I spent the last month in and out of Zurich, traveling and hosting visitors, and simply enjoying summer. I ate ice cream and pizza, I drank wine, and I had days where I did nothing but lay on the beach. And guess what? I feel fine. A-okay. I didn’t come back feeling like a blob that needed to start a 3-day juice cleanse or detox diet like I used to. I didn’t feel guilty that I enjoyed myself without being perfect on my diet and exercise routine. I just took each day as it was, ate what I felt like my body needed, moved how my body felt like moving, and I’m still feeling good after a month without a normal routine.
This could not have happened a few years ago. In fact, it didn’t happen a few years ago. I gained 15+ pounds in the first 2 months of traveling in South America. And the whole time I felt guilty and gross about my body and the food and drinks I was feeding it. Since that trip, longer travel has brought upon a certain anxiety because I didn’t want to repeat history. Fortunately, the past few years, I’ve been able to overcome those anxieties and completely relax while traveling.
What’s changed? How can I be so relaxed without worrying about gaining weight? How can I eat ice cream and pizza and trust that I’ll eat the right amount? I’ve had a few mental shifts in regards to food and lifestyle in recent years, allowing me to enjoy healthy travel while still allowing myself freedom to eat what I’d like. I’d like to share them in hopes they can help you during or post vacation.
I still eat vegetables.
I used to have the mindset going on vacation that I should eat all the “bad foods” I didn’t allow myself to eat at home…and worry about healthy eating after vacation. Well, that usually left me bloated and cranky by day 4 of vacation. These days, I know when my body is in need of vegetables, and I actually wanted to eat a salad on several occasions this past month. It wasn’t because I was supposed to, it was because I knew I wanted to feel good, and sometimes a whole plate of greens tasted amazing and made me feel just right. Plus, it made the hamburger and fries taste so much better later.
I stop when I’m full, or have just a little bit more than usual.
Because I know I’m allowing myself to eat whatever I want, any day of the week, it’s easy to stop eating when I’m full. Sometimes while traveling, I do have a little bit more than I’m hungry for, seeing as I won’t be eating fresh fish from the Mediterranean or churros con chocolate back in Switzerland. But, I ate only as much as I needed most of the time so the couple times that I did overindulge, it wasn’t a big deal.
I move my body in different ways.
Certain travel calls for a lot of walking, but other travel calls for a lot of sitting. Some days I literally only walked the 2 minutes to the beach and back, but those days I felt were necessary for mental and physical recuperation. Other days, I swam across the lake, hiked a mountain, or stretched in my hotel room. I didn’t do any “formal” workouts on vacation, but it wasn’t necessary because I was moving my body how it wanted to move. And varying our exercise from our normal routine has it’s own benefits.
I always have healthy snacks on hand.
I can’t go without breakfast, and when I get overly hungry during the day, I don’t hide my mood well. Because of this, I’ve started to either pack healthy snacks, or make it a point to head to the grocery store as soon as I arrive to a new destination. I choose fresh fruits, a variety of nuts, and maybe a granola bar. If I’m good at planning in advance, I make my favorite energy bites because they last for a week or two without refrigeration.
I drink lots of water.
I carry my reusable water bottle with me everywhere. The more hydrated I am, the better I feel, and the better food choices I make. Simple as that.
I don’t feel bad if I gain a few pounds.
Sure, I may have gained a pound or two, but I now know that it’s not a big deal. And I won’t even bother to check the scale to find out. I know that if I just slowly get back into my normal habits and routine, my body will be back to normal in no time. Before, I would come home from vacation and immediately start a strict diet…which didn’t last long…leaving me feeling worse than before, and ruining that wonderful vacation glow.
My best advice?
Let yourself live a little on vacation. Try new foods, indulge in things you don’t always indulge in, move your body how it wants to move, and trust that your body will tell you what it needs if you take the time to listen. No guilt, no shame, just pure enjoyment in the present moment and you will be just as healthy, if not healthier, when you return home from your travels.