Updated: May 8, 2019
Last week, we discussed four strategies to stay consistent with your fitness routine when the summer craziness hits. This week, we’ll talk about how to keep that focus while on vacation.
As relaxing as vacations can be, they can also distract us from our fitness goals. Before we get into overcoming these vacation distractions, let me share a little spring break vacation tale with you…
For years, I never took a vacation. I couldn’t even imagine taking a break from working - clearly a panic attack was waiting in the wings.
I used to count traveling to compete in half marathons as a vacation - for some reason.
My youngest brother lovingly told me that traveling for a race isn’t the same thing as taking a vacation. (Bobby - If you’re reading this: You Are So Right.)
After moving to Charleston in 2012, I realized how beautiful it is to move a little slower and actually take time away from work. Living a stone’s throw away from the beach served as a constant reminder to breathe and enjoy being still.
Let’s fast forward to spring break 2017, where my family rented a beach house over in Emerald Isle, NC.
Amol, Cody Bear (our lovely pup), and I drove up - which meant I packed the car with a bunch of workout equipment and Amol strapped paddleboards and a surfboard to the roof. At least it seemed like one of us knew we were going on vacation.
I was pumped for a week with the family on the beach, and equally excited to get in a bunch of beach workouts.
My family - well actually, my brothers thought we were crazy as they chilled in their beach chairs and watched the kids running around in the sand. Amol and I didn’t care and enjoyed our sweaty workout. Later in the day, we took the paddleboards out into the ocean and got in a paddle.
After our workout, we hung out on the beach and I started reading the first novel that I had read in years. (For too long, I was reading every book that would make me a more productive and functional human being.)
“Yes, this is a vacation,” I’d say to myself, hopefully not aloud.
It felt like absolute heaven.
Around midnight that night I woke up with neck pain and just thought I must had tweaked something while I was sleeping.
Then, I started sweating and the neck pain increased.
Then, my stomach hurt.
Then I, well, I spent a bit of time in the bathroom... I was fairly certain that Amol would wake up.
As usual, I was wrong.
I changed out of my drenched shirt and attempted to go back to sleep.
Twenty minutes later, I was back in the bathroom. (Amol was still sleeping.)
I tried to lie on the floor to make all of the discomfort go away.
(Amol was still sleeping. Cody took over my spot in the bed, having the best sleep of his life.)
The rest of the night continued with more of the same.
In the morning, I sent a text to Amol (from my new vacation home inside the bathroom) requesting several “supplies”. He’d missed the entire spectacle, and was just now learning that I either had food poisoning, the flu, or Typhoid.
On Monday, I slept the day away, and couldn’t keep anything down or in… if you know what I mean.
On Tuesday, I tried to eat. Nope.
Let me try that again; On Tuesday, I went back to bed.
The only saving grace was that we had an exterior door facing the ocean, so there was an amazing breeze and fresh air to clear out the flu-ridden room.
I slept, read, slept, drank water, slept, tried not to die, read, slept.
On Wednesday, I looked like something from the Walking Dead. My family was startled to see me in the living room. Fortunately, I was not requesting to feast upon their brains.
It took about an hour to eat a slice of toast.
That was clearly exhausting, so - you know- I went back to bed.
Thursday was a new day! I was determined to eat! And an egg and toast settled nicely...
So, what does any sane person do after not eating for days and barely surviving the flu?
Did you say, “Why I think she’ll go for a three mile run in 75 degree heat?”
Ding! Ding! Ding!
That is exactly what I did!
I wish I was kidding.
I’m SO smart in fact that I didn’t even run a loop that I could cut short.
I ran 1.5 miles out, started to feel a lot of “heat” in my stomach and started my way back.
Miraculously - I was fully functional for the rest of the day.
That is - until after dinner.
Amol and I walked Cody on the boardwalk.
We were standing there watching Cody sniff the ground and I… I can’t even believe I’m telling you this…
I pooped my pants on the boardwalk.
YUP. That happened.
Here’s a life lesson for you all:
If you have the flu, do NOT go for a run on the first day that you feel better. Maybe don’t go on the second day either.
You owe it to your body - and personal dignity - to rest for an extra few days to make sure that you’re ready for exercise.
This mortifying story leads me to my first tip for overcoming those vacation distractions:
#1. Rest.The past year or so has really taught me to listen to my body. When I need to rest, I rest. And I don’t give myself shit for it. (Don’t you dare make a joke about that wording…)
If you’ve been going hard at the gym or working your ass off in the office, give yourself a damn break.
Rest is vital to your body recuperating from exercise (or the flu).
Let yourself recharge and you can get right back into your HIIT workouts when your body is ready.
#2. Schedule Breaks During Long Drives or Layovers.We (Amol, Cody, and I) have taken many long road trip together to visit family and friends over the past six years. One of the ways that we make sure we get to our destination safely and sanely is by taking frequent stops.
This benefit is not only for us, but also for Cody Bear.
Actually, I think that we stop more often when Cody is traveling with us.
Each break takes an additional 5-15 minutes, which can either be separate from pumping gas and eating lunch or incorporating into part of that pit stop.
Hip Hinge to Forward Fold - hold onto your elbows to help pull your body deeper into the stretch; shake head slowly yes and no to release tension from the neck.
Reach arms overhead and slightly lean from the left to the right.
Lunges with Rotational Twist to front leg
Arm Circles - both forward and backward
Calf Stretch - on curb or wall
Walk for 2-5 minutes.
All of that for one trip and in my spring break 2017 experience, for one workout. This is absolutely unnecessary.
Except for the foam roller. If you can travel with a foam roller - Do. It.
Vacations are a time to decompress and recharge.
These days, I like to travel with a resistance band and that is it.
There are so many ways for me to keep my body moving without an arsenal of equipment. (And I get better gas mileage #Ballinonabudget.)
Body Weight Workout
Do each exercise for 45 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds.
Rest for 2 minutes between rounds.
Wall Sit (squeeze every damn muscle)
Repeat for 4-6 rounds.
#4. Kick Start Your Day.
One of my favorite ways to get my movement on is in the morning. Interestingly enough, I’m not typically a morning workout person.
Usually, my workout is done in the middle of the day/late afternoon.
On vacations, I like to get that movement in, so I can enjoy the day and not have an excuse to skip it later on.
No one wants to miss a chance to see the largest lighthouse on the East Coast because they need to get their run in. Don’t be lame.
Getting your workout done in the morning has many other benefits aside from visiting all of the tourist attractions. It’s energizing to work out while watching the sunrise on the beach.
Moving your body before the sun is high overhead also decreases the likelihood that you’ll overheat.
On my last vacation to the Outer Banks, I even had an audience of nephews who joined in with some of my exercises. Recruit the family for a morning of movement. Then enjoy that coffee.
#5. Eat the Ice Cream.
If you’ve read this far and thought, “Well, YEAH - but what about all of the food temptations?!” Hold on to your swimmies!
Next week, we’re going to do a deep dive into how you can enjoy the summer picnics and those beautiful ice cream stands without completely sabotaging the work you’ve put into maintain or improve your health over the course of the rest of the year.
In the meantime -
If you want to eat the ice cream, eat it.
Splurge on the waffle cone, if you fancy those abominations.
Most importantly, eat it without regret.
Lastly; remember to listen to your body.
Rest when you need to.
-and never try so hard that you poop your pants.
If you need support while on vacation, get in touch with me via email!
I’d love to chat with you...or mail your toilet paper if you need it...