I’m just going to start this off by saying that the best way to ruin a perfectly good vacation is by stressing about staying healthy during your vacation. It’s pretty simple. I am a strong believer that vacation is a time to relax and enjoy yourself, sample local cuisine, and “refresh” mentally, and I can’t think of a better way to ruin all of that than to worry the entire time about calories, macros, and diets. I recently read a blog post, which I won’t link to, where the author described her latest trip to Italy, and how strictly she counted (and restricted) carbs during her time there.
I’m sorry, what?
I’m pretty sure that when I was in Italy years ago, I ate almost exclusively bread, pasta, pizza and gelato. And there was absolutely nothing wrong with that — who goes to Italy and skips out on the home made pasta, anyway? My point being, vacation is not a time to restrict and to stress about all of that. That’s not to say that it’s a time to be a glutton and stuff yourself to the gills every day, but there’s a lot of wiggle room between those two ends of the health spectrum.
As I mentioned last week, Will and I just recently got back from our Honeymoon in Mexico (hence the blog absence lately). We were just outside of Playa del Carmen, at the gorgeous Valentin Imperial Maya resort, and it was true paradise. The grounds of the resort were beautiful, the beach and pool were incredible, and the food/drinks/entertainment at the resort were great– I would go back there in a heartbeat!
Going into the trip, I had no strict plan on how to “eat healthy” or how to keep up my healthy lifestyle. Sure, I brought workout clothes, but I didn’t have a set of rules about what types of foods I would stick to, or how many times I would work out. I just wanted to go and enjoy myself.
As it turned out, I ate a lot. I ate a lot of carbs, a lot of chips and guacamole, a lot of delicious desserts, and I also had my fair share of adult beverages (because… tequila). And you know what I didn’t think, not even once? About how many carbs I had been eating. I was able to get in about 3 pretty good (but quick) workouts, and just because of the nature of the resort and how we spent our days, was taking upwards of 15,000-20,000 steps most days (these get tracked on my phone automatically).
But if we’re here to talk about staying healthy, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Despite all that I ate and drank, I did not gain any weight on this vacation. I attribute this to a couple of things: I’m pretty good at knowing my limits, and lack of stress, baby.
As far as limits go, sure, there were a few times where I stuffed myself silly — for instance, the night that we stopped at this amazing little restaurant in Playa for just a drink, and ended up having several drinks, tons of chips and guacamole, and the most amazing thing ever — roasted grasshoppers! (More on that later). When we got back to the resort that night, I was so full it was uncomfortable, and that’s something I generally try to avoid in my daily life (usually a good goal). However, that day we had walked a ton, and I had kept my breakfast and lunch pretty light. I’m sure it didn’t balance out perfectly, but there was a constant ebb and flow of indulgence throughout the week instead of stuffing myself every time I sat down to eat.
Breakfasts were usually yogurt with fruit and granola, lunch at the resort was usually a salad or a couple of chicken fajitas. Dinner was where I had my splurges, and trust me, there were plenty. Desserts were plentiful, multiple glasses of wine were had every night, and there were usually multiple courses involved in meals. But like I said before, I know my limits when it comes to food, and was so invested in enjoying food, drinks, and experiences, that I wasn’t eating just to eat. I was trying new foods, eating the ones that I truly loved, and leaving the ones that were just so-so. I was moving a lot, but I think more importantly, I wasn’t stressing out about, well, anything.
Stress affects your body in a lot of ways, some good, but too much stress can be severely detrimental when it comes to your body’s natural homeostasis and metabolism. Not only does stress affect us mentally, but it is also a physical bully. Sleep problems, metabolism problems, blood sugar problems — when it comes to health, too much stress is never your friend. So please tell me why I would ruin my perfectly good vacation by stressing out both mentally and physically about carbs, calories, and macros? By focusing on just being free and enjoying every moment of our trip, I was able to stay in a healthy place. And I really believe that the lack of stress played a huge part of that, despite my food and drink indulgences.
And besides, even if I had gained a couple of pounds on the trip, every thing would still be worth it. Every morsel I ate, every ounce of tropical cocktails and tequila, every moment spent basking in the sun aside the Caribbean Sea. Life is about experiences and joy, not just about calories and diets.
For instance, lets talk about those grasshoppers that I mentioned above. That was an experience I’ll never forget — and let me tell you, despite how they look, they were absolutely delicious. We actually went back the very next night for more roasted grasshoppers, that’s how good they were! And besides that tasty new food, I also ate a ton of guacamole on the trip (the best guac I’ve ever had in my life), endless tortilla chips, and some absolutely amazing pork and chorizo tacos.
I love to try local cuisine when I travel, and when doing that, any food “rules” or guidelines go straight out the window for me. If I had tried to stick to salads and “healthy” foods all week, I would have missed out on so much deliciousness, and also so much of the culture, in my opinion. To each his own when it comes to travel, but I’l take experiences and culture over diet rules any day. Soon I’ll be putting together a post with a lot of the amazing food we ate and also the workouts I did while there. I was going to include that today, but it’s just too much for one post! Here’s a few more pictures though, just because I can’t help sharing 🙂
This was taken while wandering around Playa del Carmen
Ahhh Paradise… when can I go back?
Readers: Do you follow strict health guidelines while on vacation? Do you have any tips or tricks to staying healthy on vacation? Do you prefer relaxing trips or exploring trips?