Try This: Utopia Food & Fitness, Week 4

With 10 pounds gone, Conner heads into the program's final week.

Each week presents a new challenge. Whether it’s navigating work lunches, happy hours, book clubs, or saying “no” to a wine night, there’s a daily moment where I have to tell myself to stay strong. But this week was truly one of the hardest challenges of all. I went on a Spring Break family vacation. With no wine as a lifeline.

Ryan Conner

Day 1: Note to self. Do not plan to start the six-week challenge knowing you will be going on a Spring Break trip during Week Five. And especially when your calorie count gets lowered for the last time. I guess I wasn’t thinking it would be a “big deal” when I signed up. Maybe I thought I could just eat clean while on vacation? Or maybe I didn’t realize the commitment I would feel when I got this far along. Either way, I agreed to take the food with me. I purchased the food last week, froze it, and my mom drove it from Dallas to Oklahoma and then all the way out to our New Mexico trip. (Thanks, Mom!) 

The trainers urged me to follow the diet while I was on vacation, but it wasn’t easy. Today, for instance, we traveled for seven hours via car/plane/car. I had no idea how I’d stick to the diet while I was in the air or on a stretch of highway with nothing but the Golden Arches in the distance. But I packed up a few muffins in my tote, and they tied me over when I was hungry. I ordered a 300-calorie meal at the airport, and by the time we arrived at our destination, so did my mom. With my dinner. 

Day 2: Luckily, our vacation is an oft-frequented spot, so I knew that if I didn’t get to dine at my favorite places, they would be there next time. That did get me through. But I won’t say that I didn’t have a bite here and there. A taste. A nibble. Because I did. 

Days 3 and 4: The food froze surprisingly well. I ordered a variety of items from pancakes and hash browns to pastas and meatballs. Some of the dishes were a tad watery after heating, but it didn’t affect the taste or texture. My parents even commented on how delicious the stuffed pasta shells looked. (A dish on my heavy rotation.) I didn’t pack any chips and dips or any fish/shrimp dishes because I feared they wouldn’t be as tasty after freezing. Each day was challenging. We ordered pizza to watch basketball. We hung out a brewery at which I could not imbibe. We visited a darling local ice cream shop for the kids (one of my favorite indulgences), but I stuck it out and only stole a bite from my kids’ cones and a sip from my husband’s beer flight.

This program can bend with your lifestyle a bit.

Day 5: Another travel day, another day on the road and in the air. I did the best I could and knew that my calorie count was at a low threshold. If anything, I feel like I was overly concerned and maybe even ate less than if I had been eating the Utopia food? We landed in the mid-afternoon, so I’m going to work out after we put the kids to bed. And the best news? I didn’t gain a pound, even though there were a few cheating moments–some intentional, some that couldn’t be helped.

Day 6: I’m actually happy to be back to my routine. It makes it so much easier to stick to the plan. 

Day 7: Tomorrow starts the countdown to one week left on the program. I’m already anxious about my weigh-in. I really want to hit my goal of 10 pounds which is my pre-baby weight number. My husband is starting to notice a difference in the way I look (finally!), and my clothes are fitting better than they have since I had my second child. Hallelujah.

Final thoughts: This program can bend with your lifestyle a bit. If you travel for work, the meals freeze well. If you have a moment when you’re without the food, the system has now taught me about portions, so I made better choices. I’m excited, but also nervous about the last week. The meals are a crutch. What will be my strategy moving forward? Was all of this work all for nothing, and once I get back to my normal routine, will I just gain it all back? 

Ryan Conner is associate editor for D Home and D Weddings.

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