Do's and Don'ts on Vacation

If you’re anything like me, then you’re starting to get that itch for time on the beach. Am I right? On your way there now? Counting down the days? Yeah. I thought so.

But here’s the thing about vacation. People take it to such extremes—either letting loose and giving up all self-discipline for seven days, or being a work-horse, working out every day of vacation without actually giving your body (and your family) a chance to rest. Is there a way to make vacation work—for you and your overall fitness?

Of course there is. 

1. Know what you're working with. We recently set up the only privately operated Bod Pod in Nashville, and as people come in to be tested, I’ve been amazed how little they know about their own bodies. The Bod Pod test takes about 30 minutes, and measures your full body composition, uncovering exactly what percentage of your body is fat tissue, and what percent is lean muscle tissue. (Some have said it feels like getting your blood pressure taken, only all over your body.) The test will immediately report just how many calories you need to be eating in order to maintain muscle mass, lose fat, or gain muscle.

You’d be surprised. Most people are under eating. If you’re eating kale salad and quinoa and brown rice, I feel sorry for you. It sounds healthy but it’s not enough calories to sustain you. When it comes to vacation—when the drinks are flowing, and meals are expensive—people restrict their eating far too much. Know what you’re working with first, so you’ll be motivated to keep on track while you’re away.

2. Don't stay in a hotel.  Let’s be honest. A hotel might sound nice on the front end, but aside from a beach-front location, all you’re getting along with that room is a whole lot of headache. Finding places to eat for every meal or suffering through bad or over-priced hotel food just isn’t worth it. In my opinion, reserving a condo or house provides so many more amenities that you can tailor to your own liking. Namely: an oven.

I always eat 5-6 meals in a day. If I were forced, all of the sudden, to survive on 3 meals a day, I would go crazy. Having access to my own food (and my own refrigerator) helps make eating far less time consuming. Stop by a grocery store and stock up on the things that will make you feel great: lean protein, vegetables, complex carbohydrates. My favorite beachy snack: greek yogurt with fruit.

3. Make sure you have access to good water. Have you ever been to the beach, turned on the tap, only to discover that the water tastes sulfuric or stale? If the tap water tastes funny, chances are you’ll turn to *cough* other beverages… which are totally useless calories that only serve to dehydrate you more. If you need to, buy a few gallon jugs of water at the grocery store, and invest in a quality water bottle like a Hydroflask, which keeps water at the temperature you want, even if it’s sitting out in the hot sun.

4. Do at least one workout. You don’t need equipment. You don’t even need that much time. Here’s a favorite: 10 burpees, 10 pushups, 10 jump squats, 10 jumping lunges, then run 40 yards. (40 yards is 20 yards sprint forward and 20 yards back.) Do as many rounds as you can in 20 minutes.

5. Do Follow the 80/20 rule. Originally, the 80/20 rule was created by an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto. He claimed that 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. So while you try to figure that one out, just think about it this way: only eat out once every other day while on vacation. If you cook 80 percent of your own meals while on vacation, then you’ll enjoy those few meals out that much more.