Taking vacation used to cause me more stress than staying home.. Say what??? Who in the good heck does not enjoy a summer vacation and break from the doldrums of daily routine? This girl right here. Vacations use to cause me crippling anxiety and extreme guilt around my eating and exercise habits. The thought of taking a few days away from MyFitness pal and the gym would have me spiraling down a dark pit of fear and worry. Would I be able to eat only clean, non-processed foods while I was gone? Would my friends pressure me into eating “off track”? Would there be a gym at the hotel? These were usually the first thoughts that popped into my head when the vacation topic came up. I used to think of vacation as “ruining my progress” or as a hinderance to my body composition goals. I would go crazy eating treats and heavy foods to come home filled with guilt and shame about my lack of discipline.
This obsession with perfection and rigid mindset around being “on track” or “off-track” for my goals led me to rarely enjoying vacations because I would be so glued to my phone trying to track and measure each morsel of food or every step I took. This eventually led to exhaustion and frustration that usually ended in me saying f-it I am eating the damn fries and going ham on all the desserts and rich foods I tried so hard to swear off. As soon as I returned home the race would be on for me to exercise away the bad foods I ate on vacation, adding in extra cardio to make up for the few days I took off from training. This was a vicious cycle for me until I realized that my mindset about food was the problem, not the act of taking vacation. Vacations do not need to set you back from your goals! You also can 1000 percent enjoy vacation without feeling guilty.
The key to a successful guilt free summer trip is all about planning, mindfulness and your general mindset around food. Vacation should not be an excuse to say screw it to your goals and healthy habits. Sure, should you fully enjoy trying new foods and eating out, yes! But should you eat a whole bag of Doritos and marshmallows, no probably not. All foods have value and a place on your plate, but just because you are on vacation does not mean you should forget all of your mindful eating habits. Vacation is about making memories no stomach aches!
For me, I treat vacation as a chance to eat mindfully without tracking, however I stick to a few ground rules that help me to feel my best. Getting in my 800g of fruits and veggies, hitting 7-10k steps and avoiding overly processed foods and dairy products are just a few of the ways I focus on my health and well-being while being away from home. If I do make a misstep or have an episode of over-eating, I treat myself with love and respect and move the hell on. I do not do extra cardio, I do not do a juice cleanse or a fast when I get home and I definitely do not jump right into a cut or calorie deficit is soon as I return home. I simply make a mental note of what was going on when this less than ideal food situation occurred. Was I feeling overly tired? Did I have a particularly active day or was I just super hungry. While none of these reasons are excuses for overeating or going a bit too crazy with the Talenti, they do help me to understand and learn from my mistakes and take corrective actions for the future. Being kind to myself has really helped me unpack my toxic relationship with vacations and non-tracking days and helped me enjoy vacation more! Now I wake up after a vacation or party and feel no stress, no guilt and no shame about what I ate because I know that it is a new day with new opportunities to work towards my goals and make healthy choices.
Don’t let food rules and rigid exercise habits ruin your time with family and friends! Life is about balance, just like one healthy meal won’t lead to weight loss, one untracked vacation meal won’t lead to weight gain, so enjoy but be mindful. Vacation should be time for making memories, taking a break from your daily life and enjoying yourself, not being anxious about your health and fitness goals.