It’s Your Vacation – Don’t Just Sit There!


It’s almost officially vacation season!  Woohoo!

I know what you’re thinking.  “Aaahh….vacation…time to abandon all attempts at healthy living!  Time to lounge and indulge and forget about what happens after!”

The trouble with this thinking is clear:  you come back home with a “vacation hangover,” and I’m not even talking about anything you had to drink.

I’m talking about that feeling you have — the sinking feeling when you step back onto the scale or into the gym after a week of little more than sitting and eating.  It’s the same feeling that makes people wonder, “Why should I even bother working out — I blew it all on vacation.  I’m doomed.”

Here’s the good news:  you’re not doomed.  Even if you let it all go while you’re out, you rarely lose all the progress you’ve made.

The even-better news is this:  vacation can mean BOTH relaxing AND staying healthy.  You can even have fun doing it — promise!

First, let me put on my Captain Obvious cape and get a few tips out of the way:

1.  Plan to workout, and promise yourself you’ll do it at least once during your first 3 days on vacation.  Chances are, if you do it once at the beginning, you’ll feel so great afterward (and get such admiring adoration from your vacation-mates) that you’ll automatically want to repeat it.

2.  Bring your workout gear.  Pack the shoes, the space-saving and lightweight resistance bands, the iPod, and all the rest.

3.  Check out available resources.  Find out if the hotel has a gym; check maps to find a good place to run.  You know the deal — these are the basics.

Now, let’s kick it up a notch — it’s mind over matter, and it’s time to change your mind.

1.  Before you book your ticket, take a moment to think about WHY you work out in the first place.  It’s more than just vanity, right?  You feel strong afterward; you know that every workout adds quality and quantity to your life; you’re proud and grateful to be in ever-improving health.  Exercise is not torture.  If it feels that way to you, then you need to change it up anyway — exercise is a gift to yourself.  Say it with me:  “exercise is a gift to myself.” Working out is an indulgence, and when you think of it that way, every session feels like a special treat.  What better time for special treats than on vacation?

2.  Following that line of thinking, there are lots of indulgences that don’t add to your waistline — a workout is just one example.  Forget about chocolate and wine — those aren’t really treats when they make you feel behind the 8-ball afterward.  How about indulging in a massage?  A facial or other beauty service?  A quiet sunset?  A date with your favorite person?  You can indulge in a leisurely walk instead of a run, or rent a cruiser bike to feel like a kid again.  Indulge in a hot bath or an extra hour of sleep.

3.  Try something new.  Novelty is more than just fun — it actually grows new connections in your brain, and can bring you closer to a spouse or partner who tries a new activity with you.  If your only vacation indulgence is a slice of chocolate cake, I guarantee you’ll have forgotten about it by this time next year.  But try something new instead, and it will become a favorite memory marking this vacation in your mind.  Try beginners’ surfing lessons in Costa Rica!  Sample real local flavor, like trippa in Italy – my friend Carmel will show you how!  See the tulips (or the Red Light District!) in Amsterdam!  The point is to do something completely new to you and unique to your particular vacation spot.

So, what gift will you offer yourself on this summer’s vacation?  How else can you change your mind to promote healthy R&R?


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16 Responses to “It’s Your Vacation – Don’t Just Sit There!”

  1. Gracie says:

    Renting your vacation home is a great way to offset the cost of maintaining the home..
    Gracie recently posted..get redirected hereMy Profile

  2. Some of my favorite vacations were ones where I was physically active a lot of the time – hiking/rafting in Big Bend Nat’l Park, snorkeling in Mexico, or lots and lots of walking around big cities such as Chicago and San Francisco. Exercise on vacation doesn’t have to be a regular workout, but even a modified one – squats, push-ups, crunches and some light cardio in the hotel room each day at least keeps you in the habit of exercising while away from home. This way, even if you do indulge a little, the effects are offset.

  3. Nona, WOW! A cross-country move is no joke — talk about added stress! I think it is fantastic that you’ve already thought through this and created a strategy for health and happiness that includes (teaches and models for) your daughter. Oooooh, I hope you’re moving to Atlanta — we could meet in person! :-)

  4. Nikki, I heard somewhere that after the first 3 bites of a rich food, our brain somehow blunts the pleasure response. I wonder if that’s a strategy for those of us (including ME — don’t think I’m some saint here!) who reallyreallyreallyreally want that luxe dessert!

    And I love your idea of horseback riding. It’s way more of a workout that it seems! Have fun!

  5. Oooh, that’s a good one, Michelle — I absolutely LOVE walking in a new city! What a way to explore!

  6. Love your comment, Michelle. One thing I find is that if I do ‘fall off the wagon’, I feel REALLY slow and heavy the next day — like I’m slogging through mud. Who wants to spend vacation feeling like that?!! Better to stick to my usual food and exercise habits and add in fun new healthy stuff!

  7. Yay for adventure, Amy! I’ve heard several people say this, and it’s so inspiring to hear!

  8. That’s right! Vacation is NOT a free pass to abandon what we KNOW to be best for us… Maybe a pass to do what we REALLY enjoy… to try NEW things… to walk away KNOWING that these new habits are actually INGRAINED in our lifestyle now. Love it!
    Michelle Pippin recently posted..Five INVISIBLE Secrets to SuccessMy Profile

  9. amy zellmer says:

    What’s funny is I probably do more exercise while on vacation than at home! I love to hike, bike, explore!! You get to see so much!! don’t get me wrong, I love lounging by the pool as well, but I love a good adventure!!

  10. Michelle says:

    LOVE your comments & suggestions! I think #3 is probably the best idea – if you want to make sure you get some exercise, then schedule in some awesome trip-related activities. Another one I’ve seen people do is go to very walk-heavy destinations so that they have exercise built in to their trip as they visit new places.
    Michelle recently posted..Interview with Melissa Dinwiddie: the 3 ingredients for major transformationMy Profile

  11. Leah Shapiro says:

    Great tips as always Jessica!

    Funny enough, I tend to exercise more when I’m on vacation! That’s part of the break for me- hiking, swimming, being out and about all day.
    Leah Shapiro recently posted..The Problem with Protecting Yourself From Your DesiresMy Profile

  12. Patty Tanji says:

    I remember the first time I tried snorkeling. Terrifying and thrilling. Now I do it all the time and the underwater landscapes are still breathtaking (literally). I have not gotten up the courage to scuba dive yet. I love the graphic of the cyclist. Very inviting…yet another activity I haven’t tried on vacation. Oh my, endless! Thanks for the inspiration.
    Patty Tanji recently posted..A Gymnast’s DreamMy Profile

  13. Bri Saussy says:

    I SO agree with this. My fave place to vacay is my home away from home in Santa Fe. I love it for many reasons-where I fell in love and got engaged, but I also love it because its a place I can be very active-I walk every where, go for hikes and spend a ton of time outside. The TV never gets turned on–its heavenly.
    Bri Saussy recently posted..How to use Magical Anointing & Ritual OilsMy Profile

  14. Nikki says:

    Wow, I so needed to hear this. I am guilty as charged of heading off on vacation and completely neglecting my exercise routine / falling off the diet wagon, all while telling myself it’s okay because “it’s vacation.”

    A brisk walk / jog with the dog along the beach sounds totally do-able. I do also thoroughly enjoying more active pursuits like horse riding, sea kayaking, cycling… So this year I’ll def make a more conscious effort to weave these into the tapestry of my vacation week.

    As for diet, it’s so hard because food that’s bad for you tastes so damn GOOD. (And I know I’m not alone in that.) BUT… I will endeavor to pick from the tastier salads and savor more fruity snacks and treats and do my best to avoid stodgy carbs.

    How’s that? ;)
    Nikki recently posted..Of gorillas in the pantry (or “MONEY matters.”)My Profile

  15. Nona Jordan says:

    Love this piece – we are getting ready to move across the country and it’s easy to let it all go. But I have some fun things planned (activity-wise) for my daughter and I and I did that intentionally, to build fun, adventurous activity into the mix. Thank you for the motivation and the reminder!! xoxo

  16. yes yes and more yes Captain Obvious (loved that..) It makes no sense to take good care of ourselves at certain times.. just to abandon ourselves at others. Plus vacation offers ways of moving and exploring our physicality in potentially different ways (swimming for me.. just dunk me in water.. happy happy!).
    Love your lists.. not obvious to most..
    love to you,
    Simple Sacred Solutions For Living Beautifully In Your Body
    Lisa Claudia Briggs recently posted..Being Overweight and The Fear of Being Truly SeenMy Profile

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