Summer is time for vacations, road trips, and fun stuff with the family. It’s also a time when people begin diets with the intention of looking good for vacation, and then fall apart and undo everything while away. The plan doesn’t always start out that way either, but often the mindset changes and becomes “Well, it’s vacation and I deserve to enjoy myself. I’ll start the diet again when I get back.”
I’m not saying to not enjoy yourself while on vacation, but it’s important to be realistic and also to maintain a healthy relationship with food and exercise. It’s wonderful to plan to keep up with your workouts and healthy eating while on vacation, but don’t fall into that expectation trap.
How many times have you planned to workout as usual while away and missed it? …Then thought “Oh well, I guess it’s blown so I’ll just worry about workouts and my diet when I get back” and proceeded to eat half the buffet.
I sure have. We tend to have that all or nothing thinking. Unless it’s an established habit for you when you miss a workout, you’re more likely to feel like you failed. If you plan to stay strict with eating and have an unplanned cheat meal, the same thinking comes into play. Since you’re a “failure” then you may as well just continue down the path, and fix it once you get home. It doesn’t have to work that way. Vacations don’t have to be strict or all heck breaking lose.
Focus on moderation and make it a maintenance vacation instead of planning to stick strictly to plan. If the plan happens, great. If it doesn’t, great. All is not lost and you aren’t off the wagon unless you choose to jump. It’s much easier to maintain status quo and resume once you get back, than it is to dig yourself out of a hole.
I use vacations as a time to take a break from the gym and just enjoy the area. I also plan to take in the local food and live it up a little as well. Here are a few things that I do while traveling:
- I focus on eating three meals a day and not snacking in between. This is one of the Healthy Habits that I work with clients on for every day life, and it’s even more convenient while on vacation. Many vacation calories come from snacking and liquid calories between meals. If you remove those from the equation, then you lose those extra calories. It also keeps portions in check without much effort. Unless you purposely stuff yourself, you can only eat so much in a single meal.
- I put meals together starting with lean proteins like chicken, fish, and eggs and add a couple servings of veggies. Once I eat those first, I usually don’t have a lot of room for the sides like breads, muffins, mashed potatoes. I tend to eat less of the calorie heavy sides since I’m full from the protein and veggies. A few bites is more than plenty.
- I stay pretty close to my usual eating for breakfast and lunch, and then splurge a bit on the last meal. I don’t make it a free for all, but I choose either something a the main dinner meal or a dessert. I don’t do both, but compromise by picking one thing to really just relax and enjoy. I try to make it something with local flair and definitely not readily available at home. It’s vacation so I want it to be special. We had barbecue and conchas in San Antonio, local artisan donuts in Austin, and fresh ceviche in Galveston. 🙂
- I made sure to stay active and had fun with walking around and exploring the areas. Sightseeing is a great way to burn calories. I also brought exercise bands with me and did quick hotel room workouts while The Kid watched TV. Did I plan to do them? No, but just in case. Was it the level of workout effort I typically do? No, but vacation isn’t about stressing over finding a fitness center or gym. It’s about enjoying the activities and having fun while staying active.
Above is one of the hotel room workouts that I do on our road trips. By not having set expectations that were unrealistic to maintain, there’s no failure to face. Instead I plan a few splurges, make sure they’re in moderation, and not just ordinary experiences.
Stay active with walking, exploring, hiking. Eat a few fun things and keep up with your protein and veggies. You’ll still enjoy your vacation, you’ll stress less, and there won’t be anything to undo once you get home. You might even enjoy your vacation more because you’ll remember the experience instead of having it just blend in with all the rest. 🙂