My family and I enjoyed a 4-day vacation earlier this month. We spent three days at the shore and on our way home, we stopped at a quaint amusement park. Although it was a bit of a whirlwind, we thoroughly enjoyed our time together as a family. It also felt great to take a break from our regular routine.
Although going on vacation can be very relaxing, it also comes with its share of stress. One thing I often hear from clients is “How am I going to stay on track with my wellness goals when I am away?” It does require some planning and forethought, but it isn’t as difficult as you might think.
I thought I would share some tips to help you stay on track with your health and fitness goals the next time you go on vacation.
One area of concern typically revolves around food. Although tasty food is definitely part of the vacation experience, you don’t want to be hyper-focused on every bite. Constantly thinking about what you should or shouldn’t eat will increase your stress response and that is the exact opposite of the relaxation state you are striving for!
One suggestion I have is to spend time prior to your vacation and decide what your food intentions are for your trip. In other words, decide how often you plan to indulge in dessert or alcohol, even if it is every day! Rather than bogging yourself down with guilt about eating high-calorie foods, savor every bite and enjoy the special food in moderation.
For instance, if you have been working on minimizing sugar in your diet but you know that you just can’t resist frozen custard, then simply order the smallest serving they have and ask for it in a to-go cup. That way you can decide to enjoy a little and perhaps take the rest back to your hotel room’s freezer for another day. This prevents you from over-indulging but still allows you to enjoy the treat with the rest of your family.
Another tip is to implement simple strategies that can minimize physically not feeling well afterward. For instance, if you plan to have alcohol, make it a point to enjoy it with or after a meal to decrease the blood sugar spike. This strategy can also help minimize the desire to eat or drink more than you really want.
When choosing alcohol, opt for drinks like red wine that contains healthy polyphenols rather than malt beverages which have few health-promoting qualities. Also try drinking a full glass of water (preferably with a dash of sea salt) before having an alcoholic drink to prevent dehydration later in the evening.
One of my favorite health tips whether at home or away is eating a healthy breakfast with a good quality source of protein and fat. Starting your day with a high-energy breakfast can really set the tone for the rest of the day.
When we were at the beach, we found a great little restaurant with egg sandwiches piled high with fresh-grown tomatoes, avocados, and Canadian bacon. I decided that I didn’t want to feel overly full afterward, so I ate my sandwich open-faced. It was delicious and the portion I ate filled me up.
We also were able to enjoy delicious fruit smoothies made with a plant-based protein powder and almond milk. It felt like having dessert for breakfast which our son loved. I loved that it was going to help sustain his energy for the rest of the morning activities we had planned.
When it comes to the other meals, aim to consciously eat so that you are less likely to make an impulsive decision that will leave you feeling frustrated later.
For lunch, try a large bowl of soup with veggies and hummus on the side, a salad with protein (hard-boiled eggs, tuna, turkey, etc.). If you want a sandwich, experiment with eating only half of the bread or bun. You might be surprised that you are completely satisfied with less.
For dinner, ask for a take-out box (if you have a refrigerator in your hotel room) before you even order. That way you are setting yourself up to eat only what satisfies your hunger.
Ask for sauces, dressings, gravies on the side so that you are not consuming more than you want. Declare out loud and place your silverware down when you are finished with your meal so you are not tempted to keep eating (even when you are full) as you engage in conversation.
As far as your fitness goals, most vacations involve a lot of walking, swimming, etc. If your regular activities are not fulfilling your need to move, you can always hit the gym in your hotel or bring a resistance band to work on sculpting your muscles. Our hotel offered a roof-top yoga class that I planned to attend, but I slept in a little too late to enjoy it. 😉
Even if you don’t follow any of these suggestions, leave the guilt at the door! It is not what you do once in a while that has the greatest impact on your health. It is what you do on a consistent basis that determines the overall quality of your life.
The most important thing to remember is to be fully present with your loved ones. Take in every snuggle, every laugh, every joke, every breath. You will never regret making memories with the most important people in your life.