The annual summer holiday is a time enjoyed by many and depending how often you get away for a nice break, there is nothing better than putting the out of email on, packing your bag and leaving everything behind for a week or two to chill out, relax and get some time in the sun.
Holidays are a great time to relax and really unwind, however so many people I see who love fitness and training actually end up stressing more because they are worried about staying on track while they are away
Well first things first, you can’t. (Well you probably could but I don’t feel you should)
What I mean by that is that you shouldn’t look to continue the same volume of training or strictness of your diet while on holiday (unless however you have an important competition within the next 4-6 six weeks).
You can however still enjoy yourself and not do too much damage, or even maintain your progress while being on holiday, you just need to be smart with training and food.
I am going to break this blog down into three sections which you need to consider while away and how I feel is best to attack these. I speak from experience after spending 10 days away in Cyprus 7 weeks away from my first physique competition and I didn’t put on weight while away but enjoyed ice cream every day and didn’t track calories.
Now if you are reading this blog there is a good chance you really enjoy training and make constant progress in the gym. However, in my view when you go away you should allow training to take a back seat while still visiting the gym and being active.
Most hotels these days will have a gym and maybe they won’t be very well equipped but chances are there will be enough equipment to get in a half decent training session. So when you plan your trip don’t spend ages trawling the internet looking for decent gyms in a 15-mile radius of your hotel. Just check out what the hotel gym is like and make do with what you have. Maybe take some strength bands with you and adopt more of body weight training style while away.
Chances are you will have trained quite hard up until going away to make sure you look beach ready. So your body could do with a bit of a break or deload while you are away. I would continue to training but don’t waste your precious time away with your partner traveling miles to find a decent gym or spending hours lifting when you should be enjoying yourself and relaxing.
Maybe a little bit of pre-breakfast cardio can be a good idea to keep energy expenditure high and make you feel good about starting the day and enjoy the local cuisine.
Other activities/exercise that will help with weight maintenance are things like swimming, cycling etc…and these can be really enjoyable activities while on holiday
NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity)
When you are away you could have one of two types of holidays.
The first being a beach, lazy holiday where you enjoy time in the sun and the sun lounger in your new home for the next 14 days.
The second could be an active holiday where maybe you are visiting a city or doing more traveling and compared to the first you could be doing a lot of walking and therefore your NEAT could be quite high (This covers all the activity you do that isn’t structured exercise)
Now the difference between these two holidays will of course be energy expenditure and if you are looking to try and maintain bodyweight or try and avoid too much weight gain during your holiday then you need to think about how many steps you are doing while away and what your activity levels are like.
Tracking steps and keeping NEAT high can be a real life saver for you on holiday, as you can eat more delicious food if you’ve walked around a lot more. So if you hit 8000 steps a day normally then while on holiday if you try and hit 12000 steps this will just create a little more of a buffer for extra food while away.
With online coaching food is the one area where people often need guidance, but they also need a plan that can be adjusted in line with their situation and goals. Often the biggest differences we make as coaches is ensuring our clients are consistent with their approach while working around their lifestyle and work. However, when a holiday arises I often speak with my clients and discuss a plan that is in line with their goals for their trip away. Now, if you don’t have a competition or a particular goal that is not in the next 8-12 weeks then you may just want to enjoy yourself and maybe get on board with the fact you may put on some extra body fat.
You can however enjoy yourself but still keep on track. I often advise my online coaching clients that while being on holiday, tracking calories should take a back seat but they can still adopt a few different diet strategies to keep them on point while still enjoying their food.
Below are three different protocols you could use while on holiday.
Fasting at breakfast – For some people breakfast is a time they may not actually feel hungry and if this is you, or perhaps you could just go without breakfast, then fasting can be a great way to limit caloric intake and leave more calories to play with at lunch and dinner. Using a 16:8 fasting window can work well here so perhaps having lunch at 1 and then your last meal at 9. This can allow you to really have a decent amount of food at these meals and probably have a shot at wading into the desserts.
Carb back loading – This basically means you don’t eat carbohydrates till the evening or post training if you decide to do some sort of training later in the day. There is no magic reason behind this just simply that it will help you reduce caloric intake from breakfast and lunch and then save some for later in the day at dinner. This is often a meal where people would prefer to eat more and have something sweet.
Mindful eating – Finally you could just quite simply be very mindful of the food you eat. I would always advise this as you should be able to pick foods that you enjoy but eat to satiety and not go over board. For myself on holiday I like to try and eat three good sized meals with plenty of veg on the plate, a sensible portion of carbs, plenty of protein and then each day I will have one treat and this could be either an ice cream, dessert at dinner or a drink or two. By having just one it gives me good flexibility but means that I don’t go overboard and can choose different things each day.
So hopefully this blog has given you more of an idea of how you can enjoy your holiday but still keep on track, not cause too much damage and enjoy this relaxing time with loved ones and not coming home very you over indulged.