There are two ways to “win” when on a vacation.
Option 1: Take the whole time off of your normal routine and enjoy yourself 110%. There is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with this option and if you have enormous levels of stress in your life then please do this. A week stress free can do amazing things not only for your mental well being, but also for your physical well being if you are on a weight loss journey. Your body needs to have stress levels as low as possible for efficient fat loss. So being able to sleep in for 6 days in a row, not worry about your asshole boss and get some quiet time away from the kids, all while eating foods you typically don’t eat can do wonders for your weight loss….in the long run. Short term, probably not, but this is a lifestyle change right
Option 2: This is what this post will be about. This option is for those of you in the midst of a 6-18 month weight loss journey and lifestyle change. This is for those of you who don’t want to take a step back, but instead want to maintain what you have worked so hard for the past few months. This is the option where you can still have FUN on vacation, but not lose sight of your long term goals and the option that allows you to return after 7 days, not guilty for eating your way through Waffle Houses and southern BBQ joints.
If you want to try Option 2 on your next vacation here is what I did last week…I gained 2lbs…eh oh well no one is perfect.
- I planned my eating…as best I could. If you are planning your weekly meals out during your normal daily life why change it on vacation? Look, I get it can’t be perfect and you won’t know all the restaurants you will be hitting, but control what you can control.
- I packed beef jerky and Quest Bars in my suitcase. This would get me through travel days on the plane and in the car. This helps you avoid raiding the airport vending machine for chips.
- I hit a grocery store as soon as I could for fresh fruit and veggies, cheese sticks, Greek Yogurt, and pre made Muscle Milk Protein Shakes. Get a hotel with a fridge.
- I knew every night would have a large meal (with higher fat and carbs), so my breakfasts were always small and my snacks were always high in protein/low in calories.
- I was always conscious of my protein intake. I want to be around 200g of protein per day…everyday. Two pre-made Muscle Milk protein shakes (50g protein), 1 Greek Yogurt Cup (12g protein), 3 oz beef jerky (36g protein), 1 Quest Bar (20g protein), 2 low fat string cheese sticks (20g protein) equals around 130-140g of protein, just in breakfast and snacks! Add in some BBQ brisket or salmon for dinner and I pushing 190-200g of protein for the entire day. I did that without tracking my macros, just simple math in my head.
- I still worked out. I got in 3 workouts in 7 days. Each workout was 15-25 minutes. Here is what I did in the hotel room two days (I was lucky to find dumbbells for one workout):
- 5 minute tabata circuit #1: 20 sec pushups/10 sec rest/20 sec bodyweight squats/REPEAT FOR 5 MINS
- 5 minute tabata circuit #2: 20 sec high knees/10 sec rest/20 sec flutter kicks/REPEAT FOR 5 MINS
- 5 minute tabata circuit #3: 20 sec resistance band curls/10 sec rest/20 sec resistance band lateral raises/REPEAT FOR 5 MINUTES
- I fasted on my travel days. Days I drove all morning or flew I would wake up and not eat until noon, limiting my window of eating from 12-16 hours to 8ish hours. This made it easier to not over eat in the second half of the day. Still got my protein snacks in though, duh.
- I had fun and did not feel guilty.
- I ate fried food multiple times.
- I had drinks almost every day.
- I was not perfect with my nutrition (I never am), but I was consistent with my protein snacks. I wanted to fast one day, but changed my mind because I wanted pancakes for the second day in a row. Again, not perfect. I can’t stress that enough.
When should you choose this second option for “winning” vacation? When you don’t want to come back from a week away and be discouraged that you have to start over.
OK, you don’t actually have to start all over, but many people think a week off means starting from scratch. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You might be a bit rusty in your first couple workouts back or the meal prep on Sunday thing might not sound too appealing, but you can’t lose all your “gains” in 7 days. Just as important to note, you can’t gain 7lbs of fat in 7 days. Some of the weight you may put on will be water weight assuming you are consuming more sodium and drinking less water.
If you are the type of person who struggles to start over with healthy habits once you get out of a routine, then this option is an absolute must for you in my opinion. If taking 7 days completely off of the routine that has proven to give you success, will turn into 1 month off your normal routine you can’t afford to do that. Or, at that point expect to begin starting over. That is up to you.
I would rather not start completely over and I like my routines. Why did I focus so much on protein all week? I feel better when I eat more protein. I feel more full when I eat more protein. Protein helps me avoid eating extra carbs and fat I don’t need. When I eat more protein I maintain the muscle I am gaining in the weight room.
In short, here is the best plan for a week long vacation:
- Limit yourself to 1 large meal a day.
- Every snack must have protein. 10-40g is a good range.
- Drink a lot of water.
- Workout when you can. 15 minutes is great!
- Have fun!!