Vacation…to Behave or not to Behave?

I recently returned from a 10 day trip “back home” to Chicago.  Prior to our departure, I thought a lot about this being my first TRULY healthy vacation.  Generally, I’m really good at planning to behave while I’m away, but even better at getting to my destination and becoming a monster-binger and a slug when it comes to exercise.

I’ll pack my workout clothes and shoes, with every intention of staying on track, but something happens to me and my mindset when I actually get away.  I have often wondered, is this because I don’t have the convenience and comfort of my gym?  If staying in a hotel, there’s almost always one on-site.  Is it because I’m with my family and don’t want to take the time away or leave my husband with our daughter while I go do my thing?  He surely doesn’t mind or at least doesn’t say so when I do go out and exercise. Is it because I’m at the gym every single day when I’m not on vacation and I just want a break from that routine? Perhaps, but then why do I complain of that sluggish feeling I get on my vacations days that are free from exercise?

Bottom line, I’m not really sure what happens, but it almost always does, not just with exercise, but with my eating habits, too. I always make the commitment to myself that I’m going to eat, while away, the same way I do when at home.  I’m going to treat myself to some of the guilty pleasures, but not all of them.  Generally, with this one, I do a little better than with exercise, but it’s still a stray from the norm. 

So, with this recent trip, I have to say, I did make some improvements. We drove to Chicago and I found myself to be very disciplined on the drive down and back. I made healthy choices at the rest stops, ordering grilled chicken or a turkey breast sandwich, on whole wheat, of course. I didn’t cave and wolf down handfuls of fries. I did, however, drink soda, which has been rather rare for me the last year or so.

When going out to dinner, I generally order healthier options and shied away from the side dishes that would normally tempt me.  I came to realize that I could enjoy my vacation, the eating part of it, the same way I enjoy my routine at home. Most weekends are my break from the norm and do include a treat or two (or three). That’s how I handled my vacation. 

I didn’t avoid my stop at Lou Malnati’s – what I find to be the best Chicago style pizza. I simply ordered a salad before my meal, drank lots of water and only enjoyed (tremendously) one piece of pizza. I avoided, altogether, my favorite Chinese restaurant, one I crave so regularly when here in Maryland.  But, I did go and enjoy a wonderful Mexican meal and felt like I made a fair trade. 

Instead of taking the whole 10 days off, where exercise was concerned, I chose to run several miles every other day, as a compromise.  This is one I always back away from after the first few days.  I’ll have a good workout or two, then convince myself that I’m on vacation and don’t need to keep up with it.  I was proud that I didn’t this time around. 

The bottom line here is that I used to believe that a vacation was a time to get away and not worry about things.  My perspective on this has changed a bit. A vacation IS a time to get away, but taking care of yourself by eating right and exercising regularly isn’t something that should be pushed aside.  Wellness is an important part of life. I enjoyed myself just as much on this recent trip as I have on past trips.  I came home with a little vacation weight, but not what usually finds its way home with me. My workout this morning was much easier than most of my first day back workouts. These are all good things! I know picking up the weights tomorrow will be a challenge, but maybe next time I’ll find a way to be sure I make that easier upon return, as well. We live and we learn, right?

Carri Nelsen

Do you have a ‘Wellness Wedsneday’ question for Carri? 

Send it to and we’ll try to get your question answered in an upcoming post. 


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