As many of you already know, the Iowa State Fair is MY FAVORITE event of the year. In my 28 years of living, I have never missed the fair. As I kid, I had 4-H projects selected to be displayed at state fair and showed rabbits there. In high school, I served on the 4-H State Council and volunteered several days. In college, I interned two summers for the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation where I organized 500+ volunteers for the duration of the fair and was charged with stocking several merchandise booths.
Fairfield & Rosetta!
As an adult, I always take vacation time to go back and volunteer for the Blue Ribbon Foundation and see many people that I only see once a year.
My mom was selected as “Iowan of the Day” for being an awesome lady who serves the community.
For some, the Iowa State Fair is about the corn dogs, funnel cakes, cheese curds, bacon wrapped ribs, and fried Oreos, but for me, it’s so much more than that. I tried to stay on track with my food while I spent four days at the Iowa State Fair, following a work trip to Chicago for three days. I made a few slip-ups and didn’t run much while I was away (AND missed a long run!) so you can imagine my surprise when I stepped on the scale this morning to find I had lost 3.4 lbs, even AFTER eating at Texas Roadhouse last night!
So, how did I do it? Well, I’ve spent today reflecting on how exactly I managed to do it and have the following things to thank:
Despite what you may think, there are actually a lot of healthy options available at the ISF and they aren’t hard to find. I enjoyed the following items:
Chicken Kabobs at Beattie’s Watermelon Patch
Fresh cut watermelon at Beattie’s
Seriously, the BEST watermelon
Turkey Tenderloin and Pulled Turkey (hold the bun) at Iowa Turkey Federation booth
Taco Tater at Cattleman’s Beef Quarters
Pork loin at Iowa Pork booth
Salad with black beans, salsa and veggies at The Salad Bowl
Fruit Kabob at The Salad Bowl
(**All Simply Filling!)
If there’s something you REALLY want to have that you might not get the rest of the year, go for it! For me, there wasn’t anything that I felt I was missing out on so I pretty much stuck to the wonderful healthy options. The great thing is that you’re not “stuck” at a restaurant where you have to order something. There are so many options (most of them on a stick) and you don’t have to sit down anywhere. Therefore, while some members of the group can go to one place, you can take a few extra steps and get something you want, and still enjoy one another’s company.
I started each day with a good breakfast. Each morning I either had non-fat Greek yogurt or hard boiled eggs on a stick. These kept me fueled and feeling satisfied until lunchtime. We worked at the Iowa Egg Council booth a couple mornings where we served FREE eggs on a stick, which meant breakfast was easy!
Egg on a stick!
I go to the ISF to be with my family, see the sights, and to volunteer. The busier I stay, the less time I focus on food. When I’m bored, I eat more. I know that about myself, so I need to do a better job at avoiding boredom while I’m at home. I have PLENTY of things to be doing! I focused on the sights, sounds and the people- the true reasons I enjoy the fair.
Listened to my body
I took the time to evaluate whether or not I was hungry. If I ate when I saw others eat, I would have been eating the whole day, alongside everyone else. Was I hungry? What will fulfill my hunger? Am I hungry enough to eat an apple or am I just in the mood to snack?
Walked, a lot
I didn’t get my runs in but I was on my feet most of the day. I clocked anywhere from 4 to 8 miles a day. AND I participated in the Fairgrounds 5K! It was super fun to run through the campgrounds and fairgrounds on a beautiful morning with other fair-goers. Loved it! My feet hurt each night and never felt fully recovered by morning.
I had a great support system. My family knows I try to eat healthy and did a fabulous job in making it easy for me. My mom had yogurt, apples, grapes and diet green tea waiting for me. One day, she even packed me a sandwich thin so I could lose the bun on my pulled turkey sandwich and substitute it for a sandwich thin. My mom, dad and brother also let me have a bite or small portion of their foods so I was still able to enjoy rhubarb/strawberry crisp, chocolate chip cookies, guinea grinder, grater tater, and fresh salt-water taffy. AND of course I still had a couple beers with friends.
Last year, I gained 5 lbs during one weekend at the fair and I was determined to do better than that. While there’s always things I could do better, I feel really good about my progress.
What’s the one food you HAVE to have at a fair?