Summer is the vacation season. Whether you are traveling to the beach, the mountains, to visit friends and family, or abroad, the summertime is the time when most people pack up their bags and head for adventure. I love traveling and experiencing new places and cultures. While traveling and vacationing are very fun activities to break up the year and get us out of our normal routine rut, it can also pose challenges when it comes to maintaining our health and wellness.
Vacation brings with it delicious food, alcoholic drinks, fancy desserts, snacks galore, and lots of R&R, none of which are BAD things. In fact, all of these things can be very good and fun and enjoyable….but within reason of course. I’m sure we’ve all experienced that vacation where we overdid it and came home several pounds heavier and feeling a little sluggish. And then we feel discouraged and beat ourselves up because we worked SO hard to lose the weight, or make the strength gains, or increase our fitness, or cut out that irritating food and now it seems we’ve just undid all of that work on a week long vacay.
So, how do we maintain our healthy choices and lifestyle while still enjoying our vacation? Here are 3 tips to help you enjoy all the fun that vacation brings AND return home feeling healthy and like you didn’t sabotage all of your goals and hard work.
*Plan A Little- All it takes is a little bit of forethought to help you maintain your health goals when you are away. Perhaps before going out to dinner you take a look at the menu online and decide what you will order ahead of time. This will help you make an informed decision versus being swayed by the atmosphere or what others are ordering at the restaurant. You are more likely to stick to your goals when you know your game plan ahead of time. Likewise, think about your daily meals and activities. If you know you are going out to dinner and will want to have a glass of wine and dessert, then try to eat lighter and healthier earlier in the day. Or perhaps you decide you will have a few drinks poolside but then forfeit dessert that night. Your plan could also include deciding before you leave for vacation what some parameters will look like (i.e. only drinking 1 drink a day, eating a salad at one meal a day, doing 25 burpees a day or going on a walk, etc.). Make a plan and you’ll be way more likely to stick to it!
*Keep 1-3 Habits/Routines– Try to keep one to three of your normal routines going while you are away. It can be as simple as drinking 16 oz of water first thing in the morning before your coffee. Or remembering to take your supplements. Perhaps you carve out 20-30 minutes to exercise if you decide you’d like to maintain that on vacation so you can more freely eat and drink. Decide what routines/habits mean the most to you and are the most reasonable to sustain during vacation. Setting ourselves up for success on vacation means having clear expectations and setting realistic goals that are attainable.
*Be Mindful– This is key! You don’t have to be a slave to your health and wellness goals because that is no fun and also not healthy long-term. But simply being more mindful goes a long way. Having a plan, thinking through your day and what you plan to eat/drink, asking yourself if you are really hungry for that snack or perhaps just thirsty…all of these little mindset shifts impact our decision making process. Take a moment before mindlessly eating the snacks everyone else is eating and exercise a moment of mindfulness and ask yourself if you really want that and if it is worth it. And if it is to you in that moment, that is fine, but at least give yourself a few moments to think before mindlessly eating or drinking. It’s so easy to get swept away in the sea of vacation mode that we lose all sense of control because we simply aren’t being mindful and thinking through the little things and little decisions.
Maybe instead of sitting on the beach all afternoon you talk a walk along the water to get in some movement. Or you do ten pushups first thing in the morning to get the blood flowing and to inspire you to make healthy decisions the rest of the day. You don’t have to do it perfectly on vacation but practicing mindfulness will have a huge impact on the decisions you make and whether or not you come home from vacation feeling like you enjoyed yourself but didn’t sabotage or feeling crummy because you gained several pounds and went backwards on your goals.
You will likely lose the few pounds and get back on track but it will be harder. So, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it to you to have a week-long vacation that’s a ‘free for all’ or exercise some semblance of self-control and be able to easily fall back into your routines when you return home. You don’t have to say to heck with all of your progress, hard work, and routines when on vacation. By using these 3 tips you can maintain your health and wellness goals, enjoy yourself, and come home feeling GOOD- inside and out! Don’t sabotage months worth of work for a few days of indulgence. You’ve worked too hard. It is possible to exercise balance and self-control on vacation while still FULLY enjoying yourself.