We spent the July 4 weekend in the Hilton Head Island, S.C., area — and it was beautiful!

(Does this photo win the prize for most ridiculous pose you’ve ever seen? I hope so!)

I used to have a real problem with an “all-or-nothing” mentality. Vacations, get-togethers, parties — any special occasion was an excuse to really, well, pig out. And while I am definitely an advocate of enjoying special events, and my indulgences never caused my weight loss to regress, it certainly didn’t help, either.  With wedding dress shopping on the horizon, I did not want to gorge myself in South Carolina.

Here’s how I was able to control yet enjoy myself over the long weekend:

1) Don’t try to be super strict. You’ll just be setting yourself up for failure. A more realistic goal is to be flexible and make good choices, if not the best choice.

2) Pick and choose your indulgences. If a meal is at a place where you can eat just about anywhere (chain restaurants), it’s not worth the splurge. Local restaurants and places you don’t get to go often are.

3) Stick with what works for you at home whenever possible. At the beginning of June, I decided to swap my morning bowl of Kashi for an egg white and veggie scramble. Not only does it keep me fuller so much longer, it’s a much better choice for someone who is insulin resistant. Whether we ate at the house or a restaurant, I was able to eat egg whites for breakfast every day that we were gone.

4) Always, always, always split dessert. I am the biggest advocate of this, whether you are on vacation or at home. Oftentimes, you just need a taste of something sweet. My fiance and I almost always split dessert, and it’s a nice way to get a taste of something sweet without going overboard (and it saves money, too!).

Left to right:  Rocky road, hot fudge sundae and wedding cake cupcakes from Sweet Carolina Cupcakes in Hilton Head. Three of us split these, and yet somehow it didn’t feel like each person at an entire cupcake.

5) Try to exercise. I know, I know, you’ve heard it a million times: Try to squeeze extra activity into whatever you have planned. But it’s easy once you get that idea in your head. Walk around more, take the stairs, flail around in the ocean if you’re at the beach. Again, something is better than nothing! If you can squeeze in a real workout, even better. I went out for a 20-minute run that flew by because we were staying in such a beautiful area.

6) Don’t feel bad for wanting to make healthy choices. Kassia, our gracious hostess (and one of my bridesmaids!) knows how I eat and stocked up on fruit and egg whites and chicken sausages and made a health-ifed guacamole dip for dinner one night. If you are staying at someone’s home, they want you to be comfortable. You can even offer to help cook.

 This is a fine line to walk. I’m not saying you should shove your healthy choices in anyone’s face, and I think it’s possible to pick and choose and eat healthfully in just about any situation. But if someone asks if you have any preferences, speak up. For example, if  you need to stop for lunch on the road, then by all means, push for a place like Subway.

Your healthy lifestyle is a priority, and no one should make you feel bad about that.  In September of ’07, I stayed at a bed-and-breakfast with several relatives when we were attending a wedding, and I remember several people made a comment when I chose to go for a long walk that morning. I was about two years into my weight loss and just explained that’s what I do now, I exercise. If the same situation came up now, I doubt anyone would say anything, because it’s just been accepted that that’s who I am and what I do. No matter where you are in your weight loss, do what you need to do for you — on vacation or not.