This week has become filled suddenly with dinners out at our wedding venue, re-testing a few recipes from last week before they go up on the blog, and a family vacation over Labor Day weekend to the Oregon Coast. Work in my lab has picked up a bit as well, so I’m heading to the rental house a few days after my fiancé.
I put up a travel guide to Oceanside and the Oregon Coast last year, and I’m hoping that this trip will be just as rejuvenating. I’m lucky that Mr Never Cooks has a wonderful extended family who in fact do love to cook, drink some good wine, and play a few games of Spades long into the night.
One struggle I know many of my friends in the wellness world have is striking a balance with food and fitness that makes them happiest on vacations. Instead of a menu plan this week, I thought I might share some of the tips I use to maintain my health without ruining the whole idea of a vacation in the first place.
1. Begin at the End
Photo by Zack Minor on Unsplash
Okay so that was a little confusing. What I mean is that you need to have a solid plan for after your vacation is over. I don’t mean a crash diet, a juice cleanse, or a punishing gym session.
A: Those all sound awful and like a great way to make sure you go as hard as possible on your vacation to ‘get it all in while you can.’
B: What does that do for you personally in the long run? I’ve reviewed a slim down before and while I understand the drive to want to see quick results after an indulgent trip, it seemed like a bad way for me personally to try to ‘kick off’ a period of healthy habits. Setting your bar astronomically high in the gym after being less physically active is also an A+ way to feeling defeated and burned out.
Do you have a food and fitness routine you know you can pick back up after your vacation is over? If you already have one well-established, great! If not, maybe ease yourself into it post-vacation if you’re feeling the need.
Most importantly though, have a plan BEFORE you embark on your world travels. Everything else can go totally haywire and not at all how you thought, but it’s all temporary. Your real life waiting for you at home is less so.
2. Structured Days = Structured Meals
Have you ever found yourself munching on snacks constantly while on vacation and then it’s lunch time and you don’t want to miss out, so you stuff yourself to some terribly uncomfortable levels? No? Just me then?
Look, the chef here is about to earn a Michelin Star people, you better believe I ate all of this.
I know some people really dig the chilling out version of a weekend getaway, but I just get bored and hungry all the time under those circumstances.
Plan a trip to a local attraction, offer to run to the store to pick up anything the group might need (sunscreen and bug spray are the two we often forget!), or just take a long walk in the area you’re staying. If you’re like me, you might even enjoy bringing along something that resembles work.
3. Don’t Leave Things to Chance
For me this means two things.
The first is that I HATE not knowing when dinner will be. There’s a big difference between 5:30 and 8pm when it comes to my afternoon hanger-abating snacks and I need to know what I’m in for. Occasionally it helps to put your foot down about nailing down timing at the very least.
The second is to just go ahead and slip that third Larabar into your purse. Look, no one will know that you’re practically a walking vending machine and who ever got mad at you for being prepared for when the aforementioned hanger strikes your beloved sister and her 2 year old at the same time? Oh, and it’s better than the actual vending machine pop tarts.
4. Physical Activity, Decent Food & Sleep are BFFs
Who sleeps well in a strange bed? If it’s you, you’re a very special unicorn and you can just skip right on over this to #5. If, however, you’re a regular old Joe like the rest of us, hotel or rental beds are just not going to lead to the best sleep.
Photo by Neha Deshmukh on Unsplash
You know what helps? Maintaining that level of activity and real food consumption to which your non-vacation body may have become accustomed. You know what’s a problem? Compounding the issues of lack of motivation to exercise and poor food decisions with bad sleep which leads to a lack of motivation to exercise and poor food decisions which leads to — okay, I think you get the picture here.
The point is that it’s important to understand that these things are related in a weird love-triangle-symbiosis way and if you’re struggling with one you might end up struggling with the other two.
5. Don’t Miss Out On Great Experiences For Bad Reasons
If you’re the type of person to be perfectly happy eating from the salad side of the menu every day on vacation, go for it. If you’re not, it might be smart to recognize that it’s okay to experience a place without wondering about the calories in your 4 course dinner or the cool local street food.
Photo by James Sutton on Unsplash
I try to limit dairy on vacation because too much can make me feel sick. To me, that’s an important thing to keep track of. I don’t get too worried about having a fun cocktail in lieu of my normal glass of wine out, even if the mixed drink almost certainly has a higher sugar content that the stuff I normally eat. For Mr Never Cooks, sugar is the death knell for his energy but he can go all day at cheeses.
We take these individual needs into account and try to also hold ourselves accountable, because it’s kind of a bummer to have to skip a museum tour because your partner needs to nap suddenly in the middle of the day. The pendulum swings both ways on this one, so try to listen to your body as well as you can and if you know something will ruin your time later on, maybe try something equally fun that won’t be an energy vampire.
Now get out there and enjoy yourself!