You would think that vacations are a “write-off” when it comes to staying in shape.
Your routine is “out-of-whack”,
The foods are full of carbs,
Workouts are few- and far between,
And frankly, you probably don’t care so much about what you’re eating.
You might even give yourself a “free pass” to let loose a little bit.
When vacations are meant to be fun,
The thought of doing something so challenging like losing fat seems unrealistic.
Fun and fat loss usually don’t go together.
Or do they?
Well, we had a couple athletes that had quite a different experience while on vacation.
They let loose,
Had fun with their families,
Ate what they wanted,
And even skipped workouts.
So, how could they lose fat?
Seems impossible right?
Not the case….
Here’s how a vacation can help you lose fat and get back into shape
1. More time to eat slowly and enjoy meals
While on vacation, you’re not worried about “eating on the go”,
You don’t have to rush off to your kids’ evening activities,
You don’t have to cram food down your gullet as you answer emails.
You can sit down, relax and take time to eat.
You can enjoy the conversation,
Take a bite,
“People-watch” for a bit,
Take a bite,
Contribute to the conversation,
Take another bite,
And so on.
The stress of having to rush off is eliminated and you can slowly enjoy your food.
It’s a beautiful thing.
Eating slowly can play a substantial role in decreasing fat.
One study at the University of Rhode Island showed that people ate 67 less Calories per meal when they ate slowly.
Add that up…
3 meals per day
7 or more days of vacation.
That’s almost half a pound per week.
And you haven’t changed a thing with what you are eating.
And you know what?
Not only do you eat less,
But you also enjoy your food more,
And have better digestion too.
Here’s a few tips to implement this strategy into your real-life:
-Put your fork down between bites
-Contribue to the conversation between each bite
-Ask each of your dinner attendees a question between each bite
-Take a sip of water between each bite
-Eat more minimally-processed whole foods that take longer to chew
-Use smaller utensils
-Set aside 20-30 minutes to eat
-Set a reminder on your phone to eat slow
-Chew your food for a pre-determined number of chews.
2. More undistracted eating
This one goes hand-in-hand with eating slowly.
With the stress of life being eliminated,
You are free to focus on the task at hand – eating.
And this is awesome, because focusing on your eating can bring awareness to your fullness cues.
Being aware of your fullness cues can cause you to eat less.
If you are sitting in front of a TV distracted, how much easier is it to over-eat?
With so many distractions, your appetite awareness is eliminated.
And the food just keeps getting shovelled in.
Here’s a few tips to eating undistracted:
-Eat with others at the table
-Turn off electronics at supper time…and that includes the TV
-Try new and exciting recipes that you are fired-up to eat
3. Get more movement in your day
Think about your last trip to Disney.
How many miles did you walk?
How about that trip to Italy?
How many steps did you take?
How about that hike in Croatia?
People often end up walking a lot more when on vacation.
And although you are not doing traditional workouts,
The sum total of the energy you are expending may be greater than when you’re sitting at home watching TV,
Or when you’re hunched over your desk at work,
Or when you’re glued to your screens,
Or when you’re sitting in traffic.
How can you accumulate more activity into your day?
Do you get a lunch break?
Take a 15-minute walk.
Do you drive to work?
Park at the lot one down from your building and walk the difference.
Do you take the bus to work?
Get off one stop before your’s and walk.
Do you have kids?
Take them outside and play.
Do you have a dog?
Take the dog for a walk with your family.
4. De-stressing activities
We mentioned this above, but it bears mentioning again.
Vacations usually = less stress.
We wrote about it here
We know that stress can decrease your metabolism,
Decrease your energy and vigour,
Decrease your mojo,
Increase your risk of chronic diseases,
And even make you gain fat.
So, with the elimination of deadlines at work,
Commuting to- and from work,
And getting your kids to all of their activities,
Stress just melts away.
And as a result,
So does fat.
Now, when you’re back in real life, you can’t just up and leave your responsibilities,
But you can implement some strategies to help deal with stress as it comes.
This can include:
-Going for a walk outside
-Going somewhere quiet to read
-Talking with a friend or loved one
-Foam rolling and/or stretching
-Doing some floatation therapy (https://www.jellyfishfloatspa.com/)
-Taking an Epsom salt bath
Oh and don’t try to de-stress by going on your phone – that is actually stimulating.
You can go on your phone, that’s fine, just don’t consider “phone-time” as a de-stressor.
5. Better sleep
Sleep is awesome.
We talked all about it here.
As an athlete, you need sleep.
Like 7-9 hours of it.
When you’re not sleeping enough, bad stuff happens.
Your hunger hormone, ghrelin goes up.
And your satiety hormone, leptin goes down.
So, not only do you want to eat more,
your ability to stop eating goes down.
Recipe for disaster?
But, when you’re on vacation.
The reins are a little looser.
You have time to sleep a little longer.
Maybe even sleep in a little bit.
Or sometimes, you’re so gassed by the end of the days’ activities,
That you go to bed at 8 or 9 pm,
Guaranteeing yourself a solid 7,8 or even 9 hours of sleep.
Here’s how to get a better sleep while back home:
-Eliminate electronics 30-60 minutes before bed-time
-Dim the lights 30-60 minutes before bed-time
-Use a pre-bed ritual that includes things like an Epsom salt bath, light reading, and some gentle stretching or foam rolling
-Use a reverse alarm that goes off when it’s time to start your pre-bed ritual
-Eat a normal meal a few hours before bed-time
-Make your bedroom as dark as possible
-Turn your alarm clock away from you
-Drop your thermostat a bit (ideal temperature is around 18 degrees Celsius)
-Try not to nap after 4 pm
-No caffeine after 2 pm
6. Less cognitive dietary restraint
Like we mentioned above, people are a little more forgiving of themselves when on vacation.
You eat what you want,
You don’t beat yourself up over it.
You don’t tell yourself “I shouldn’t be eating this”
You don’t think “I should be dieting right now”
You just enjoy your food,
Enjoy your family and friends,
And enjoy the things you get to do.
Well, by taking this approach you are eliminating a common source of stress called cognitive dietary restraint.
Cognitive dietary restraint (CDR) is when you tell yourself you should diet and then you don’t,
Or when you tell yourself that you’re overweight and that you shouldn’t eat that doughnut, and then you do,
Or when you tell yourself that a food is “bad” and then you eat it.
CDR is a form of stress in the body that can actually cause you to gain fat and affect your physical and psychological health.
So, when you ease up on the reins a little when you’re on vacation, you’re actually eliminating this.
You’re eliminating the stress of telling yourself you need to diet, when you actually don’t follow through with it.
How do you decrease CDR?
Check out the next point below….
8. More self-compassion
Again, when we are on vacation – we give ourselves a little more slack.
We may say to ourselves “It’s a vacation, enjoy it. Everyone lets loose a little bit once and a while”
And you know what, that is exactly what your body and your mind need.
Self-compassion breaks the cycle of beating yourself up for eating certain foods and then emotionally eating an entire Jeane’s cake to self-soothe your way out of it.
The truth is that we know that people who practice self-compassion have less stress,
They lose more weight and keep it off,
They have less emotional eating,
And they “bounce back” better after a “bad day” of eating
Here’s how to be self-compassionate:
-Ask yourself “what would a wise and kind counselor tell me about this situation?”
-Tell yourself “you are not the only one in the world having trouble with this and that you are not alone”
– Simply “notice and name” your behaviours and then take a non-judgemental view on it. For example, “I ate a piece of cake and it tasted delicious”. No self-defeating stories, simply the facts.
Vacations are a time to have fun,
And experience the world in a slightly different way.
It is this attitude,
and break in routine that will allow you to not only decrease your stress,
But also possibly lose some fat too.
If you can go to Venice, go to Venice!
If not, use the strategies in this article to reap the health benefits of a vacation.