How "healthy" do you vacation?

Ahh, vacation. It is so nice to be able to kick back, relax and enjoy time either to yourself or with friends and family. Health is not about intense exercises and strict nutrition, it is about your thoughts and feelings as well. It is important to give yourself balance in all areas of physical and mental health by paying attention to how you are feeling and what your body and mind need. 

Some people take vacation as a time to not think about exercise or strict nutrition, and that is OKAY! However, others like to stay on a semi routine which could include: occasional ab exercises, circuit training, HIIT workouts or cardio, while also keeping healthy eating options in mind. That is also, OKAY! Everyone’s version of a vacation is different.

To me, working out is relaxing. It is where I clear my mind. On vacation, I use exercise to feel refreshed - NOT because I am stressing, thinking about my fitness goals or trying to stay on my exercise split. It is important to know the difference between wanting to work out to feel good and working out because you feel you “have to” or because you are afraid you will gain weight or lose muscle if you relax for a few days (which isn’t going to happen). Just as it takes time and effort to lose that weight or put on that muscle, it also takes time to put that weight back on and/or lose muscle- a few days will not hinder your progress.  If you are used to traveling, you might have your routine and habits down pat. However, for those who don’t - for those who want to switch up their vacation routine/habits. For those who travel, even for work, and find it difficult to keep their overall health in mind. Or for those who simply just need a little vacation/travel guidance. This one's for you!

1. Plan, Know The Scene

If you haven’t already read our previous blog post, ‘insert Planning blog title here’, you should head over and give that a read. You will see that I am a HUGE advocate for planning out your goals and how you are going to reach those goals. During your travels, your goal may be to workout every morning, keeping them quick to maximize your time on vacation or to fit it in between meetings. The first thing you want to do is check out where you will be staying prior to arrival. Is there an exercise facility available? If not, is there a beach, outside trail or sidewalk around to use for a light jog? (If so, make sure it is a safe area.) If both are a no, no need to worry - check out my blog next week for some great in-room workouts. 

2. Meditation - Exercising Your Mental Clarity 

Exercise is great, but if you are on vacation and want to focus on relaxing and gaining more mental clarity, then spending 5-10 minutes on mindful meditation is for you. Just as you exercise different muscle groups to improve your physical health, you also need to exercise your mind to increase and improve mental clarity. If you are new to meditation, there are many apps, such as Headspace, that walk you through the first few times. This is a practice that you can start on vacation and bring back into your daily routine. It is about consistency, as most things are. I would start with practicing AT LEAST once a day. Try doing it when you first wake up in the morning, before a meal and before bed. Find out when your body responds best. My friend and fellow blogger (‘What Does Your Gut Tell You?’), Karissa (@karisslee_), gave me some meditation tips when I first started meditation and they have helped me tremendously. Find our best meditation tips in a my article "Exercise your Mental Clarity".

3. Nutrition - Enjoyed Balance

This aspect of vacation seems to be the hardest for me. Personally, I like to keep nutrition in mind while on vacation. Not everyone does and that is fine, a few days of eating whatever you want and enjoying yourself is good ‘soul food’. For me however, some foods will disrupt my digestive system, so I know that my body feels its best when I, AT LEAST, have my dietary needs in mind when eating outside of my ‘normal’.  It’s all about balance and control (i.e having just 1 ice cream, not 3 or choosing the grilled chicken over the breaded chicken). If you stress about nutrition while on vacation, I suggest just having an idea of how your body reacts to different foods. You can then let loose, while still knowing your body and can feel good about enjoying your meals (and dessert, duh).

The most frequent nutrition-based questions I get asked when talking about vacation is ALCOHOL. All I have to say is, enjoy. You are on vacation. You are supposed to have fun and relax. Of course, dealing with alcohol can be risky. However, please remember this very important word: Moderation. You don’t need to go overboard. If you want to drink, but are afraid of racking up those calories or skyrocketing your sugar intake, go for drinks with less sugar (i.e gin and tonic, tequila soda, tequila water, vodka soda etc.) and keep the sugary drinks to a minimum (i.e pina colada, daiquiris, juice drinks etc.). Enjoy and be safe.

Vacation is supposed to be fun and relaxing. Don’t stress too much over working out and counting macros. As I said before, health isn’t only about going to the gym and keeping a strict diet- it is about mental and emotional health as well. There are small steps you can take to still feel like you are staying course without being restricted. Learn your body and what works for you. As always, consult a doctor before doing any exercises that may be a problem due to prior injury, condition etc. and feel free to reach out to me, Emily Carrara, for tips, tricks, workout hacks and your average dad joke.