Coast Through a Theme Park on Plan

One Leader shows how, with a little advance planning, you can make sure that fun – not food – is the main attraction.
Family on Rollercoaster
The joy of finding out that I would spend six days in the “happiest place on earth” for our family vacation was quickly followed by horrifying images of what I would eat during those six days and nights. I envisioned gigantic portions of unhealthy treats like hot fudge-soaked ice cream and nachos drowned in an ocean of cheese. My horror only amplified as each person I mentioned the trip to quickly chimed in about the unspeakably naughty eats.

My first obstacle was overcoming my own negative thoughts telling me there would be “nothing I could do” to maintain or lose weight during the trip. But I felt my mind actually giving in to those thoughts before I even set foot on the plane. No way was I going to let that happen! The trip would take some thought and planning, and I needed to get started early, but I knew I could make it through the week with my weight-loss efforts none the worse for wear.

I went online to get tips and ideas. I visited the Message Boards on WeightWatchers.com and got great tips from other Community users who survived theme park day trips and even week-long visits. After reading through their suggestions, I came up with this plan for success.

Here are 10 tactics that helped me maintain my weight during this whirlwind week.

1. Take a spin around the theme park’s website before you go. Many of them outline exactly what their food choices and options are. This gives you a chance to make some informed decisions ahead of time.

2. Request a small fridge and a microwave for your hotel room before you arrive. They may cost a small amount each day to rent, but will come in handy and save you in the long run — in overpriced takeout food dollars and PointsPlus® values.

3. Call ahead to inquire about the gym or active options at your hotel. Even if your hotel doesn’t have a gym, it is likely affiliated with one close by, where guests can receive a discount and short-term pass. Pick up a walking map for the park and surrounding area if possible. Some hotels even have morning yoga or water aerobics for their guests. Plan several workouts to negate the additional hidden calories that will inevitably creep in.

4.Stock up on portable healthy snacks to pack in your suitcase and on the plane. It sets the tone for the entire trip. Keep additional nutritious nibbles on hand for the entire family. Best bets: 94% fat-free microwave popcorn, 5 cups for a PointsPlus value of 3; Almonds, 23 nuts for a PointsPlus value of 5; Reduced-calorie granola bars, average a PointsPlus value of 3; Oatmeal packets, which average a PointsPlus value of 3.

5. Visit a grocery store on the first day of your trip to pick up some staples. If you don’t have access to a car, ask the hotel staff about grocery stores that you can order from online or by phone that will deliver essential items. Best bets: Fresh fruit, for a PointsPlus value of 0; Fat-free milk, for a PointsPlus value of 2 per cup; Light breakfast items (eggs, high-fiber cereal, yogurt, oatmeal), find ones that average a PointsPlus value of 2-3.

6. Plan to eat breakfast in the room each morning. It can save PointsPlus values, eliminate temptation and save money.

7. Pack a snack bag and water to take to the park. In my experience, there were security bag checks upon entering the park, but I had no problem bringing in food or water. It saved us hundreds of dollars over the course of the week, and kept my family from defaulting to giant cookies or Rice Krispies treats in the afternoon.

8. Plan in one or two of your favorite indulgences over the course of the day or week. You don’t want to feel deprived. I decided to treat myself to one awesome ice cream sundae during my six-day trip. Looking forward to eating it made me happy. Knowing it would just be once made me very selective about where and when I would treat myself. It also ensured that I enjoyed every bite.

9. Seek out healthy options within the park. I found fresh fruit stands, grilled chicken sandwiches on whole-grain rolls, salads and even baked potato stands.

10. Make special requests. The worst you can hear is, "No." At every restaurant my family and I visited there was a small note at the bottom of the menu claiming that the kitchen would do its best to accommodate and support dietary restrictions or preferences. I took full advantage of that, asking for little to no oil on my entrées and substituting steamed, fresh vegetables for mashed potatoes.

The trip was wonderful, and the best part? I returned home without gaining a pound.

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