We’ve all seen the posts.
“Keep Your Waistline in Check While You Travel!”
“Healthy Tips for Vacation!”
“How to Prevent Vaca Weight Gain!”
Gag me with a cocktail umbrella, please. This is NOT one of those posts. If you ask me, vacations are for vacationing. Relaxing. Enjoying. Overindulging. For shouting, “NO REGRETS, YOLO!!!” Am I right?
I haven’t been on a “real” vacation since January of last year. My sweet boyfriend Tim and I went down to Florida for my birthday; I hadn’t started tracking my food yet, and I was only just getting started at the gym after about a 5-year hiatus. I was so dissatisfied with my body, I could barely stand to be in a bikini. In fact, I felt physically uncomfortable. Every day, I stressed about calories. I would only eat cottage cheese and fruit for breakfast, only to give in to my hunger pangs and cravings late at night (e.g., an entire pint of Talenti topped with Oreos aplenty). I would drink one (delicious) frozen cocktail, and immediately be awash with guilt. I needed a vacation, but what I got was a sunny week of stress.
When we planned our week in Florida this year, I knew I could have easily fallen into a similar trap this time around; even though my relationship with food, exercise, and my body has grown strong over time, it is difficult to ignore the little voices that still echo in my head. Knowing what I know now—like just how many carbs are in a frozen mudslide—can actually cause some hesitation when it comes to “indulging.” I see it often with flexible dieters on their free or non-tracking days; they don’t really eat whatever they want. They still think, “that isn’t worth the macros.” They still see numbers floating above every food item in their line of sight, doing the math in their head and waving off options they deem to be “just too much.” I see statements like “not conducive to my goals,” “hindering my progress,” and “I’m not missing out, I love this lifestyle…” No one admits to feeling guilty. If they do, it’s usually a slip of the tongue, an accidental admission of the ultimate no-no. For some, those “not worth it” foods may not be guilt-inducing, but eating such a thing could cause frustration, disappointment, and even regret—all emotions that should never be associated with food.
This time, this vacation, I did not want any of these emotions to make an appearance. So, I made sure to put some plans in place to prevent any rain on my parade.
Here’s what I did before:
- I did not crash diet, cleanse, or kick up the cardio in the weeks before my trip. Abby of the past would have, but not anymore!
- I brought a food scale with me for when I prepared my own food, but I ended up barely using it. Whoops!
- I brought a few bars down with me, but not as an emergency meal substitute. I brought them because I love protein bars, and because, well, I’m always hungry.
Here’s what I did during:
- I went to the gym…twice. Because I was far too busy relaxing and having fun to go any more than that.
- I drank frozen mudslides, piña coladas, and margaritas. I also drank beers. I also drank mojitos. I also drank wine. I also drank vodka. Don’t worry, I stayed hydrated.
- I ate when I was hungry, and I also ate when everyone else (Tim, his dad, his sister, and her boyfriend) were eating. I ate where they were eating, and usually, I ate what they were eating. Here are some of the things I ate that 100% did not fit my macros:
- Cheese & crackers (A LOT)
- S’mores casserole (with graham crackers!)
- Tacos, rice, and beans (I had forgotten what a great combo rice and beans is)
- Loaded cheesy chicken nachos
- Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside fried oysters
- A fat, probably-not-lean-beef burger and well-done fries
- Real, full-fat toasted coconut and chocolate peanut butter ice cream
- I also ate sandwiches and chips on the beach, guac & salsa before dinner…the list goes on and on. Point is, I put absolutely no restrictions on my diet for the entire week.
Here’s why I did these things:
- That’s what normal people do on vacation. Those normies really know how to let loose.
- I’ve been tracking for over a year now without taking more than one or two days off. It was extremely liberating to not pick up my phone before, during, or after meals to log my food. I much preferred the faces of my good company to the harsh glow of My Fitness Pal.
- Because I wanted to. Do I really need any other reason?
Here’s why you should do these things
/My Tips for Eating on Vacation
- Vacations call for time off from everything routine in your life: work, laundry, following rules…and tracking your macros! Live a little. I promise, it’s worth it.
- Your friends and family matter more than your macros. If you find yourself stressing over hitting your macros while you’re away, you’re probably hurting yourself as well as your travel companions. Inconveniencing the group because there’s nothing macro-friendly on a restaurant menu is a great way to drive a wedge between yourself and your loved ones.
- You have the tools you need to get back on track when reality hits. So you get home from vacation with a few extra pounds…and maybe even a few extra inches? Relax. You know exactly what to do to achieve healthy fat loss. Get to the gym, ease back into your routine, hit your macros to the last gram, give yourself a pep talk before your morning cardio session. You can do this.
- You are more than food and fitness. Sometimes, it might feel like your healthy lifestyle has become your entire life. Use this time to be yourself, be unaware of the time, be unattached to your phone, and be unfazed by the way your stomach looks when you lean over in a bikini. Just so you know, everyone’s stomach looks weird as shit when they bend over in a bikini.
- You are unconditionally loved. The most important thing to remember why is you’re on vacation in the first place. You’re spending time with people you love, having fun, and just not giving a damn. Whether you’re away with your family, friends, or spouse, they don’t care whether you’re ripped and tan or as fat as a farm animal. You are loved, valued, and important to other people in this world. Maybe they follow a similar routine as you, or maybe it’s completely foreign to them. Regardless, they love you just the way you are. If they don’t, find some new friends 😉
I came back from this vacation feeling like I had made progress in my fitness journey, despite the fact that the number on the scale and measuring tape has most certainly increased (although I’m sure the post-vacation bloat will flush out in a few days). I believe that it was extremely beneficial for me to take some time off, enjoy myself, and simply forget all about macros for a little while. If you have a trip coming up, I highly recommend cutting yourself some slack as far as your physical fitness and nutrition is concerned.
I hope this nonsensical rant made some sense, and was helpful in some way. Unsure at the moment whether this was genius or absolute shite. Tell you the truth, I think I’m still in vacation mode. Is there such thing as residual drunkenness?