This week I’m coming to you from the beaches of Curacao, where I am spending a few days with my wife, parents, sister and her family. After a few weeks of work hell, struggling through a masters course and taking nutrition client calls in my free time, it's time for a well deserved break. This past weekend I completed a half marathon, which required a pre-loading carbohydrate strategy, as well as a post race celebratory pizza or two. While this was quite enjoyable, I will be right back on track with eating and my workouts when we land Saturday.
I’ve recently received questions about how I stick to my eating plan with all of the things we have going on such as weddings, vacations and parties. During our vacation, my wife and I spent time planning a strategy to keep our eating in check and make sure that we felt our best, while also still enjoying our vacation and the Thanksgiving holiday. Here are a few tips to ensure that your vacation away from home and the holiday season doesn’t get completely out of hand:
- Plan your food and drink strategy ahead of time: Indulging while on vacation keeps you sane and reminds you how great you feel when you return to your normal eating routine and fuel your body well. My wife and I decided that we would focus on avoiding the foods and drinks that don't make us feel well because eating something that may taste good but makes you feel like crap just wasn’t worth for us. This meant sticking to our gluten free eating plan (my wife also avoided dairy) and drinking low calorie cocktails instead of beer and sugary drinks. We still drank and ate what we wanted and said “no thanks” to foods/drinks that we didn’t want.
- AirBnB and Residence Inn are your friend: The one thing that these both have in common is they typically come with a complete kitchen. For our family vacations, we usually rent a house or condo for multiple reasons, one of them being that we can control what we are eating. My wife and I have a different eating plan than my parents and sister’s family, so we take turns rotating through the kitchen.
- Trot before turkey: By working out before indulging in a meal, you are setting the tone for the rest of the day and fitting in movement before the festivities begin. This year my family celebrated our first annual Turkey Trot which included getting the whole family involved in some exercise Thanksgiving morning before we cooked and ate dinner. Traditions like this also allow for quality time spent with your family that are centered around being active versus what you’re eating.[caption id="attachment_263" align="alignnone" width="2910"] Family Trotting before the Turkey[/caption]
- Don't stress too much: You will be out of your routine and eating plan for only a set amount of time and I promise it won't undo all the progress that you’ve worked so hard for all year round. My wife and I have intense workouts planned for the Sunday we return and no, we won't be going out to watch football this week.
The point that all of these tips have in common is that with a little bit of preparation, it is quite alright to enjoy yourself for a meal, weekend, or even a whole vacation. Use this time to de-stress, spend time with family and friends, and refocus your energy on how eating well makes you feel. Remember, food is not moral - food fuels your body and lets you perform in your everyday life. You are not a good or bad person for eating within or outside of your eating plan.
If you're still confused, try hiring a professional to help demystify all this, someone you can bring your questions and concerns to. Part of the reason I decided to become a health coach and pursue becoming a nutritionist, is to help people better understand how to eat well and feel their best, as well as strategies to tackle challenges that arise such as holidays and vacations. The value proposition of a health coach and nutritionist is that they provide the tools, know-how and accountability to hit your goals.
Where's the next vacation you’re heading to? What tips do you have to keep yourself in check and not stray too far from your eating plan?
Until next time, catch me in the comments.