3 Questions to Help You Enjoy Vacation While On a Diet

You don't have to choose between going on a vacation-long binge and spending your trip counting calories. Find balance by asking yourself these 3 simple questions.

When I wake up in my own bed, I have a lot of thoughts about what must be done that day. My first thoughts are almost all about needs and responsibilities, not wants. When I go on vacation, though, the moment of waking up is all about possibility: it’s about making sure that I get excited about every part of what I’m about to experience.

Unfortunately, one thing that can snap me out of my vacation mindset—that space where I seek possibilities rather than trying to check everything off my to-do list—is trying to lose weight or meet fitness goals. If I’m on a vacation but I still am trying to count calories or get in enough training for an upcoming road race, I tend to wake up thinking about those goals rather than about enjoyment and being in the moment.

For that reason, I’ve started giving myself permission to let go of my goals for a little while during vacation. However, I don’t give myself a free pass to indulge however I want. Rather, I’ve come up with three questions that I ask myself that help me balance my health goals with my enjoyment of the trip:

Is today’s vacationing already more active than a day at the office?

If you look at most sightseeing days, you spend a ton of time on your feet. Even a day at the beach often involves jumping around in the waves, walking on sand, or swimming. If I know I’m going to get some movement in, I try to let go of the more tightly planned schedules of fitness and exercise.

How can I try the most new or lovely food experiences without going solely for quantity?

Vacation places may sometimes have a reputation for big portions or even all-you-can-eat experiences, but I find that I can usually figure out a way to try a small amount of a bunch of lovely foods rather than focusing on the maximum amount of tasty calories. The method this took with my most recent family trip was getting multiple appetizers and dishes that were shareable and eating a bit of each with my family. Sure, the meal was probably still more food than a home-cooked meal, but it wasn’t just me eating a giant bowl of cheesy shrimp and grits – it was a bunch of smaller experiences, all lovely, and all memorable.

What does my body really want right now to enjoy the rest of the vacation most thoroughly?

Rather than saying I have to take a run or I have to eat a salad, vacation is a great time for me to think, “What will make me feel the least icky on the long plane flight?” or “What will fuel me best for a day of sightseeing?” Often, the things that make me feel best are a good run and a shower, or a salad complete with avocado and pecans. Rather than what I have to do, this allows me to make proactive choices for my body.

Make it WayBetter

How can you make a choice to live in the moment in your daily life AND your vacation time? Commit to savoring the moments rather than just thinking about your goals; it’s sometimes easier to reach those goals when you let go of the reins for a little bit.