Traveling? Relax, reward, avoid regretNothing motivates at the gym like the anticipation of a tank tops-and-shorts kind of vacation. And as focused as we might have been before that spring getaway, our resolve can just as easily dissolve even before we board the return flight home.
It’s important to relax and reward yourself with vacations, and just as important to occasionally break up the gym and eating routine. But as you pack up the swimsuits and sunblock, there are easy ways to do so without totally packing it in – or packing it on. FITSPACE certified personal trainers and dietitians have easy ways to get you through your vacation and back on plan.
Make a dateThe easiest way to ensure progress made before the vacation isn’t lost is to make a date to return to the gym before hitting the road. You’ll return to the pre-vacation plan if the appointment is set with your dietitian, trainer or regular class, said Fitspace registered dietitian Alex Shepp.
Make a planBefore you leave for vacation, plan a meal or two for your return. After all, who wants to head to the grocery store after returning from the airport or the road? Make the meals and put them in the freezer so all you have to do is heat them when you walk in the house. Chili freezes well, as do protein and vegetable dishes.
Reward without regretPart of the enjoyment of vacation may be relaxing physically and relaxing nutritionally, especially if you've kept up a rigorous program during much of the year or if you enjoy sampling local fare. But for most, that means adding carbs to our diet.
"We shift from fat burning to sugar burning," Shepp said. "And we shift from what our body needs to what our body wants."
Depending on how sensitive a person is to carbohydrates, with more carbs comes more puffiness, lethargy, headaches and even bad breath, Shepp said. Some see it immediately, others won't experience the effects until they return from vacation, she said, and then the cravings for carbs are in full force.
Instead of eating and drinking with reckless abandon, Shepp suggests a half and half approach to indulgences: Have an alcoholic drink with dinner in lieu of a dessert, or vice versa.
Avoid the damageIt doesn’t take long to know when you’ve reversed a little progress. Maybe the pants or rings are tight, the scale has crept up. If it has only been a matter of days, the increase is likely water weight gain and bloat from salty and sugary foods. Give it a week, and the body will flush the excess water out, especially if you drink water (half your body weight in ounces a day or 75 ounces for a 150 lb. person). Cutting alcohol out of your diet will also help to debloat.
But if you’ve reversed the nutritious eating for longer – say, a week – those added digits on the scale could also include a little actual weight gain. In that case, the additional weight likely will take more time to take off than it did to put on.
Breaking it up might do your body goodSome clients find they’re stronger when they return from vacation. The break gives their body time to recover and allows the muscle to repair, kind of like a rest day in between workouts, said Fitspace co-owner and personal trainer Brent Albrecht.
“Four days off laying around isn’t going to kill you,” Albrecht said.
If you’re looking at a 10-day or two-week vacation, consider more activity including body-weight exercises, bringing resistance bands along, walking, and potentially working out in the hotel’s facility.
Confuse your musclesIf you’ve been on a regular exercise program, vacation is a perfect opportunity to mix up the routine. Throw out your trainer’s usual protocol, forget counting reps, walk past the hotel gym and get outside. Walk if you’re in a city. Surf if you’re at the ocean. Hike if you’re in the mountains. Whatever the surroundings, take advantage. The change of scenery is good for the mind and body, Albrecht said.
With the change in the type of exercise, you’ll be implementing what the pros call muscle confusion. It’s a way of preventing your muscles from adapting to an exercise routine.