Have you ever gone on vacation and lost all sense of control with what you are eating?
I hear this time and time again. Recently I was talking with a client who after going on vacation was having to make up ground when he returned because he gained weight. We tend to give ourselves permission to forget our normal disciplines and “go all out” when we get into vacation mode. We treat every meal like it may be our last. We load up on our favorite desserts, pizzas, booze, as if we will never taste them again.
We also take the vacation theme of rest and renewal to a new level, one where we park ourselves on the beach for hours without moving a muscle (while we drink a few beers at that). It is so easy in our culture to work ourselves to exhaustion that we tank and try to recover on our two weeks of vacation a year. The problem is we can lose ground with our health if we throw caution to the wind and end up gaining 5 pounds while we try to recover on vacation.
Does this sound like something that has happened to you? Do you find yourself going into “vacation mode” and have to make up ground when you are back into your normal routine?
I have two go-to strategies for helping you maintain your health while enjoying every minute of your vacation:
1. Stay active
Find some type of exercise routine you love and make a plan to stick to it while you are on vacation. Why? You will burn calories and fuel your metabolism. If you know you are going to eat fried shrimp while you are at the beach, going for that 30 milk in the morning so you can enjoy that seaside lunch.
I am currently on vacation making a trek with my husband through New England. We are spending a few days with my sister, brother-in-law, and dog nieces. I know that I want to enjoy the great food Boston has to offer me while I am here, so I make it a point to do some type of exercise during the day. Yesterday, we went for a long hike in the mountains of Maine. My sister tracked our mileage and calorie burn on her Fitbit - we burned a good 800 calories on our a long walk. So not only did we enjoy a beer tasting (well, I watched as they enjoyed the beer tasting) and delicious dinner (I indulged in some delicious cheese and crackers), we had a blast being active together. That is truly enjoying vacation right there!
2. Follow the 80/20 rule
The 80/20 rule is when you eat 80% need foods and enjoy 20% of want foods during a day.
Need foods are those foods from God’s good earth. Think anything that is a plant or eats plants, like vegetables, fruits, whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat bread), beans, lentils, and lean meats (chicken, turkey, fish).
Want foods are foods that come from a factory. Think bags or boxes of chips/crackers, desserts, fried foods, and sweetened beverages.
Of course you want to enjoy some of your favorite “not-so-healthy-for-you” foods and drinks while on vacation, and you SHOULD! The key is balancing those foods with foods that are nourishing for your body. You want to have energy to enjoy your vacation right?!
Here is my step-by-step guide to staying healthy on vacation:
- Find an exercise routine you love - stand up paddle boarding while at the beach, hiking while in the mountains, doing a 7 minute total body workout routine from the app while traveling up the New England coast
- Make a plan to do that exercise routine at least a few days during your vacation - goal is to get 150 minutes of moderately intense (you are breathing hard) exercise during the week
- Decide what meals you want to use as your “splurge”
- Eat clean whole foods for all your other meals and snacks
- Enjoy every last bite of that “splurge” meal