Healthy and Sane

Enjoying Aruba to the fullest

April 14th, 2010 · 43 Comments · Aruba, Uncategorized, Vacations

Hi guys! How is everything? Did you enjoy the guest posts? Not too many comments on those, but I’m hoping that’s because you are shy. 😉 The girls did a great job – thank you Cristina, Alex and Meghan for holding down the fort for me. :)

So I’m back from Aruba. This was such a different trip for us. Adam and I are usually the explore and “do stuff” kind of travelers. I think our trips last year to Hong Kong and Singapore and even Austin and San Antonio would classify as such. Because of that, I was actually surprised that Adam would be into the “do nothing but veg” kind of vacation. But let me tell you – it was amazing. We both loved it!

We stayed at an all-inclusive resort, which meant that food and drinks were plentiful. Breakfast and lunch were always served buffet-style. We also had sit-down dinners for 2 nights, and buffet dinners the other 2 nights. With so much food so easily available, I thought I’d be uncomfortably full for most of the trips. Surprisingly, I effortlessly was able to eat intuitively. That meant balancing healthy veggies with a few treats and yes, that also meant dessert with most meals (but in reasonable portions – my definition of “reasonable.”) We usually ate 3 meals a day with maybe a tiny snack in between (like a few bites of a clif bar I brought me with me or a pear or an apple I snagged from the buffet earlier in the day).




… and sane (that is nutella over ww toast. I was on vacation after all!!)


banana bread





… and sane (choc chip pancake + raisin french toast)


Breakfasts were great – lots of delicious options. Lunches were mostly greasy or onion-filled (a lot of the healthier “fun” options were covered in a diced onion/pepper mixture). So I changed strategies. Instead of looking for something reasonable healthy to eat and adding a side salad, I made a giant salad and found a few other “sides” for it.


I got pretty creative with my salads too. Lots of veggies from the salad bar, seeds and nuts from the ice cream parfait toppings section (the last day I even found a cheese board and added some goat cheese to my salad). Olives, capers and jalapenos also “spruced up” the boring salad bar veggies. I was an expert navigating the whole place by day 3. 😀


A little grilled chicken + a few bites of pasta


… and a grilled mahi-mahi piece. Very satisfying!


I usually sampled a few desserts with every meal but never ate the whole plate. The last day I even skipped dessert at lunch and only had 2 bites at dinner (it was a served dinner; I probably wouldn’t even go for dessert at a buffet).


A few pretty pictures of the sit-down dinner.. “tapas”


and molten chocolate cake (I ate 1/2 of this)


Of course there were a lot of dessert drinks. I tried to limit my sugary drink intake at first, but gave in on day 2. It just felt so right. 😉

IMG_3455.JPG IMG_3459.JPG

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Adam was usually the instigator 😆


So there was a lot of eating and quite a bit of drinking, but this trip was really not about that at all. Aruba is not really a foodie vacation, so we concentrated on other things instead.

We found a few friends


This guy was gigantic!


His brother was smaller but very comfortable around a camera. I got really close here.


We even saw some goats!


We took a crazy awesome jeep tour from ABC tours


There was some seriously bumpy off-roading…


With peaceful views in between…







We snorkeled in a natural pool



And our guide had some fun with us…


A natural bridge



We visited a donkey sanctuary







[Pregnant donkey]


[49-year old donkey – equivalent to 98 years old in human years]


The donkey sanctuary is a non-profit organization that saves wild donkeys wondering around Aruba. It’s 100% run by volunteers. Donations fund the donkeys’ food and shelter. I was humbled and reminded of the infinite kindness some people have to offer.

Last stop on the jeep tour – the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins



I didn’t worry about my hair looking like a mop for the majority of the trip (it’s windy in Aruba!) 😆



We soaked up the sunshine



[Yes, that IS chocolate syrup in my mud slide]


We smiled – A LOT





How can you NOT when this is outside your “door”?!





We enjoyed refreshing slices of watermelon after some snorkeling (from the Black Pearl – awesome!!)…


… followed by ooey gooey warm grilled cheese sandwiches when it got a little cooler. They tasted like heaven!


We window-shopped downtown








I had slight freak-outs about my camera lens getting foggy randomly, and then clearing up the second I gave up and brought it back to the hotel room (this happened THREE times!).


Yeah, not the effect I was going for. 😕


Much better! 😀


We took long walks down the beach before dinner and couldn’t ignore all the beauty surrounding us.




I feel like a new person. Even the number on the scale this morning which tried to wipe the grin off my face did not faze me (even though it was TEN pounds higher than just 4 months ago). It’s just a number. I feel great!

How do you eat while traveling? Is your definition of “reasonable” different, or does “reasonable” completely go out of the window?

PS. I’m glad to be back. What did I miss?! 😀

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43 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - Run Sarah

    Your trip looks absolutely amazing – the photos are breathtaking. I am look for a fun destination in August, i am definitely considering Aruba now.

  • #2 - Shannon

    so glad you had such a fabulous time, definitely needed!!!! and getting back to intuitive in a tough situation, something to be proud of :)

  • #3 - maria

    I am glad to hear you were able to eat intuitively. I definitely did not do that on my honeymoon last year. I enjoyed EVERYTHING and came home six pounds heavier. But, in hindsight, I think it was worth it–I still wish I could have chosen healthier foods, though, and I would do it differently today.

  • #4 - Alice

    Aw Elina you look so happy! Adam does too! Those cocktails look off the hook…I’m a sucker for creamy, sweet ones on vacation too!

    Isn’t it funny when you ‘accept’ a lot of yummy food, and are happy generally, you manage to eat intuitively too?

  • #5 - Hangry Pants

    Wonderful vacation! I am so glad you were able to relax and enjoy yourself!

  • #6 - Diana

    That place looks amaaaazing and you both look so happy! I’d be happy if I was there too ahah :)
    I’m glad you had a good time and were able to make good choices without stressing, that’s what vacations are for!

  • #7 - janetha

    wow. what an incredible trip! you did such a great job of balancing your eats and treats. esp. for all inclusive! nice! everything looked like a blast. thanks for sharing! i go all out when on vacay :)

  • #8 - Killian

    Wow you are absolutely stunning! You often put yourself down for treating yourself too much but from what your diet is doing to your body, you don’t need to change a thing. You look so healthy and fresh in these photos and just like a real woman should. Glad you had a good time


  • #9 - Eve @ nutritionbyeve

    Wow – it looks like you had the most amazing time!! I’m so glad that intuitive eating came so easily – I find that usually it does when you’re happy and clearly you were :) Hope the adjustment back isn’t too hard.

  • #10 - Tiffany

    What an awesome looking vacation! You guys looks so much more relaxed and happy. The pictures are great, Aruba is GORGEOUS, and that beach is calling my name right now.

    Also, that is one cute dress!

  • #11 - Shannon

    What a great trip! You look relaxed and refreshed! Good job enjoying the food without going overboard :)

    Thanks for sharing your pictures!

  • #12 - Candice

    Looks like you had a great trip! While on vacation I usually do pretty good with food. I get distracted and food isn’t my focus. On our last cruise, I was in the process of losing weight and actually still lost weight while traveling. I did what you did with the buffets, eating mostly salad with other nibbles included. I also enjoyed myself with a few drinks and a few more bites of dessert.

    For me, the buffets and all-inclusives are easier than restaurant dining while on vacation. I can always say “oh, I’ll grab that on the buffet next time.” But if I’m only in a restaurant once then I’m more likely to splurge and order unhealthy things.

  • #13 - Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat)

    Wow, so many beautiful photos! That sunset especially is stunning. 😀

    It’s hard to be completely reasonable on vacation especially when you’re on the road for a long time (which is of course when you need to be more mindful because it’s not just a weekend getaway). It helps me to stay at places that have kitchens so I can cook more of my own meals and not rely on restaurants as much. But I also like to enjoy the local flavors.

    I mean, in Thailand I ate curry and pad thai for every single meal for 2 weeks but balanced that by walking a ton and generally being really active. No weight gained and happiness achieved. :)

  • #14 - MelissaNibbles

    Fabulous pictures. I’m glad you feel well rested and had such a great time!

  • #15 - Caroline

    Looks like an awesome trip! I am glad to hear that you made peace with eating what you wanted on vacation and are feeling good now that your back too. I think that’s very “healthy and sane” of you! I usually return from a trip slightly heavier than I go into it and sometimes this bothers me and sometimes it doesn’t. It all depends on whether I felt good about what I was eating even if it wasn’t as healthy as my normal eats.

  • #16 - Husband Adam

    I like how I “soaked up the sunshine” in jeans and sneakers in that picture :) That was right before we went to the airport!

  • #18 - Elina

    Killian – thank you! I would say that I chose to not post the pictures of me in a bathing suit. Those did not look so good but whatever, we still had fun! :)

    Candice – I actually think you’re right. The food wasn’t so amazing that I couldn’t step away. If we were in a more foodie destination, I know I would have a harder time eating intuitively.

  • #19 - Sophie @ yumventures

    What an amazing trip! I love all of your pictures! And your drinks look delicious =)

  • #20 - sister inna

    haha i was going to make the same comment adam did 😉
    that 98 year old donkey is sooo cute i want to pet him. aaaawwwww
    everything looks so gorgeous — no wonder you feel like a new woman. and now i’d like some watermelon please (with a side of beach please)

  • #21 - Cara

    Glad you had a great time! For what it’s worth, I think you made good decisions – and your salad is particularly pretty. When I vacation, I definitely make exceptions for vacations!

    I don’t go into it expecting to eat exactly the same way I would when not on vacation. That being said, I try not to go completely overboard either. For example, I’ll typically order whatever I want at dinner, indulge in the wine, etc, but make better choices for the rest of the day. I also might try to avoid the bread on the table, or make a conscious effort to leave some food on my plate (sounds silly, but I have always been a “plate cleaner” so I really need to slow down and focus if I want to think about when I feel full and stop there.) And I think about what it is that I really want to indulge in, not wasting calories on something that’s just “meh”. I’d be all over the desserts, but that’s just me!

    And even then, sometimes I still gain a couple pounds. But I don’t beat myself up over it. It’s not real pounds either – just water retention and my body being a little out of whack from deviating from it’s norm. But usually by the end of my first week back on my normal diet & exercise routine, I’m back to normal.

  • #22 - Lauren

    Looks like you and Adam enjoyed a wonderful, relaxing, and fun-filled vacation! Your eats (and drinks) all look fantastic.

  • #23 - Betsy

    Looks like a fantastic time, glad you enjoyed yourselves!

  • #24 - Melissa

    Thanks taking so many great pics, I really got a good feel of the island. OMG, That lizard is so scary!

  • #25 - Carrie @ I See Monsters

    This is such a great post. I can actually almost feel the relaxation radiating from the screen! :) That black dress with the belt is STUNNING on you. Such a great pic!

    Oh, and the “Also on Facebook” sign totally cracked me up for some reason. I want to go to Aruba!!!

  • #26 - Diana @ frontyardfoodie

    Well ten pounds ain’t being too hard on you sister, you look amazing!

    Aruba is a good relaxation type place and when I was there we did nothing but chill at the beach and walk lazily around with drinks in our hands.

    Glad you had a good time!

  • #27 - Sami

    Your trip looks amaazzing! So glad you had a great time. I’m a bit jealous though! 😉

  • #28 - Jen

    I am so so happy for you! That trip looks absolutely amazing, and even just reading this post and looking at your pictures made me feel better. You just seem so so happy!

    10 pounds is more than worth it if you feel like a million bucks, girl!

  • #29 - ChubbyNewlywed

    I came over here from Cara’s blog and I LOVE your attitude! I think you made great choices but still enjoyed yourself.

    When I go on vacation, my favorite thing to do is try new foods. I don’t force myself to eat a salad instead of amazing Italian pistacchio gelato, but I do say no the Pringles or the Snickers bars — I can get those at home! (Although I shouldn’t eat those at home…) Anyway, great post and it looks like a great trip. My husband and I are also adventure/sight-seeing travelers but we thoroughly enjoyed our laze-on-the-beach honeymoon last year. If you are interested in a beachy/relaxing vacation that is also foodie paradise, definitely check out St. Martin. It’s the culinary capital of the Caribbean and the French dining is out of this world.

  • #30 - Megan

    The one thing I wanted to do in Aruba was see the donkeys at the sanctuary! But of course it was closed when we got there! We also went swimming in the natural pool… that was probably my favorite part. Only we rented a jeep and my boyfriend drove us there… kind of scary! I bet the jeep tour drivers know where they’re going unlike us! Ha ha. I thought the natural bridge was really neat too. Sounds like you had a nice and relaxing trip and got some sun! Welcome back!

  • #31 - Meg @ Be Fit Be Full

    Oh wow….looks like such an amazing trip! I’m headed to St. John with my family next month and this post got me really excited about it! When I go on vacation I tend to go all out. You only live one! Then it’s back to regular healthy eats and exercise when I get back home :)

  • #32 - Lara (Thinspired)

    Elina, reading this post makes me so happy :) I am so glad that you really enjoyed yourself, and it sounds like you really perfected eating intuitively! Love the “healthy” and “sane” aspects of each meal…that’s what it’s all about, right?!

    You look fantastic and happy in all of these photos. Maybe I need to visit Aruba… :)

  • #33 - Carly

    What an awesome trip! You and Adam look so cute in all of the pics :) What resort did you stay at?

  • #34 - Kate G.

    Happy, healthy and sane :) this whole post reminds me again why i love your blog Elina!
    You look vibrant in all of your pictures btw!

  • #35 - Meghan@traveleatlove

    Looks like an amazing, restful trip!

  • #36 - Jenna

    Your trip looks amazing!! I’ve been to Aruba once and LOVED it! Is that the Riu that you stayed at??

    I’m going on a cruise this summer for my honeymoon and I’m already nervous that I’m going to overeat…and a LOT. But I am hoping that by then my habits will have changed that it will be easier to stay on track. And I’m definitely encouraged byt he way you ate!

  • #37 - Bridget

    You’re trip looks heavenly!! We are also usually all about the “do stuff” vacations…hence Europe for the honeymoon as opposed to a beach. But I could SO go for a “do nothing” vaca right now!!!! Esp a warm beachy one! still jealous :) but glad your back!!

  • #38 - Jenna

    Wow!! Looks like a fab vaca!!

  • #39 - Cristina

    Oh that beach photo, is that Eagle Beach? Did you go to Moomba Beach (the restaurant?)

  • #40 - Madeline - Greens and Jeans

    You look so incredibly happy in each of these pictures! I’m glad you had such a wonderful, relaxing trip!

  • #41 - terri

    your pics are amazing! you are too cute! i love love love the donkey sanctuary, and yes it seems there are still some good hearted people in the world! your food choices you made looked great. i sometimes cheat a LOT on my vacations…..and then complain about it later…i figure its a vacation, so just enjoy! thanks for sharing all of this fun!!

  • #42 - Lauren

    Your pictures are great! I was there in January and would love to go back tomorrow if I could!

  • #43 - felicity

    Your photos are so beautiful! I went to the exact same hotel as you in September 2009 and found the island so incredibly beautiful! I know what you mean about the salads at lunch though – everything had onions diced around the top! I’m glad you had a lovely time.