Life Lessons from Quarantine: How I Lost 10 Pounds During My Vacation

by | Aug 5, 2021 | 0 comments

In my house, quarantine nights began around 9 pm and finished in the morning, when I cleaned up red solo cups that littered the puzzle table. It was an unhealthy chaotic lifestyle to have everyone home baking all hours of the day and socializing all night. There was no treadmill or gym to run away, and I had no reason to zip up a pair of jeans. It was a dangerous combination for someone who was trying to maintain a 40 pound weight loss.

I did gain 10 pounds after my COVID shot, and the scale did not budge for 6 months. Now, I am celebrating a 10 pound weight loss after just a one-week vacation.

Finding success without food restrictions and a gym

During lockdown I wanted to be careful with my free time, I had a challenging schedule and no privacy. I had to figure a way to empower myself and my clients and continue while focusing on sustainable weight loss as a side effect to a healthy lifestyle.

I live with phenomenal chefs and it was impossible to give up any of their favorite food groups. Pizza, chocolate, bread, and ice cream were served daily. I created meal plans for the week, and allowed myself wiggle room. The wiggle room helped me always feel in control without being deprived.

I always enjoyed the outdoors but a passionate love affair with hiking began as a way to escape my beautiful messy life and feel physically and emotionally empowered. I utilized functional training to support my outdoor activities. I started to train for a marathon to support my hiking, and hiked to train for the marathon. I had not stepped on a treadmill since COVID began and this brought me a new level of joy.

Post Vaccine

Now, the world is opening up, and my love affair for hiking has grown. This week, I hit 9 summits in 4 days, and 5 of those summits were 4000 footers. My training paid off, sustainable weight loss maintenance is a side effect to a healthy lifestyle. It was also my first vacation without any food restrictions, and I lost a weight! This is my first vacation where my jeans were looser, and this was a direct result to what I learned during quarantine.

I am getting fitter at the age of 49 and 10 years after my MS diagnosis. I am also finding a better balance with fitness and food. I am enjoying chocolate, wine, pizza, and no treadmills.

I  couldn’t believe what else I noticed! The parking lot was empty. I hiked for hours not seeing anyone. I did not need a reservation to picnic on the summit. The world has opened and nature is closing down. 

There is a part of me that is thrilled. I got my space back, and I could celebrate being the oldest person on the trail and fitting into the same jeans. But, as a fitness professional, I am sad that I have the trails to myself again. I am worried about how this will impact my community.

Finding a balance with food

Dinner before a long hike

This was my first vacation where I lost weight! I believe that my new “no-restriction” policy helped me find success on vacation. I ate pizza and ice cream before a long hike. I stayed away from wine before a challenging hike. I stuck to mostly healthy options, unless something looked spectacular. I tried the donut place, but was not too impressed, so I threw out the rest of the donuts. I ate everything I wanted and came home 10 pounds lighter. I enjoyed a glass of wine after a challenging hike and focused on staying hydrated.

The healthy eating only gained momentum when I got home. I happened to get a fever, cough, and runny nose on vacation. After, getting multiple negative COVID tests, I quickly went to a farm stand and purchased everything that looked good. I went home cooked and slept for 48 hours. I lived off these two recipes and healed pretty fast! I found more success on the scale and was running in 5 days.

The Plan Going Forward


No food restrictions!!! I was never a fan of diets before, and that has not changed. I believe that healthy sustainable weight loss should be delicious and social. It is important to not feel deprived.

I like to write out a healthy meal plan and will document changes. It is important to have a plan.

Many of my clients mentioned the need for a “win”. Finding short term success with a long term goal is the purpose of meal planning. It is great to lose 15 pounds in 6 weeks, but it is more important for it to be sustainable weight loss. Those wins help with motivation to be disciplined.


For decades the fitness industry pushed us indoors.Yes, we need to move, but how did this mandatory healthy lifestyle practice become a business built around the best machines that mimic the outdoors. Facilities popped up with fancier equipment and better experiences. Sound machines that imitate waterfalls and videos that pretend we are in the Alps. The other option is to lift heavy weights. I have no desire to celebrate a max squat or chest press at the age of 50.

When COVID hit and everyone went outdoors; the fitness industry got worried. The industry pushed in home equipment and the experience made it even easier to not go outside. Now, busy professionals are sitting all day until they need to get out of their chair to sit on a bike to mimic a ride in a foreign countryside.

In theory at least we are moving, I guess. In reality the fitness industry is failing the community, again. First, the in-home bike craze has the potential for serious chronic injuries. Nobody should be sitting all day and then do an exercise that puts the body in a more stressful position for 45 minutes, or even worse 90 minutes. In addition, lifting heavy weights to build muscle mass and celebrating max lifts is not appealing to me.

The fitness industry should functionally train the body to repair the damage of too much sitting or reading over a computer, but a bike or treadmill does nothing for those issues. It actually exacerbates the problem. It will shorten the psoas and weaken the medial glutes.

It does not take a lot of time to repair the body, but it does take consistency. I see dramatic improvements with 45 minutes 2x of functionally training weekly, and 10-20 minutes of restorative exercise daily. I would not encourage busy professionals to spend their precious time leaning over stationary bikes or lifting heavy weights. They should be focused on getting the body to function optimally, because that is when the fun begins.

Tips for Long Term Success

Get outside with those healthy bodies. Use the convenience of online training to get in the best shape of your life, and feel empowered with a family bike ride, group hike, kayak with a friend or walk/run a 5k. Utilize all 5 senses and discover the unique qualities of the world around us.

I know many people are looking to lose weight, but weight loss is just a side effect to a healthy lifestyle. Don’t let the industry trick you into losing sight of the purpose of being active.

  1. Be Consistent
  2. Be Accountable
  3. Eat Real Food
  4. Get Outside

It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are… than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise.” Henry David Thoreau

Owner and Founder of Empower Fitness,

Nicole Kefalas


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