It’s possible to come back from travel without gaining weight. I know, I wouldn’t have believed that statement either a couple years ago. I used to carry anxiety about leaving behind my gym routine and healthy groceries for a vacation. I didn’t trust my self-control around decadent food and thought that if I couldn’t sweat at my favorite workout classes then my health was doomed. It wasn’t until I released that mindset that I realized that stressing about what I couldn’t control was only sabotaging me more. Instead, I focused on what I could do, embraced my new environment, and you know what – I lost weight.
Here’s what I learned about being healthy on vacation and how you can incorporate it into your daily routine back home.
I walked. All the time. Everywhere.
“It was so weird I didn’t gain any weight while traveling.”
That’s a common statement I hear from people coming back from a trip. How does this happen? They’re walking more. Think about it – most people have a sedentary day with office jobs. Unless they’re living in a walkable city like NYC or have a job that requires constant movement, chances are they’re barely clocking in 4,000 steps. Throw in the modern convenience of cars, food delivery apps, and elevators, and it’s no wonder people are feeling the effects of a slowed down metabolism. And doing a one hour workout is not enough – not matter how intense.
But when exploring a new city all day, getting lost navigating, or pursuing more active adventures, it’s no surprise that someone can easily log in 15,000-20,000 steps a day while traveling. The best part is that it’s free, low impact, and social. It helps reduce anxiety, aid digestion, and promote recovery. Walking is sustainable – something you can do everyday for the rest of your life and something I truly enjoy. Once I came back home, I wanted to continue walking at a similar frequency and clock in about 10,000-14,000 steps on average. I realize I’m lucky to live in a walkable city like San Francisco (if you’re okay with hills) but setting aside time to walk in the morning, during a lunch break, and in the evening after dinner can work too. It’s great to do with a dog, family member, friend, or by yourself listening to a podcast/audiobook. Consistent walking has helped me maintain a leaner body without damaging my joints and has become almost meditative for me. So simple, yet so impactful.
I drank 3 liters of water everyday.
There’s something about tying a number to a goal that makes it easier to accomplish. I like the 3 liter rule because it’s tangible, memorable, and doable. It might sound like a lot, but here’s an easy way to break it down:
First thing in the morning, I drink a liter (33 ounces) of warm, lemon water. It helps rehydrate me after going the whole night without water, gets my bowel movements going (sorry, tmi), and reinforces that I’m actually not hungry first thing in the morning, but just dehydrated. That’s one done right there.
For the rest of the day, I carry around a 20-ounce reusable water bottle and know that I need to drink 3 of those throughout the day. Plus, a tea or coffee to help me hit 101 ounces and that’s 3 liters easy. Doable, right? When it’s broken down like that, it’s easier for us to stay consistent and more often than not, I end up drinking more. Proper hydration helps me workout better, improves my digestion, stops me from overeating, and gives me overall energy. Our bodies are 60% water and we need it for our cells to function optimally. Tip: if you’re in a place where tap water is not drinkable, buy larger bottles of water to save money and incentivize you to drink more. Hydration is not something you want to be budget about, trust me.
I had my phone on airplane mode.
Sure, this is easy to do while traveling (and usually necessary if you don’t have an international sim card), but it takes discipline to do this when you’re back in reality. I can honestly say, switching to airplane mode is SO worth it.
Here are the times I recommend switching to airplane mode (or at least turning on the Do Not Disturb feature):
- sleeping – no brainer, you’re not texting anyone plus I’ve noticed my sleep improve since doing this
- spending quality time with loved ones – do you want to be that rude person who is constantly checking their phone when someone is trying to talk to you?
- eating – wow, I’ve noticed I eat a lot less without a screen in front of me because I can actually focus on my food. mindful eating really is a thing.
- working out – do you really need to check your messages in between sets? I find this super distracting and as a fitness instructor, my biggest pet peeve when I teach classes. It’s not only unsafe, but wasting your time that could be spent on active recovery.
How does this relate to losing weight? Our phones are subtly sabotaging our health. They mess with our sleep, raise our anxiety levels, distract us from getting work done, and cause us to unnecessarily overeat. All of these issues ultimately result in gaining more weight. Unplugging from my phone has allowed me to tune into my body’s signals – am I hungry? thirsty? tired? anxious? bored? – and give it what it actually needs.
I sat with my hunger.
A human can go three weeks without food. You can go three hours without eating, you’ll be fine. Seriously. So many of us have been conditioned to reach for a snack the second we get hungry because food is always available. Humans have evolved going days without eating food and it’s only recently that we feel the need to eat constantly. In fact, having breaks between meals allows our body to focus on other cellular activities outside of digesting food. To be clear, I’m not saying you should not eat at all or deprive yourself. But if your meal has enough protein, healthy fats, and fiber you should be able to go 5-6 hours without feeling hungry. And once you do feel hungry – sit with it. You’re not going to die. You’ll be fine. Just stay hydrated and remind yourself that you’ll eventually eat. Fasting is a common practice for many other cultures and there’s tons of research now coming out about how it can help boost health and longevity. I also talk about how intermittent fasting can help with jet lag in another blog post.
I slowed down.
This is perhaps the biggest and most important takeaway – relax. So often in our day to day lives we’re running around trying to tackle everything on our to-do list, constantly worrying about what’s next. I’m guilty of this too. Stepping out of my routine while traveling allowed me to breathe, to surrender to the present, and ask myself what I truly need. This is something that I’m actively working on, but have noticed has surprisingly moved the needle in my health. There’s this tendency to think we should be doing more, working out more, planning our meals more, when in reality, having a calmer state of mind reduces cortisol levels and signals to your body that it doesn’t have to hold onto excess weight to survive.
There’s a reason many of us come back with that “post vacation glow.” Stress inflames our bodies and causes us to overeat, look puffy, and carry overall heaviness. Our bodies are extremely adaptive and our minds sometimes forgets that with modern life. So maybe skip that 6am workout and sleep in. Nourish your body with what it needs. I know this sounds weird coming from a fitness trainer who teaches HIIT classes, but sometimes slowing down is the best thing you can do for your body and that’s perfectly okay.
Let me know below if any of these tips landed with you and if you’re looking for more help, reach out to me via the contact page for personalized coaching.