In my last post I shared my favorite travel snacks and tips for what to eat on the road as I was getting ready for a week at the beach. Now that I'm back, all sun-kissed and adjusting to reality, I want to share with you some of my top tips for staying healthy on vacation.
Healthy? Vacation? I realize putting those two words so close together may sound alarm bells. A vacation is supposed to be a break from all that, right?
Well, yes and no, I think.
You see, I like to think the way we do healthy around here isn't one in which you want to or even really can take a hiatus from... Because indulgences, breaking the rules and enjoying the foods you love is frankly a totally healthy thing to do.
The hard part about vacation is you're completely removed from your routine. There are no boundaries and it's way too easy to go overboard.
We all do it. Heck, I just did it.
Every now and then I think we all need a little derailment.
That break from the everyday routine (even the unhealthiest parts of it) can be a healthy thing in itself.
What happens though... for me at least, I'd get used to that hotel muffin and coffee for breakfast, the eating out, all the wine.... then come home and maybe not make it to the store right away, so it's more meals out, more wine... more coffee. And then it's another week, or two, or however long before I'd come back around to my healthier ways.
I get it. I've been there too.
This is the question I hear most often from health coaching clients: How do I get back on track after a vacation? or a long weekend? or just a weekend? ha.
It got me thinking over this latest little getaway... A vacation is supposed to be good for us, right? So how do we make sure these breaks become health boosts instead of health pitfalls?
I think a lot of it has to do with perspective, savoring indulgences (read: muffins, cheese, wine) and using the time and space to gain perspective on what it is you're getting away from.
Maybe a little derailing is just what we all need?
Here's how you can use it to get even more out of your next trip..
Live it up.
Vacation is the time to indulge, treat yourself and do things you don't normally do. If you don't typically eat donuts and having one sounds like a fun and delicious treat. Go for it. And try not to even give it a second though.
Look at it as something you do on vacation and savor every bite.
We're more relaxed on vacation and less stress means more resilience for our bodies. Have you ever noticed when you drink alcohol on vacation you may not get hungover as easily? Your body is in a better state to handle outside stressors like alcohol, sugar, etc. because there are fewer competing sources of stress that your body has to process.
Not that that's a permission slip to go on a donut and margarita bender... pick a few treats that you enjoy the most and savor them.
These indulgences will leave you feeling more satisfied at the end of your travels, both in experience and taste, and that satisfaction makes it easier to get back into your healthy routine once you get back home.
Start a new healthy habit.
Vacation and time away pulls you out of your routine and means more spontaneity, openness, flexibility. This can be the perfect environment to introduce something new. Perhaps you've wanted to cut back on phone use, or you're trying to switch from coffee to tea. Maybe it's that you're trying to drink more water, you want to start a new walking or running practice, stretch before bed, journal, meditate, pray,... you catch my drift.
Vacation is a great time to take one or more of these on. You're out of your normal environment, everything else is different anyway, so the change doesn't feel like as big a deal. It's part of vacation. You're less stressed and more relaxed overall and in a better frame of mind to adapt.
Then when it's time to go home, you take your new healthy habit with you. And there you go, habit change done.
Open up a new self-care product.
Is there a new lotion, oil, some sort of self-care product that you haven't used before? Save it for your trip and use it for the first time in your vacation element.
The sense of smell is the sense that's most powerfully tied to memory. Have you ever smelled something and it brought back a particular moment, or feeling?
I noticed this one when I started using a new daily face moisturizer in Aspen a couple years ago. I still use this moisturizer today and every time I put it on I think of that trip. If I close my eyes I feel like I'm there in that beautiful bathroom steps away from the mountains. It's like I took a little bit of that vacation home with me. Really, give it a try next time you travel.
Break the routine.
It can be so easy to get stuck in the in the same routine simply because it's comfortable and you know it works. It's almost like after awhile you forget that there's any other way. Maybe it's eating the same lunch. Drinking the same latte. Watching the same TV shows. The routine almost becomes addictive, like you have to do it or things just don't feel right. That is, until you go on vacation, and remember there is life beyond Starbucks and our DVR...
Vacation is just the break that can help, no MAKE, you re-evaulate your routines. You leave them for a bit, get perspective and when you come back you can decide which habits to reinstate and which ones to move on from.
Plan your comeback.
When you come back from your trip, plan something, anything that's going to snap you back into healthier eating habits... Maybe decide what you're going to have for dinner that night when you get back even before you go on the trip.
You could make a soup or stew before you go and have it ready, waiting in the freezer. It'll make it much easier to eat a home cooked meal instead of takeout. Write out your grocery list. Plan when you'll go to the store. Better yet, order your groceries online before you even get home! Man, what a time to be alive, right?
Anything that's going to give you a head start into the week, do it, and it will make the transition back to the usual so much smoother. And you'll get back in your healthy groove so much faster.
What really helped me this week was the meal plan I've been working on and will tell you more about in a couple of weeks.
I needed to give it a test drive, make sure the shopping list wasn't missing anything, the prep instructions are easy to follow, etc.
Yes, you get all of that totally done for you, plus all the recipes for 5 day's worth of breakfasts, lunches and dinners. I gotta say, it's pretty amazing and saving my life right now...
So, I took it to the store with me Monday, got all I need for the week. I spent about an hour getting lunches and veggies prepped and now I have a fridge full of healthy food ready to eat all week long.
It's the best feeling to go into the week like this, especially coming off that vacation.
I'll have more on the meal plan in another week or two. I call it a meal plan, but really it's so much more than that. So much more to tell you very very soon.... If you want me to email you when it's ready, let me know here.
Megan Adams Brown, CHC, helps people take charge of their health and to start listening to themselves over the latest diet trend to optimize their own wellness, happiness and potential. Her family-friendly meal plans help parents take charge in the kitchen, too. This leads to more vegetables, less junk, and happier, healthier kids and parents. Megan shares kid-approved, allergy-friendly recipes on her blog. To learn more click here.