Ah, vacation. A time to let loose, when you can let reality go. Well, kind of. Except that reality will be there when you get back home. But it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing to be a good time. You can go on vacation, really enjoy yourself, and still feel good when you get home. It’s not hard, it just takes a little prep work.
A few weeks ago I spent a long weekend in the Dominican Republic with a big group. My goal for the trip was to do some much-needed relaxing, but not overdo it in the drinks or food department. I wanted to get in some exercise, also take advantage of the break and recharge. Below is a snapshot of some dietary hits and misses, and how I moved my body.
Saturday | 4:40 am | Breakfast and travel day
I knew we’d be traveling until close to 4:00 pm, so I wanted to make sure my first meal really counted. In the fridge I had leftover Brussels sprouts hash and roasted rosemary potatoes – so I warmed those up with a few scrambled eggs. And of course, my trusty coffee, doctored with collagen peptides and Nutpods cream. A real meal that would set me up for success for the rest of the day.
9:15 am to 2:45 | Flight time
In my carry on I packed an apple and a Perfect Bar – a good mid-morning snack. I also packed an empty water bottle, which I filled a couple times after security. Staying hydrated while flying is no joke! Since this was a celebratory vacation, I had a mimosa on the plane – a little Prosecco for fun, and some OJ for vitamin C – along with more water. For a later snack, I had an Epic bar along with a few of the pretzels they handed out. Annnd more water. We landed and I was pretty satiated. Ready for a full meal, definitely, but nowhere approaching hangry.
6:30pm | Dinner
We were given a lengthy tour of the resort, checked into our rooms, and were finally able to visit the buffet. My attitude going into this trip was to get plenty of greens and protein whenever possible – this dinner buffet was a great opportunity. I took advantage of the huge salad bar, loaded up on veggies, and had fresh rotisserie chicken.
Sunday | 8:00am | Breakfast
Another trip to the buffet – here I was delighted to find a sautéd vegetable medley, fresh scrambled eggs, sausage links, and an abundance of fresh fruit. And because #vacation, I grabbed a cinnamon croissant (or two). This was basically the breakfast I had every day of the trip. So good.
So much walking! The resort was enormous, so anything we wanted to do outside the room was at least a ten-minute walk. But in the abundant sunshine and breeze, it was a welcome chore. I didn’t do a traditional workout on Sunday, but instead played about an hour of beach volleyball, followed by jumping around in the ocean waves. Between that and the walking, my body felt good. Soaking up some vitamin D (with plenty of sunscreen) and just moving.
7:00pm | Dinner
The group had reservations at an Italian restaurant, and I was ready to partake. Along with some red wine, I ordered angel hair pasta with pesto. I tried to get some grilled chicken, but they didn’t allow any deviations from the menu, so protein was out. You win some you lose some. The pasta was delicious, so I didn’t mind too much. Between breakfast and lunch, my protein intake for the day was fine – no need to sweat it.
Monday | Exercise
By this time I hadn’t gotten in a workout in quite a while, so I was itching to really move. The fitness center at the resort was gorgeous, but so was the 80-degree sunshine. I decided to put on my sports bra and shorts, and take my workout to the beach. I found a relatively secluded patch near the end of the property, and went through this series:
Down dog to plank
Dynamic warm up, 2 times through:
10 squat jumps
15 jumping jacks
Workout, 4 times through each series:
1A – 15 walking lunges
1B – 15 air squats
2A – 25 bear crawl steps – total
2B – 10 push ups
Mini-band circuit, 2 times through:
band at ankle – 20 lateral steps – each direction
band at ankle – 20 forward steps, 20 backward steps
Brisk jog/run down the beach and back – maybe 5-7 minutes
The workout was short, sweet, sweaty, and satisfying. And nothing beats jumping into the ocean for a cool down!
Tuesday | Exercise
Exercise for the day was a long walk down the beach and around the resort. On vacations like these I feel energized in the morning to take advantage of the solitude and the sunrise. I grabbed my cameras and walked to my heart’s content.
7:00pm | Dinner
You know how I said you win some, you lose some? This was a loss. The group opted for the buffet again, and I couldn’t find anything satisfying. I tried a few options, but definitely didn’t enjoy myself. In the past this would have frustrated and upset me – I hate to “waste” a meal! But I remembered the delicious breakfast that awaited me in the morning, and called it a night.
Wednesday | 2:00pm | Lunch at the airport
Options at the Punta Cana airport were somewhat limited, and I knew this was it for food until getting home that night at 8:00pm. Hindsight: I didn’t plan well for the return trip; I should have grabbed some things from the breakfast buffet or even packed more plane food at home, but I didn’t. So for lunch I settled for the quick and easy option, Wendy’s. We pulled into the drive about 8:00pm. Home!
“What about drinks? You were at an all-inclusive resort, we KNOW you had drinks!”
Well, yeah. My mindset going into the trip was everything moderation, including moderation. Those colorful, sugary drinks? I had maybe one a day. (Miami Vice, anyone?) The rest of the time I had a mimosa or two in the morning, and then I stuck to a couple mixed drinks with either juice or club soda. (Ughhh, and because it was vacation with 16 people, there were a few shots in there. But I was comfortable with putting my foot down when I didn’t want one. And no one really cared.) Then glass of wine or two with dinner. I didn’t feel deprived, but didn’t go overboard either. Waking up with a clear head (and remembering what I said!) was more enticing than the endless beverage options.
I didn’t deprive myself of the great food and celebratory drinks, but also stayed mindful the entire time. If I took a few bite or sips and something wasn’t hitting the spot – I left it. No need to force down a dessert that’s not even very tasty. What’s the point?
This felt like a successful trip because I didn’t come home with that bloated and tired “man, I need to get back into the gym” feeling. I felt relaxed, refreshed, and ready for work the next day.
Some things to keep in mind as you embark on your own travel plans:
- Bring snacks. So many snacks! Carrot sticks, beef jerky, apples, travel packets of protein powder, and mixed nuts all travel well.
- If there is a supplement or condiment you take on the regular, bring it! I packed my non-dairy coffee creamer to use in the room, and on previous trips I’ve packed protein powder. I’ve even put my green food powder in a little spice jar. #dedication
- Bring an empty water bottle or travel mug to fill and fill and fill. Flying is really dehydrating.
- Bring a thermal mug or thermal bottle to the beach – no one likes drinking warm water that’s been sitting in the bottom of a beach bag all day. I brought a stainless steel tumbler with a straw – and constantly asked for ice and water at the beach bars. Bonus: In a thermal mug no one knows what you’re drinking and won’t hassle you.
- Think bigger picture when you’re eating and drinking. Ask yourself at breakfast what the rest of the day holds – do you have reservations at an Italian place where you know you’ll want the bread and pasta? So maybe just stick with some eggs and veggies.Take a mental look at your day – you might not be hungry at one meal, but if you look ahead, you might realize the next one is a long ways away. Set yourself up for success so you don’t make crummy choices later.
- Pack mini-bands to use in case your destination doesn’t have any fitness equipment. And use your experience! Body weight exercises are a great option! Even without equipment you can get a good sweat going. Push-ups, air squats, sit ups, lunges, you name it.
- Use the scenery! Sure, there might be a gym, but you ARE traveling. If it’s 20 degrees at home and 80 where you’re at, take advantage and get that fresh air. Hike, walk, take your exercise outdoors whenever you can!
- Think about the return trip, too! All the same rules apply. Your travel day will be long, you’ll be tired from the vacation, and the temptations will be greater.
Good luck! Are you planning on traveling this spring? Enjoy yourself and stick to your goals at the same time. Let us know how you did!