ll savor and enjoy unless of course, you’re like me and want to lose weight even on vacation. Then, it seems you’re in for a whole mess of trouble.
“You’re on a diet in Maine?” The hostess at the Great Maine Breakfast place exclaimed. She must have overheard me talking to the waitress. What a silly mistake it was to try to explain why I didn’t finish the rest of my oatmeal. A silence fell over the restaurant, “No one can be on a diet here.” To which I launched into a speech about why, even on vacation I had to set limits on calorie intake. Lesson number one… be careful who you tell you’re watching your weight, their response may surprise you.
So what if there are people out there who aren’t supportive of others in their quest to eat right and stay fit? At home and at a recent WW meeting there was plenty of support to be had. Leaders strive to prepare you for all the bumps along the way. WW has devoted entire weekly newsletters to getting you through a summer holiday without breaking your points bank. “Hey, I got this…” or, so I thought. I was sure that I was up to the task. I’ve been there and done that from the Jersey shore to Disney World and back, in rain and in shine, with little to no damage done. This time it was supposed to be a cakewalk. It wasn’t. But wait, I’m already getting ahead of myself.
“Well, the first thing I’ll do is head to the local supermarket to pick up some English muffins, laughing cow cheese, and veggies,” I declared at the Weight Watchers meeting a few days before going away. The Leader shook her head in agreement. Even I was pretty impressed. I wasn’t going to make any mistakes, but mistakes were made, and I wasn’t happy about it. Every day presented with hidden challenges, longings and a gnawing hunger. For a lot of the time, I yearned for the food I enjoyed as a child; the ice cream, candy and pizza beckoned me at every turn – not to mention the food that makes Maine famous, its seafood drenched in butter, the clam chowder, their wild blueberry pie.
To be honest, I did a lot of the right things while I was away, but it’s the mistakes you make that help you learn what not to do the next time, so here goes.
1. Never postpone the most important meal of the day – even if it means delaying the start of a long road trip. In our haste to begin a trek up north, my family opted to drive a couple of hours before stopping for the first meal of the day. At home, I could have prepared a five-point breakfast that would have held back hunger for hours. That was a mistake because by the time we reached our first rest stop near New York, I was already somewhat dazed from the ride, a little tired from the jaunt, and hungry and thirsty.
2. Take the time to check out what’s available from all the eating establishments. Near the very back of the state highway welcome center I could have snagged the yogurt, fruit, and crackers (5ppl), if only I had ventured back there. Instead, I opted to order the veggie egg white sandwich at the Dunkin Donuts near the entrance. The tasteless and gross sandwich was seven points. It was only my first meal on vacation and not a great sign of meals to come.3. Take the time to scope out a restaurant before agreeing to eat there. We had plans to meet my sister and her boyfriend for dinner as soon as we arrived in Bar Harbor. We agreed to join them for lobster at a cute little place near Main Street. Once seated and armed with menus, I quickly realized I was in dire straits to find anything to eat within my points range. While lobsters are delicious and much beloved, almost maniacal, by many – it’s not my first choice or even my second. I think it’s their face sitting on the plate that makes me squeamish.
4. If you can’t find anything legal to eat at a restaurant, don’t be afraid to ask for advice from the server. I didn’t know what I was going to order. I took the waiter aside and whispered, “Is there anything on the menu that isn’t fried or breaded beside the lobster?” “The chef will make you fish and chips without the breading.” “Great!” Whew! I felt pretty excited that I had figured out a way to have the chef make me something off the menu. While I had the courage to ask for something completely different from anything on the menu, I still find myself holding back from asking about the butter an oil content. And, I really detest ordering anything dry.
4. Don’t forget to pack measuring cups Measuring cups and spoons are a major tool for staying within points range – but I left all three sets at home. Many times, it would have been so helpful to know how much I was eating. Weight watchers understands that eating out poses problems for its members and offers this advice but I need to memorize it.
•Your fist is equal to one medium fruit or one measured cup
•Your palm minus the fingers is a 3 ounce portion of cooked meat
•Your thumb (whole thumb, from tip to base) is equal to one ounce of meat or cheese
•Your thumb from the tip to the first joint is about 1 tablespoon
•Your index finger from the tip to the first joint is about 1 teaspoon
As my family took in the beautiful sights and sounds of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park and the days of our trip passed, I managed to turn things around. With carrots and yogurt in the fridge and a positive attitude, I made it home lighter and happier than when I left. I even had a slice of pizza and many other meals-out without paying for it on the scale. I realize now how easily a vacation can get sabotaged, even by the most motivated of dieters. And, for those of you who have learned to make it through a holiday unscathed, you have my admiration and respect.