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Recovering From Vacation

My family and I just returned last night from a vacation to Estes Park, Colorado. We hiked, swam in lakes and rivers, fished, and played lots of video games (this house had a classic arcade in it!). Vacations are a great way to disconnect and spend quality time together, but many of the routines and habits that I am used to engaging in are thrown out the window. I often eat what’s easy or just what sounds good. I usually don’t sleep enough because I am having too much fun. This is all OK, but you have to be able to reset and get back on track once the trip is over.

We had the best time! The photo above is me swimming in Dream Lake up high in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was cold and I loved it! I could go on about the benefits of cold-immersion therapy, but that’s not the purpose for this post.

Full disclosure time: I strayed far far far from my ideal diet and eating patterns on this trip. From the pizza pick-up on night one to the nightly homemade cookies and ice cream, I ate it all. I had breakfast everyday, snacked often, and ate more PB&J’s on hikes than I have had since 3rd grade. My workouts were all out of whack. I missed taking my supplements on half of the days. Guess what? I enjoyed every second of it. I never felt guilty. I never felt like a failure. I was completely and fully present and indulged in what I wanted. It wasn’t ALL bad either, sometimes what I wanted was a giant bowl of greens with olive oil, so I ate that too. We stayed active, stayed outside, and laughed A LOT.

Now that I am back home, it means back to reality and back to making decisions that will enhance my health beyond where it is today. Here are my go-to steps for getting things back on track after a vacation…

FASTING

I like to engage in a 24 hour fast to reset my diet after a vacation. It is actually rather convenient considering most people are out of fresh groceries when they return from a trip. During the 24 hours, I consume no calories. Just lots and lots of water. After that, fall back into the same eating pattern and timing that you have had success with in the past, for most of my readers, this is a narrow eating window. For someone who uses intermittent fasting regularly, I LOVE breakfast. When I vacation, I eat it! When I return home, I get back to consuming most of my calories between 6-8 hours per day.

HYDRATE

I will typically begin drinking more (more for me is 140 or more ounces) water than normal (normal for me is 100-120 ounces) as soon as I get back home. I will continue this for a few days. Traveling (especially air travel) has a tendency to dehydrate you. As well, I will increase my intake of electrolytes. I like to use Hi Lytes drops 2-3 times per day post-travel. If you are a vacation binge-drinker (I highly advise against this!) then you may want to continue hydrating like this for the 4-5 days after a trip.

GROCERY SHOP

It is going to be hard to get back on track without having access to the foods your body needs. Life seems to be busiest on the first day back to work after a vacation. Emails pile up. To-do lists get longer. It’s just the nature of how things go. Schedule in time on your first day back to go and buy some fresh produce to get you through the first few days back.

DO SOME EXERCISE

As I mentioned earlier, my workout routine was thrown out the window on vacation. I stayed active through hiking and other outdoor activities, but I didn’t step foot into a weight room. You cannot assume that you are going to just pick back up where you left off when you return from a trip. Getting exercise in after a vacation in crucial to getting back on track, but keep the intensity at a moderate level. For example, this morning I did some moderate intensity 60-second intervals on the Versaclimber and Technogym SkillMill, followed by some yoga/pilates/body weight movements. I usually take one to two weeks to ramp things back up to where I left off before the vacation. If you want some more info on the Technogym SkillMill, one of my favorite pieces of equipment of all-time, shoot me an email and I can fill you in on how to get a discount.

SLEEP AND SLEEP

Me taking a call on one of our hikes. Bad move on my part. I was just excited to get a signal.

If you are anything like me, you don’t sleep much on vacations. I like to stay up late because I don’t want to miss out on any fun. I also wake up early with my boys because we are all just way too excited for the new day’s adventures. And while there really is no such thing as “catch-up” sleep, the last thing you can afford to lose after returning from a trip is sleep. It can seem like there are an endless number of task to complete when you return, but pencil in sleep as priority #1. Set aside 8-9 hours to sleep for the first two days after a vacation. After that, 7-8 hours works well for most as long as it is quality sleep. For more tips on sleep, see last week’s post titled “10-3-2-1-0: Sleep and Productivity” and one from back several weeks ago titled “The Most Important Thing You Did Today…”.