Saturday, May 7, 2011

Vacation planning

This spring is flying by so quickly that I was surprised to remember that I'm going on vacation next month! Woo-hoo!

Where am I headed? Only the Happiest Place on Earth (my #1 vacation destination)!

Photo credit: Disney
We'll be there for about a week, doing all my favorite things: touring the parks, volunteering at Give Kids the World (more on that in another post), and eating!

Now that I realize my trip is so soon, I have begun doing a bit of vacation planning. Not creating itineraries or planning activities -- I've been to Disney a lot, so I have my plans down. The kind of planning I'm talking about is making sure I'm continuing to take care of myself (with good food and exercise) while I'm away. I have some good momentum going and I want to keep that up, and I know when I'm doing the right things just feel better -- and I'm going to need tons of energy for my trip! A Disney vacation is amazing, but it can really kick your ass.

So here's the plan...


This is actually pretty easy. A vacation in Walt Disney World = tons of walking. Estimates vary, but it is not hard to log 5+ miles a day trekking through the parks, hiking to various modes of transportation, and even walking from your hotel lobby to your room. And the kind of touring I do is pretty vigorous -- we park hop (sometimes 2 and 3 times), and sometimes the best touring strategies involve a lot of criss-crossing the parks. I'm going to try to remember my Garmin so I can really keep track of how much distance I cover.

And if for some reason all that walking isn't enough, I have a few other fun options...

Splashing in Stormalong Bay

We're staying at the Beach Club, which has an amazing pool. I'm not sure how many calories are burned floating in a lazy river, but I'm sure it is at least a million.

Jogging along the Crescent Lake Trail
Photo credit: Swan and Dolphin Hotel
This is a maybe. I'm already going to need to do a lot of walking, and I usually don't want to spend more time on my feet than necessary at Disney. But sometimes when I'm on vacation I get so excited that I wake up super early, well before the rest of my group. I could see getting antsy and taking an early morning stroll, just to keep the peace and let my poor suffering family sleep.

Riding a Surrey Bike

I've always wanted to do this! Of course, I'd make my brother do most of the pedaling...

Using the Ship Shape Health Club

Photo credit: Disney
It looks lovely, and I'm glad it is there. But let's be honest: no. This is not going to happen.


This presents a bit more of a challenge, but I think I'm up for it. Here's my vacation strategy -- I will not:

  • Go crazy and stuff my face with every tasty morsel in sight
  • Make myself nuts trying to stick to an incredibly restrictive eating plan

I think something in between is where I'm trying to land. I haven't talked a lot about what I consider healthy eating, but for me I do best when I'm really watching the white stuff: sugar, flour, etc. Ultimately, it is pretty low-carb. But a smart low-carb -- this isn't Cheese-and-Sausage-fest 2011. I eat lean proteins, lots of veggies, and whole grains, so it ends up being pretty low in fat, too. Not necessarily the easiest to achieve on a Disney vacay, but not impossible.

A lot of people treat vacations as "time off" from their usual eating plans, and I can understand the instinct. Everything is different on vacation -- all the rules are out the window, and you're usually having the time of your life. And if you're lucky, you're in the presence of really good food. Still, I think that this kind of "off/on" mindset is a slippery slope. It seems dangerously close to the "good/bad" thinking I try to avoid, and it really isn't a healthy way to think of fueling your body.

I also know that you're setting yourself up for failure if you're trying to eat nothing but salad in a place where the scent of popcorn, Main Street Bakery cookies, and churros fill the air. And people snack on these bad boys as a between meal snack:

Photo credit: Disney Food Blog

Deprivation is no good. You'll be miserable, and then ultimately you will snap and march yourself over to Beaches and Cream to consume one of these:

The famous Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream. Say it with me: "A whole can!"
Photo credit: Yahoo Associated Content

Since I do know Disney so well, I feel like I can do a good job of sourcing as many of the fresh, healthy options in the parks, and balancing those choices with some of my favorite treats.

For example, I would be terrifically happy to enjoy one of these every single day:

Cobb Salad at the Brown Derby
Photo credit: Disney
Really fresh ingredients and so much flavor. This salad will keep me satisfied for hours and give me the energy I need to scream my head off on the Tower of Terror. It is pretty ginormous, so I'll either split this with someone or take half back to the hotel to pick on later.

We will also hit a couple of the character buffets during our trip. On the surface, "buffet" doesn't scream healthy, but Disney buffets always have lots of fresh fruit and salad options. And it is easy to satisfy cravings for something rich by adding just a bite or two to your plate. Also, it is hard to concentrate on your food when you're eagerly waiting for a hug from Winnie the Pooh.

And just yesterday, Meghann from Meals and Miles posted about a new food find from her Disney trip (she is a Florida girl and a Disney expert). There's a yummy veggie flatbread sandwich at the Golden Oak Outpost (note: this used to be a McDonald's fry cart -- change is good!). It looks like this

Nom nom nom...
Photo credit: Very Vegan Holiday

And after a lot of walking and a bit of smart eating, I will be excited enjoy some of the more delicious treats Disney has to offer. I love a good burger with all of the fixins from Pecos Bill. I always need to go to Goofy's Candy Kitchen and make my own Mickey head krispy treat with lots of goodies. My brother always gets a funnel cake and I always sneak a few bites. And I'll probably try a few new things, too -- like this adorable sundae! It looks almost too cute to eat...

Photo credit: Milkway Photography
...but I am sure I would enjoy every bite of it!


  1. I love, love, love this post! When I lived in Orlando, I always had great intentions to go for morning runs around Crescent Lake, but it never happened.

    Have a magical time!

  2. Thanks! I kind of can't believe this is the first time I've ever really planned in this way for a vacation. Usually I just wing it (and eat a lot of junk). I do remember one year I decided I wasn't going to eat any french fries during our trip. So random!