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Wellness Wednesday: A Trip to Hilton Head Health + Tips for Portion Control

Sharing my review of an incredible few days with Hilton Head Health, plus 5 tips for portion control that are easy to implement into any lifestyle.

Monique holding a coffee

Wellness Wednesdays have become one of my favorite ways to share more with you outside of recipes. I feel like we’re good friends chatting about our experiences and similarities in this crazy world.

This week I wanted to share my recent health and wellness trip to Hilton Head Health in South Carolina; it was a complete eye opening experience and I’m so thankful that I was selected to attend. It has made me eager to go on more wellness and/or fitness trips. What’s better than eating good food, having fun exercise classes, meeting new people and finding some relaxation along the way?

Where I stayed:

I arrived on a Wednesday afternoon to sunshine and crisp, warm air. I knew that the Carolinas were beautiful thanks to my time spent with Tony during his baseball season, but little did I know that Hilton Head was going to be an entirely new experience. The plantation (as they called it) was full of lush green trees, small ponds, miles of walking and biking trails and of course, the bright blue ocean.

There were six health, fitness and food bloggers invited to do a mini version of the Live Well program, which isn’t necessarily about losing weight but more about maintaining wellness and a healthy lifestyle. The resort offered many amenitiess such as a sea salt pool, fitness classes, personal training sessions, a full spa, bike rentals, cooking classes and more.

We stayed in condos or villas about a mile away from the resort, but there was a nice taxi service that took us where we needed to go each day. For the most part, I packed everything needed and stayed at the resort for the full day before heading back to my villa at night.

Four-panel collage of meals

About the food:

I will note that the food was absolutely terrific. However, little did I know that we were going to be eating 1200-1600 calories per day. That’s just not enough for me when I’m doing hard workouts or running. Then I started thinking that perhaps it was enough for me, or perhaps 1600 calories of wholesome, clean food could be enough and keep me satisfied.

Each meal was delicious and had variety. Of course, a few hours after each I found myself starving in my room and searching through my purse for the saltine crackers I stashed a few weeks ago. I felt like a crazy person (HANGRY) and a little bit pissed off that I didn’t grab some more snacks from back home, but I was ready to settle into the experience. Perhaps I needed more food, but I also came to the realization that a small snack before bed would hold me over.

Here’s what my calorie consumption looked like while I was at Hilton Head Health:

8:00am – Breakfast: Egg scramble with avocado and fresh berries (270 calories)

10:30am – Snack: Cottage cheese and grapes (170 calories)

12:00pm – Lunch: Turkey Chili + garden salad (270 calories)

3:00pm – Snack: 4 Triscuits + Carrots + light ranch (100 calories)

5:00pm – Dinner: Roasted Sea Bass with Lemon Risotto and Roasted Vegetables (300 calories)

7:30pm – Snack: Banana + Triscuits (160 calories)

Note: Sometimes I ate more, depending on my workouts and how hungry I felt.

Bowl of turkey chili with a spoon

Snacking and food preparation:

Hilton Head also have something called fitbites at 10:30am and 3:30pm each day where you’re able to come to the dining room and grab healthy nutritious snacks. All snacks are already prepacked for you in plastic baggies and calories for each so you can keep track of what you’re eating and how much. I munched on cottage cheese, bananas, grapes and/or carrots after my morning workout.

Another wonderful perk was that the food was mostly all natural and prepared with care. Calorie amounts were given for each dish we ate and they catered to dietary needs. A few disappointments were that dinner wasn’t a la carte, meaning you didn’t have the ability to pick and choose your own dinner. I was told that it would be changing soon though! Another was that they only served dessert twice per week. I felt as though I wanted a little dark chocolate every night before I went to bed, but at the same time it was nice to step outside of my usual eating habits.

You can see how they label gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian and vegan in the menu below. There’s an option for nearly any diet out there. My favorite lunch choices were the soup of the day, the kale and pomegranate salad, and of course the turkey chili. LOVE LOVE LOVE. This was my kind of food! Check out Hilton Head Health’s blog for more delicious recipes from their chefs.

Restaurant menu

About the amenities

During my stay I had the chance to get a few tests done that would measure my cholesterol, heart rate, blood pressure, glucose and more. They told me that they test this weekly with their guests (some stay for months!). I talked to a few other Hilton Head attendees and they mentioned that they’ve seen great results. A few have lost close to 40 pounds or more; they mentioned their weight loss has helped to stay them motivated and also keep them coming back. Everyone was welcoming, non-judgemental and incredibly funny. And it was inspiring to see everyone so active. I also loved getting my results and talking with their dietitian and how I can improve my diet.

The sea salt pool was also another favorite. The best part is that both the pool and the fitness center is open 24 hours a day. Who could resist a little midnight dip?

Another thing I loved was the spa where I enjoyed both a massage and a facial. Each left me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Such a treat!

Collage of Monique and friends at a wellness retreat

On fitness

Each day we worked out to a variety of fitness classes. My favorite was the treading class which Andie, Beth, Nicole, Sarah and I did together. I’m told the class is similar to running at Barry’s Boot Camp. Nicole posted her version of the workout over on her blog; I can’t wait to do it on my own once it gets too chilly to run outside!

I have a feeling most of you are curious how much exercising we were doing. For the most part we exercised 2x per day, just because we had the time and it was fun. We weren’t on any sort of schedule nor did we have to workout, but it was enjoyable.

Monique of Ambitious Kitchen shares her review of Hilton Head Health and 5 tips for portion control.

It was quite easy to fill time up getting to know the other Hilton Head attendees and bloggers. Each day my schedule was packed from about 8am-8pm. Here’s an example schedule:

7:30am – Nutrition Assessment

8am – Breakfast

9:30 am – Treading workout

10:30 am – Healthy Snacking Cooking Demo (we made peanut butter hummus)

12pm – Lunch

1:00pm – Signature Massage

2:00pm – Food Lecture on Putting it all together

3:30pm – Step Aerobics

5:45pm – Dinner

Plate with scrambled eggs, toast, a side of fruit and coffee

My biggest takeaway was how much I learned about portion control. Typically I do pretty well at home, but this was an eye-opening experience. I ate healthy fats, had high-protein meals and virtually no gluten or wheat. Most meals were focused on vegetables and healthy carbs from vegetables like sweet potatoes or brown rice. After each meal I actually felt full but after 2 hours, I was hungry again. This was an indication that my metabolism was kicking.

Here are some tips that I’ve taken away since attending Hilton Head Health:

1. Eat mindfully and slower. This means that you do not eat in front of the television nor inhale your food. Instead, really take the time to try to sit down and enjoy your food. Don’t eat food out of the box or the bag, instead pour it into a bowl. Always try to make each one of your meals last 20 minutes.

2. Don’t drink your calories. This one is hard. Most of enjoy a latte now and then but really it’s best to try and limit yourself from drinking lots of fruit juices, soda (even diet!), and holiday drinks. Instead try and drink water throughout the day or try a naturally carbonated beverage such as a LaCroix water.

3. Manage your hunger by eating better. Fill your plate with half of vegetables, 1/4 protein and 1/4 healthy carbs. The volume, water and fiber in the vegetables will help to keep you full; the protein takes longer to digest and the carbs will give you energy. Instead of carbs such as crackers or bread, replace them with sweet potatoes or winter squash. Try practicing this for at least a week and you’ll notice the difference!

4. Pay attention to serving size. Sometimes that means measuring your food. I know that it can be tricky for those who have eating issues, but if you are trying to maintain your weight, it’s important to know what your eating and how much.

5. Keep danger foods out of your environment. If you have certain foods that you can’t seem to have control over, perhaps you should consider not keeping them in your home. Perhaps it’s ice cream or chips; whatever it is, if you continue to binge or feel out of control when you eat those foods consider eliminating them from your grocery list or only allowing yourself to buy a small portion and enjoy it once a week.

Table with breakfast foods on plates

If you have more questions about Hilton Head Health, feel free to leave a comment below! To keep up to date with posts and behind the scenes info on Ambitious Kitchen,  follow me on BlogLovin’, FeedlyFacebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Question: What are some of your tips for portion control? How do you stay in check with your food?

Disclaimer: Hilton Head Health paid for my stay but I was not compensated to write this post.

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