Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

We had 2 vacations this summer, with 2 completely different results. Vacation #1 left us feeling bloated and exhausted. Vacation #2 left us feeling somewhat tired, but also refreshed, renewed and ready to start the new school year. Why the difference? Vacation #1 was very short, it included a theme park (Storyland) and restaurant-only dining. Vacation #2 was longer, it included beaches and hiking and we ate mostly at home.

Dictionary.com defines vacation as a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation or travel. We took our Storyland trip at the very end of June, when the school year had just wrapped up. While we could have chosen to stay in a rented condominium, we chose a hotel instead. I was adamant - I did not want to make beds, I did not want to cook dinner, I did not want to do dishes. While it was nice to take a break from these chores, 3 days of restaurant and theme park food left us feeling yucky. Combined with the long theme park days and no time for exercise, my DH and I came home feeling exhausted. When you live healthy most of the time, a departure from your routine is really no vacation.

Last week, we spent 8 glorious days on Block Island, a small island located 13 miles off the Rhode Island coast. While we had been to BI previously for day trips and even overnight on friends' boats, this was our first week-long beach house rental there. We've been doing the beach house thing since our children came along. Now that they are 6 and 4, we made the following observations: we had to bring less stuff (no pack & play, no diapers, no stroller), there was less laundry to do (those potty training years were no fun), there was little rest time for us since the kids do not nap anymore, and there was significantly more whining. While the kids loved boogie boarding in the surf, they did not share our penchant for hiking Rodman's Hollow or the rocky coastline to the Old North Lighthouse. And shopping - forget about it.

But back to healthy living on vacation...
We had learned our lesson at Storyland. A happy vacation, for us, needs to include a balance of healthy eating and physical activity. My DH and I took turns going out for runs on the island's hilly roads and I even got to a Pilates class at elevation studio. As for eating, I went into the vacation thinking we would eat 4 nights at home and 4 nights out. I brought 4 Dream Dinners, a meal preparation location of which I am a devotee. Turns out, the owner of our house was an Italian gourmet chef and the kitchen was extremely well-equipped. We also had a beautiful wrap-around deck overlooking meadows. After long days at the beach, it was more of a vacation to stay in, cook an easy meal and watch the stars with a bottle of wine. On our 8 day vacation, we ate out at a restaurant once and ordered pizza once. Everything else was home-cooked.

Groceries on an island are prohibitively expensive, so I shopped on the mainland the day before we left. Still, we did have to buy some items there since we decided to stay in and cook. I bought tomatoes (NuVal score of 96) at the Farmer's Market for $15 - for 3 large and 3 small tomatoes. But with the island-grown lemon basil, they were worth it. No Chobani Greek yogurt at the Block Island Grocery, so I bought Fage Total 0% (NuVal score of 94) for $7. We threw some blueberries (score of 100) and blackberries (score of 91) in and it was delicious. Friends of ours were also vacationing on the island and invited us for a last night seafood grill. They served seared Tuna (score of 82), grilled shrimp (score of 75), and grilled scallops (51). I made my famous avocado salsa (avocados score an 86 and cost about $3.00 each on the island) and it was a feast to remember.

For now, the days of jetting off to a Caribbean island and sipping frozen drinks all day under a palm tree are not happening. But I think I've found a recipe for vacation that will get us as rested as we're going to be at this point in our life. We'll be back for those $15 Block Island tomatoes next year.

And here's my Avocado Salsa recipe (really it's from my fabulous hair stylist, Karen).
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 red peppers, finely chopped
1 small bag frozen corn
2 cans chopped black olives
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tsp oregano
4 ripe avocados, chopped
Mix everything and refrigerate. Serve with blue corn chips (Garden of Eatin' Blue Corn Chips with Salt get a 40).


  1. I am packing for a long weekend hotel stay right now. I just packed grape tomatoes,cut up cucumbers, watermelon, peaches, blueberries, guacomole, salsa, blue corn chips, salad, almonds, lunchmeat, condiments, Joseph's wraps, and of course my Chobani yogurts. I am doing this all in one small cooler. Quick and easy, saves money, and most of all will save the bloated nasty feeling of eating out all weekend (while trying to pull my belly in at the beach!) Plus it can be fun having picnic lunches and dinners:)

  2. We did the same thing when we went to Nantucket last week. We had some fantastic meals just making it ourselves. Plus had a great time in the process. Saved a lot of money!!We brought alot of the basic dried goods down. Packed a cooler with some Cabot Hunter's cheese, some vegtables from the garden and fruit we purchased locally before we headed to Nantucket.
    By the way the Avacado Salsa is to die for!!

  3. Great points in the blog! Nothing drives me more crazy than when my clients return from vacation, and are depressed becasue they failed to exercise and ate horrible food the whole time. I ask them why they did it and their response is usually, "I was on vacation."

    When did vacation become synonomous with letting yourself go? After working for months on eating better and becoming more physically fit, why would you backtrack and forget everything so you can eat yourself silly and forgo exercise for one week? We are supposed to feel good on vacation and it defeats the purpose of fun when we feel like s*** after a 7 day gorgefest with no physical activity.

    Exercise and proper nutrition is not a fad, but a LIFESTYLE! Lifestyle means we do it forever!