How not to completely derail your fitness goals while on vacation


The all or nothing crazy cycle

As little as 5 years ago I used to view vacation time as an excuse to completely let myself go on my fitness and nutrition goals. It was all part of my cyclical patterns with eating and exercise: binge and restrict, obsess and burn out… rinse and repeat.

My normal life back then was to try to restrict calories as much as possible based on my endless desire to be thinner, tighter, smaller… essentially less of who I was… until I couldn’t handle the restriction and stress anymore and I would binge, usually late at night.

And with exercise the goal used to always be to burn off as many calories as possible each day (so tons of cardio) and then I’d burn out, get injured… or go on vacation and do nothing at all!

Those cyclical patterns were just part of the all or nothing approach which is so easy to fall into because as a society we feel so much pressure to be perfect 100% of the time, but that is impossible. 

Build in some relief before vacation time comes

For me, the first step in breaking the all or nothing approach was to start genuinely loving myself more. I specifically did that by paying attention to my stress levels and building in relief along the way before the stress would build up to a boiling point- often showing up by bingeing, burning out, or just throwing in the towel and giving up.

So I would say that if you have vacation coming up and are eyeing it as your time to finally chill the eff out, eat everything in sight and not exercise, then maybe the first step is to pull back and build in some relief along the way. Think of it as paying it forward so that you can fully enjoy vacation with some moderate indulgences but not get completely off track. Because I think we all know how hard it can be to get the momentum going again from a dead stop.

By staying consistent and keeping your momentum going through vacation you are setting yourself up for long term success. 

Some ways to help break the all or nothing cycles: 

  • Schedule in more rest days (at least 1-2 per week)
  • Enjoy small treats more regularly instead of “saving them up” for a big binge on vacation
  • Incorporate at least 1 de-stressing activity for yourself each day
    • meditation
    • massage
    • walking in nature
    • time by yourself
    • reading a book
    • taking a bath
    • calling a friend
    • dancing

Then when you get on vacation you aren’t showing up completely depleted and stressed out. Yes, you will relax more (and should) while on vacation but I bet you will be waaaay more likely to stay on the moderate track with nutrition and exercise and nutrition.

Make it happen with a flexible plan

I don’t know about you but I find that when I set a clear intention I am more likely to look for opportunities and take steps to make my intention happen than if I just blithely hope for something to happen. An intention is like a little flag in your mind- calling your attention back to something you want to accomplish.

For example, when I travel I set the intention to move every day and exercise most days. I know that when we are traveling our schedule is thrown off and I am often at the mercy of other people’s plans, what equipment I will have available, etc. so it’s nearly impossible to stick to a specific schedule and workout plan. There are so many chances for our best laid plans to be ruined, right?! Ugh, it can be frustrating. But what is possible though is to grab the opportunities that do pop up.

We can:

  • Do a quick playground workout
  • Go for a walk with family
  • Bust out a quick 12 minute HIIT while the kids nap
  • Swim and play in the pool/lake
  • Invite family or friends to go for a run around the neighborhood or do sprints in the yard
  • Put on a free yoga video on YouTube while the kids play nearby (or maybe even join you)

Also, if we are parents we can also ask for help with the kids. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, it’s a good thing! Getting a bit of “me time” to recharge both your brain and body will do wonders for the whole family when you are piled on top of each other during vacation.

Come prepared, then be prepared to get creative! 

It’s hard to do a workout or go for a run without the right shoes and a good sports bra, am I right?? 😉 When packing your bags, make sure you throw in the essentials for getting in a good sweat session.

Some of my favorites:

  • Supportive shoes
  • 1 workout outfit
    • tech material makes it easy to quickly wash out and hang to dry for the next day
  • An interval timer or app on your phone
  • Jump rope
  • Swim goggles if you plan to swim laps

Some extras if you have room:

  • 1 set of moderate-heavy weights or a kettlebell (if you are driving!)
  • TRX suspension straps
  • Jogging stroller if you have littles

Even if we don’t have any extra equipment we can take advantage of new surroundings and get creative for our workouts on vacations. Maybe there are tons of stairs for stair sprints… Or beautiful trails to go hiking on… Or kayaks/canoes/SUPs to cruise around on…  And don’t forget playground equipment can double as workout equipment for adults!

When all else fails remember that most big box gyms offer free trials to check out their facilities for a few days so that can be a fall-back plan as well. See, the possibilities are limitless! 😉

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