Ahh, the apex of summer. Time for a full week of pure relaxation, tropical sunshine, and if your family is like ours, incessant laughter.
Summer family vacation; one of America’s favorite pastimes.
America’s infatuation with the annual family vacation started long before the Griswold’s piled into that iconic Wagon Queen Family Truckster. (even if it wasn’t the Antarctic Blue Super SportsWagon with the CB and optional rally fun pack)
Vacation plays an integral role in helping the balancing act between your professional life and personal life. Almost always, it’s exactly what you need to reignite your tenacity in the workplace and strengthen the bond with your family.
However, vacation also has a dark side. Without too much effort vacation can take you out of your element, toss your routine aside, entitle you to dietary liberation, and an overall mindset of “fuck it, I’m on vacation.”
As proponents of mindfulness and taking a step back to enjoy life, especially on vacation, I’m here to show you that enjoying yourself and staying on track are not mutually exclusive. You can undoubtedly achieve both.
Through seven simple strategies, Eric and I make staying on track virtually effortless while still having a ton of fun, food, and drinks in the process. After all, that is what vacation is all about right? These strategies help mitigate any real dietary damage and keep our training from missing a single beat.
You ready? Okay, let’s get started.
Whether traveling for business or pleasure, training is never ideal. But that doesn’t grant you an excuse to throw in the towel until you return home; there is always a way to accomplish your training sessions.
Vacationing to the same spot in Maryland for around a decade now, we already know our specific options for training before we even arrive. There’s the crappy gym inside the hotel, the gritty Gold Coast Gym a few hundred yards away, or nature’s beautiful beach.
Three options all less than a mile apart from each other.
Options like these aren’t exclusive to Maryland; there will always be choices no matter your destination. When booking any travel, plan accordingly. For instance, Eric and I deliberately search for hotels with an adequate gym. For us, it will always be the deciding factor between two competing hotels. After booking a hotel, we then spend time doing recon leading up to our arrival. Researching the area, we figure out any options for training nearby. It doesn’t always have to be a gym; finding a running track or park can be just as useful.
All it takes is just a little creativity.
Being meticulously bound to your program and attempting to adhere precisely to every exercise, set, and rep is a recipe for failure. Remember that you are on vacation, it’s okay to color outside of the lines from time to time. The goal for the week is just to train. Every session registers as a win.
We scored our first win on Sunday morning; less than twenty-four hours of being on vacation. Waking up early to the sun reflecting off the ocean and blasting through the sliding glass doors of our beachfront condo, Chris Coulson and I spared no time getting down to the beach.
Not to lay out and soak up some Vitamin D; that had to wait until later. First, we had to quench our anaerobic thirst, by way of sprints.
Picking a marker in the sand about forty yards away, we would race to it and slowly walk back to the starting line as our rest period. After cruising through fifteen rounds, we transitioned into fifteen minutes of play with an Onnit Steel Mace.
See for yourself.[video_player type=”youtube” width=”853″ height=”480″ align=”center” margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”20″]aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cueW91dHViZS5jb20vd2F0Y2g/dj1hdzczNWJxWlZ6Zw==[/video_player]
This workout wasn’t a part of my weekly regimen, nor Chris’. We just craved a good sweat and came up with a session on the fly. And you know what? Afterward, we both felt amazing.
Remember that fitness is a lifestyle, not a prison sentence. Training only supplements that lifestyle. There’s no reason to fret about not having every brick perfectly in line for you to hit your session. You don’t need eleiko bars, prowlers, or hammer strength machines. Sometimes, you just need the salty air, the sun on your back, fresh legs, and a rock solid training partner.
During travel, activity is activity. Just get some W’s.
2. UNDERSTAND WILLPOWER
Let me reiterate a sentence from the first strategy.
“We scored our first win on Sunday morning; less than twenty-four hours of being on vacation.”
This trend continued every single day. After a couple of cups of freshly brewed La Colombe coffee, we laced up our shoes, threw on our snapbacks, and walked over to the Gold Coast Gym.
Because we understand the power of willpower.
Pushing off your training session while on vacation is no different from doing the same at home. As the day progresses, the risk of other things taking priority increases exponentially.
Capitalizing on willpower when it is at its highest is the key to success.
Training first thing lets you enjoy the vacation that much more. Knowing you completed your session gives you freedom and peace of mind for the rest of the day.
Vacation or not, snacking always poses a grave threat to your diet.
Overall, mindless snacking creates confusion when trying to keep track of your macronutrient consumption and makes overeating incredibly easy.
A single handful into a bag of chips can easily turn into six or seven, just like a share size bag of candy can turn into a single serving. On vacation, this can be disastrous.
Going out to dinner is already enough of a minefield to try and navigate. With less than optimal choices, you will undoubtedly be consuming a few hundred calories more than anticipated. Even if you’re are choosing the best options on the menu.
Adding a few hundred calories more from snacking is just flat out unnecessary.
Aim to eat full balanced meals to keep you satiated. If you choose to snack, opt for low-calorie vegetables like celery, cucumbers, and broccoli. If you’re fighting a sweet craving, grab a bowl of mixed berries or slice up some fresh fruits like apples, peaches, or watermelon.
Which leads directly to the next strategy.
4. VEGETABLES & FIBER
Let’s be honest for a minute. You don’t consume enough vegetables on a daily basis, do you?
On vacation, it gets even harder. That is because restaurants suck at offering a reasonable serving of vegetables. I mean, they really suck.
The majority restaurants don’t even offer vegetables to accompany their main courses. And the ones that do usually cover them in unnecessary oils and butter; turning low-calorie nutrient-dense food into calorie bombs.
When attempting to get or stay lean, vegetables are life-savers. As a high-volume low-calorie food, vegetables carry a lot of satiating power. On vacation, vegetables will keep your hunger at bay and stop you from binging on high-calorie foods.
Work vegetables into your diet whenever you get the chance. Replace a side of potatoes at breakfast with a bowl of fruit, or add some greens to your omelet. Or to undoubtedly crush it, pack a Greens supplement to bring along with you.
Vegetables also keep your digestive system running smoothly. When traveling, especially to areas in different time zones, it is natural for our systems to get a tad irregular.
Training, vegetables, and the next strategy will help combat any irregularity when it comes to your digestive system and will keep you feeling your best on vacation.
Since you were honest about your inadequate consumption of vegetables, I’m going to assume you also have a difficult time consistently drinking enough water, don’t you?
Don’t worry. I’m also guilty of it.
Just like veggies, water intake usually goes to shit on vacation.
Morning coffees, afternoon beers, and evening cocktails are hydration’s nightmare.
Caffeine, alcoholic beverages, and sweating in the summer sun are all responsible for dehydrating you even more. If you are not concise of water intake, or lack thereof, becoming dehydrated on vacation is easier than in your typical day to day life.
Begin every morning by chugging sixteen to twenty-four ounces of water. Even before your morning coffee. After that, continue to sip on water consistently throughout the day, aiming to drink half of your bodyweight in ounces.
Staying hydrating will keep your digestive system happy, your energy levels elevated, and appetite suppressed. All great things.
Let’s make a very quick and necessary note while we’re on the subject of hydration and alcohol.
Do not, I repeat, do not waste precious calories on shitty sugary beverages; alcoholic or non-alcoholic.
Pina Coladas, Margaritas, island punches, or any other insulin-laced concoction is just asking to wreck havoc on your waste line. Instead, save those macros for delicious food or even more alcohol.
Drink alcoholic either on the rocks, with seltzer, or a zero-calorie mixer like diet soda.
It’s just not worth it, okay? Okay, moving on.
7. EXTRA ACTIVITY
You have already learned that activity is activity.
Add in extra activity any way you can during vacation. Don’t worry about “overtraining,” you’re getting plenty of sleep and leisure time.
On our vacation, we added extra activity in the simplest ways possible like taking the stairs and walking anywhere we could.
We added extra activity by doing double training sessions too. Every night before dinner, we would hit the beach for a quick twenty to thirty minute sprinting, mobility, or Steel Mace session.
Finally, we added extra activity by playing games on the beach. Rather than sitting in a beach chair ALL day, we would swim out to bodysurf the waves Maryland had to offer, throw around a football, get into vicious two-on-two battles of paddleball, and sling around a frisbee during a game of KanJam.
Extra activity comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be anything, just get some.
BONUS: THE EIGHTH AND MOST IMPORTANT STRATEGY
Implementing these seven simple strategies over your next vacation can be quite a game changer. Together, they keep you from falling too far off the wagon.
But, there lies one more strategy. To be honest, it is truly the most important strategy to conquer out of the entire lot. Are you ready for it?
If you can’t fit in a training session one day or just don’t feel like it, don’t stress over it. If you’re out to dinner and see a menu option that’s screaming your name, fucking enjoy it. On our last day of vacation, Eric and I crushed six doughnuts each after a morning session. Hell, Chris ate an entire dozen. Why? Because they’re our favorite doughnuts, and we only get them once a year.
If you’re anything like us, that means you train hard and stay concise of your diet week after week. Deciding to take a week off from training or your diet won’t undo all the work you’ve put it. Eric recently did exact this on a trip to Fiji.
Enjoying yourself is the biggest priority. For me, these strategies enabled me to enjoy myself more. Laying on the beach was easier because I felt at ease knowing I hit a training session earlier. Having a couple of cocktails at night was easier because I know I didn’t snack unnecessarily during the day. Crushing six doughnuts in one shot was easier because I knew I did everything 85% right during my trip.
These strategies will most definitely help you on vacation, but they aren’t the be-all-end-all.
Enjoying yourself and your time with loved ones, however, is.