When we go on vacation, exercise sometimes gets pushed aside. Leah Nyfeler explains what happens and how to make exercise work for you while you are away from home. Read more from Leah on her blog.
Ah, summer. One of life’s greatest pleasures is checking out from the daily grind and spending quality time at the beach. I’ve been very lucky this year, hopping from one vacation to the next. By the time summer ends, I’ll have had a good month of relaxing by the sea.
Which can wreck some workout havoc. After all, I’m getting ready for a fall destination, and it’s important that I’m in good shape so I can savor every step of my bucket-list trip to the Grand Canyon.
As I’ve kicked back with friends and family, passing my days in the bliss brought on by sun, surf, and sand, I’ve learned a few things about working out while vacationing.
5 Hard Truths about Vacation Workouts
1. You never exercise as much as you intend to. I set off with grand plans to run, swim, walk, or exercise almost every day. Ha! The truth is, I’ve fit in about half of what I intended. It’s easy to plan but difficult to execute. That’s because vacation is all about relaxation, and it’s hard to maintain mental focus (your mind, after all, needs recovery time, too). This truth, however, doesn’t give carte blanche on throwing in the workout towel on a trip. Go ahead; plan those workouts. But, rather than beat yourself up for days missed, celebrate each and every time you get out there. You did it!
2. Forget intensity. Go back to No. 1 — that mental focus just isn’t there to push you. Add to it jet lag, a new location, time changes, unfamiliar foods (see No. 3), and your body is simply not performing at its premium. Celebrate the level activity you can achieve and accept your best effort for this particular time.
3. Optimal nutrition goes out the window. Whatever alcohol I’m drinking on vacation is by definition more than I’d consume at home. While I’m still working hard to eat nutritiously, it’s often problematic to stick to what’s good for me when dining with a group. Rather than venture into orthorexia, focus on making the best choices in the moment.
4. You’ll have to make yourself do it. I don’t care how important the goal, vacation activities are hard to trump. I love lounging around in the morning with my sweetie. My body wants to sleep in. It’s fun to leisurely hang out with friends. The very worst part of exercising on vacation is deciding when to do it and then actually setting out. Once begun, though, I love a travel workout (and I always feel better for doing it). Just know that taking the first step is 90 percent of the battle.
5. It’s just not that important. Ultimately, I have many days to work out and few days for travel. Why am I here in the first place? To relax and recharge. If the goal is so important that I’m stressing about workouts and causing major disruption to everyone’s schedule to get my exercise in, then shame on me for scheduling that trip at that time. Relax, let it go, and chalk missed workouts up to necessary recovery.
5 Tips for Vacation Workout Success
6. Go light on gear. You only need the basics. Remember — you’re likely hitting half of the workouts planned. Keep the activity simple and leave the gadgets at home. You’re more apt to actually execute when there’s less to fuss about (or forget).
7. Pack some electrolyte replacement. Sun + alcohol + sweat = dehydration. Life feels a lot better when you remember to not only rehydrate but replace loss electrolytes, which can be as simply as throwing a Gatorade in the beach cooler.
8. Be good natured. Think about others when aiming for exercise. Don’t be a jerk about strictly following your schedule. Take a day or so to see how everyone interacts — you’ll find a workout time that naturally fits within the vacation’s rhythm, I guarantee. And be gracious about including someone else, should there be some interest in joining you. That company may just be the help you need.
9. Think time rather than specific mileage or exercise. My workouts were more successful when I relinquished control and accepted what I was able to do rather than insisting on what I’d originally planned. Consider where you are in relation to what movement you could use (and suddenly, that steep, 1-mile trek to the main road becomes a perfect site for hill repeats instead of a detriment to a run).
10. Adapt and improvise. Back to No. 9. Make your location a resource for fitness. Find ways to slip a workout into the day’s activity. I brought open-water goggles and a swim cap along in the bag, allowing me to swim while friends snorkeled or read on the beach. Now that’s what I call a win-win.