I did it! I started my plan to avoid weight gain while traveling abroad next month, and it feels fantastic. So far, it’s been a few weeks since I wrote my previous post with specific details about exactly what I was going to do to get prepared for my trip to Morocco.
I got a sponsor who is in the FA (Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous) program and I commit my daily food plan to her each morning. I’ve been attending three meetings a week, as suggested. I write down my food plan for the next day each night. I call three people in the program every day to get (and give) support. And I read the suggested spiritual literature each morning and night. One thing that has been a struggle for me is doing 30 minutes of meditation, or “quiet time” each morning, but I am doing it.
There have been a few changes to my plan, however, which I hope will help me to stay “abstinent” (to weigh and measure my food and avoid all flour and sugar, except fruit). Initially, my goal was to lose 20 lbs. before my trip and to try to develop some healthier eating habits so that I would not eat too much while abroad. But once I detoxed from the flour and sugar, (and from caffeine which I swear was wayyyy worse than detoxing from the flour and sugar!) I remembered what it was like to be abstinent. Already I feel calmer, and the frustration with myself has dissolved. I’m not obsessed with food or my weight, possibly because I lost 120 lbs. by doing this program before, and I’ve seen and heard hundreds of success stories from people who have been abstinent for 20 and 30 years.
One of the changes I made was the length of time I will be traveling. Staying abstinent with my food plan, weighing and measuring all of my meals, avoiding not just flour, sugar and caffeine, but rice, potatoes, and other exciting foods that light me up is difficult enough while I’m home.
When I’m visiting another country, especially a romantic, exciting, interesting place like Morocco, or Italy, or France, the temptation to taste exotic foods can be overwhelming. How can I not try escargot or tangine or camel burgers or sheep brains? Um, okay, I probably could pass on the sheep brains. But many times when I’ve traveled I try new things that sounded crazy to me; like parasailing. I was absolutely terrified, but once I was up in the air, it was magical, like nothing I’d ever done before. So me putting my abstinence with food first is a challenge, especially while traveling.
I’m afraid that being in recovery for food addiction will affect me as a travel blogger. I’m sad that I’ll have to avoid certain foods, and I won’t be able to tell people I’ve done crazy things, like eating brains, or impress readers with my fearless sense of adventure. I’m also afraid that I’ll travel less. In FA it’ suggested that you don’t travel, move, or get into a relationship for the first year. No major changes is a mantra in FA. Just focus on your recovery and your relationship with your higher power.
No dating the first year?! How in the world will I avoid meeting men while traveling? Of course I meet people. Whenever I travel, I always meet new friends around the world. But in the same way I love food, I love romance. I mean, I really love romance! Romantic comedies, chick lit and Harlequin romances (okay, I’m mortified to admit that, and even though I no longer read them now, I was pretty addicted to them as a teen), and Sade and Marvin Gaye songs played endlessly. Yup, I’m a love addict, too. And putting down an addiction can be like a whack-a-mole carnival game. You put down food, you pick up shopping, or exercising addictively, or, well- men. So, reluctantly, I admit that the suggestion to not meet men during the first year is given for a good reason. At least, in my case. So travel is tricky.
I’m sure you can understand how easy it is to meet men abroad when you’re a single, solo female traveler. There’s something about travelling to a new place that makes me more open. Perhaps its my energy, or that I’m so thrilled to be in a place I’ve seen in movies since I was a little girl, watching Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, Gene Kelly in An American in Paris <sigh>!
I smile nonstop when I’m in another country; something every single article on “How Solo Female Travelers Can Stay Safe Abroad” tells you never to do. At least, you should never smile at strange men. Shoot, I smile at everyone when I travel. I talk to strangers, I stay out until 4:00 am and go to “bad neighborhoods”. And yes, I certainly have dated men I’ve met abroad. Some I met in online groups, chatrooms and dating sites, and some I met in museums or at events or while sitting in a park or cafe. In fact, my blog should probably be called, “Around the World In 80 Dates”.
Traveling is incredibly romantic. I love going to a new restaurant when exploring a country I’ve never been to before, especially on a date with a handsome, charming man. How can I avoid food or men while traveling?! Of course, I won’t be avoiding all food; just desserts, bread, sweets, omg, just about everything! I’m hyperventilating at the thought. But, I remember having Maharaja Mac at McDonalds in India more than I remember the Pyramids in Egypt. And the memory of tasting trying a real, flaky, buttery, fresh croissant in Paris is more vivid in my mind than going to my first real castle in Scotland. Um, I guess I am a hard core food addict. And I want my memories of traveling around the world to be more than just what I ate or whether I looked fat or not in a picture of me on a camel.
I think the reason this trip will be so difficult is because I have had some of the most beautiful, exhilarating, exciting (and sexy) dates while abroad. I’ve dined in charming cafes with twinkling lights. I’ve enjoyed seafood dinners on the beach while watching breathtaking sunsets. I’ve had the most delicious vegetarean candlelit dinner in a cave on a mountain. I went to a King’s son’s wedding in India and to an engagement party at a palace in Egypt. I joined a groom’s engagement parade that lasted for hours in the streets of India. The groom was lovely, although a bit bewildered. He looked elegant and regal, dressed royally in red and gold as he rode through the village on top of a white, bejewelled horse. He was six years old.
I once met a nice musician who bragged about being an artist and insisted I accompany him to a show he was performing in. I thought I was going to be murdered in the dark mountains of Kingston as we drove with a caravan of about 25 cars filled with strange men and ended up getting lost. Finally, at about 4:00am, we arrived at our destination where I was led to the VIP section on a stage where over 100,000 fans waited. I would not be raped or killed in Jamaica because my date and his friends (who I had no idea were Capleton, Sizzla, Yellowman, Elephant Man, and a bunch of other famous reggae artists) were more concerned with getting onstage than with having sex with some crazy white chick from Brooklyn.
One of the most exciting, sexiest dates I’ve ever been on was in Paris, where my gentleman caller (who I’d met in a travel group) was going to be late picking me up. He was an ambassador, and very busy. I would have cancelled if I was back home in NY and a man was extremely late for our first meeting. But he was so apologetic, plus, he sent a driver and limo to pick me up, and he got us front row tickets for the show at Moulan Rouge! Best night ever!
And then, there was that one time in London when I met a guy- and married him! So yes, when I think of travel, I think of romance. Not every single time, of course I don’t meet a man in every city. I’m not a sailor. I mean, there was that time in Guatemala when I was only there for two nights and three days, and didn’t speak one word of Spanish. Oh…but that’s where I met the “Mad Monk”. We actually met when I snuck into first class on the plane, and he wasn’t actually a monk, he was some kind of religious leader-supposedly a very celibate, very vegan doctor in the Hare Krishna cult. But his attempting to grope me as we dined at an upscale sushi and steak spot made this date very un-romantic and very un- sexy.
So, my plan now needs to add “no sexy men” to my “no sexy food” plan.
But when I look at what I’ll get in return, there’s no comparison. Peace, serenity, and a more slender, right sized body. Eventually, perhaps a man. A healthy, decent, sweet man who I will only be able to attract when I’m healthier myself. I can work with that. But to get there, I needed to make some changes to be able to stay abstinent; like shortening my trip, staying in Morocco only four days instead of a month, and changing my itinerary to include five European destinations (for only $100- stay tuned for more details!) which will help me to not be too tempted by boys or brains.
Hopefully by planning my meal plans in advance, getting What’s App so I can call program fellows in FA while I’m away, registering for the FA Business Conference in June, and doing some daily writing on the joys and benefits of being abstinent will help. Plus, shortening my trip (I hope) will make it more difficult to have time to get to know any cuties with stunning blue turbans and sexy French accents.
I can still check out the most romantic cafes, and museums, and take a camel ride, and go to the Eiffel Tower by myself. I connected with female visitors and expats living in Europe and Morocco, and politely said no thank you to the 132 offers I received from men to host me on Couchsurfing.
I know my travel plans sound crazy visiting so many countries in such a short time, but my plan to write several posts on how to see each city in 48 hours rather than to chill in one country tor a more extended period will help me to be more focused on my mission; to stay healthy, stick to my food plan, and to avoid men while abroad. (Shoot, wish me luck.)
Do you have any tips on eating healthy and avoiding weight gain while traveling? Have you ever had a relationship (or fling) with a foreign man you met while traveling? Share your comments below! And please share this post. (The more people read about my abstinent/ celibate plan, the easier it will be for me to stick to it!) Thank you!