Swimsuit. Sun Glasses. Print Airline Tickets. Pack Car.
As you go through your vacation to-do list excitement begins to take hold… You count down the days and hours to vacation daydreaming of sleeping-in and being carefree on the beach. You can almost feel the sunshine on your face and hear the ocean waves when you suddenly break out in a cold sweat…
What the hell are you going to eat on vacation?
You have been diligently changing your lifestyle and dropping those unwanted pounds that you have carried with you since your college days. You are looking forward to flaunting your hard earned work in your brand new bathing suit. But you start to fear going on vacation.
In the past, whatever progress you made up to vacation has always been the beginning of the end once vacation begins. You are terrified that vacation may be the beginning of yet another downward spiral if you can’t stay on track.
Navigating the vacation space can be difficult at best. Usually you are surrounded by other people that do not have the same goals as you. Many elements of vacation may be out of your control especially if you are on a cruise or vacationing with other people.
So how do you enjoy yourself while still making room for progress and most importantly staying on track? Here’s how…
13 Bulletproof (Yet Simple) Strategies To Maintain Progress During Vacation
1. Know Where You Want To Splurge:
For some people this means drinking alcohol. For others it is dinner or dessert. Deciding before you go what and how much you are going to splurge is the key. Will you have three guilt-free drinks a day? One dessert a day? The key is just deciding and sticking to it.
2. Don’t Settle For Crap:
Don’t eat that crappy hotdog from the boardwalk that’s likely been sitting under the heat lamp for hours. Forgo the fast food or subpar ice cream. When you are going to deviate make it count, make it an experience. Spend an extra couple bucks on the four-course dinner or the microbrews.
3. Snacks, Snacks and More Snacks:
Plan to have healthy snacks around. Make sure that you snack on something that you enjoy and will help you feel satisfied. This way you won’t be tempted by the low hanging fruit like the boardwalk hotdog. Many vacations require you to be up and about so make sure your snacks are transportable. Snacks should include protein and a little fat. Both of these will help to keep you full and satiated until your next meal. Here are some ideas to get you started
- Carrots/Bell Peppers and single serve container of guacamole
- Cucumbers and single serve container of hummus
- Apples and cheese.
- Apples and nut butters
- Turkey/Beef Jerky
- While I am a huge proponent of real food you may have to rely on bars/shakes in certain situations. Best bar options include: Kind bars, Rx bars, and Quest Bars
4. Think Ahead:
On a cruise, going camping, at the beach. Think about where your healthy eating/habits can get side tracked and prepare. Before you go on vacation make sure you hit this checklist:
- Find the closest grocery store to where you are staying and make a plan for when you will go and what you will need.
- Locate the nearest gym or decide what “at home” workouts you will be doing and how many times you plan on working out.
- Staying in a hotel – Get one with a kitchen so you can cook at least one meal in like breakfast.
- Make sure your hotel has at the very least a microwave/refrigerator.
- Search the area for local restaurants that have healthy options.
5. Move Your Body:
Everyday. It might not be about getting a killer workout in each and every day. It is about staying active. Do something that you wouldn’t be able to do at home. Walk or run on the beach. Go on a hike. Play a game of soccer with your kids. Rent a canoe or paddleboat. It doesn’t matter what you do just make sure you break a sweat once a day.
6. Drink Water:
Carry a water bottle wherever you go. It will keep you feeling good, help keep you hydrated, flush out those toxins (ahem – pretty drinks with the umbrellas), and aid you in maintaining your weight.
7. Look Before You Go:
Look at menus before you go out to eat. Browsing and picking what you are going to eat before you are starving will help keep you accountable and making quality choices. Easy adjustments like getting sauces on the side and making sure there is a protein and a veggie on your plate will go a long way.
8. Eat a Protein Filled Breakfast:
Unless you are going to brunch, breakfast is usually the easiest meal to eat light and get right. This will allow you to splurge later in the day. Some easy options are:
- Egg/Egg White Omelet with ALL the veggies (spinach, onions, bell peppers, asparagus, etc).
- Yogurt with a cup of berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries).
- Cottage cheese with a side of fruit (blueberries, strawberries, cherries).
- Chicken/Turkey Sausage with egg whites and veggies.
- Summertime shakes with lots of greens, protein (yogurt/whey), and a smidgen of fruit.
9. Decide in Advance Which Meals and How Many Will Be “Vacation” Meals:
Keep the other two meals light. Keep them protein dense with lower carbs/fat. This will allow you to fully enjoy and experience your vacation meal. Here are some examples of light ideas that still let you partake in vacation fun.
- Think seafood (grilled or steamed)
- Veggies Veggies veggies (raw, grilled, steamed and roasted)
- BBQ Chicken and other lean cuts of meat
- Fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, and cherries
10. Portion Distortion:
Enjoy each meal but only eat until you are full. Enjoy the conversation. Mid-meal take a break and decide if you are still hungry. Not sure what your plate should look like? Aim for a palm of protein, a fist of veggies, a cupped hand of carbs and a thumb of fat for each meal if you are a female. If you are male, double that. Remember, if you decided to enjoy a “vacation” meal later in the day your other two meals will be lighter than this.
11. Create Memories:
Vacation should be about more than what you eat. It should be about whom you are spending time with and creating memories that will last a lifetime. Go hiking in the rainforest. Rent a jet ski. Spend the extra money on an experience that you may never get to do again rather than a meal that you can get anywhere or anytime. Do you remember what you ate on your last vacation? Yeah, me neither.
12. Don’t Let A Slip Up Become A Give Up:
Even with the best of intentions sometimes we just screw up. Don’t let one day or one meal where you made choices that you wish you didn’t make be the end of your good choices for the week. One day or meal of debauchery over the course of the week might not end your progress but giving up certainly will. Not only will this mindset crush your momentum on vacation, it will make it that much harder to resume your routine when vacation is over. If you screw up, mess up, fall down – dust yourself off. Think about where you went wrong and be better for the next moments ahead.
13. Have Someone To Keep You Accountable.
Nothing will keep you on track like having a coach in your corner. This will be someone that you have to verbalize your plan of action to and then report back. Just the thought of having to report back may be enough to help you think twice before making a less than stellar choice.
Vacation is a time to unwind and relax. Enjoy tasting the local food. Cherish the moment with family and friends. Create memories that you will never forget. Don’t let it be an excuse to let the wheels come off the bus. After all, is one week worth the months and months of hard work you put in? Probably not.
While many think that this is where this article ends. It is not.
Even more important than what happens on vacation is what happens the week after.
For many, the end of vacation often means returning back home as late as possible before the start of the next week.
Without a plan or a crumb in their house they start the new week behind and stressed with the added task of unpacking.
This is where meals get bought instead of made. Workouts are skipped. You start to slip back into bad habits and routines that feel a bit too comfortable like your covers on a cold winter day. You tell yourself next week you will get back on track but you never do.
Are you starting to feel nervous again about going on vacation? Don’t be. Here is how you prevent this from being you.
POST VACATION STRATEGIES
Prepare For The End Before You Begin:
Knowing that vacation will eventually end, prepare for it. Don’t be the person that gets back at midnight when you have to be at work on Monday morning. Instead leave yourself half a day to unpack, unwind and get to the grocery store. Leave a half a day early or tack on a staycation day. Not an option. Make some extra meals before you leave for vacation and freeze them. Then come Monday morning all you have to do is thaw. It doesn’t matter how you do it just make sure Monday starts off like every Monday that has come before.
Make A Plan:
Knowing how your week after vacation is going to unfold is key. Spend that last afternoon on vacation deciding what you will be eating for the week and when. What days are you going to work out? When will you unpack? Put this all in your planner. Sound like a boring way to end the vacation. Yes, maybe but come Monday morning if you have a plan you won’t feel like you need another vacation.
Have Someone To Hold You Accountable:
Yes, this appears twice in one post. That is how key it is to your success. If you are anything like me when you get even the slightest bit off track you need someone to gently nudge you along. Just the thought of having to report back to someone will get you pretty close to the straight and narrow (Apply for Coaching, Here).
The quicker you get back to the day to day the greater chance you have of maintaining your stride towards your goals.
If you are reading this blog and all these suggestions sound great… but you just can’t quite figure out how to implement them or take action on an actual plan.
All the more reason to reach out to someone for help!
Just having someone to talk through your specific situation and come up with a game plan that will be individualized to you and your trip will be invaluable to not only staying on track but learning how to vacation better in the future.
Theresa brings ten years of experience as a Registered Nurse and as a certified Nutrition Coach. Theresa became a nutrition coach after hiring her own coach, as she personally struggled to lose weight after her second child arrived. She learned that nutrition was the key to changing body composition, having energy to chase after two small children and be happy doing it. Theresa Coaches and Creates content through her site www.sustainableselfnutrition.