“Vacation fitness” for some people sounds like an oxymoron. But I go on vacation to take a break from the real world, not to take a total vacation from my fitness. So over the years, I’ve fine-tuned my vacation fitness approach so as to perfectly balance my goals of relaxation with my goals of preserving my progress. Here are some vacation fitness goals and tips for your next trip.
Vacation Fitness Goal #1
Your first goal with vacation fitness is to commit to staying injury free. Everyone likes to feel good on vacation, so the last thing you want to do is get hurt. This is your first objective: stay injury free!
Vacation Fitness Goal #2
Your second goal with vacation fitness is to adopt a mindset that while on your trip, fitness will be designed to maintain your gains, not increase them. Why? To help ensure that Vacation Fitness Rule #1 is left unbroken. Often times, our injuries come not from preserving where you are at, but trying to improve it. So minimize this likelihood by tempering the desire to better, get stronger, move faster, lift heavier, etc. Vacation is not the time to try to set a new one-rep max bench press or a PR on a 400 or to finally be able to put your foot behind your head. I’m not suggesting that your workouts aren’t hard, but that they should be geared towards holding on to what you’ve worked so hard to achieve, not to achieve even more.
These two goals dictate all else!
Vacation Fitness Tip #1
Work at 80% of your maximum effort. This will get the sweat flowing without risking an all-out assault on your body. Working out at only 80% for 3-4 days a week will be more than adequate to help you reach Vacation Fitness Goals #1 and #2. Plus, you’ll be expending a lot of energy as it is prepping the kids, swimming, walks to and from the beach, hauling skis, whatever the case may be.
Vacation Fitness Tip #2
Don’t try new things. Vacation isn’t the time to take your first Bikram Yoga class or get on the the VersaClimber for the first time. I was really tested on this on our recent trip to the beach because the gym had a Jacob’s Ladder, which I have never used. Being a fan of muscle confusion and trying new things, I was like a moth to a flame every time I saw it… the next thing I knew, I was reading the directions, envisioning myself on it, getting a feel of the handles. I was like a dieter opening the fridge to take a whiff of that forbidden piece of cake. It was bad. But eventually the angel on my one shoulder eventually gave the devil on the other shoulder the boot (and mostly because I knew I would be writing this article). Had I gotten on this, I know both vacation fitness goals would have been in jeopardy. So do things you’re familiar with… bring your home fitness DVDs with you or stream them from your mobile device. This is really the one time of year not to change things up.
Vacation Fitness Tip #3
Enjoy yourself. Again, an oxymoron for some of you, but do the kind of exercises you like. For me, I did a lot of old fashioned strength training workouts, doing moves that I particularly enjoy (dips, shoulder work, resistance band burnouts) and I also took far longer breaks between sets than I normally would. In fact, compared to my normal Asylum or P90X workouts, my trips to the gym were a breeze. But I really had fun, moved at my own pace, and did things I liked, while still getting in a great workout. We also did quite a bit of leisurely biking which is always fun.
Vacation Fitness Tip #4
Limit your time to an hour. Normal workouts don’t really need to be much longer than that anyway, but vacation fitness really doesn’t need to extend beyond that. Why? Not only to keep on track with Vacation Fitness Goal #1, but equally important, to keep plenty of juice in your tank for the rest of your day. You’re on vacation to relax, not be exhausted. You want to have plenty of energy to invest in your friends and/or family and it’s really easy to be snippy and make bad decisions when we’re tired. So keep an eye on the clock.
Vacation Fitness Tip #5
Limit your cheat meals. I’m a big believer in having a weekly cheat meal during the year. It helps me stay sane. But on vacation, if I’m not careful, I can get caught up in the excitement of the trip and eat total garbage for every meal. In fact, I’ve had years where I’ve put on 10 pounds (most of which was fat) in two weeks, in spite of exercising. So now my rule is one cheat meal a day and it can’t be crazy-big. So no clearing the seafood buffet or downing an entire pizza. I keep my other meals sensible and usually low-carb (though I do enjoy BareNaked Granola as a healthy snack). And of course, Shakeology helped with my cravings.
That’s it. These five vacation fitness tips will help you achieve goals #1 and #2 and have fun doing it. And not only will you have fun on your trip, you’ll have more fun re-entering the atmosphere when it’s time to return to the real world because you won’t have set yourself back in your conditioning. This year, according to my scale, my weight went up 1/2 a pound and my body fat down 1/2% while on vacation. More muscle and less fat, while vacationing? Hard to beat that.
Now to find myself a Jacob’s Ladder to try…Start My Coaching!