Taking food off the back burner
Tunes for Tuesday: Back to Life, by Soul II Soul

Shrinking Sisters' vacation survival guide and a way to Lighten Up

Oh, hello there! Just peeking out from under a mountain of e-mails, laundry and other assorted chores that come from taking a week off.

We spent most of last week traversing the midsection of Florida -- from Kennedy Space Center (where I was attacked by no-see-ums), to Universal Orlando, to a Tampa Bay Rays game, to checking out the sponge boats of Tarpon Springs, and even a minor league baseball game in Lakeland.

I was scale-free for a week, and all I had to gauge my diet and fitness was my Nutrisystem journal and my Fitbit. The Fitbit was very happy with me and let me know that I smashed over 16,000 steps last Wednesday at the theme park.

I was going to take a week off of Nutrisystem, but the Weight Shrink told me that I was coming up with too many excuses NOT to bring the plan with me, so I brought the breakfasts, lunches and desserts with me and did dinner on my own. I thought it would be too difficult to do the plan on the road, but it was pretty easy. All I did was supplement my meals with fruits, vegetables and lean protein. Sometimes it was easy (yogurt stop at the grocery store) and sometimes it was a pain (theme park food!). But I learned that to be successful, I had to ask for what I wanted, even if that meant poking my head into theme park cafes and scanning every stinking menu board.

Dry caesarI was a rock star at restaurants, asking questions, seeking substitutes, ordering off the menu and seeking out the healthiest options. I even had a server at Universal make me a custom salad -- the chicken caesar without dressing or croutons. That left me with a pile of romaine, grilled chicken and a light dusting of parmesan (at right). But I got what I wanted and she was more than happy to help.

One little thing got in the way of any weight loss -- those bug bites from the Space Center, which sent me to the emergency room with a bad allergic reaction. I was sent back to the hotel with a prescription for prednisone, which is not exactly conducive to weight loss.

So ... I'm the same weight I was when I left. But I guess that's good for a week of vacation diinners and steroids, huh? This week, there's no dining out, no steroids and my old routine, so I'm hopeful next Monday's weigh-in will be productive.

Vacation musthavesI wanted to share some of my favorite road-trip tools to make healthy eating easier. Here are a few of my favorites:

Camelbak Groove bottle: This refillable water bottle has a built-in filter so you can reload anywhere and you don't have to pay for overpriced bottled water at the theme park.

Barney Butter almond butter packets: I love the 1-tablespoon size of these packets because they're perfect for portable protein. I order them by the case from Amazon.

Crystal Light Pure packets: If I did want to splurge a little and forgo plain water, I'd keep these 30-calorie packs in my purse or pocket.

Starbucks Via packets: The cure for dreadful hotel-room coffee.

Mini boxes of raisins: If I was short of a fruit serving or just wanted a little snack, they came in handy and didn't need refrigeration.

Coromega 3+D Squeeze: It's a little orange-flavored packet of omega-3's plus vitamin D, which is a great way to squeeze in those important supplements. Plus it's pretty tasty and not at all fishy.

Subway breakfastAnd if you haven't tried Subway's breakfasts, I recommend the egg white and cheese muffin melt, which weighs in at less than 200 calories, even with avocado. I grabbed one on the ride home yesterday and it was a tasty calorie bargain.

But next time I'm adding jalapenos -- while I love avocado, it was a bit bland, and a few jalapenos would have helped. The spinach and tomatoes were good additions for color and crunch.

So it's back to life, back to reality (can you tell what tomorrow's Tunes for Tuesday song is going to be?). And I want to work on making more changes in my attitudes toward food and fitness and determination.

Lighten Up with me

Back from vacation and ready to tackle this weight thing head-on, I was really jazzed to be contacted by The Good Life Coalition, a team of experts in health and well-being. Starting Aug. 1 I'll be taking part in their Lighten Up six-week online weight-loss retreat of personal coaching and support. And every week I'll be letting you know a little about the program and my progress.

I love that some of the bullet points in the course target self-sabotage, trash-talking yourself and getting off the roller-coaster of the scale. It's more of a whole-body approach to getting your head together to make weight loss a success.

If you'd like to join me, you can find out more by clicking the button below:

There you can read more about the team of experts, what's included in the course, the cost and how the Good Life Coalition will donate clean drinking water on your behalf when you sign up.