Vacation. It’s supposed to be a time to relax, enjoy, and unwind. But to some people, the thought of being in a new environment, off their routine, and surrounded by epic foods and drinks can bring upon the stress of losing gains, and gaining pounds.
Whether it be a family vacation or travel for work, it will undoubtedly be different than your normal routine.
You might not have access to your normal gym equipment. Sure, you could get a day pass somewhere, but what if you are out in nature, or don’t feel like spending $20 a day on a gym pass? (sidenote: most people will GLADLY spend more than $20 per day on drinks, but not a gym pass…just something to consider, and keep in mind 🙂
And with nutrition – simple at home whether it be macro counting or habit-based eating…but what happens when you are in a totally new environment or an all you can eat situation?!
My first piece of advice and this might be the last piece you take from this article is: you are on vacation for a reason, to unwind, recover, relax and indulge a little bit. Sure, it might set you back a little, but let’s be honest – if you have been crushing things up until now, and you have a plan to get back to it when you return, one week away will not undo all your progress.
But, for those of us who still want to have the best of both worlds, what do we do? Here are my 3 areas of focus, and how to address each one:
This is the point of vacation, so we should focus on it most. Get caught up on sleep. No, this doesn’t mean you need to waste away an entire day in bed but also don’t go full party mode 24/7. You will only come back MORE drained, fatigued, and less motivated.
Start your mornings with some light mobility work – especially if the bed isn’t as comfy as yours at home.
Address the hips, back, shoulders and neck – simple circles at each joint can do the trick. You know, like your grandma does when she wakes up in the morning.
There is nothing better for recovery than walking. Also, this helps give you a bigger buffer for your food consumption later in the day.
Make sure you do your walking in athletic shoes – not flip flops. Aim to get 150% of the steps you normally get at home on a daily basis. My personal rule is if something is within a mile, I walk it.
For those of us who like to work out, vacation is a great time to maybe consider a deload week. If you have been crushing hard in the gym, taking a week away from the heavy and intense loading might be just what you need.
This doesn’t mean you have to do nothing, but stick with the basics, get a little pump in, and go on with your day.
You can commit 30 minutes per day to some exercise and still have 23.5 hours to do whatever else you want.
Starting with a basic bodyweight circuit – set a timer for 30 minutes (or less if you are new to working out) and hammer out this circuit:
- 10 pushups
- 10 squats
- 10 alternating reverse lunges
- 10 glute bridges
- 10-second maximum contraction plank (squeeze your whole body as hard as possible)
Another way to do this could be with timed intervals – 30 seconds on/30 seconds off. I recommend downloading the SmartWod app and using its Tabata timer.
If you have access to a gym, just stick to the basics, or chase a little pump for the beach. Focus on a good mind-muscle connection, squeezing the target muscles, and feeling the blood pumping into them.
The hardest part to control on the road is your nutrition. If you are a seasoned macro tracker, this can be as simple as making the new foods and drinks fit your macros.
But what if you want a break, or don’t want to think as much? Here are some of my personal favorite tactics that I implement as have many of my successful clients:
Intermittent Fasting – this is all the rage right now, but it is actually something I use when traveling. Look, we know we are going out later, or eating a big dinner – so let’s not deny this.
Hopefully, you are getting to sleep in a little bit, so breakfast will be a little later than normal – or just skip it altogether, or find a happy medium and have a protein shake, or some hard-boiled eggs (questionably available at most hotels).
There is nothing magical about IF – but it’s just a way to bank more calories for later in the day.
If you don’t want to skip breakfast altogether, having a pure protein (and veggies) breakfast is another great bet. Egg white omelets (hold the cheese) are excellent, or any type of salad with double meat is another great choice.
Carb Backloading – This is sort of a bro-science technique, but it seems to work fairly well for many. Probably just because you are eating less early in the day, but the proponents of CBL say it is due to nutrient partitioning – aka the carbs come AFTER the work is put in, and are used for muscle repair and not fat storage. Again – mostly bro-science, but somehow it works for many – so I won’t deny it.
Essentially all you do is limit your carbs until later in the day, preferably after a workout. So if possible, hammer a workout right before dinner – then enjoy all the good stuff at and after dinner.
Being Real – What does this even mean? It means psychologically we come up with stupid reasons to eat when we travel. You probably don’t need snacks for the plane flight. You can go 5,6, hell, 7 hours without eating… you will be just fine while you sit in your cramped seat.
But for some reason, people think they need to snack. “Oh my, I’ve got a 2-hour flight, what snacks will I pack?!?” – none – eat breakfast and eat lunch when you land, you will live.
More likely, you think you need to snack because you are bored. So bring books, music or a game to play on the flight. Download podcasts, audiobooks or just take a nap if you can. Drink plenty of water though because planes are so damn dry.
Assess your situation. Are you actually hungry? Or are you bored, stressed, or tired. Just like at home, I would recommend you stay mindful, even when you have a tower of all-you-can-eat mini-cheesecakes in your face.
The bottom line with all of this: do your best – but don’t stress.
Get back on track when you get home, and come back recharged and ready to go!
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