Summer is coming to a close and we’re all gearing up for one last hoorah before we jump back into the routine of school, ball practices, and family life. To help you ace the Labor Day holiday, we’re reflecting on the BEST tips, tricks, and strategies our members have shared about how to stay on track during vacation and, most importantly, get back into a routine after you get home.
Our friends have traveled the WORLD this summer. We’ve had check ins from the mountains of Colorado, the beaches of Mexico, and the jungles of Peru. No matter where they roamed, they took the knowledge that life is to be enjoyed on vacation AND you can still mitigate damage by keeping most of your good habits and jumping back into your healthy routines as soon as you’re back home. The damage of vacations is NOT done in the 3-7 days you’re out of town and indulging a little more than you would at home. That part is called “living your dang life” and “enjoying your hard-earned time off.” The damage REALLY comes when you can’t get into a good routine when you’re back home. If you’re still in vacation mode a week later and eating without concern for your goals, THAT’S when things go sideways.
So, here are the strategies that proved the most helpful as our friends traipsed the globe this summer. I feel sure that they’ll help you enjoy your long Labor Day weekend without wrecking your goals.
MAKE A GAME PLAN
If you only pick up one tip for success, this is it! Do your research before you go. Know what options are available to you in terms of fitness opportunities and healthy food availability, and go in WITH A PLAN before your vacation begins. Your plan may be “healthy breakfast and lunch…blow it all out a dinner.” That’s a suitable plan. Your plan may be, “One water for every adult beverage.” Also a good plan. Your plan may be, “No logging for x days but eat according to goals with the exception of dessert.” Great plan. I don’t care how loose or strict you want to be with yourself, you need to have a plan so you stay within your pre-determined limits. For me personally, the plan is usually, “Eat like an intelligent human 80% of the time knowing that beachy cocktails and decadent desserts are part of what I love about vacay. And plan one meal to be totally off the rails.”
MAKE ACTIVITY PART OF YOUR VACAY
Look up fitness opportunities nearby. Are there awesome hiking trails? Can you kayak, canoe, or paddleboard? Is there a Crossfit gym where you could visit? (I know you like to collect tshirts from faraway boxes as much as I do.) Does your resort have beachside yoga each morning? Can you log a few laps in the pool before resigning yourself as a beach bum for the day?
Don’t think of vacation as a break from your fitness routine. Think of it as an opportunity to have more/different/cooler/unusual fitness opportunities that you can’t get a home. Vacation is a great time to USE your fitness to experience a new place in a really cool way. Make active adventures part of your vacation experience. Jeremy and his family do a GREAT job with this. They’ve made it a family goal to hike new places wherever they travel and it has lead to some amazing experiences all over the East coast this year. They’ve hit mountain tops and trails from WV to FL and made tons of great memories with their kiddos in the process. They don’t take a break from fitness on vacation. They make exploring their surroundings PART of their vacation and I think it’s enriched their journeys as a result.
With that in mind, this may also be a situation where a fitness tracker may be helpful. You will likely be logging MORE steps on vacation (especially if you’re sight seeing). Having a tracker will help you know how active you’re being and give you a heads up if you’re falling short and need to add a long walk on the beach in the evening. Wouldn’t that be a shame. 😉
TAKE YOUR OWN TOYS
If you have to, pack a few things that make working out more feasible for you. (you’ll know to do this because you did your research above). Find out if where you’re staying has a gym and how it’s outfitted. Use it to the best of your abilities. I’ve seen people throw their legs over one handle of a treadmill and pull up on the other if they didn’t have a pull up bar. lol Get weird with it (as long as you can do so safely). Consider bringing along a jump rope or some resistance bands. Together, you can get cardio and weight training with those two easy-to-pack options.
***side story about nearly being arrested for using this particular piece of advice***
Once upon a time, I was going to Peru for a week and wanted to make sure I stayed active so I packed my wire jump rope in my carry-on. I coiled it up and threw it on top of two containers of mocha mix my Peruvian friend wanted me to bring back from the States because she loved it and couldn’t get it there. As it turns out, this mix came in a foil-lined cylindrical container. When my bag went through the x-ray scanner at the airport, there were two metallic cylinders and a coiled metal wire between them. YIKES! It was the sketchiest looking combo EVER…and probably the most innocent once they opened my bag to check it. lol A little touch and go there for a hot minute in security though. 😉
EARN YOUR LEISURE
Consider planning to workout before you get started with your day, especially if you’re traveling with folks who don’t share your fitness goals. Get up a little earlier than your crew to hit the hotel gym, a beach run, or a quick road workout before the fun starts for the day. It will make it easier to relax and unwind the rest of the day knowing that you earned your break by getting your workout in early.
KEEP YOUR HEALTHY HABITS
If you have protein shakes for breakfast, pack up your powder and take it on the road. I use a formula container because the baggies always explode in my purse. lol
If you use refillable water bottles, keep em with you on vacation to keep up with your water goals (and offset anything else you may be drinking…) ;).
Pack your favorite healthy snacks with you so you know you have that part covered while you’re away.
SCOPE OUT KITCHEN OPTIONS
Can you eat in for breakfast and lunch? Or pack healthy shelf-stable snacks for adventures? Or keep a cooler in your car with meats and cheeses and yogurt? Control what you can to make the best choices possible. Also consider what you can prep when you’re there. I’m not saying to miss the beach b/c you’re doing 8 hours of meal prep, but can you throw together a breakfast casserole or a big salad to eat on for the week? If you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen (or even a kitchenette or just a mini fridge), it opens TONS more options for you in terms of food. I know a few of you have even packed your InstantPots along for the trip so you could prep with nothing more than an electrical outlet. (I salute you on that one!)
You’re going to eat out. I get that. And honestly, I think that’s a special part of traveling. Nothing confuses me more than people who travel to far off places only to eat at chain restaurants…but that’s a rant for another day. Anyhow, when you eat out, choose to dine well. Find something on the menu that more or less fits your goals and fill up on that before splurging on dessert or drinks. Or eat well at lunch if you know you’re blowing the doors off for dinner. Don’t deny yourself a great experience but not every course of every meal on vacation needs to be a total indulgence.
MIND YOUR BEVERAGES
If you want to enjoy an adult beverage (or three), that’s fine, but know the macro cost of what you’re drinking and try to choose more macro-friendly options when you can. It’s much easier to fit light beer or liquor with low sugar mixers or club soda than it would be to fit a sugary margarita or piña colada. I’m not sure vacation is when you want to deal with booze math, but please know that there are calories in the ethanol in your beverages that are not listed on a nutrition label. You have to account for those in either carbs or fat (or both). So that 2.6 carb Mich Ultra actually costs you 24ish carbs when you account for the ETOH. (I just lost like 500 friends with that little snippet of information). Anyways, find beverages that offer the friendliest macros that you can.
GUILT IS A JOY THIEF
If you’re on vacation, I know a few things about you: you’ve worked hard, you’ve saved up, you’ve planned ahead, and you’re expecting to cut loose and enjoy a little bit. Do you know what will suck the fun out of that faster than anything? Guilt. We don’t do food guilt around here. Food has a macro “price” but it is not good or bad nor does eating something make you as a person good or bad. Food is food. Like money is money. How you use it determines its worth. Do not waste one second of your hard-earned play time by feeling guilty about eating awesome things in an awesome place. By all means, keep that reigned in as you see fit, but don’t you dare ruin your fun by feeling guilty about having salt water taffy at the beach or a bourbon in Kentucky or waffles in the mountains. (Does anyone else wonder why there are so many waffle and pancake restaurants in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge? No? Just me? Cool.) Do your thing. Enjoy it. Then get your tail home and get back to the good habits we’ve taught you. There’s neither room nor need for guilt here. Which brings us to…
LEAVE VACATION AT YOUR DESTINATION
If you’re sitting on the beach somewhere and wanna be all “YOLO! Treat yoself!,” that’s fine. But when you board the plane or hop back in the car to head home, you’re leaving that behind. Back on track. Back to your goals. You have my full permission to slack off as much as you want while you’re away (provided you’re not one of these professional vacationers who is gone more than you’re home or takes month-long trips), but the second you walk off the resort property, playtime is over. You KNOW how to behave to reach your goals…I know this because we’ve TAUGHT you. Use your knowledge and the good habits you established to get back up on the wagon when the trip is over.
Expect to have more cravings than normal (after all, your body was probably enjoying the break as much as your mind was). This does NOT mean that you “have no willpower” or “lost your mojo at the beach.” It means that trashy food is addictive and you’re going to miss it for a while. No biggie. Dig in and do work now that you’re home. Expect the cravings. Drink more water to speed up the process. And make the choices that you KNOW work to advance you towards your goals.
STAY OFF THE BLESSED SCALE
I don’t like the scale ever…but it’s a complete fool’s errand to jump on there after vacation. Guess what? You’re going to be heavier! Instead of letting that shock and further derail you, skip the scale and hit your food and movement goals. After a week, you will have likely evened out and then you can weigh in if you’re into that. But DO NOT get on the scale as soon as you get back. It won’t go well and you’ll get grouchy about it. Grouchy does not = motivated. So, seriously, skip it.
So, there’s your primer on how to ace vacation without guilt, unnecessary restriction, or turning it into a 3 month binge. Life is to be lived and vacations are one of the MOST awesome ways we get to live it. Enjoy your time with your loved ones (or away from your loved ones…we get it…we have little kids). Live it up. Make the best choices you can. Then get back into your healthy habits when you’re home.
Big thanks to Dennis McLaughlin, future king of the 1st Phorm Transphormation crown, and all our MacroEd family for helping us out by sharing their best tips and experiences. Be sure to let us see the fun you’re having on vacay by sharing your adventures on social media with the hashtag #getmacroed so we can travel vicariously!
Happy Adventuring, loves!