If you’ve never been to the Virgin Islands I highly recommend it. I spent the past week there with my family decompressing, relaxing, and doing anything and everything I could to stay away from a screen. They’re everywhere you know.
It sort of cracks me up how Apple made the watch irrelevant and then made it relevant again. At any given moment you can have a screen in front of your face, in your hands, on your wrist, and in your pocket.
I apologize for the mini rant.
Today’s article has nothing to do with Apple, screens, or pockets. It’s all about how you can have a healthier vacation without ruining your vacation.
1. EVERYTHING COUNTS AS EXERCISE SO MOVE MORE
Do you only give yourself credit for exercise if it lasts a certain amount of time? If you burn a specific amount of calories? If you sweat, if it’s hard, if it hurts, if your heart rate gets to a certain level, or if you’re in a gym and using equipment?
You’re not alone. I use to be like that too and it’s hard to get away from that belief when we’ve always been told that we’re suppose to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity 5 days per week or 10 minutes of vigorous intensity activity 3 days per week.
I’ve had clients who scheduled a workout after work but ended up canceling because they had to stay 15 minutes late to finish up a last minute assignment. Upon asking them why they didn’t just get their workout in 15 minutes later – instead of a 30 minute workout why not just 15 minutes? They usually respond with something like this:
“Because it would have only been 15 minutes. Why bother, that doesn’t even count as exercise.”
WTF! Of course it counts. Something is always better than nothing.
It’s not a lack of exercise that most people struggle with – it’s a lack of movement. We sit more than ever before and according to Marc Hamilton at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, inactivity is as serious a health concern as smoking.
While traveling it can be easy to skip a 60 minute, hell, even 30 minute workout session in favor of something more relaxing. “Pina Colada on the beach anyone?”
I’m not going to argue with that – you’re on vacation and you should be enjoying yourself.
But why not include more movement? Instead of laying on the beach why not walk it? Swim it? Kayak it? Or snorkel it? More movement isn’t just for beach vacations either. Consider otherways you can move more while traveling.
- Lessons like surfing, scuba, dance, et cetera
- Morning or evening walks to explore the city, town, or wherever you’re staying
- Rent a bike to get around instead of a car
- Take stairs
So if you don’t want to train while vacationing look for ways that you can move more, sit less, and have fun.
2. WATCH OUT FOR AH F*CK IT NUTRITION
For some reason when most people travel a severe case of “ah-f*ck-it syndrome” kicks it. “Ah-f*ck-it” syndrome” can best be defined when on vacation as convincing yourself that you’re on vacation and that you don’t need to take care of your health. For some reason vacationing has turned into a justification of overindulging yourself in EVERYTYIHNG.
Part of the fun of traveling is enjoying different ethnic cousines. I would have kicked myself if when in France I didn’t try Blanquette De Veau, skipped out on the Gaeng Hanglay in Thailand, or passed on the Fatta and Kofta in Egypt. You’re on vacation, enjoy the friggin food but sensibly.
Keep portions in check by using the hand method.
- Protein: 1 to 2 palms
- Veggies: 1 to 2 fists
- Starchy carbs: 1 fist
- Fruit: 1 fist
- Healthy fat: 1-2 thumb sized servings
Do your best to emphasize protein and veggies and stick to the serving sizes above.
Something I like to do before taking a trip is to look up some of the local staples that I want to try. This way when I get there I already know what I’ll be having ahead of time and can adjust the rest of my day accordingly.
For example, when in Japan I knew I was going to be putting away some sushi and udon one of the days – a pretty high carbohydrate dinner. I simply ate less carbohydrates during the day. A bit of thinking before hand will go a long way.
Another great strategy is to simply eat more mindfully and one way to do this is by slowing down when you eat and stopping when you get to 80% full. Take at least 20 minutes to finish a meal so that your stomach has enough time to signal to your brain that you’re full. After 20 minutes make it a goal to leave a bit of food on your plate and assess how full you feel. Maybe even get up and walk to the restroom to give yourself a few minutes away from the table.
Pants fitting a little bit tigher?
Feeling a little sluggish?
Take a minute or two to do a quick mind and body scan.
3. GET YOUR TRAINING ON BUT MAKE IT QUICK
When I travel I do like to train as part of my vacation and I really enjoy starting my day with it. It makes me feel productive, like I’ve started the day on a positive note, and gives me energy. But I don’t do my typical workouts. Instead I like to opt for 10 to 20 minute AMRAPS.
If I happen to have access to equipment I’ll still do exercises like back squats, bench, rows, deadlifts, and overhead presses. but if not I stick to squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, inverted rows, jumps, mountain climbers, and burpees.
I’ll choose 1 lower body exercise, 1 upper body pulling exercise, 1 upper body pressing exercise, and 1 lung sucker and try to do as many rounds as I can in 10 to 20 minutes.
2 of my favorite 20 minute AMRAPS while traveling are:
- 5 pullups (or inverted rows)
- 10 push-ups
- 15 squats
- 24 walking lunges
- 12 burpees
- 6 inverted rows (or pull-ups)
- 3 handstand push-ups (or clapping push-ups)
4. PRACTICE INTERMITTENT FASTING
I love using this strategy when traveling especially if I have a long flight or if I’m stuck at the airport. Finding healthy options when flying can be a tough one so I like to take this as an opportunity to practice IF.
This also works great because instead of fitting in time to prepare food, look for a place to eat, and spend time eating you can focus on getting in more play and exploring.
I like to use eating windows when I fast. I’ll go 16 hours without food and use an 8 hour window for eating. An example day may look like this:
- Last meal 7:00pm and fast until at least 11am the next day.
- 6:00am wake up, cold shower, and back coffee
- 6:30am light stretch, elements program from GMB, or 10 minute bodyweight workout
- 7:00am (optional) BCAA’s
- 7:00am – 11:00am fasting with plenty of water, green tea, or another cup of black coffee
- 11:00am-7:00pm eating window. Try and include protein and veggies with each meal. I also recommend a healthy fat like avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, or MCT
- 7:00pm repeat fast
I usually end up eating twice during this eating period, doing my best to take atleast 20 minutes to eat to allow myself to feel full. Once I get to that 80% full feeling I call it a day.
I don’t always use the 16/8 fasting and eating window. I just let the day dictate when I eat. Sometimes I may fast for 20 hours and use a 4 hour window.
Some great resources if you’re interested in learning more about fasting can be found here:
- Lean Gains
- Ultimate Paleo Guide to Intermittent Fasting and Intermittent Fasting Protocols (I’m biased because I wrote these)
- The IF Life
- Brad Pilon
5. LET PEOPLE KNOW THAT YOU’LL BE TRAINING AND TRYING TO EAT WELL
When I travel with family and friends they already know that I’ll be trying to train regularly and eat as best I can. For those of you that may have just started adopting healthier habits your family, friends, and significant other may not understand.
There’s also a good chance they’ll have no interest in joining you – simply ask them what their plans are for the upcoming day and adjust your training around that so you can still spend quality time with them. On my trip to Saint Croix with family I decided to wake up a littler earlier than everyone else and get a quick 20 minute workout in before breakfast. Then the rest of the day was spent enjoying time with the family – luckily I’ve got 3 nephews that kept me pretty active.
Note: You may have to be the weird one.
6. PRACTICE A 2 DRINK MAXIMUM
I’m not much of a drinker but I know when some folks travel it’s a big part of the experience for them. Is it really necessary to get sloshed while on vacation? Is it really making your experience that much better? The last thing I want to do when on a trip is to be nursing a hangover the next day.
Use the 2 drink maximum and keep the booze to 2 drinks max per night. Steer clear of the sugary mixed drinks and alternate a drink with a glass of water. You’ll get a buzz, still have a good time, and you’ll thank me in the morning.
For more information on drinking like a champ… or healthier, check out this article.
7. IT’S YOUR THANG… DO WHATCHA WANNA DO
This last one is simple.
You’re an adult, you have choices, it’s your decision what you want to do while traveling. If you want to make and effort to live a little healthier while on vacation it’s pretty easy to do with a little preparation, thinking, and commitment.
If you have no interest in taking a healthier approach while vacationing then it’s your choice. Simple as that.
I want to leave you with a few articles from the archives that will help with making healthier choices while traveling or on the go.
- How to stay healthy while traveling
- Staying beast mode while abroad
- Paleo in a pinch: Healthy snacks and tips
QUESTION OF THE DAY: What is your biggest struggle when trying to stay on your fitness game while traveling?