My Road Trip Food Diary: The Dirty (& Delicious) Truth

Jul 9, 2015
Alright, road hogs. I’ve got good news or bad news, depending on how you look at it. Last we talked, I was getting ready to head out on my 21-day cross-country road trip to promote the release of my new funny diet book, "Calorie Accounting." (And the tour was an incredible success and tons of fun, thanks for asking!! :) )

Now, if you’ll recall, I’ve got a pretty dismal track record when it comes to maintaining my health and fitness goals on the road. Cruising carefree across America usually means I’m up to my ears in Pringles and Peanut M&Ms while I sing along to Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits Volumes I and II.

But because I was touring a diet book and all, I thought it might be a good idea to try not to be the biggest glutton on God’s green earth this time around. So I laid out some (ambitious) rules of the road, vowing to hold myself accountable to strict diet and exercise targets, keeping strong, staying the course.

And now that I’m back, as promised, I’m updating you on how it all played out. So. You ready? OK. Here’s the thing about dieting on vacation:

Forget about it.

It’s impossible. Well, maybe not impossible, but about as close to impossible as anything can be. And even if it’s not technically impossible, if nothing else, dieting on vacation is just altogether a terrible idea. If you think cutting out carbs makes you a maniacal zombie in your regular day-to-day, I’d say hurtling bread-free down Historic Route 66 is grounds for reckless driving. And anyway, vacation is about letting your hair down, experiencing life to the fullest, having an open mind, and in many cases, an open mouth.

And while I will admit to you all that I was pathetically unable to stay 100% true to my hopeful best practices published for the world to scrutinize in Blog No. 1, I am pleased as punch to announce that I was accountable enough not to gain any weight while out on the road. I couldn’t make myself lose, but I didn’t let myself gain. And that, my friends, is a hefty freaking win.

Here’s how I enjoyed the heck out of my once-in-a-lifetime vacation, eating my way blissfully through America, and still broke even:

3 Beignets at Café du Monde, New Orleans – 527 calories. Split ‘em with the BF! 264 calories per person. Burnt no problem walking from Frenchman to Canal and back again, a mile each way. (I had a hurricane in my hand, but let’s chalk that up to completing an experience.)

Fried Chicken Thighs at Salty Sow, Austin – 270 calories. Ordered a salad for my side and ran three miles around Town Lake in the morning. Done!

Endless snacks from my glorious great-aunt and great-uncle in Phoenix – call it 600 calories. I don’t know, I stopped counting this day. I was pampered and coddled, and I loved it. Plus, it was too hot to do anything more physically strenuous than handstand contests in the pool.

Vanilla cruller from Spudnuts, Los Angeles – 421 calories. What do you want, it was National Donut Day!! I’m not a monster. Took me 2.3 seconds to inhale this heavenly pastry, and 30 minutes of jogging around Echo Park (almost) burnt this off.

In-N-Out Burger, somewhere outside Pioneertown, Calif. – 240 calories. Ex-Angelino Insider’s Tip! Ordered this baby “Protein Style” (wrapped in lettuce as opposed to a bun) and cheeseless to cut the cals in half! A California dream, and a perfect fit for my daily caloric budget.

Bacon & Rice Cakes/Salt Cod Fried Rice at Mission Chinese, San Francisco – around 800 calories, but we were with a big group. I probably got at 350 of these calories. Plus, we ordered something with that god-forsaken-tongue-numbing szechuan pepper on it, and I’m convinced one bite of that stuff burns more calories than a SoulCycle class. In less sarcastic coverage, I did put in an honest 25-minute jog up and down the ridiculous hills of The Mission, so that’s gotta count for something.

Strawberry Honey Balsamic Black Pepper Ice Cream, Salt & Straw, Portland – 310 calories. And, if I’m being honest, I had to have this on a waffle cone for an extra 90 calories. Don’t judge me, it was National Ice Cream Day! (No it wasn’t.) This cone was never accounted for and nearly broke the bank. But it was vacation, and it was worth every last calorie. Plus, I was feeling sorry for myself because I ran over an ax in the road and had to get a new tire.

Cross-Country Fast! – 900 calories over 1.5 days. 1800 miles of (nearly) nonstop driving from Portland to Kansas City in a 36-hour window meant there was no time for silly things, like bathroom breaks and food. This forced fast helped to make up for my throwing-caloric-caution-to-the-wind on the West Coast. I ate carrot chips dipped in 150-calorie packs of hummus mixed with 0-calorie ribbons of Franks Red Hot Wings Sauce, and I was happy as a clam.

Small Skyline Chili 3-Way, Cincinnati – 380 calories. I can’t go to Cincy and not get this. And even though I can surely take down the “regular” size of this delicacy, I’m saving nearly 400 calories if I practice moderation and order the small. Though I didn’t get a chance to burn this meal off properly, I did convince two girls in the Skyline queue to order my book online -- they showed me their Amazon confirmation pages right then and there! My metabolism must have spiked from the rush, at least just a bit ;)

By the time I made it back home to Chicago for my final event, I thought about rewarding myself with a hot dog but was too exhausted for much more than a pickle. Well, maybe five pickles. But still. I was admittedly frightened to weigh myself in the morning, once everything was said and done, but I felt like I had won the lottery when the glowing red number at my feet appeared unchanged! I ate three string cheeses immediately in celebration and haven’t weighed myself since, but for now, I’m riding high. I did it. I went on vacation for 21 days and I didn’t gain a pound. Maybe anything’s possible, after all.

For more information on "Calorie Accounting, The Foolproof Diet-by-Numbers Plan for a Skinnier New You" and to embark on your own lightened-up weight loss adventure, visit

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