You start with the best of intentions. You know you’ll feel better and look better in your vacation photos if you drop ten pounds. You realize sightseeing in those fabulous European capitals will be so much more fun if you’re reasonably fit before you go!
That first week, you’re all fired up. You can see how great you’re going to look in that photo in front of the Eiffel Tower or standing alongside the Colosseum. You’ve just booked a walking tour of Venice and you’re determined to be ready. You fall asleep with visions of sugarplums and slim, fit, superhero YOU taking the town by storm dancing through your head.
That second week – not so fired up. Your visions of a fit, sparkly YOU carousing through the capitals of Europe seems less a vision and more a mirage. Social mores demand that you lunch with friends, celebrate so-and-so’s birthday, and keep your standing Sunday brunch date. Invariably a heat wave ensues, and the thought of jogging or taking a walk or riding your bike seems so… unappealing. Your trip is six weeks away, and you are smack dab in the middle of a Fitness and Diet Backslide.
Here are a few tips gleaned from my many years of counseling and coaching to help jump-start your resolve and get you back on track for a terrific travel experience:
1. Expect to be less than perfect, and plan what you’re going to say to yourself after you’ve eaten enough for a family of 4 in one sitting, or found yourself shell-shocked holding a spoon in one hand and an empty pint of Ben & Jerry’s in the other. It is what happens after one of these incidents that determines whether you’ll be successful or not. Limit the damage by immediately creating a finish line for the indulgence. “So that happened! Time to get back on track… this ends now”. Don’t be fooled by that little voice that tells you, ‘now you’ve blown it – you’ve failed so just eat whatever you want!’ Remember – a pound equals 3500 calories, so you probably only gained a fraction of a pound, even though it felt like you blew it.
2. That extra tiredness you’re feeling if you’ve just started exercising again will likely be gone sometime in this second week. Ditto if you’ve been feeling hungrier because you’re exercising. Hang in there! And make sure you’re getting enough sleep to feel rested when you wake. Did you know most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night? If you’re getting a lot less, know this: tiredness will open the door to backsliding, guaranteed!
3. If you’ve had bad experiences with complicated diets in the past, try this: focus on eating to feel good after the meal is over. What tends to make us feel bad after a meal? Too much food, eating heavy items with lots of fat and/or sugar, eating too fast, skipping plant-based, higher fiber foods, cleaning our plate (and others’ plates!) – all things that cause us to gain weight.
4. How long has it been since you woke up hungry with your stomach growling? When you eat large dinners and snack or drink late into the evening, it is easy to lose that hungry-for-breakfast feeling. Begin a quest to re-discover morning hunger. You may decide to eat half as much at dinner, or to not eat at all after 7 pm, for example. A big plus in feeling hungry in the morning: skipping breakfast slows your metabolism and makes it harder to lose weight.
5. Finding it hard to stay on track with exercise? Do a little Internet research and find out more about your trip. Look at images of the places you’ll be walking or sightseeing. Will you need to climb castle towers or cathedral stairs? Make your trip real to stay motivated!
6. Join forces with a travel buddy. Challenge each other to a contest. Enjoy the friendly competition as it spurs you to lose those pounds and walk those miles. Make it public by posting on your Facebook page or announcing your goal to family or friends. Studies show that making it social and public will increase the likelihood of your success!
Don’t let yourself be stopped by pre-travel fitness and diet backsliding! Use the tips above to outsmart The Backslide, and enjoy taking a slimmer, fitter you to see the world.