I started writing this post from the beautiful island of Jamaica. It was sunny, the ocean was super blue, the birds were chirping. I could even hear some reggae music in the background, just to remind me that I’m not on some other Carribbean island…ahhh Jamaica.
I entered into my vacation with the same high hopes that most of us have. I’ve been doing so well with my workouts to get to beach bod (not perfect, definitely needs more work) so it would be great to continue to be fit and maybe even see some additional progress. I have a few options. I can wake up early before everyone else and go for a run. I could do a bodyweight workout early in the day. I could go for a run on the beach between lounging.
Nope. None of this happened. Not even close.
My workout routines almost always fall apart when I go on vacation. It’s to the point where I need to accept that vacation is going to be a week of exactly that – vacation. Anything that I do that is fitness-related is just a bonus. For this trip, I found more organic ways to eat healthy, get activity, and enjoy some other great health benefits.
The best workout while you’re on vacation: enjoying vacation
Let’s talk about how.
Taking in the scenery and naturally enjoying the healthy things
At one point, we wanted a nice section of the beach to relax. Our driver dropped us off at one restaurant, but it happened to be closed for the evening (we got a late start that day) so we proceeded to stroll down the beach until we found something better. It turned into a 2 mile walk, and it was absolutely beautiful! It didn’t feel like a long walk because we were so engrossed in the beauty and nice conversation. I can’t think of a better way to reach my Fitbit goals.
A little “water kissing the toes” action.
Later that day, I enjoyed an amazing meal that happened to be really healthy. A natural way to enjoy the environment and stay pretty healthy is to simply indulge in the local cuisine. Sure, you’ll find a lot of the crappy, fried foods that you would get at any place, but I find that there are usually really interesting healthy options too. In Jamaica, they do something magical to their veggies – I don’t know what it is but they’re seasoned to perfection. On a previous trip to Bali, they had the freshest, tastiest juices I’ve ever tasted. I also had some really great salads and lean meats (jerk chicken all day!) in Jamaica. So the things that we may find boring at home, may actually be amazing on vacation.
A delicious crab and shrimp salad that enjoyed at one of the beach restaurants.
I attempted to get a scuba diving certification a couple of months ago (long story on why that didn’t work out), but that experience happened to make me a better swimmer and snorkeler. We went snorkeling one day and it was absolutely beautiful. The reef was full of aquatic life and I also just enjoyed being in the water. For the most part, it didn’t feel like work, but my calfs and upper back were just sore enough later to let me know that I did put in work. There were also other little moments in the water where I was a active, like wading around in the pool and enjoying little energy bursts between laying out on the beach. It’s not quite laps in the swimming pool, but it was definitely more active than just laying around.
Right after snorkeling. Feeling refreshed.
Completely immersing in relaxation
There’s something to be said about completely disengaging from work and enjoying a vacation. Vacation helps you lower stress, decrease the risk of hypertension, and helps you ge ta better outlook on life. It’s so refreshing to let go of the problems associated with your work or personal life, (they will be there waiting for you later anyway) and to let your only problem be what to have for dinner, or which bikini to wear to the beach.
Now, I will say that once I returned, I had a hard time getting rid of my vacation brain. I was much less efficient and intense at work. It sucks to not be as “on point” however, it’s probably great that I’m a little less attentive for a change. Even if we can’t feel the effects of stress on our health, it may still be there. Also, you never know what types of novel, creative ideas you may have now that you’re in a different frame of mind.
One of the final scenes from Mad Men: Don Draper went on a yoga retreat and when he returned to work at his advertising agency, he created one of the best commercials ever. Vacation brain at it’s finest.
It’s a vacation – might as well enjoy it!
So, with that said let’s all stop putting pressure on ourselves to do something unrealistic and forced, and focus more on what will actually happen. Of course, if you have a habit of working out while on vacay, definitely do it. I’m actually really good at being active on vacations where I stay in a hotel with a nice gym, so it depends on the circumstances. However, I know that on my tropical, beach vacays, I have to find other ways to be active – and that’s okay. Sometimes the best way to stay healthy is to let it happen naturally.