If you’ve been training or dieting for any length of time, then you may well have felt the fear when you’ve had to deviate from your meticulously planned routine to go away for even a few days with work or on holiday.
Options vary and advice from well-meaning friends, family and colleagues is often not very helpful. The outcome can include:
- Just chill out, you’re on holiday, you’ll be fine. Do nothing, eat whatever you want and don’t stress too much about it (not a bad option overall to be fair).
- Right, you’re away on holiday, have a blow out, go crazy. That breakfast buffet? You need to complete it. And you’ll have a beer with that.
Both of these are all well and good but it’s highly likely that you’ll go backwards somewhat. The third option is…
- Find a gym. Train daily. Eat on plan or don’t eat at all.
But this is hardly ideal either. I mean you’re on holiday. Is there anything else you can do?
In reality, you will probably combine a number of the above options but can it be both a stress free break and not knock you back?
There are a number of factors to consider so let’s split them into training and nutrition.
- This one kind of depends on the length of the holiday. If it’s only a few days then I really wouldn’t stress a huge amount. You can train before and after and then just try to keep your step count up, staying active and seeing the sights etc. This is especially true if you’re going away for a rest, although if you’re anything like me training IS a break and I’d feel more put out NOT doing it.
If your holiday is longer than say 5 days or you have a competition or similar coming up then it may be wise to try and plan a gym session every couple of days or so. If you plan it right, you may only need to do 1 or 2 sessions out there to keep everything ticking over. You can always plan a deload period (i.e. a period of recovery and lower intensity) from training during your time away but even this will probably warrant at least a few sessions depending on length of holiday.
If you don’t have any urgent need to lift, then either you can rest entirely or just put together a circuit or similar to do in your hotel room or the hotel gym. I won’t go into details as the possibilities are endless but between your bodyweight, some simple resistance bands and whatever you can find you can probably slap together a simple workout. What I would say is to keep the workouts short and plan specifically what you intend to do in advance. Motivation is likely to be poor so you’ll need to just get it done.
The caveat to this is if there is a famous or renowned gym in the area you are travelling to. In that case it is HUGELY worthwhile visiting (in my humble opinion.) Motivation will be through the roof when you’re in a good gym with a good atmosphere. Plus you’ll be at your most relaxed with some good food in your belly, which is always the recipe for a good session.
With food for both myself and my clients, I recommend moderation and being both sensible and realistic with food choice and expectations. There is eating while on holiday (required and enjoyable) and then there is “EATING BECAUSE HOLIDAAAAAY” (often pointless and excessive).
Again, how strict you are with food will depend on whether you are competing and how soon the show is etc. If you’re not competing then you can be really quite relaxed but there is no reason to go backwards and even in these scenarios there is never an excuse for an all-out binge.
By this I mean that people often go on holiday to places with excellent food. It would be pointless and a shame to not take advantage of the local cuisine but there is a huge difference between enjoying food at various restaurants in the evenings, versus say having a Burger Meal at the airport. Likewise, it is entirely pointless to annihilate a packet of biscuits the second you are in ‘holiday’ mode (even if this is sitting on your bed at home packing.) This is totally counter-productive and again just an excuse to binge. You will go backwards. You will regret it and most importantly it’s not even that enjoyable or special. It’s just eating for the sake of it.
So, while you’re out there, by all means eat the GOOD food. Don’t overeat in any single sitting. Eat until you are full and then stop. I often practice intermittent fasting for the periods of the day when I am out and about, especially as I’m not particularly hungry (this can often happen in the heat – drink water instead.) There is no need to eat for the sake of it and just save your calories for when you can take full advantage of them. Alcohol is also a big calorie sink and if it’s that type of holiday, you’ll find it difficult to keep anything in check.
If you’re on activity holidays such as skiing or sightseeing (I’ve notched up over 20km in a day walking around Rome,) then you may well find that you’re burning calories at a huge rate. On this kind of holiday you can place less emphasis on trying to ‘train’ but you still need to keep tabs on diet. It’s so, so easy to over-eat and doing some exercise can make you think you’ve burnt far more than you have. Put it this way. You’re lucky if those 10,000 steps you’ve just completed have burnt an extra 300kcal on top of your daily allowance.
In summary - enjoy the holiday, don’t stress too much about it, try and get a session or two in during longer holidays if you have a specific goal you’re aiming for and regardless, try to keep a tab on food intake. This doesn’t mean deprive yourself but definitely don’t eat everything in sight for the sake of it.