The summer, and I think this summer in particular, brings about more trips. Whether it’s a day trip to a park or on the river, a weekend getaway, or a longer vacation, there are any number of things that can throw us off our health and fitness goals.
Today, we’re getting into all things travel. Whether you’re heading out for a day, a week, or a month, breaking out of our routine has the potential to disturb our health and fitness goals. We can either stress about it or make a plan about it. If you know me, making the plan is always the way to go.
Decision fatigue is a real thing. If you’ve never heard the term before, it goes like this: Throughout the day, we’re faced with decisions. This can be as things like what food to eat, what outfit to wear, where you should park in the parking lot, what route you should take to the office, etc. Some people have said we make about 35,000 decisions in a single day. Over the course of the day, we experience decision fatigue. This can be a contributing factor to those after-dinner feelings of “Screw it, I’m just going to eat whatever I want”. (Not the only factor!)
Vacations and travel can be the same thing. Since we’re exploring a new area or in a new place, there are SO MANY decisions between places to stay, what to do, what to eat, etc. This, plus the new environment and reason to indulge and/or skip a workout, is a slippery slope to leading us far astray. In my opinion, if you choose this, totally cool! Slide right on down and enjoy every single second of it. But, if it’s not a conscious choice and you find yourself sliding, that can be a tricky spot to be in (and get out of).
First step to making this a conscious choice: Set your intention for the travel period. Do you want to eat anything and everything? Do you want to monitor your calories? Do you want to make sure you get in some protein? Do you want to do formal workouts at a gym or just focus on moving more? Simply put: What do YOU want to do.
If you’ve decided you just need a break, nothing will be tracked, you’re not going to find a gym or move, then you likely don’t need the questions to follow. This choice isn’t a bad one. Sometimes we need these times away from our routine. The fact that you’ve made it consciously is incredible. Enjoy every bite of food, and every second of that vacation. You can’t fail because you’ve made the choice consciously.
If you’ve decided that you want to stay the course, track some nutrition and/or get in some workouts while you’re gone, there are some more parameters that have to be defined. First, we have to look at the location you’re heading to and how long you’re gone: Are you gone for a few hours or weeks? Do you want or need a break from your routine? Do you need a deload? What is the availability of gym access on vacation? Is the area walkable/runnable?
Finally, we get into the nitty gritty of the plan. Before we hop in, I want to put a disclaimer: I’m going to break this into only two buckets: training and food. I recognize that there are many other variables that come into play in our fitness journey. However, training and food are the two where we tend to fall the most out of routine on vacations.
Let’s dive into training first. Our plan here can differ from food. What is your movement plan? If there’s a gym available, are you going to train while you’re out of town? Do you need to rearrange your workouts before or after you go on vacation to fit them in? Are you going to bring equipment with you? Can you plan activities that will keep you moving, in lieu of getting in structured workouts?
Making these decisions ahead of time, and scheduling them into your day, can help eliminate the decision in the moment – when skipping the workout sounds like a better idea than fitting it into your day.
Now, we’re talking our final variable: food. First up, do you need snacks or are you going to be gone for one, or more than one, meal?
Snacks are often a smaller factor, because we know we’ll be home for the meals on either side. Perhaps, we can eat a bigger breakfast before we go and plan for a bigger dinner when we get home to offset a smaller amount of food eaten while we’re gone for the day. What are you doing while you’re gone? Do you have refrigeration?
Find snacks that compliment your meals. Protein is typically the most challenging, but a protein shake, jerky, or some protein bars can be easy to grab-and-go. If you’re going to eat more protein before and after, bars like RXbars or GoMacro bars are great carbohydrate-based bars that are awesome on physical adventures such as hiking, biking, or paddling. If you have access to refrigeration, more options will be available, but this is uncommon for shorter trips.
Let’s assume you’re gone for a few days with many meals involved. The tips on snacks still apply. I’ll often only eat two bigger meals on vacation, especially if we have things planned throughout the day that will prevent me from getting a meal during that middle of the day.
But, for meals, food choices can be a big factor. What restaurants are available to you? Are you going to eat whatever, whenever? Are you going to choose the healthiest option? Are you going to ask for steamed veggies and a lean protein?
There are endless questions we can ask about our fitness and food when we’re heading into vacation. This really only scratches the surface. The idea is to take time to plan. Make the decision consciously on where you’re going to stay between 0% and 100% on plan. When we take time to plan, it allows us to never fail. We don’t get caught up in the moment because we thought about the moment ahead of time. We know what to expect with our training and nutrition. We never fail.
Are you heading on vacation soon? Work through these questions and answer them for yourself. Think about it logically and realistically. Answer honestly and hold yourself responsible to the decisions that you make. If you’re not heading out, bookmark this episode to come back to when you are heading out on an adventure!