One of the best times of year is approaching us - SUMMER. During the summer months our goal is to get out of town and remove ourselves from the daily grind so we can disconnect and recharge. I practice self-care a lot in my practice. It is so important that you take time for you. Recharge mentally and physically. Otherwise, you end up feeling run down and burnt out. It happens to us all. None of which is good for your overall health.
People immediately think that because they are going on vacation this is an automatic set up for failure with their health goals. "What can I eat?" "There's no gym near by." "I'm staying with family and will have to eat what they feed me." (I have lots of comments there....). "I'll be eating out every meal." Do any of these sound familiar? Well, I am writing this blog post to remind you all that, that is not the case, AT ALL. If anything, it can be the complete opposite.
I recently took a quick trip to recharge my battery. I have to practice what I preach, right?! This was the first trip I have taken in over 4 years where I 100% disconnected from my "life" - work, friends, family. I just needed to focus on myself for a week and recharge my burnt out battery. In doing so, this does not mean, sit for long periods of time and eat whatever I want. Going into vacation with that mentality will actually only set you up for failure upon your return. Habits can be created in matters of hours or a few days. It's easy to get into a habit of having a drink every night, or a handful of potato chips as a snack. I am sure who ever is reading this knows exactly what I am talking about - it's vacation. We are meant to enjoy it. However, we are not meant to ruin weeks or months of hard work (proper nutrition, hydration, sleep, and exercise) in a few days on vacation. Or add flame to the fire if you feel as though you already need to lose some LBS. I've had many vacations in recent years where I come back feeling so bloated, heavy, inflamed, lethargic and have a hard time getting back into my routine. I fell into this trap with the YOLO mentality, but as soon as I returned I questioned myself, "was that worth it?". I found it took me 2+ months to get back into a physical place that I was happy with, that I ruined in 6-7 days on vacation. Unfortunately, we can put it on a lot easier than we can take it off. This trip I took a different approach. I stuck to my standards and came back feeling ready to go straight back into my daily nutrition and fitness routine with no, "ugh, this is going to s*ck".
Whether you take a trip this summer or, at any time during the year, here are my vacation lifestyle tips so you can still enjoy but also avoid coming back feeling like a hog.
1. STAY CONSISTENT WHERE YOU CAN: This is so, so important. You all hear me say all the time, consistency is the name of the game. It is key. Because, IT IS. Your body LOVES it. I find breakfast and snacks to be the easiest when staying consistent. My breakfast for 7 mornings on vacation was eggs, bacon and a piece of local whole grain toast. Just about the same thing I eat at home, every morning. I look forward to it every day. I know the exact amount of calories, protein, carbs and fats I am eating. I have full control. Whether I cooked at home or ate out, it was the same meal 7 days in a row. It started my day, every day, feeling great.
Snacks are another way to stay consistent. Where ever you go, there are grocery stores around you. If you don't pack them in your luggage ahead of time, purchase them while you are away. AM Snack: Fruit. PM Snack: Trail Mix. EASY. This also leads me into tip #2.
2. WHILE TRAVELING-BE SNACK PREPARED. Luckily airports are starting to get smarter and wiser. Consumers are becoming more and more aware of what's healthy vs. not (yay!). I've noticed in airports now there are plenty of healthy snack options. Stay away from the foods you know are not good (I know you know them, I don't need to list them). Instead here are my favorite snacks you can find in just about every airport now:
Fat: Perfect Bar, Trail Mixes, Nuts, Seeds, Peanut Butter or Almond Butter packs.
Fruit: ALL KINDS - Apples, Bananas, etc.
3. DRINK A LOT OF WATER. By mid-trip I was getting very annoyed with my bladder. I was finding myself having to go to the bathroom, what felt like, every 20 minutes. I was drinking an insane amount of water to keep me hydrated in the heat as well as to flush out my body while on vacation. It can be a pain but making sure you're hydrated is not only important but it makes you feel better physically. You'll be able to enjoy yourself more - awake, alert, energy. Dehydration causes - fatigue, dizziness, laziness, poor appetite habits. So, drink the H20 and a lot of it! Tip: I had a large reusable cup from 711. I filled this with ice, water and a splash of Gatorade. It motivated me to drink more (I tend to drink more out of a straw) and the Gatorade provided extra flavor and electrolytes (sugar) to keep me going in the 97 degree heat.
4. MOVE YOUR BODY. EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. When you are on vacation, you have 0 excuses to why you can't move your body. I don't want it to hear it! I know every one of us is more than capable of moving our bodies while on vacation. Commit to it and do it first thing in the morning. This commitment will prevent you from drinking too much during the day/night (so I hope) and starts your day off right. Even if there isn't a gym, WALK. My goal every day was to hit 10k steps. I find at home it's hard to hit 10k steps because I'm either driving, sitting at a desk or simply just not walking that much. But on vacation, forget it! It was easy to hit 10k steps. I also put myself through 30 minutes of strength training a few days a week because I had access to a gym. On the other days, I walked, swam laps back and forth in the pool (this was a lot harder than expected. Full body work out!), tread water in the ocean (treading water for 10 minutes burns 100 calories. 600 calories in an hour), or rode a bike. Honestly, if I had access to water aerobics, I would totally dove in! Who cares. Whatever you decide, just move your body every day. No excuses!
5. KEEP YOUR BODY ON AN EATING SCHEDULE. Do this the best you can. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Keeping your body on an eating schedule helps your metabolism, energy levels and avoids you over eating at dinner. And, if you're drinking - avoids alcohol poisoning. Do the best you can to eating around the same times every day. Of the right foods, of course.....
6. LETS CHAT ALCOHOL. Stay AWAY from the sweet drinks. Alcohol itself is straight up empty calories and sugar. So why add MORE empty calories and sugar. You are ASKING for instant bloat, stomach discomfort, irregular bowel movements, inflamed (sugar feeds inflammation), and weight GAIN. It is fine to have a few spread out through the week but I would strongly recommend to not do this every day, all day or night. For numerous reasons. Stick with the the "light" alcohols; tequila, vodka, gin, white rum. My go-to cocktails when ordering out is one of the listed alcohols with club soda, muddled mint and fresh lime juice. If at home, one of the listed alcohols with flavored club soda and a splash of watermelon juice. It's refreshing, taste good and low in empty cals. Also, when you see "mango puree" on a cocktail menu, 99.9% chance that the puree is coming from a carton, not fresh. Ask if it's made fresh. Sometimes in the tropical places, they are. But often times, they come from that carton. If fresh, enjoy that 1 fruity drink. If carton, skip it and find something else.
7. TRY NOT TO EAT DINNER LATE. We can all get so caught up in the moment and the next thing we know we aren't eating dinner until 9pm. This is fine every so often but I would recommend to plan dinner 6pm -8pm, at the latest. Going to sleep on an full stomach can (and will) disrupt your sleep. Also, remember that food is fuel. So your body has to process and metabolize this and does not do it at a fast speed while you are sleeping. So, be sure to control your portions (by eating more during the day to avoid crazy hunger) and eat at a responsible hour. You'll sleep better, your metabolism will thank you and you'll wake up not feeling like you have a food baby in your belly.
8. GET YOUR ZZZZ's. I always find that on my first few days away my body is still on my at-home schedule. Up when the sun rises and can't stay awake past 9pm. However, as the days creep into my trip my body relaxes and I can sleep in until 8am, no problem. DO THIS. Get rest. Even if you want to take a nap or two throughout the day - go for it! Listen to your body. If you're body is telling you to sleep, just sleep. Sleeping is a huge piece to the puzzle of recharging your battery. Also, try to form a sleep schdule while on vacation. Go to bed around the same time each night and up at the same time. This helps you stay on track and easier to transition back into your at-home wake up/bed time routine.
9. STAY AWAY FROM CHAIN RESTAURANTS. Chains seem to be easy, for some, while away on vacation. But coming from a girl who was a waitress in 2 chain restaurants during my undergrad, STAY AWAY. The lack of nutrition at chain restaurants is very obvious. I recommend to eat local. Support the locals who are working 15 hour days creating, and serving quality authentic food. I'd take a same-day caught fish taco over a defrosted fish filet in a chain, ANY DAY. And, so should you!
I saved the best for last. My last and final tip is a topic I speak to a lot in my business......
10. HOW TO EAT WHEN DINING OUT. For some, this seems impossible. When going out to eat you immediately think, "I can't eat anything". X, WRONG. Sure eating out you can't control a few things but there are MANY that things you can control. Starting with your choices. Know that there is ALWAYS something to eat every where you go. It's just learning how to order well and right.
Here are tips on how to navigate a menu:
THINK AHEAD. Look over the menu options online before going out. Pick your meal based on your PROTEIN first. Vegetable second and starches third. Example: Grilled Swordfish, Sauteed Green Beans and Carrots, Roasted Potatoes.
SUBSTITUTIONS. Don’t be shy to ask for what you want. Instead of mashed potatoes, ask for other starch options or double vegetables or side salad. This is so common now and I'm ALL for it.
REMOVE TEMPTATION. Send back the bread bowl. If you've followed everything else I've mentioned in this blog post and the bread is homemade, local and FRESH, then eat the bread. IF NOT, send it back.
ORDER BBGSR. Stick with foods on the menu that are; broiled, baked, grilled, steamed or raw. Raw bar options is a great way to get protein and essential nutrients. If you order fish, chicken, pork, etc. it is best to order it grilled (blackened seasoning is OK.).
SKIP THE SAUCE. Avoid ALL foods that are saturated in sauces OR ask for it on the side. (Tomato is okay).
VEGGIE OVERLOAD. Double up on side orders of veggies. Example, no French fries, sub mixed greens.
MAKE SURE EACH PLATE CONTAINS:
Complex Carbohydrate and/OR healthy fat
Heavy Sauces (tomato is okay)
Fruity Alcoholic Beverages (stick with vodka, red wine, tequila)
Simple Carbs (white rice, pasta, etc.)
Here are examples of a few of my meals eaten out on this trip:
Protein, Vegetables, Complex Carbohydrates and Fiber
Not Pictured: Freshly made Watermelon Aqua Fresca
TREAT: PEANUT BUTTER ACAI BOWL
Split between 2 people. This was ginormous! Could I eat the whole thing, 100%, but not necessary! A lot of micronutrients, carbohydrates, natural sugar and healthy fats.
UN-PREPARED MEAL AT THE AIRPORT: TURKEY SANDWICH ON 9 GRAIN BREAD & VEGETABLES & HUMMUS.
Protein, Vegetables, Healthy Fat, Complex Carbohydrates and Fiber. Kept me satisfied and full.
So, here you have it! All the small but big steps into staying fit and healthy while you are away, enjoying and recharging. Worrying about what and how to eat while you're trying to recharge should be the least of your worries. But, the more you practice, the easier it becomes your LIFESTYLE.