In late January, I took an incredible trip with some of my lifelong best girl friends to Puerto Rico. I loved every minute of it (but really, how could you not?)!
We stayed at a resort with wonderful restaurants and our condo also had a full kitchen in it, but we had no intention of spending all of our time cooking. Let’s face it: it’s definitely a challenge to maintain a healthy lifestyle away from home when delicious food is available all the time. Fortunately, I was able to indulge in moderation, celebrate and have fun but still get back on track when I got home.
There’s no secret to staying on track even when you go on vacation – just smart choices! Here are some things to keep in mind while vacationing so you avoid blowing your diet.
Step 1: Give Yourself a Pass
You’re on vacation! This is a time you’ve set aside for yourself to relax, so allow yourself to have fun and indulge in moderation in the local foods and drinks. Gracefully accept that you might gain a few pounds but commit to resuming your healthy living the minute you return home.
Remember, this isn’t a license to binge or pig-out or throw all caution to the wind. Yes, by all means, release the rules a bit and have fun. But if it’s not mind-blowingly good, don’t eat it.
Don’t beat yourself up while on vacation. That’s no fun! Margaritas and guilt are a terrible combination, so make a point to enjoy yourself.
Step 2: Don’t Eat Just for the Sake of Eating
The rules still apply while on vacation: if you’re full, stop eating. Don’t try to get your “money’s worth” of an indulgent dinner – just because food is available doesn’t mean that you have to (or should) eat it. What is important is that you are living healthy and having a great vacation.
When presented with an opportunity to eat, ask yourself if you’re actually hungry. If you aren’t hungry but the food still looks good, consider having a taste without eating the full meal. Portion control will keep you from blowing your diet.
Make sure that you indulge mindfully. You can take a thoughtful detour, but don’t run your healthy living car off a cliff. Keep the 80/20 rule in mind while you make 80 percent of your selections healthy, while letting the not-so-healthy treats occupy the other 20 percent. If you slide to 70/30 this week, that’s not a big deal. Okay, even 60/40 won’t kill you as long as it is in moderation. And no, I’m not going to go all the way down to 50/50, but nice try.
Step 3: Bring Healthy Snacks
I always take my protein powder, healthy bars, and individual serving sizes of nuts on vacation. This serves many purposes. First, it means I don’t have to buy food when I only want or need a few hundred calories.
Second, it’s my built-in safety net which prevents me from becoming ravenous. We all know that will lead to overeating and making bad food choices. Have some pistachios on the beach as a snack so the buffet later doesn’t look like one giant meal just for you. This can be a true lifesaver if you’re on a vacation that doesn’t have regular mealtimes; trust me, I’ve learned!
Third, it gives me a little more spending room to enjoy one of those oh-so-delicious beach drinks that taste like Heaven on vacation. Cheers! Eating a lighter lunch can keep your from completely going overboard even while sipping on an adult beverage.
Finally, it guarantees that I always have a healthy meal on hand so I can save the 20 percent indulgences for a later time when I see something I really want to enjoy.
Step 4: Be Creative and Move Your Body
Take advantage of the local environment. For Heaven’s sake, don’t spend your vacation days on a treadmill – get outside and see the sights while going for a run. Go for a hike. Swim in the ocean. Jog along the beach. Be creative and find ways to incorporate some local fun into the everyday activities while burning a few calories. In Puerto Rico, our resort pool happened to also have lap lanes, so I got in some swimming time and later enjoyed long walks and hikes through the rain forest with my girl friends. Oh and don’t forget all the rowing when we went to the bio luminescent bay!
Step 5: Make it Right with the Very Next Bite
The minute you arrive home, be ready to return to your normal healthy eating plan. I don’t care if you get home on a Friday night. You do not have a license to say, “On Monday…” because that is a slippery slope right back to your before body. If you really want to design, build and live in the body of your dreams, you have to get right back on track. Use your travel breaks, like while you’re driving home to plan your meals for the week and order your groceries for pick up. It will make re-entry a whole lot easier!