O.k so let’s be honest here. In all my years in the weight loss industry, losing and maintaining my weight I have NEVER lost weight on a vacation. Let’s be brutally honest…it just hasn’t really been my goal. I have to think about what I am going to eat and my exercise for about 50 weeks a year. Sometimes I need a break and I believe vacation is the time to cut myself some slack and enjoy not thinking about it so much. That being said…I can do a lot of damage in a week of unbridled eating and drinking (think 7-10 pounds of bloating and weight gain) and that is a pretty painful thing to try to recover from once I return from vacation. So, in 15 years of trial and error I have come up with the perfect vacation strategies to maintain my weight within just a couple of pounds. These strategies require little to no effort and don’t require me to track my food or get to the gym everyday which I have found to be absolutely unrealistic on vacation. They free me up from self-flaggelation and allow me to “check-out” in a way that relaxes and rejuvenates me to hit it hard when I get home.
1. 2 On 1 Off
I make sure that 2 of my meals per day are totally healthy and on target with my regular healthy eating. I usually choose breakfast and lunch because it is a treat to have someone else fix me a healthy omelet to start my day and a nice light lunch is an easy thing to find in most places. That gives me room to enjoy a little fun at dinner time. I enjoy some wine and order something local that will give me a feeling that I am enjoying the cuisine of the place I am visiting. As I say, I don’t track any of these meals while on vacation, but these subtle guidelines help keep me from going nuts at all three meals. I don’t need to order waffles for breakfast just because I am on vacation, but should I want to I can flip this equation so that breakfast is the bigger meals and lunch and dinner are more inside the lines!
2. Fill the 4 O’clock Hour-wait till 6 to Drink
I have a little trouble with wanting to get started with some vacation cocktails right around 4pm. Everyone is enjoying pina coladas by the pool bar and I get a craving if I am watching it. I usually don’t survive the craving and end up giving in if I sit there watching. Mynew-found strategy is to fill the 4pm hour with a scheduled activity that will keep me busy until at least 6pm when I can begin drinking if I want to. This includes scheduling a massage at 4 or taking a local class or lesson. It could just be that I rent bikes with my family and we head out for a ride at 4….you name it, but don’t let the creepy mid-afternoon hours go unscheduled. I have discovered that no good comes from day-drinking on vacation. I am tired, and eat many things that I would never eat if I had not loaded up on drinks too early.
3. Pack Healthy Snacks or Grocery Shop Right When You Land
I have learned that I don’t need to eat giant meals for every meal of a vacation. I also struggle having to make smart decisions too many times in a row, so if I have a few things in my room that I can grab, instead of sitting down for a meal I can eliminate some crazy decisions. I always travel with oatmeal packets, 100 calorie packs of almonds, microwave popcorn and some Kind bars. I can easily supplement a piece of fruit from the front desk and a kind bar for a quick breakfast or lunch and save both money and calories. I have become a real fan of simply jumping off the plane into my rental car and heading straight to a grocery store on my way to the hotel to purchase some fresh fruits, baby carrots, cheese sticks, luncheon meats (nitrate free) and other easy to grab staples that will get me through the day!
4. Do Local Activities
I have come to love exercise. I am fascinated with all of the fun ways in which people stay fit around the world. I always pack my workout gear and research what some of the newest local workout crazes or activities are. In Hawaii I may take a surfing lesson, while in L.A I try the newer boutique spin classes like Cycle House or check out a celebrity favorite like Barry’s Boot Camp. I find a local trail near my hotel for a nice run along the water or a well-known hike in the area. Bike rentals are always fun or even a dance class. Think outside of the box, but don’t let your body atrophy completely for the time you are on vacation. It makes getting back at it when you get home so much harder!
5. Not "One Extra Day" After You Return
One of the hardest habits to break is giving yourself “just one more day off” when you arrive home from vacation. Not only do you have added sugars and fats surging through your veins urging you to keep the party going, but your mind will tell you “just one more day” to extend the fun and time off. I have learned that it is the absolute worst idea of all. If you allow yourself one more day it often turns into two and three and four more days and then you are looking at weeks of bad habits and the undoing of them. I make sure that the first full day of my return from vacation is 100% back on plan. I usually get to the grocery store on the way back from the airport or early on the first day back. Being prepared is the key. Don’t let the slide happen!
6. Don’t Weigh Yourself for at least 4 Days upon Arriving Home
You heard me. I said to avoid the scale for a few days upon arriving home. Get yourself back to the basics of a healthy eating plan and wait about 4 days for bloating and travel water weight to subside. I do this so that I am not demoralized by what the scale says and throw the towel in thinking I have done so much damage. The weigh in will be normalized by then and you can get a true glimpse of any weight gained on vacation. If you follow my strategies I can bet there won’t be much!