How-To: Stay (or Get) In Shape On Vacation

‘Tis the season to be…on holiday (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway).  But if you want to stay more on the svelte side vs. the Santa side, then it’s important to consider how you’re going to keep your “summer body” through the trials and tribulations of travel.  Temptations of all kinds abound when you’re in holiday mode – temptations in terms of foods to eat, in terms of opportunities to forgo your workout routine, temptations to let loose and party like everyone else.  And of course, you can (and likely should!) eat the foods and relish an opportunity to take a break from your regular exercise grind AND enjoy time with loved ones.  But you can do that without abandoning all of your progress!

I’m actually currently in the middle of a two-week tour of the Maritimes to visit MY family (staying with four different hosts in two different provinces over fourteen days), and I’ve focused in on the five things I’m doing to stay on track and still have fun with the fam jam.  For the quick, super vacation-friendly version of this content, you can check out the videos on these topics on my Instagram or Facebook feed.


As much as possible, pick accommodations that are walking distance to attractions, and/or include attractions that naturally include lots of walking (museums, exhibits and even amusement parks are all great for this).

Be sure to drink lots of water to stay hydrated while walking, especially if you are in a hot climate destination.  If needed, you can re-visit my top tips for how to drink more water.

Wear sensible walking footwear! Leave the strappy sandals, flip flops or high heels behind and choose appropriate athletic shoes with support, cushioning and breathability.  Your whole body will thank you.  Proper footwear protects not only your feet, but also your lower back and even up as far as your neck.  It’s all connected!


Plan an active vacation

Plan an active vacation or at least an activity or two within your vacation. Cycling tour of wineries in Italy, anyone? A day of hiking or kayaking would also make the grade.  This will keep your body moving, often in new ways compared to your regular training regimen.  Change can be a great way to activate new muscles and provide a welcome mental break as well.  However, it’s also an opportunity for injury if it involves new, unfamiliar movements.  Be sure to warm up and stretch properly, and get instruction on proper technique if you’re not sure.  You want to be able to keep moving pain-free after your activity to enjoy the rest of the holiday!

Another suggestion is to center a trip around an athletic event, like a destination running race or other event.  Give yourself a few days to get acclimatized to the new location before the event, participate/compete, and then use the rest of the trip enjoying the local attractions with loved ones.

Bonus: keeping active gives you all the more reason to enjoy the local food. But not because you “earned” it (you don’t need to “earn” your food – you are worthy of care and feeding, darlings) but simply because food tastes better after being active.


Enjoy the local food

Enjoy the local food! Now is not the time to avoid/restrict/deny local dishes and try to white-knuckle your way through to the end of the vacation. That can just set you up for overdoing it, either later in the vacation or when you get home, and possibly on food that isn’t even as “worthwhile” or satisfying as whatever the original temptation was.

Now, moderation is still key. Yes, there is the YOLO (you only live once) mentality, and it’s true that you might only have one opportunity to try that particular dish (although even that is an assumption worth challenging). All the more reason to enjoy the experience by enjoying a moderate portion that still supports your goals and leaves you feeling well, not sick!

If you’re struggling to understand how to incorporate “fun” foods into your diet, I’d love to teach you in my Game Your Grams program.  You can e-mail me for more information or to ask questions.


Get your mind right

Get your mind right! This applies all the time, actually. However, on vacation it’s important to guard against YOLO, as discussed above, or FOMO (fear of missing out), especially when it comes to food.  First of all, test the assumption that that particular food is only going to be available to you at that exact moment in your life.  Your mom can actually make her famous pie for you at another time.  On the other hand, if it really is, and you’re actually physically hungry, go ahead and enjoy a moderate portion.  You can eat an amount that lets you experience and enjoy the food, without stuffing yourself to the gills.  Because the latter really isn’t enjoyable anyway.  If you’re not physically hungry, it likely won’t taste as good as if you were.  See if there is an opportunity to have it a bit later when you actually have a physical hunger to address.  If not, and you still would like to try it, go ahead – be mindful of the portion size and realize you might not need as much food at the next meal.  Remember, ANY food can be part of an overall healthful and balanced diet when considered in the context of overall intake and activity for the day.

If you adopt the mindset that you will eat well and get extra activity on vacation, you will.  If you adopt the mindset that you will overeat and miss workouts…well, you will.

What the mind believes, the body achieves. Choose your beliefs accordingly!


Get an accountability partner

This partner is going to keep you on track with your stated goals. What’s that?  You didn’t state your goals?  It’s actually really helpful to head into your vacation having spent at least a few minutes visualizing and maybe even writing down what you want to achieve.  Do you want to lose fat/weight?  Do you want to maintain your current weight?  Do you want to do at least X number of workouts?  Will these be your current workouts or new ones?  Do you want to try X number of new activities?  Plans? For vacation? Well, you’ve likely planned your travel itinerary, so you should plan your activity/fitness as well. “A failure to plan is planning to fail.”

The partner to keep you on track might a traveling companion. If you’re traveling solo or your traveling companions aren’t interested, then you can enlist a friend at your destination or at home to check in on you (or ask you to check in with them) to keep you on track with your plans and goals.  You can even hire an accountability coach to provide this support.  Making a financial commitment signals your dedication to your goals AND you’re more likely to follow through when you’ve made this investment so that you “get your money’s worth.” You can also find like-minded fitness people by checking out a class at a local gym. Who knows – you might even make a new friend or find out about even more activities.

Have a fit vacation!


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