Up until the beginning of July, my eating and exercise habits were great. I had a routine. 8Between work, family and the usual social engagements, I balanced going to the gym with a clean, healthy diet. And I felt great. My clothes fit well, even a little loose, my energy levels were high and I felt in control.
Enter family vacation. I can recall some holidays where I have done pretty well sticking to a healthy eating routine. I definitely find healthy eating easier whenever it’s just my family away together and we have a kitchenette, or even are limited to restaurant meals. I have never been to a restaurant that did not offer salad with dressing on the side and a portion of grilled salmon or chicken, making eating healthy meals relatively easy. Sure, it takes a little pre-planning (knowing what you are going to order before you go really helps!), but it can be done.
Staying at someone else’s house, however, is much more of a challenge. Say good-bye to choosing what you’re having for lunch or dinner. Unless your hosts are extremely health conscious (which apparently applies to a very small percentage of the population), hosts like to be hosts- and they like to feed you. Cupboard are full with treats and snacks, the freezer is stocked with ice cream. Hunger becomes a foreign feeling.
Of course, I could say no. Nobody is force-feeding me. But I don’t- I don’t want to. Which makes me think- is it the excess food around, or is it the mindset of being on vacation which leads one to abandon the self control that exists in the familiar patterns of home? Do we subconsciously think that being a certain number of miles away from home inhibits the transformation of donuts to belly fat? Or, do we simply need a break from regular routine- including our regular healthy meals?
I don’t have a good answer. I chose not to fight the urge to indulge here and there (or all the time) because I knew I’d only away for a short time. I didn’t want to exhibit self-control. I wanted hunger to be a foreign feeling for a few days because it is not my regular routine. I wanted to have an ice cream when everyone else is having it. And if I could fit it in- I wanted two.
My running shoes put up a good fight. In the 9 days I was in Ontario, I got up in the morning and ran at least 6 kilometers 8 times. Four of the runs were 10K- not bad for a vacation. I had aspirations to do strength exercises- and I did them- once. Although my running shoes battled hard, they were outnumbered. The peanut M&M’s (and other temptations such as Oreo cookies, cheesy pasta lunches, ice cream, donuts, freshly baked white bread) were strong. I write this on the plane ride home, wearing the same jeans I arrived in. They feel a little snugger that they were 9 days ago, but still fit. I won’t know the final score until I step on the scale at home. But really, does it matter?
Eating well and fitting in exercise on vacation is without a doubt, a challenge. I exercise because it makes me feel good, and it helps with vacation pounds. I try for as long as I can to eat relatively healthily- loading up on fresh veggies and fruit. The eating gets progressively more difficult with the passing days. But vacations are meant to be enjoyed- and if that means being careless with eating, then so be it. I want to look back at my time spent with my family and remember all the fun I had.
I have learned to simply expect to gain a few pounds when I go away, but try to indulge responsibly. What’s more important than what you eat and how much you exercise on vacation is what you eat and how much you exercise between vacations. Have a strategy to get back on track when you return home.
Enjoy your vacation- ice cream and all.