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Don’t let vacation derail your health journey

Nothing can derail your health journey progress faster than a vacation. Whether it’s a long weekend or a 2-week trip, being out of our routine can really throw a wrench into our journeys, especially early on. It doesn’t have to! I never thought I would be the person that exercises on vacation. The me of six years ago would have laughed in the current Me’s face. While it’s perfectly OK to enjoy your vacations by indulging in foods that aren’t part of your normal routine and getting plenty of relaxation, it is possible to return home without completely falling off and having to start over. I was the queen of “I’ll start fresh after vacation.”  

Do you brush your teeth on vacation?

Hopefully, you do. Once you are in a place where exercise is just something you do regardless of if you’re motivated, it becomes a lot easier to continue on vacation. I’m not suggesting keeping a rigid workout schedule and making it the focus of your trip, but you can certainly still work it in. I’m currently camping up north for over a week with my daughter. I’m also in week 5 of half marathon training, and it’s important to me to keep running on vacation to stay on track. At home I also typically strength train 5 days a week in addition to my runs. Being that it is vacation, I had Coach Miah make this a deload week for running. I will still be getting in 4 runs, but they will be shorter and slower. This will make it less daunting to fit in and also gives my body a rest. As for strength training, it will also be a deload week because the barbell wouldn’t fit in my trunk. I’m kidding, I wasn’t really trying to bring weights on vacation. I did, however, bring resistance bands. If you don’t have some it’s a small investment and makes resistance training on the go much easier. I can easily fit in a 20–30-minute resistance training session maybe 2-3 times throughout the week. This way again my body gets a rest but is still getting something, so I will return home and be able to get right back to it. The key is to have a reasonable plan that makes sense and is achievable.  

So, what’s the plan? 

The first thing to consider is the nature of your trip, and what you’ll have access to. Pretty much any vacation can include walking and body weight or resistance band strength training. Are you staying in a hotel with a gym? Are you camping in an area with access to nature trails? Are you traveling for business and have packed days on the agenda? Formulate a plan that will fit into what you are doing, and commit. Just make sure it’s reasonable, it shouldn’t add stress to vacation! If all else fails, at least try to stay active and hit your step goals.

But what about nutrition? 

This can be a struggle no matter where you are on your journey. It still presents a challenge for me, and I’ve maintained a significant weight loss for almost 4 years now.  The key is to choose your indulgences and enjoy the hell out of them. Consume them slowly and savor every bit. When you are full or satisfied stop. Another key is to not make every single meal and snack a splurge. Make healthy choices like you normally would when you can. Continue to prioritize your protein and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. If you forgo all the healthy habits you’ve been working on, instead of returning from vacation feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, ready for the world, you will feel sluggish, bloated, and tired. My weight can fluctuate quite a bit from day to day. My PR of vacation weight gain was 23 lbs over a long weekend. I ate really bad literally every opportunity and drank much more than I usually do. I felt like shit when we got home. I have since learned to balance enjoying things I don’t eat regularly that I really enjoy but keeping pretty healthy overall. For this camping trip, for example, breakfast has been fruit and a protein bar or protein oatmeal. Lunch consisted of veggies I washed and prepped when we first settled in and cheese and crackers. Dinners have been off the grill and a roast from the slow cooker. We probably eat one meal out most days, but I generally make a reasonably healthy choice. My biggest camping splurge is definitely ice cream, and I’m not sorry. We will go out for ice cream a few times, and I will enjoy the crap out of it and savor every bite. I do limit it to one small scoop, and that’s enough. As far as alcohol goes, I’m not a big drinker normally and that doesn’t change with vacation. I will enjoy a drink here and there, but that’s about it. The thing with alcohol is that not only does it add non-nourishing calories, but it also contributes to poor choices. If you do indulge in alcohol, pick a lower-calorie option like light beer or liquor with low or zero-calorie mixers. Also, make sure you stay hydrated; a good strategy is to alternate your drinks with a glass of water.

The traveling takeaways 

Basically, you want to balance enjoying yourself without abandoning the health habits you are working towards. You want to return feeling good, not guilty.  

1. Vacation is not a reason to go completely off the rails. Doing so will leave you feeling not so great on your return. 

2. Choose what you want to splurge on and really enjoy it- eat it slow and savor it. 

3. Make overall healthy choices, prioritize protein, and get those fruits and vegetables in. 

4. Stay active and make a plan to get in some scheduled workouts using body weight or resistance bands.  

5. Relax, have fun, and don’t overthink it. 

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