Category Archives: Travel

Vacation to Barcelona, Spain

I returned last week from spending a week in Barcelona with my family. My husband had a conference there this week, so we all went a week early and spent a week on vacation, then I returned with the kids while he stayed to work. It was an amazing trip, mostly for the sights we saw, the beautiful city, the amazing architecture, the art, and the culture. However, the other thing that was amazing for me was how my new lifestyle has affected my experience of travel.

DSC00061

Barcelona Cathedral

The first change was on the airplane. I used to barely fit in an airplane seat, and would make sure I sat next to my daughter so I could put up the armrest and use some of her seat too. I often had to ask for a seatbelt extender, which I found a rather humiliating experience. Now the seats felt almost roomy, my daughter and I could use our armrests, the seatbelt fit with room to spare. I was able to put the tray table down all the way, and eat my (yuk!) meal in some semblance of comfort. Also, just having to sit in one spot for so long, while still not a pleasant experience, was not nearly as uncomfortable as it used to be.

DSC00069

Building by Gaudi at Park Guell

I decided to take a break from logging my food while in Barcelona, and enjoy their culture of food as part of the entire experience. The way they eat in Barcelona is to start the day with a croissant or some other pastry and a cup of coffee. Then for lunch there is a fixed menu lunch, and/or some tapas (though these are sometimes eaten as a snack between), then dinner around 8pm or so. We got onto a pretty late schedule–maybe a little too late, but it worked well for us–and would usually have tapas for our lunch. I think once we made it in time for the fixed menu lunch, but I came to really enjoy the tapas and we did that most days. Eating only a croissant for breakfast was a new thing for me, but it worked out okay for the week. I even tried their local specialty pasty, the ensaimada, which was very croissant-like, but even had powdered sugar on top. Definitely not the kind of thing I’ve been eating recently.

DSC00081

Passion Facade of La Sagrada Familia by Gaudi

While I didn’t worry too much about what I was eating, enjoying the local foods, I still payed attention to how much I ate, making sure to stop when no longer hungry. I chose seafood dishes most of the time–certainly easy to do in Barcelona, since it is right on the Mediterranean. We made sure to start our dinners with a vegetable, which you have to order separately, generally as an appetizer, and they are not usually part of an entree. My husband and I didn’t eat many desserts–though the kids had gelato almost every night. And, perhaps most important of all, we walked like crazy. I wore my fitbit on the trip, and we walked about 25,000 steps every day. We didn’t rent a car, so we were either walking or taking the Metro (subway) everywhere. Also, our apartment was on the 6th floor of the building, and we took the stairs instead of the elevator.

DSC00185

Inside of La Sagrada Familia

Towards the end of the vacation, I had some digestive issues…let’s just say things were not moving along at their normal pace. I’m guessing this is from the severe change in my diet. While we were ordering vegetables with our dinner, and I would usually get some vegetable tapas, I was not eating veggies in nearly the proportions that I normally do.

DSC00118

Another Gaudi building, Casa Batllo

I returned home on a Saturday night, and when I weighed myself on Sunday morning I had gained 5 pounds since before we left. As I said, my digestion was (ahem) not moving at its normal pace, and I guessed I was also retaining a bit of water from the flight, so I tried not to worry too much. I figured I might have gained a bit of weight, but probably not that much. As I continued to weigh myself during the week, it went steadily down. By Friday, my normal weigh-in day, I was down 3 pounds from before we left on vacation 2 weeks earlier. Obviously, the 5 pounds was just water weight and digestive issues, and since I doubt I lost 3 pounds in 1 week, that probably means I lost a little weight while on vacation. Very happy news, and a bit of a revelation that these lifestyle changes seem to be ingrained enough that it is part of life even while relaxing and having fun on a trip.

DSC00239

My kids and I in front of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya on Montjuic hill

The whole trip was an amazing experience. It has made me realize how different travel is for us now, we seem to always choose fairly active vacations, and I am finding traveling much more rewarding as a result. I’m already planning for our next trip!

Camping and Hiking

I had a lovely Labor Day weekend, camping with friends at a campground less than an hour from my house, but still in the middle of redwood trees. It was beautiful and very relaxing. My kids loved it, and my husband tolerated it. It was the first time in about 3 months that I didn’t log any of my food in MyFitnessPal. I didn’t even have my phone on the entire weekend. I was still able to make wise decisions while eating, and we took some hikes…though not very strenuous, it was still exercise. I treated myself to a s’more on our last night camping…yum… And, came home to good news on the scale. It was nice to see that I could just live my life without all the logging and tracking, and still be successful.

This morning I went on a very strenuous, long, hilly, fast hike with two of my friends. It was great to get outside while it is still summer, and to be able to have a social component to my exercise. Plus, the friend who was leading the way set a really good pace which made me push myself just enough. We now have a regular-ish schedule for hiking, which I’m very happy for. While I still love Zumba, I needed to shake things up and have different exercise choices in my repertoire. Now I have Zumba, jogging, and hiking. What other exercises do people enjoy?

Vacation on the Northern California Coast

We just returned last night from a 5 day vacation up the Northern Coast of California. It was a wonderful trip, we spent 2 nights in Mendocino, and 2 nights in Point Reyes. I was worried about taking a vacation while I am trying to lose weight. I tried to make smart choices at meals and we got a lot of exercise. That plus my amazing husband helped me to not only not gain while on vacation, but come back 1/2 pound lighter!

On Monday, we drove from our home in the Bay Area up to Mendocino. We checked into our cottage at The Inn at Schoolhouse Creek, which is a lovely place to stay, even with kids. We ate at a very nice restaurant, The Moosse Cafe, in downtown Mendocino. I got their cioppino, which is a bunch of different seafood in a tomato based broth, so a good low-calorie choice. My husband wanted dessert, so I had a few bites of his dark chocolate pudding.

Tuesday we woke up and had breakfast at the Inn. They serve something they call the Heart Healthy Breakfast Wrap, which had egg whites, goat cheese, and veggies. It was very tasty, and I guess pretty healthy. While you eat breakfast, they spread bird seed outside the windows, and all manner of birds and wildlife–including bunnies and chipmunks–gather around. My daughter was in heaven. Then we headed out exploring. We went to the Point Cabrillo Light Station where we walked out to the lighthouse, which is some distance from parking. We then hiked around looking at the coastline before hiking back up to the parking area.

Then to Glass Beach in Fort Bragg where we climbed around on rocks exploring.It is called Glass Beach because it used to be a dump site which has since been cleaned up, but all the glass and porcelain from those times has been washed smooth by the waves and makes up a good portion of the beach area. The kids loved exploring all the rocks, and looking in the tidepools.

We stopped for lunch in downtown Fort Bragg, at Piaci Pub and Pizzeria, a very cool place. My husband greatly recommends it for the beer selection. I got one of their lunch specials, which was an open faced sandwich on focaccia with a choice of veggies and cheese, and served with a salad. It was fantastic. The kids shared a pizza, and my husband got a calzone, which all looked terrific.

We then headed to MacKerricher State Park, where we hiked a bit around to see some seals. When we had hiked a good distance from the car, I realized I had parked in the wrong spot, and had left my jacket and my daughter’s nature book in the car. I volunteered to quickly walk back and move the car and get the things we needed. Previously I would have guilted my husband into it.

Then we headed over to Pudding Creek, where we walked around while the kids waded.

For dinner, we went back to Fort Bragg and ate at North Coast Brewing Company Taproom and Grill. This is not a place I would recommend if you are trying to watch your weight, but lots of people had recommended it to my husband for the beer selection–are you sensing the theme here? Anyway, here is when I became even more grateful for my husband. He is also trying to increase his fitness, though he doesn’t need to lose weight. We decided to split an entree, since they are always way too big. We got some BBQ pork, and I ate all the cole slaw (which he doesn’t like) and left most of the corn bread for him.

Wednesday it was time to check out of the lovely Inn. We went for breakfast, and at first ran into trouble because all the tables with views of the animals were taken. However, my daughter got over her fit, and made friends with someone at one of the tables with a view so she could watch the bunnies for awhile.

We went first to Van Damme State Park, where we saw the Pygmy Forest. Apparently the soil there is so lacking in nutrients that the trees cannot grow very high. It was quite interesting to see. We then took a bit of a hike around until the kids were tired, and started the drive south to Point Reyes. We drove on Route 1 the whole way down, which was a twisty-turny but fun drive.

On the way down we stopped at Point Arena Lighthouse, which is one of the tallest lighthouses on the Pacific Coast. We climbed up to the top–a good warm up for the stairs at the Point Reyes Lighthouse.

  

We checked into our next cottage, at Nick’s Cove in Marshall, CA. It wasn’t as roomy as our previous cottage, but the bathroom was very nice. We ate dinner at Nick’s Cove restaurant, at a table with views of Tomales Bay. We had oysters, which is what that area is known for, shared a salad and paella. It was all delicious, and just the right amount to share. It was the best paella I have had in years.

On Thursday we had breakfast in Point Reyes Station, at the Pinecone Diner. This place is the very definition of a greasy spoon. I had one egg and hashbrowns (because I love real hashbrowns) and they were all coated in grease. Not exactly a healthy breakfast.

We then headed out to Point Reyes National Seashore. First we stopped at the Bear Valley Vistor’s Center, and took a couple of hikes around that area. First we went on the Earthquake Trail, which was along the San Andrea Fault and had a lot of information about earthquakes in the Bay Area. My son was fascinated. Then we took the Kule Loklo Trail, which took us to a replica of a Coast Miwok Indian Village. We walked back by a horse ranch, which my daughter loved. She now wants to try horseback riding.

Then we drove out towards the Point Reyes Lighthouse. We stopped for lunch on the way at Drake’s Beach Cafe, and ate some oysters (not very good ones) and a salad. Then we drove the rest of the way to the lighthouse, and hiked out to where the stairs are. There are 308 stairs down to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. And then back up again. I had to stop about every 100 stairs on the way back–and there were platforms there for that purpose–but made the trek without too much trouble. I was very proud of myself.

A short drive from the Point Reyes Lighthouse there is an overlook to see Elephant Seals, so we headed out that way. The views were lovely, and while the Elephant Seals were not too exciting to watch, their noises–which sounded quite a lot like really big burps–were very amusing to the kids.

We then hiked over to the Point Reyes Lifeboat Station, which is no longer in service but used to serve as a rescue station for shipwrecks along the coast. There we happened upon a few Harbor Seals taking a rest and I got some great pictures.

We ate dinner that night at a great Italian restaurant, Stellina, in Point Reyes Station. It was surprisingly kid-friendly, and the food was delicious. Again, my husband and I shared our meal. We got some oysters, an appetizer of lamb, a salad, and some pasta with clams for our entree. We even shared a small dessert. It was all really delicious.

The next morning, we ate some muffins and fruit at our cottage–continental breakfast was included. After packing and loading up the car, we filled up our cooler with ice, nicely provided by Nick’s Cove. Then we went on a shopping expedition. We stopped at Hog Island Oyster Company and Tomales Bay Oyster Company, and loaded the cooler with oysters. We stopped in Point Reyes Station at the Station House Cafe for lunch. I got a fried oyster appetizer, definitely not on my usual food plan but I wanted to give them a try. I only ate a couple of them, and realized that I’m just not used to fried food anymore. As my main lunch, I got a delicious open faced wild mushroom sandwich, with spinach and a fried egg on top.

We then walked over to Tomales Bay Foods, which is the home of Cowgirl Creamery. We tasted and picked out several wonderful local cheeses, and bought some lovely crusty baguettes.

On our way out of Point Reyes Station, we stopped at Marin Sun Farms Butcher Shop and picked up some lovely grass fed steaks and ground beef.

We then drove back home. That evening we took all of our bounty–and a gigantic summer squash that had grown in my garden–to our friend’s house, who supplied some corn and a grill, and we had a feast from Point Reyes. I learned how to shuck an oyster–not so simple–and my husband had made a mignotte of champagne vinegar, red onion, and black pepper to accompany the oysters. It was a terrific end to an amazing vacation.

This morning I woke up, ate a healthy breakfast, went to the local farmer’s market and came home to do my regular Zumba on the Xbox. I even added 1/2 hour of Zumba Toning with the DVD. Back to the routine!