Spring break is here!
Currently, I am ensconced with my baby girls right smack in the middle of the French Quarter in New Orleans (their choice).
I absolutely adore traveling. It’s such a necessary thing to get out of your environment and get a new perspective.
Most of all it’s critical to get a break from constantly working so hard — and all women know what I’m talking about.
Even if you’re not employed, you are working multiple jobs. Just being a mom means that you’re also a housekeeper, a cook, a personal shopper, a chauffeur, a teacher, and a therapist. All in addition to the mental load of having to stay ten steps ahead of everyone and anticipate their every need.
It’s exhausting, and I know I need a break from the chaos of my own life. But as much as we all need a vacation, there’s a problem with our mindset as we head off to the airport.
We approach vacation with the same intensity that we do our day-to-day lives. We work ourselves to death so that we can go completely crazy and blow it out for a week.
And then rather than return to our lives feeling relaxed and refreshed, we feel bloated, exhausted, and hungover — and filled with guilt that we went so overboard.
I can’t tell you how many vacations I’ve had like that.
I’m no stranger to trips that consisted of nothing but cleaned plates, downed pitchers, and abandoned workout routines.
But I know better now.
Blowing it Out Backfires
Pulling the ripcord and blowing it out on vacation is not just counterproductive to getting the relaxation you need — it’s also a recipe for feeling like a failure as soon as you step back into your busy life.
In order to truly enjoy your vacation — and to prevent yourself from having to start over at square one with your health when you return — what you need is a mindset shift. (Always and forever, everything comes back to how you think.)
The key is to embrace moderation.
For someone as all or nothing as I am, this is challenging to say the least. But I have some simple tactics that make it easy — and the benefits they bring far outweigh the effort required to implement them.
So whether you’re headed off to spring break or making your summer travel plans, keep these five tips in mind to stay in moderation mode:
Set your intention. This isn’t a blowout. It’s just another opportunity to stay on track health-wise and treat your body the way it deserves to be treated.
Decide before you even pack your suitcase that this trip is going to also be about you (and not just your family). It’s a chance to recharge your batteries — not drain them even more.
Be prepared. When you’re not in total control of your environment, unpredictable circumstances are likely to derail you. Pack healthy snacks in case your plane is delayed. Put bottled water in your suitcase in case your hotel doesn’t provide it. Take your exercise band with you if you won’t have access to a gym.
Just taking these small actions keeps you in a health mindset — it sends your brain a signal that you’re prepared to stay on track.
Start early. Proactively do something healthy at the start of your trip. Walk up and down the concourse at the airport before your flight leaves. Eat an apple on the car ride to the beach. Chug a bottle of water after you check in to the hotel.
Doing these things may seem trivial or inconsequential, but taking healthy action at the outset of your trip establishes a pattern that will give you momentum to continue throughout the trip.
Look for opportunities to add. When you’re thinking about all the things you’re trying not to do — drink too much, eat dessert, binge on chips and cheese dip — you’re in a willpower mindset, which backfires.
Look for ways to add something healthy. Do some pushups before you head down to the beach. Do a five-minute meditation before lunch. Eat some fresh fruit before dinner.
Even if you do have a few more drinks than you planned, knowing that you took a healthy action before you left the house keeps you from going completely crazy. Plus, everything counts. Every baby step you take contributes to a positive result.
Regroup. If you get off track a few days into your trip, start again the next day. Don’t let it derail you and send you on a binge. Go back to tip Number 1, re-set your intention, and move forward.
You “Deserve” Better
Your vacation should be a time for you to care for yourself. And eating enough food for three people and getting hammered for a week isn’t the way to do that.
Ditch the mindset of being “good” in the weeks leading up to your trip so you can be “bad.” Don’t use your vacation as an excuse to go crazy and then have to pay for it later.
By the way, maybe if we women weren’t so hard on ourselves all the time, we wouldn’t need a break so much. After all, the hardest work that women do is having to stand up to the voice of our inner critic, which is reinforced by the culture we live in.
You don’t “deserve” to blow it out on vacation — you deserve to care for your body, mind, and soul so that you can keep taking one small step at a time to live the healthy life you were meant to live.
Have a great trip!
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