Saturday, 10 August 2013

Exercising on holidays,

Travelling and training is a tough combo. Your time is valuable, road food isn't great for you (but it tastes SO good), and you're out of your routine. My wife Kim and I are taking our 3 kids, Kelland (4), Calliah (2 1/2) and Cambrey (13 months) from Edmonton, AB to Disneyland. A round trip journey of 5,678 Km (3528 Miles). I'm going to document how I do as I go and see what comes from it.

Not sure how this is going to work out, wish me luck!!!


One of the best things my wife has done for me is spent some time researching our meal stops ahead of time. Since Ironman Coeur d'Alene on June 23, 2013 I've been on Weight Watchers because I hadn't lost any weight despite training for a 15 hour endurance race. On race day I was 275 lbs and in less than a month I've lost 13 pounds. I get 55 Weight Watchers points a day and this has been perfect for me, not hungry and some days it's too much food.

We left on Friday July 19 after work and drove 503Km (312 Miles) from Edmonton, AB to Lethbridge, AB arriving at 10 at night. Needless to say, I did not get a workout in. I did a good job of watching my diet however. Stayed on plan.

My coach Jeremy is absolutely awesome and has been working really hard to get me a program that is going to continue getting me the gains I want.  In fact, before heading off to Thailand for a month he hustled to get me a plan before he left. I feel bad because I realized almost immediately that my training is going to be determined by time of day, availability of equipment and family responsibilities, not what my program said. SORRY JEREMY!

Saturday we left Lethbridge, AB and drove 870 Km (541 Miles) to Idaho Falls, ID and one of our major destinations on the trip. Famous Dave's BBQ restaurant is absolutely phenomenal. The food is fantastic, the service is outstanding and the beer is cold! After nearly 10 hours on the road and at least one kid screaming at a time I was ready to sit down and just relax. Some brisket, chicken and 2 tall beers later I was satisfied and we headed back to the hotel. It was 8:45 pm and I was ready to just crash. However, I realized that if I was going to start skipping workouts on day 2, this was not going to work. I geared up and headed down to the river and ripped off a quick 5K run. The scenery and beer buzz made it go by relatively quickly and when I got back I was quite proud of myself for doing it as my guts were begging me to stop the entire time.

Sunday was another long day.  830Km (516 Miles)  from Idaho Falls, ID to St. George, UT. I was a little worried about this leg of the journey as we had promised the kids we would stop at Costco for some lunch and some shopping. They LOVE Costco and it's like $9 to feed a family. It's not great food but it's cheap and they're not on Weight Watchers, I am. I was happy to find out that American Costco has chicken Caesar salads and the dressing comes on the side. I jumped at this and used a trick my mom taught me a long time ago. Rather than dumping the dressing on top I dipped my fork in the dressing so I got the flavour with as little dressing as possible. As you can see below it worked quite well.

Costco salad

Dipping your fork in the dressing gets you the taste without many calories

This is how much dressing was left over after and I didn't miss it

After getting to Utah we had supper right away so I had time to let it digest before my run as yesterday was not pretty. A quick internet search showed that EVERY gym in St. George closes at 6pm or earlier on Sunday, including Anytime Fitness and Elevation Fitness "The Best 24 Hr Gym." To be fair those gyms have scan in for members but for guests, no dice. Plan B. Our hotel was right on main street in St. George so my run was out the door, down the street and then up a loooong hill. It took me 10 minutes to summit the hill but the run back was really nice. After using Map My Run it came out at 5.25Km in 33 minutes. Not very fast but with the 9 hours on the road and the long hill I'll take it.

Monday, easy day, 197Km (123 Miles) from St. George to Las Vegas. Home of the buffet! I've done some serious damage here in the past and was a little concerned about how this would play out. We stayed at the Palms and the room we had was perfect for a family with kids. As it happened it was also spacious enough for a cardio circuit. I didn't want to take too much time away from my family so we set the kids up in front of the TV to rest before going out and I got a workout in.

Hotel pushup
2 times through:
20 pushups-20 situps-10 burpees-20 Supermans
15 pushups-15 situps-10 burpees-15 Supermans
10 pushups-10 situps-10 burpees-10 Supermans
5  pushups-5 situps- 10 burpees-5 Supermans

Then non-stop, 50 body weight squats, butt down to heels.

I was thoroughly soaked and tired after this but it was great, didn't have to leave the family, got it done quickly, and no guilt about missing a workout.

My old coach Karl MacPhee used to say you can workout anywhere and I took his advice. Kelland weighs around 50 lbs so I carried him on my shoulders as much as possible and just walked. We had to walk anyway so I got a bit of a workout in without being away from the family for even a second. 

Kelland riding high at the Las Vegas outlet mall

Tuesday morning in Vegas I got up and downed a pre-mixed EAS shake and headed down to the fitness centre. I got in my Fartlek run (jogging with sprints of 30 seconds mixed in) done by 7:30am and didn't need to worry the rest of the day about my workout. We actually hit 2 buffets this day but it wasn't that big of a deal. If you go into a buffet in the right mindset you can still do well on Weight Watchers or any other plan where you're trying to watch what you eat. Often at restaurants it's the sides that can be your big downfall. Rice, pasta and potatoes are very high in calories and come in abundance because they're cheap. At a buffet you don't need to have any of them on your plate because you get to decide what you eat. Also, you control the portions. I started each buffet with a huge salad with various vegetables mixed in. This helped to fill me up faster with almost no caloric hit and was a great strategy. Then I would hit the meat; instead of a baked ham, half a turkey and a side of beef like I wanted I got a slice of beef, a slice of turkey and a slice of ham. Not big but enough that I got the taste and walked away happy. I also only had a small desert at one of the 3 buffets we hit in the 2 days.  Phew! I was worried about this leg but I feel like I'm on the right track.

Wednesday we finally made it to California. A relatively short 481km (299 miles) drive from Vegas to Encinitas, CA and visited the tri mecca that is Nytro Multisport. My home shop in Edmonton, Element,  is awesome but limited in their availability because we're in Canada. After getting a couple of treats at Nytro we checked into our hotel and got ready for the beach. I had done some research ahead of time and the San Diego Tri Club has an open group swim from Tamarack Beach just 8 miles from our hotel in Oceanside. We took the kids to Tamarack and they had a blast. As they were just wearing down the people started showing up for the ocean swim so I got my wetsuit on and got a mile swim in the ocean.

Calliah trying to clean her hands. This did not end well.

Cambrey happily ate sand and pooped it out for 3 days. Seriously.

Kim and Kelland playing in the ocean.

A little body surfing before the big swim.

When I got back the kids were loaded in the car and it was off for some Mexican food. You just can't find decent Mexican food in Edmonton so we eat it almost every day when we're in California and I've learned a valuable lesson. Unlike most restaurants, you WANT to eat at the sketchiest looking places when getting Mexican. It's going to be the awesome authentic stuff. We found the perfect place just around the corner from our hotel and it didn't disappoint.

Thursday was San Diego Zoo day. This is absolutely awesome every time we go. The kids' bedtime stories often feature animals and when the little ones saw their favorites in real life they were awestruck. Such an amazing experience for all of us.

When we got back to the hotel I did a quick google search for a local gym and "Oceanside Fitness" had a spin class at 8pm. Perfect, it was quarter after 5 so I had time to help with bedtime and then head out. I called ahead to make sure I could get a spot in the class and the extremely confused lady on the other end told me that the class was almost over. I went silent for a moment and told her that in fact, no, I had almost three hours. "No, it's 8:15 she said." I asked where she was and it turns out that "Oceanside Fitness" is aptly named, however it's in New Brunswick and is beside the Atlantic Ocean. Luckily, 24 Hour Fitness in Oceanside had a spin class at 7pm and this was great.

The next 7 days were going to be very tough to deal with. Friday we were leaving Oceanside and going to pick up our friend Shawne from LAX and then take in a couple of classic Los Angeles events. Dinner at Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles and a Dodgers' baseball game. Before picking up Shawne we took the kids to the California Science Center. This place is just awesome and is home to the Space Shuttle Endeavor. This was an extremely difficult day for me, my father was extremely interested in space and I was overwhelmed with memories of him and how much he would have loved to see this exhibit. The reality of him being gone was never more painful than this day. This was a full day and my legs were hurting after spin so no workout today.

Me and the Space Shuttle Endeavor.
Chicken and Waffles. So good.
Saturday we took Shawne on a tour of LA. We took her to Hollywood and Venice Beach primarily to see the postcard Los Angeles. It was a perfectly sunny day and, aside from the traffic, a really great day. When we got back to the hotel Shawne and I did a lap of Disneyland which is almost exactly 5Km. We did it as a Fartlek run to increase the effect it would have.

We had 5 days in Disneyland and that means walking and eating.  I think you actually strike a pretty good balance if you don't eat too crazy because you walk a lot! However, I'm training for Ironman so just walking wasn't going to cut it. There's a 24 Hour Fitness less than a kilometer from where we were staying and for $10 you can get a guest pass. I got in three really good sessions including a spin class that put me through my paces. The great thing is that 24 Hour Fitness is just that, 24 hours. With the exception of the spin class I was able to go after the kids were in bed and not take away from our Disney vacation.

9:41pm and hitting the gym.
The return trip featured a few long drives but the first day was just a quick 4 hours to Las Vegas and the Springhill Suites. This is next to the convention center, it does not have a casino but does have an awesome fitness center. A really nice surprise, 4 treadmills, some other cardio equipment as well as machine and free weights. I got in a treadmill hill set and some weights and was really happy to be able to do it inside as it was 42 Celsius outside.

The next day was 8 hours of driving to Ogden, Utah. This worked out really well as two of my good friends, Mark and Janelle, were in Park City, Utah (just outside of Salt Lake) for a bike race. I refereed hockey with Mark and now we cycle together and Janelle and I went to University together and I've known them both for about 15 years. I also played cupid and so I'm 1 for 1 in the matchmaking department. They surprised me at Ironman Canada 2012 and came to support me so I wanted to get there and support Mark in his 100 mile ride. Unfortunately, with the 8 hour drive and the time change I missed Mark finishing by about 45 minutes and I felt really bad about this but we met for lunch and got to talk about the course. It was TOUGH and I'm really proud of him for doing so well. We got to the hotel and took the kids to the pool for a little fun. I did a couple of sprint laps but that was the extent of my exercise for the day.

Yurbuds earphones aren't just great for exercising, they also keep the kid noise out of my head.

Ogden to Great Falls, MT was another long day of driving but I was needing a run. I was agitated and feeling sluggish so I headed out of the hotel and up a hill, the first 15 minutes was uphill and the return trip was down so it was a really nice way to end the run. Then a quick weight set in the hotel and off to bed and ready to get home the next day.

The final day was a 3rd straight 8 hour day and by the time we picked up groceries and got the van unloaded there was no workout this day.

So after all of our driving around we did a total of 6995 Km / 4346 Miles on the road, .........

With trepidation I stepped on the scale on Tuesday morning and looked down with one eye open and much to my joy it read.... 262.0.  EXACTLY the same, to the tenth of a pound, what I weighed when I left. Nothing gained, nothing lost and right back to the grind tomorrow.

Overall I'm really happy with how I did on this trip. I think the keys that I learned on this trip are:
1) Eat well whenever possible, the bad food will find its way in but hold off as best you can.
2) Get your workout done early if possible. This way you won't have it hanging over you all day and distracting you.
3) Do your research, find out if there are gyms and healthy restaurants available where you are going.
4) Have fun! Don't let your diet/training become all encompassing. This is where you can really screw it up with your family. Take too much time away from your family on holidays and your training might become a sore point in your relationship.

Around day 14 of the trip I really started to slip on my diet. We were constantly walking around Disneyland and finding healthy food there is really tough. Additionally, the realization that this trip was once every two years allowed me to justify a few more treats than I would have liked. In Cars Land they have a delicious Chili Cone-Carne and I couldn't resist, the famous turkey leg called out to me and we had a groupon for something called Oahu-style shave ice. This is shaved ice wrapped around ice cream with flavored syrup poured on top. This diabetes in a bowl was delicious and well worth the four dollars and personal hatred.

I can't really have expected any more out of this trip. I got to eat some of my favorite treats, I kept my fitness level up and made some amazing memories with my family. If I had to do it all over again (I will in 2 years) I don't think I would change a thing. 

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