Secrets for a Stress-Free Summer Vacation
Ahhhh, summer! That time of year when many people take a break and head out of town. An opportunity to travel with family or friends. You should be looking forward to it, right? But maybe you’re distracted by thoughts of trying to make healthy choices while on vacation. It can be stressful to think about how to stay in control while being away from home and out of your usual routine. Metabolic Research Center is here to help! One of the most important factors to help you have fun while staying healthy will be planning ahead. And a little extra thought and effort will yield more confidence and enjoyment later.
The first thing to decide on (go ahead and say it out loud) is “I can and I will make healthy choices!” You don’t have to make a choice between fun and health - you are capable of both! How? Picture yourself going through each day and visualize yourself with confidence and control. This is a powerful strategy that many athletes and executives use to reach their goals. Wherever you’re going or whatever you’ll be doing, prioritize experiences and enjoyment (rather than food). By mapping out success in your mind ahead of time, you can easily recall and recreate it when needed.
Next, consider what to pack - beyond the 25 pairs of underwear and comfortable shoes. Think outside of the suitcase and inside your protein drink boxes. Your MRC supplements are just as essential for having a great trip as anything else that you’re bringing with you. Plan to bring four protein drinks per day (one with each meal and an extra as a snack, if needed). Go ahead and pack a bar for each day of your trip as well. You might not need them (but better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it!). Don’t forget your herbs and vitamins, including Fat and Carb blocker - a travel essential for all MRC clients. Bonus tip: pack what you’ll need for each day + an extra day (just in case of flight cancellations, car trouble, or travel delays).
If you have the space and are traveling in a manner that allows you to bring food, pack a cooler full of healthy choices such as apples, oranges, crackers, cheese, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, pre-boiled eggs, veggies…whatever foods you know you enjoy. Not only will this alleviate the stress of “what can I eat that’s a part of my healthy diet” but you’ll also save money, too! If bringing food with you simply isn’t feasible, then do your research and scope out some local grocery stores or farmer’s markets near where you’ll be staying. Planning a delivery or pickup order after your arrival time is also a great way to avoid any “impulse buying” once you’ve arrived. Most hotels and lodging come with a mini fridge where you can store cold foods. If one is not available, pack a collapsible insulated tote and empty ziplock bags to fill with ice once you arrive.
To help with the stress of traveling outside of food, consider packing items that are a source of comfort for you such as your favorite pair of pajamas or slippers, a cozy blanket, a good book, or a writing journal. Having something familiar that’s a part of our relaxation routine can help us feel more secure when we are in an unfamiliar setting or situation. No matter how you are traveling to and from your destination or what you are doing once you get there, be sure to stay hydrated! Drinking adequate amounts of water may lead to inconvenient bathroom breaks, but they will help prevent fluid retention, constipation, and a false sense of hunger.
Now that we’ve talked about preparing for travel, let’s talk about when you arrive. While on vacation, shift your mindset away from food and focus on experiences. When those experiences include food, this is where planning ahead is in your favor. Go ahead and make a few popsicles from your protein drinks so they are available to easily grab and enjoy. If you like MRC drop cookies or brownies in a mug, be sure to bring or buy the ingredients to make while you’re there. Know where you’ll be dining, then take a look at menus online ahead before getting to the restaurant so you save yourself from being overwhelmed in the moment. Avoid romanticizing the menu! Skim the selections, narrow it down to the healthiest options, and seek satisfaction from those choices.
Time management is also important while traveling. You might feel over-scheduled and things may get rushed or chaotic. That’s okay - this is where your planning comes into play. Always keep a drink and a bar in your purse, backpack or bag. Have those healthy snacks on hand and ready if and when needed. On the opposite of this spectrum, there may be moments while you’re on vacation where you feel like there’s too much free time. That’s okay, too! Take a walk or go for a swim, read that book you brought along, write in your journal or take a well-deserved nap. If you know there will be down time before you go, have these ideas ready in your mind. Keeping your mind and body occupied with a relaxing and enjoyable activity will prevent your hands from reaching for temptations. Again, this is where visualizing ahead of time helps when these situations arise!
While planning for success don’t forget something very important but often overlooked - returning home! Yes, think ahead to walking back through your door and not having to worry about that first meal after vacation. Decide before you travel what you will do until you can restock the fridge and pantry. Make a mental note before you leave of what you will prepare when you get back. You may be exhausted from your trip so maybe make and freeze a meal that can easily be thawed and heated. At the very least, have a meal replacement on hand for something quick and easy.
These are great ideas for an overall plan of action but if you feel like you need more specific goals, reach out to an MRC coach for guidance. Maybe it’s your first time camping or going on a cruise. Perhaps your trip will include a wedding, family reunion, or other event that is likely to include a meal. It can be helpful to talk things over before you leave, especially if you’ve never traveled while following a structured menu. Remember, your coaches are there to help, not to judge. Also, take a look back through articles, recipes and other resources on the MRC website to help you feel more prepared. Pro tip: save useful links on your phone or tablet so you can quickly access them later for a boost of focus and confidence. It may seem like a lot of planning and effort to eat healthy while on vacation, we promise but the sense of accomplishment you’re going to feel is well worth the effort!
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