Vacation Calories Are Free: How to bounce back from a dieting disaster

Tell me if this has ever happened to you before. You’re on vacation, say… camping. So you’re camping, and for breakfast you have pancakes, some potatoes (cheesy potatoes? Okay), and Spam.

For lunch, you’re in a hurry because the cruise for the shoreline tour is leaving soon, so you opt for the only fast-food joint in town – Hardee’s.

Your husband likes to call them “Hardly’s,” as in “hardly ever the right choice.” There are not many diet-friendly items on the menu.

There’s no Hardee’s where you live, and you discover that they still have your favoritist thing on the menu, a Frisco Burger. You used to eat them all the time back when you could eat anything you pleased and not gain a pound. You could opt for one of the new turkey burgers, but nostalgia wins out.

And even though you have your phone with you, you don’t look it up first. You just order it in a combo with curly fries and soft drink – the dieting equivalent of closing your eyes, sticking your fingers in your ears, and saying, “La la la la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.”

For dinner, everyone goes out for pizza, and you tell yourself that you’ll have only one slice, but you end up eating two, and worse, the root beer is made in house – your favorite – so you order that and you even get a refill.

The damage at the end of the day? 1500 calories over. Seeing as how your daily budget is 1570, the tally is not good.

Mea Culpa

Okay, okay. Every place that says “you” should actually say “I.”

As in, “I blew it.”

Boy, did I ever blow it yesterday. My husband jokes that vacation calories don’t count, but I know better. Every calorie counts.

So the question is, how do you bounce back from a dieting disaster like that?

1. Identify something positive

I tracked everything. Normally I would’ve quit tracking after lunch when I discovered the Frisco Burger had 930 calories. But I stuck with it. This is a big deal. From experience, I can tell you that that when I give up tracking one day, it’s easier to skip it the next day.

You can do this, too. Just identify at least one positive thing that happened in the midst of dieting disaster. Maybe you managed to keep it under control at dinner despite as disastrous lunch. It’s worth noting, and it reminds you that the dieting disaster could’ve been worse.

2. Come up with a plan

Because I stuck with it and tracked, I know how many extra calories I packed on yesterday. This means I can devise a plan to deal with those calories. In this case, I’m walking an extra fifteen minutes every day until I work them off. It’s going to take about two weeks to burn off the extra calories above maintenance.

You can do the same thing. Granted, it’s better to budget your calories in advance and bank some up for a splurge, but if you didn’t do that, at least you can work them off later.

3. Forget “penance”

I’m not punishing myself. There are a bunch of could’ve-should’ve-would’ve thoughts from yesterday. I should’ve eaten just half of the Frisco Burger. I wish I would’ve packed a lunch. I could’ve stayed home from the pizza joint. You can probably relate to thoughts like those.

I suppose I could sit here and beat myself up for doing all the wrong things, but honestly, what would that accomplish? It doesn’t get me any closer to my goal. In fact, it takes me further from my goal. Focusing on negativity will just bum me out.

Bounce Back

How do you bounce back from a dieting disaster?


  1. We’ve all been there! Although I love Hardees (Carl’s Junior where I live). Nice encouragement at the end!

    • Hi, Amy! Thanks for stopping by.

      What’s up with Carl’s Junior, anyhow? I don’t get the name. Shouldn’t it be Carl Junior’s?

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