About Us, Health

Weight Watchers on the Go!

We spent the past week visiting family and tying up loose ends in Michigan.

It was a week of changes and travel.  We flew to a hotel in Detroit, rented a car and drove to our hometown of Midland, spent 3 days staying in a travel trailer at my father-in-law’s house, visited with my grandmas for one day, drove 3 hours to Grand Haven where we cleaned out our old sailboat, spent a rainy night tent camping on the beach, drove 3 more hours to Buchanan to visit my brother-in-law and meet my new nephew, spent one night at their house, then drove for 3 days with our friends who moved to Texas, camping along the way.


At my Weight Watchers meetings, we have talked a lot about vacations.  The consensus is that these are times to maintain, or even just try to minimize the weight gain.  It is perfectly okay not to track while on vacation.

This is all well and good, except that I had fallen off the wagon big time in the two weeks before we left.  I gained weight at two meetings in a row.  I was feeling anxious and lethargic, and I really needed to get back on track.  When I eat better, I feel better.

So I tracked everything I ate on this trip, enjoyed some yummy treats, and planned ahead for each scenario we encountered.  While this might not sound like fun, it actually helped me to feel better physically and mentally.  I kept a level head throughout the trip and had a much higher energy level than I have in the past.

I do not weigh in until Wednesday, so we don’t know the official end result.  But looking at my own scale, I lost somewhere between 2-4 pounds.

How did I have an amazing time, eat yummy food, and still lose weight?  Let me tell you about each scenario and how I handled it!

Friday: Flying Out

Rob and I discussed our meal plans for the airport, ahead of time.  We knew we would be eating there, since we like to give ourselves plenty of time to get through security.  I looked on the airport’s website and saw that there is a Chick-Fil-A there.  I had planned on ordering grilled nuggets, which are 1 point, but they did not offer them.  After quickly consulting my app, I ordered a grilled chicken market salad with no dressing.  This was 5 points, and it tasted amazing, even without the dressing.

For the flight, I packed my favorite 0 point snack–boiled eggs!

A quick tidbit of wisdom: If you are flying with a bag of boiled eggs, take them out of your bag when you go through security.  While they are not considered liquids, the scanner identifies them as such, which can lead to having your bag searched.  Of course the TSA agents found this highly amusing, as they had never encountered someone flying with a bag of eggs before!

Saturday: At the Hotel and On the Road!

We spent our first night at a hotel in Detroit, where we were treated to a continental breakfast.  I enjoyed 1/4 of the gigantic waffles made by the machine, for 2 points.  I also grabbed some 0 point fruit.

We then drove our rental car 3 hours to Midland, and we stopped at a grocery store on the way.  I bought provisions for my favorite on-the-road lunch: sandwiches.  We bought low-calorie bread (1 point per slice), light mayo (1 point per tablespoon), 98% fat free turkey lunch meat (0 points for 3 slices, 1 point for a full serving), and water.  I also grabbed some fruit, fat-free cheese, Greek yogurt, and ranch mix to use once we reached our destination.

Saturday Night and Sunday: Visiting and Cooking Collaboratively

We arrived at my father-in-law’s house in time for dinner, which was sloppy joes.  My stepmother-in-law and I always prepare meals together when I visit, so using the substitutions I brought was not a problem.  (I do have a rule that I will eat anything that is homemade when visiting, because cooking is an act of love). I used my low-calorie bread and kept my sandwich open-faced.  Ground beef is 4 points, sloppy joe sauce is 1 point, and the bread was one point.  I had been conservative in my point values, so I also had enough points to enjoy some 4 point potato salad!

My stepmother-in-law keeps a fruit bowl in her kitchen, and she said we were welcome to munch on it during our stay.  Whenever I was hungry, I nibbled on grapes.  We planned breakfast together and ended up having French toast (made with my low-calorie bread, so it was 1 point per slice) with homemade strawberry syrup (I made mine without sugar, so it was 0 points), and sausage (3 points).  The next morning, we had scrambled eggs (I used fat free cheese in mine, so they were 0 points) and sausage.

Lunch was, of course, sandwiches, and we went out for pizza on Sunday.  This may seem like an impossible situation, but I had one slice of pizza, which I ate mindfully and thoroughly enjoyed.  Then I finished my meal with a salad with no dressing.

Yes, my high school mascot was the Chemic!

Monday: Conquering the Chinese Buffet!

I treated myself to an early-morning yoga class on Monday.  This got me some exercise, which I had been lacking, and helped me to stay positive and energized!


After having eggs for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch, we headed off to visit my grandmas.  We spent a lovely time with my grandma Eileen at her house, then went to do some work at my grandma Misty’s house. (Her real name is Elaine, but I called her grandma Misty as a child, because I got my two grandma’s names mixed up.  Fun fact: “Elaine” and “Eileen” are both variants of “Iliana”!)


When we moved to Texas, we left some items behind, and they eventually ended up my grandma’s garage.  Our mission on this trip was to remove these items and drive them back to Texas in my father-in-law’s truck, which we were borrowing.

But before we set to work, we needed to eat.  And we have a long-standing tradition of eating at Chinese buffets with my grandma and my Aunt Anne.

Yikes, right?  Nope.  Yum!

I began with hot and sour soup, for 3 points.  Then I loaded up on 0 point shrimp and vegetables.  I decided to have small servings and sesame chicken and General Tso’s chicken for 3-ish points, then used the rest of my points on Szechuan chicken (7-ish points) and half of an egg roll (3 points).  I left feeling full and satisfied, without going over on my daily points!

Tuesday: Rainy, Yucky, and Stressful!

Then Tuesday happened.  After a healthy breakfast of eggs and sausage, we drove to Grand Haven to work on Moonraker, our old boat.  In the summer of 2012, we had sailed Moonraker from Bay City, on Lake Huron, to Grand Haven, on Lake Michigan.  We had dry docked the boat with the mast down, planning on beginning the Great Loop the next summer.  However, we moved to Texas instead, and the boat has been dry docked ever since.


We were determined to make this our last “working” trip to Michigan, so that meant that we had one day to empty and clean the boat, so that we could make arrangements for the marina to broker it.

The good news:  The boat was in remarkably good shape.

The bad news:  It was yucky and rainy all day.

I had hoped to make it to a yin yoga class in Grand Haven that evening, but the traffic we encountered on our trip to the store made that impossible.  We finished at 6:30 on the dot.  I had thought that the office closed at 6:30, but they actually closed at 6.  So we weren’t able to sign over the title.  We will do that by mail.

That evening we headed to our wet campsite on the beach.  I had made reservations when the forecast looked good, or otherwise, we would have stayed at a hotel.  We had found a tent in my grandma’s garage, which she said we could have.  The stakes did not take hold in the sand, so it drooped.


That evening I was hangry!  Grand Haven was supposed to be the high point of our trip, and it was nothing but yuck.  We were not really able to enjoy one of our favorite port towns, from our sailing trip.

I didn’t make sandwiches for dinner.  I went to Subway.

Did I order a salad?  A low-fat sub?


I got myself a pizza.  With extra cheese.  And not fat free cheese either.  Rob and I split a large bottle of wine.

And I tracked none of it.

Iliana, however, had a great time.  She played with the other kids in the campground and loved the sand.  We saw a lovely sunset over the water and watched the musical fountain, which had been a mainstay of our week on the seawall in Moonraker.


Wednesday:  Visiting my Foodie Brother-in-Law

Wednesday is supposed to be my weigh-in day, and I had found a meeting near my brother-in-law’s house in Buchanan.  If we broke camp at 6 am, I could make it.

We broke camp at 8:30.

So I had no idea how much damage I had done, but my weekly points had reset.  I carefully chose a breakfast sandwich from Subway, tracked the points, and enjoyed the drive to Buchanan.

After finally meeting my 7 month old nephew, Will, we discussed our plans for the day.  We decided to make our own wraps before heading to a winery.  We were treated to a tasting, before settling on the most wonderful, caramelly tasting Pinot Grigio I have ever experienced.

Then we returned home for dinner and my brother-in-law made us very large, very delicious steaks, with mashed potatoes.  I finished a portion much larger than a deck of cards and enjoyed every bite.

Breakfast was the most wonderful biscuits and gravy that I have ever eaten, along with hash brown potatoes.  And orange juice.

By the time we left that morning, I had 0 weekly points remaining.  Yes, I ate them all in one day!  (And if the truth be told, I actually went into the negative by 18!)  I have no regrets.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday: Road Trip!

After eating that breakfast, we hit the road, so we could meet up with our friends who were moving to Texas.  I bought fruit and boiled eggs for snacks (both are 0 points), and we ate sandwiches for lunch.

We camped in the evening and grilled turkey hot dogs (2 points) over the fire.  Breakfast was fruit over Greek yogurt, and I added a salad with my lunch that day.

Lots of water, lots of salad and sandwiches, and lots of fruit and boiled eggs.  Every morning, we stopped at the grocery store before we left.

The trip was not without adventure! Luckily, the tire was quickly patched!

Friday night, we stayed at a campground with a fitness center.  I stepped on the scale in the evening, when I was full of water weight, and saw that I had lost 2 pounds!  I am excited to see how I do at my weigh-in on Wednesday!

Frugal Living

How to Have More Fun Flying

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I flew for the first time in 2009.  Iliana was 22 months old, and I was 31.

For our annual spring break trip to Florida that year, Rob’s parents had generously used their United miles to book all three of us on a flight.

Per TSA’s recommendation, we arrived two hours early, to the small airport in Freeland, Michigan.  There was no line for security, so we made it through in 10 minutes.  Ili delighted the agent with her cuteness.

My first flying experience was on a small connector plane that took us to Detroit.  Our flight attendant was a delightful man who was very excited when we told him that this was Iliana’s and my first time flying.  Right before we landed, he awarded both of us with printed certificates and stick on wings.

Four years later, we moved to Texas.  I have since lost count of the number of times that we have flown.

And yet, it has never stopped being fun for me.  And it should be fun for you, as well!  My mission today is to prevent you from becoming one of those downtrodden, stressed-out zombie-people in the airport.

So without further adieu, here is my list of tips for making air travel actually fun!

1.  Book like a true tightwad.

I used to think that flying was prohibitively expensive, but that was just because I was doing it wrong!  With a little bit of legwork, I can always find tickets to Michigan, that cost about the same as driving.

I start with Priceline.  This lets me know right away if any of the major airlines are having a special.  Then I check that against Google Flights, the airline’s website, and Spirit’s website to see if there are any better deals to be found.

If there are no special deals to be found, we can almost always get a good price on Spirit.   (That is what we are doing on this trip).  However, in the past we have flown on American and Delta for lower prices than what Spirit was offering.

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2.  Pack light.  (Ridiculously light, if you are flying on Spirit!)

There are many minimalist blog posts about the virtues of packing light.  I don’t buy it, for road trips.  Loading up the car is easy, and bringing things instead of buying them saves money.  When we drive, we pack everything but the kitchen sink!

On a plane, however, being less encumbered saves time, money, and hassle.  I detest having to deal with a lot of luggage at the airport, especially if there is a layover.  In fact, I only bring a carry-on bag if there is not a layover.  Otherwise, we check our baggage or pack everything in our “personal item” bags.

On the major airlines, you can bring a lot as personal items.  One time when we flew, we were allowed a bag, a purse, and a laptop bag.  We didn’t bring that much, because we didn’t want to be carrying it during the layover, but it did give us ample room for packing!

Another time, we did not pack any clothing.  Instead, I ordered lots of clothing for all of us from ebay, and had it shipped my relatives’ house.  This cost $25, so it was cheaper than checking a bag.

This time, we are each bringing one bag that fits the specs for a personal item on Spirit.  Since Michigan can get cold at night, we will be wearing our long pants on the plane.  Rob is wearing shorts and a t-shirt under his outfit, and Iliana and I are wearing pants under our dresses.

We have each packed three outfits, rolled up in our bags.  Other than that, our bags are packed with entertainment items and snacks. We did not pack any toiletries, other than a hair brush, Rob’s mustache wax, and an extra set of contacts for me.  It is easy enough to pick up shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, razors, etc. from the dollar store.  And much cheaper than checking a bag or a carry-on!

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3.  Get to the TSA line early.

Going through security stresses me out.  Not because I am afraid we will not be cleared, but because I am afraid that we will miss our flight, no matter what time it leaves.  So my trick is to get to that line ASAP.

If our flight leaves in the morning, we will have someone drop us off at a hotel with a shuttle the night before.  (Priceline is a great place to find a hotel.)  Otherwise, we try to get there 3 hours early.  We check-in online and print our boarding passes at home or in the kiosk, then get our butts into that line!

Then we plan on eating at the airport.  If the line went fast, we will sit down for a burger and a beer.  If things took longer than expected, we grab some fast food.  Usually, we get the sit-down dinner, which is very relaxed, because we know we will make it to our gate on time.

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4.  Don’t be in such a hurry to get on the plane!

Seriously, why is priority boarding a perk?  When you’re at the airport, you can use the wifi and walk around.  Once you are on the plane, you can not.  You don’t have to get on the plane until 20 minutes before it leaves.  We usually wait until the final boarding call, then wait to get in line.

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5.  Dress for the occasion!

You are riding a flying machine!  So dress up, already!

Be sure to take a lot of pictures and talk about how exciting that it is that you are riding a flying machine.  In fact, the dorkier you can act, the better.

Trust me on that one.

Note:  Iliana had a dress to wear, but it was PJ day at her day camp, and we forgot to have her change.  Pajamas are also an excellent option at the airport!