a traveler’s guide to a healthful vacation

a traveler’s guide to a healthful vacation

Going on vacation means something similar to most people: relaxation, quality time with family and friends…and “cheating” on your diet and exercise plan. But does going on vacation really have to come at this cost? Is this even a cost at all??

I just spent a week with my family at our beach house in New Jersey. There were roughly 40 family members there, and that’s not even counting the fact that there are usually unaccounted people sleeping on porches, floors, and in laundry rooms (no exaggeration). With this many people in one place, food is always a topic of conversation. We take advantage of $5 Philly cheesesteaks on Wednesdays, order hoagies by the dozen, and pile PB&J’s on a plate to bring down to the beach for lunch. It’s never the most orderly of situations and making sure you’re quick enough to the table before it’s all gone definitely takes priority over portion control. Our family brings a whole new meaning to the expression, “you snooze, you lose.”

As a healthful and mindful eater, my eating certainly changes when I go to my beach house. But rather than become frustrated with the situation, I’ve learned to appreciate the culture. It’s the way it goes in a large family, and that’s something to embrace. The fact that we have to buy Family Size cereal, double packs of bread, and the largest containers of Philadelphia cream cheese that I have ever seen is a blessing; it means I have an unwavering network of supporters surrounding me.

Additionally, I’ve learned to accept that my diet will change a little bit while away, but that doesn’t mean it has to go completely south. Eating well makes me feel good, so I keep it a priority. Nutritious options are always present. We have lots of fruit and veggies. Salad is always available. And the Jersey tomatoes and blueberries are to die for. It’s a matter of not stuffing myself—even though there is always some sort of food out on the counter. Taking a little bit of this and a little bit of that is perfectly fine. There’s beauty in moderation.

My beach house is located on a flat, shade-less, 18-mile long island. This makes long runs painfully boring and excruciatingly hot, to say the least. I come from a family of athletes, so we all know it’s important for us to fit in our exercise. But since that’s more difficult while on vacation, we have developed other ways to keep active. We paddleboard, we surf, we swim, we bike, we use the skim board, we play football, spikeball, and volleyball.

Volleyball at the beach has been a wonderful addition to our competitive family. Although I didn’t maintain my typical running and working out routine while away, there was no need to overthink it; I kept very active each day. Also, at that point in time, playing sports with my family was what was calling me.

Sometimes we get so stuck in our own ways that we think anything out of routine, is wrong. This is why vacation can be tough. But it’s vacation! A vacation is a break from one’s day-to-day life. Give yourself the break that you deserve. It shouldn’t be stressful. Now, this break may include a deviation in what you’re used to in terms of food and exercise, but that’s okay! Being healthy isn’t all about eating a perfect diet and exercising just the right amount each day. It’s about total wellness. I look forward to the week spent with my family all year; this makes me healthy. Take advantage of what your vacation-place has to offer! Even a good walk on the beach will do the trick. The point is, don’t beat yourself up. You’re not going to backtrack because of one week that isn’t dedicated to reaching your wellness goals. Remember that wellness isn’t a final destination; it’s a journey. There is a lot that goes into being well. I, for one, can say with certainty that a week with my family definitely keeps me well.

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