Vacations and travel have the tendency to pull you out of your comfort zone, especially if leading a healthy lifestyle is one of your top priorities.
I used to be that girl.
That girl who was paranoid about being “thrown off my routine.”
That girl who packed her sweet potatoes, turkey patties, chicken breasts, and broccoli in her suitcase to survive a week of ‘vacation’ outside of my comfort zone.
That girl who meticulously planned her itinerary for workouts and meal options.
That girl who called restaurants and hotels ahead of time to make sure they could accommodate me.
That girl who cared about food and fitness options first and the actual vacation spot and experience second.
I did everything to ensure I would not be derailed in my clean eating and exercise that vacations and travel were more stressful than they were fun. In an effort to lead healthy, fit lifestyles, sometimes we become stressed, obsessed, disconnected with our bodies and minds, and fall into a rut. If you find yourself identifying with these points, you may need to take a vacation from your routine.
- You find yourself stressing over “keeping it clean” or fitting in your workout amidst your daily to-dos.
- You complete the same ol’ fitness regime on auto-pilot every week, with loss in steam and progression as time goes on.
- You’ve quit varying your foods, resolving to cook the same things most days for a party of one.
- You’re growing bored or apathetic with your workouts and nutrition routine.
- You hit a wall.
Just like rest or recovery days are necessary in your weekly workout schedule, vacations are a necessary part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle. In fact, you need it. And here’s why:
De-stress. Cortisol levels (your stress hormones) rise when your body is stressed from exercise, restrictive eating, chronic cardio, or obsessing over being healthy. Although stress is a normal part of life, when you don’t take a break or vary your routine, your adrenal glands (the producers of cortisol) are in a constant state of stress, leading to side effects like plateaus, struggles with weight loss or weight gain efforts, lack of appetite or insatiable appetite, fatigue, apathy, lowered mood, and poor recovery between workouts. Vacations allow you to take a step back, rest, relax, recharge and de-stress.
Refresh. Vacation can inspire a fresh perspective to your hamster wheel routine and allow your body time to fully recover and rejuvenate in the process. When you eat the same things everyday, you can actually force your body to become intolerant to the foods you love. The same can be said of exercise. When you stick to similar rep schemes and workout schedules, your body adapts and stops responding. A different or limited schedule, gym, and equipment options while on vacation may force you to try new things and challenge your body in entirely new ways. Lastly, the saying, ‘less is more’ definitely applies to the magic that rest and recovery has for yielding strength gains and progress. Allow yourself to take a week off from any mandates around your fitness and come back stronger in the long run.
Mental Clarity. Distance makes the heart (and mind) grow fonder. Time off from your gym and usual foods can be the exact mental break you need to come back to your healthy lifestyles with an invigorated mindset.
Revelation. You may be surprised what you learn about yourself when you allow a little slack from your militant diet and workout routine. Whether you are in Costa Rica, New York City, or the middle-of-nowhere Indiana, there are hundreds of ways to workout, and hundreds of foods that can fall within the spectrum of a healthy workout and diet. Feel stuck? Keep in mind that bodyweight exercises travel anywhere, and you can’t go wrong with eating real food (meat, veggies, healthy fats, and lots of water).
A Little Dirt Never Hurt. The gym and healthy eating are meant to enhance your life outside the gym. Life happens and vacations are one of those occasional life experiences we train and eat well for. That’s what 80/20 is all about. Health is a marathon, not a sprint.
Let your vacation be a catalyst for change: