I'm pretty much a professional vacationer. For a long time the response that I got when I told people I was going on a trip was "again? Didn't you just come back from somewhere?" The answer is usually yes I did and yes I'm leaving again. I guess I have just turned traveling into a habit.
It's pretty unrealistic to assume that I'll stick to whatever I'm doing at home 100% of the time while I'm on vacation. Whether that is eating or exercising, vacation is a chance to let loose a little, even for a frequent traveler. But a vacation is not a reason to completely abandon all of your goals and do whatever you want. I certainly loosen up my standards a bit, but I still like to stick to "the plan" more than 50% of the time. That might seem like a shockingly low number, but remember that I have built some pretty solid habits and can meet that goal without too much struggle.
My habits involve not eating gluten (on a very rare occasion I will eat it because I can tolerate small amounts with long periods between exposures), limiting added sugar and sugary treats, decaf coffee, eating tons of veggies, and exercise most days. I find that when I am on vacation the exercise comes easy because I'm not working, there's usually a lot of walking involved, and I feel like running most days because it's an enjoyable experience for me.
If you expect yourself to stick to your plan completely that will likely cause unnecessary stress...and vacation is about relaxing and feeling good about yourself, not being stressed. So how do you balance your healthy habits with your vacation vibes? Here are some tips:
1. Do a morning workout. Just do it. A walk, a run, a swim, a bike. Whatever you can get yourself to do, just do it. It doesn't have to be long or hard, but staying active while your on vacation will make returning to your workout regimen when you get home so much easier.
2. Don't snack. If you love to eat like me, vacations are often centered around meals, which means that in order not to completely derail yourself you need to exercise some sort of self control. Rather than limiting what you eat at meals, just skip the snacks. That doesn't meant that you shouldn't eat if you aren't hungry, but be mindful and eat something healthy if you must have a snack.
3. Only eat what you really love. Skip the bread basket at dinner or pass on the dessert if you would rather have wine. Again, this will help you indulge without being over indulgent (there's a difference). It's also important that you know what these things are for you so you can do a little bit of planning ahead. If you go with the flow too much, you might find yourself the victim of peer pressure and several thousand extra calories.
4. Have a salad for at least one meal each day. I mean, let's be honest, if you aren't hungry for a salad, then you aren't really hungry. That's the cold, hard truth and you know it. I call this the broccoli test - if you want a snack and broccoli doesn't appeal to you, then you don't need a snack. Your salad doesn't have to be boring (and yes you can eat salad for breakfast...just google it if you don't believe me), but it does have to be veggie and protein packed.
5. Don't drink your calories. I'm not saying that you should avoid all beverages other than water, I'm just saying that you should be mindful of what you're drinking (see #3). Sparkling water with lime (or any citrus) is a great (and kind of fancy feeling) beverage to drink if you need something a little more exciting than water. I noticed that for a while the only time I ever drank anything from Starbucks was when I was on vacation, and I don't like the way their coffee tastes so I almost always got something sweet. Now I only drink Starbucks coffee if it really is the only option, and I carry my own stevia to sweeten it with if needed.
I bet you are thinking that you could manage to do all these things in your normal everyday life too, right? Well, that's my point!
Making healthy choices is all about knowing yourself and how you function and listening to what your body is telling you. Swap your defaults (i.e. the snack monster that comes out when you are on vacation) for a more conscientious version of yourself and I think you'll be surprised!
Who am I?? I am a Family Nurse practitioner with over eight years of clinical experience helping ordinary women cut through all the hype and figure out what actually works for their bodies. If you've ever been told by your healthcare provider that "it's all in your head" or that what you are going through is "normal," I can help! It's not all in your head and just because something is common doesn't mean it is normal.
Schedule a free consultation so you can get started on your path to optimal health now!