“Ahh! I’m going on VACATION. My diet will be RUINED! I’m only packing sweatpants and big t-shirts. No point in even TRYING to be healthy…” Stop. Breathe. Don’t panic. It’s easier than you think.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Greetings and good morning from across the border! I’m currently on a two-week trek across the Pacific Northwest with my family. Oregon, check. Washington, check. Final stop: British Columbia.

I want to apologize to you, readers of my blog, for a lack of promised updates. I could use the old cliché of just being so busy and immersed with “life”… but let’s just say I haven’t been managing time as best as I could have. So let’s dive right in; I’ve been crafting this blog entry since our flight outta Texas and I know you’ll find plenty of good info today.

It’s mid-June and that means summer is just about here – 5 days away, in fact, from the time I am writing this blog! For many, that means the return of that glorious summer vacation.

But whether you’re just sneaking away for a weekend at a B&B or taking a two-week tour of a new city, you DON’T have to (nor do you want to) sabotage all of your valiant efforts of crafting and maintaining a better, leaner and healthier body. That’s what I want to talk with you about today.

I’m blessed to be a mentor/coach/speaker/jack-of-all-trades at a summer weight-loss “Biggest Loser”-type program at a hospital near where I live. We met a couple of weeks ago for a group discussion and the main topic and cause for concern for the participants was the fact that they were going to be headed on some type of summer vacation.

Summer vacation is a time for relaxation and enjoyment; the last thing I want you to do is worry ’round-the-clock about “Oh gosh, can I eat this big cookie from the bakery? Well, if we walk for 30 more minutes, maybe.” … or, “I’m not touching any sugar on this trip. None. At all.” … or my favorite, “No, y’all go ahead and order. I’m not going to eat anything.” and just drink water while your family dines. THAT’S NOT A VACATION.

HOWEVER… on that same note, a vacation is NOT a time to just open your mouth and serve as garbage disposal to any food item around you.
There must be a balance. And I’m certain that you know that. Recognize that: balance. Respect your body. It’s not a t-shirt or a toy; you can’t replace it.

So, coupling my vacation experiences with the questions and concerns many within the weight-loss group had, let’s address some points that may be of inner-contention during a vacation… and compare them with reality.

  • MYTH: I’m going to be away from home and away from my safe bubble. I won’t be in control of the situation, hence not in control of food choices.
    REALITY: Every week I make it a point to try a few new restaurants. Variety is, after all, the spice of life. This is where planning and preparation come into play.
    – If you’ve heard me speak about a life-changing revolution, you know those are two of the biggest factors in success – planning and preparation.
    Research restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, etc. BEFORE your trip. Just like you’re mapping out museums, lining up landmarks and penciling in places for the kids, do a little checking on where you all may like to dine. But be “light” about it (cheap pun intended).  Here’s what I mean by that:
    I tell my clients this all the time: Deep down, you know what food is good for you and your body and what will wreck, tear and fatten you up. Peruse menus. Look for key words that fit your diet life-changing revolution. If you normally do a nutritional calculator/counter, you’ve trained your mind and you know – generally speaking – what’s in what. There’s no way you’ll be able to keep up jotting down every percentage of saturated fat. But you have a good sense of which “foods” are over the top.
    You might think you are not in control of the food situation… but all you need is a little planning and preparation. Combined, they go a long, long way.
    – Did you know (this applies outside of vacation too, obviously) most restaurants will make accommodations for you if you just ask?!
    Example: I’m with my family during this trip. A couple of them were dead-set on stopping for lunch at this “wood-fired pizza” restaurant. Why yes, I DID feel the white-flour dough and greasy cheese sticking to my love handles upon hearing the news.   But before agreeing to their buffet, I *planned and prepared* by looking at their menu of customizable pizzas. I ended up having the team whip up for me this little number: A personal pizza rolled very flat, drizzled with olive oil in lieu of sauce, light on the feta cheese and then piled high with every veggie on the menu. Delish! And, quite frankly, probably something some gourmet pizza shop would sell for 3x the price.
    – Remember to keep up the important tips you would any time you’re dining out: A glass (8 oz. – which in many restaurants nowadays is like half-a-glass) of water before digging in.  Drinking some water during your meal.  Savoring, enjoying and experiencing your meal for at LEAST 20-minutes (It takes time for the “I’m full! Take it away!”-trigger to go from your stomach to your brain.)
    You are in control.  You are in charge.  Feels good, doesn’t it?
  • MYTH: “That airport food – there’s nothing good in there. My diet’s going to be shot within the first two hours.”  Or, “there’s nothing healthy along an Interstate. My diet’s down the drain the first time we stop.”
    REALITY:  This isn’t a diet!! Stop telling yourself that! You are taking part in a lifelong way of change. Once you reach your target goal, whatever that may be, you’re not going to revert to old habits, are you? I would hope not. To that extent, you must remember those two P words – planning and preparation. Road trip? If you’re going to be sitting in a car for a good amount of time, just sedentary, the last thing you want to do is eat big, fatty, sugary meals. All you’re doing is sitting while the fat molds to your worst possible places. Pack light, pack fresh, pack plenty of water. Fruit; crunchy vegetables; if you eat meat, lean turkey sandwiches; nuts, etc. Get out and stretch often. Reload at a grocery store if your trip is that long. No need to slobber-up to a 1,500-calorie diner death trap. Flying? Eat before your flight so you won’t eat the crap being dished out on planes. There are many acceptable eateries inside the terminals, from Asian fare serving monster veggie wraps to American establishments with seafood and sandwiches on wheat.
    – Did you know you can take whole, uneaten fruit in your carry-on bag if you’re flying? You can also pack many fresh foods to your heart’s content! Do a quick Google search of the latest TSA travel rules… I think you’ll be surprised.
  • MYTH: The motel’s free breakfast is there so I’m going to eat it.
    REALITY: The motel’s free breakfast is there so you are going to eat it.
    Yes. Do it. Listen, I’m a 23-year-old broke college kid. One of the first things we learn in the higher-educational womb is to (almost) never turn down a free meal. But remember, balance. There must be one for success. You know this. Now put it it into play.
    I’ve attached a photo of a breakfast at one of my motel stays.
    WP_20130612_004Why on earth would you gorge, gobble up and graze post-meal on sugar-fat-butter-fat-fat-fat muffins, danishes, mystery gravy from gallon-sized aluminum tubs (I saw this, personally, being hauled in from a deliverer), and cereal coated with phony colors and even phonier ingredients.
    – Instead, eat the most real, most natural food available.  I have stayed so far at a La Quinta and a Best Western. Both are modest motels with free breakfast. Both had unsweetened oatmeal (the latter hotel had it already made and in a crock pot!), fresh fruit (both had apples, oranges and bananas), scrambled eggs (sure, they were not from freshly-cracked eggs, but you take what you can get), yogurt (which I don’t recommend because 99% of flavored ones contain HFCS, but if you need your sweet tooth satisfied, this is 10x better than eating an entire muffin), skim milk, hot tea and delicious coffee. Boom! Right there, a full, filling, balanced breakfast of protein, fiber, grains, fruit. Best Western (shout-out: The Navigator Inn & Suites location in Everett, Wash. even had gluten-free granola as an offering, next to the Raisin Bran and Froot Loops!)
    If you’re tempted by the fake shit (really, there is no way else to describe the plastic-wrapped “food” that stays “good” for a year or more), remember to always drink a glass of water before starting your breakfast.  What typically works for me is reminiscing back to the last time I “indulged” on that crap and how bloated and inflamed I got… and just how awful I felt. (By the way, blog post on that soon).
  • MYTH: I won’t be able to get in any exercise, so why even try?
    REALITY: Have you ever realized how much walking is done during a vacation? Someone in my family tracked our trek walking throughout downtown Seattle and in just half-a-day, we walked 4+ miles! And we’re talking Seattle – hills, inclines, fast-paced street walking.
    – If you truly stop and think about the amount of time spent being active without a gym or a running trail, I’m confident you will feel more confident about staying active. For us, Portland was a walk-fest, as was Seattle… and our next stop Vancouver will be even more so, because our motel is in the heart of downtown. (P.S. If you walk in any downtown metro, you’ll be pushed [literally?] to walk faster to keep up with the pace of everyone else. And that’s a good thing.)
    – And if your destination isn’t immediately an active location, make it one! Planning. Preparation. Explore the old town square, park a mile from where you’ll be tourist’ing (this doubles as a frugal tip – the closer you get to parking lots of major destinations/sights, the pricier they are) and hoof it over there, etc.
    But as we say in the TV world, “But wait… there’s more!”
    – I will have stayed in three motels – not lavish hotels; motels – upon the completion of my trip and they either have small gyms or free passes to nearby, full-size gyms. At least a treadmill, elliptical, bicycle and weights.  Most motels and hotels do. I know an hour is asking a lot on a vacation, so dedicate just 30 minutes a day. Just 30! That’s it! 15 on the tread, 15 on the elliptical. Or 30 on one. Even better, get outside and go a little harder than walking. Portland had some of the most spectacular trails I’ve ever experienced. Again, a little planning and preparation go a very long way. Practically any travel guide (or hello, Google!) has a ‘recreational’ or ‘adventure’ section. Make it fun. Bring the family.

There may be a few more tips I’m forgetting, but this is what I jotted down after our group discussion and after nearly a week on my trip across the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  If you have wellness/health/fitness tips while traveling, SHARE them with us in the comments below or contact me!

Pitch time: If you or someone you know wants a life-changing revolution, or are just looking for ways to be healthier, be more active, eat better and need some help or guidance, contact me.  I train, consult and work with people of all ages.

- J-Lo
(832) 647-5142
josephrobertolopez@gmail.com
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One response to ““Ahh! I’m going on VACATION. My diet will be RUINED! I’m only packing sweatpants and big t-shirts. No point in even TRYING to be healthy…” Stop. Breathe. Don’t panic. It’s easier than you think.

  1. Brandon De Hoyos

    Marry me.

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