How Kristen Stays Healthy on Vacation

Ziplining burned plenty of calories, but the trembling I did while crossing a rope bridge and facing one of my biggest fears was what really torched ’em. Yes, that smile is fake. No, we did not keep the sexy hairnets.

We’re going on vacay for this edition of Question of the Week! Okay, so we’re not technically “going” anywhere, but we are discussing how we stay healthy—or purposely and delightfully choose not to—when on vacation!

When I’m home, I’m pretty busy. I rarely keep my work week to 40 hours (especially if you count all the time I check my phone after hours or respond to “just one email”), and it’s not unusual for me to have obligations several nights out of the week. Add into that cooking, cleaning, taking care of dogs, and spending some quality time with my husband catching up on our favorite shows (Shut up; vegging on the couch and giving each other fist bumps for correctly guessing the latest shocking twist on Law & Order: SVU is totally a bonding activity!), and I don’t have a lot of spare time. I get in workouts, don’t you worry, but aside from the occasional duty-free weekend, I don’t generally get to focus entire days on just doing what feels good.

And that’s exactly what vacations are for, right?

The way I see it, I rarely have more free time than when I’m on vacation, and that means I have extra time to get in some workouts that have been pushed to the wayside. I can go for a long run (assuming I’m somewhere safe) and take my time. I can stop, walk, take pictures, you name it. I can take a new class at a gym nearby or take advantage of whatever fitness amenities my hotel has to offer.

Or, I can not, if that’s what my body seems to need.

My husband and I both try to stay pretty active on vacations. When planning activities, we’re always on the lookout for hiking or paddleboarding or, you know, whatever sounds cool in the area. And that’s a good thing, because our favorite way to get to know a new city is to walk around, stop and have a drink or a snack in whatever restaurant or bar looks fun or has a great view. We love trying local foods and house specialties that we might not find at home, and we also love finding ways to recreate them (and make them a bit more healthful) when we get home. The walking around and befriending the locals doesn’t burn off all the calories we consume, no doubt, but that’s why we kayaked or rode our bikes that morning, you know?

(Also, while I’m being practical, I also have to say that we often look for hotels with a kitchenette, especially if we’re on the beach or something. It’s far easier to fill up on fresh fruit or snack on yogurt if it’s right there!)

The most important way I stay healthy on vacation, though, has nothing to do with food or exercise. When I’m on vacation—really, truly on vacation, and not working from a fun hotel—I try my very best to unplug entirely. I can be a bit of a workaholic, and boy, is it hard to stay away from all the social media sites. But when I do, even if it’s just for a few days, my goodness, does it make a difference. After all, fitness isn’t just about the body; it’s about the mind, too.

I feel like this is a healthy balance for my family and me. Sure, we could focus more on loading up on vegetables or doing hardcore workouts, but the thing that’s important to me is that time off is enjoyable. It’s too rare in this household to take it for granted! How about you? —Kristen

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  1. Katie H. says:

    Love these ideas! That’s how my hubby and I do vacations too. On our honeymoon, we ran almost every day, and stopped to do workouts on the beach or at area playgrounds. We also had a small kitchen in our room, so we ate breakfast and lunch from our fridge almost every day.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Kay A. says:

    What I love about your post is that you eloquently show how living healthy does not have to be this horrible and trying thing that you have to do because your doctor tells you to lose weight. You take true vacations and listen to your body to see what it needs, and it is encouraging to hear that sometimes you actually are yearning for that long run or that new workout you heard about. To get to the point where doing workouts becomes such a pleasurable experience that you want to work out during vacation is a great state of mind to aspire to. It’s very encouraging.

    Thanks for the post!

  3. Katie H. says:

    I just wanted to let you know I’ve nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I’ve really enjoyed reading all of your fitness and nutrition tips. You’ve inspired me to try some new things in my own life, and I really appreciate it. You can read more about the award in my latest post here: http://fitbuttfabulous.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/who-me/

    Thanks for being inspirational!

    1. Jenn says:

      Awww, thanks so much, Katie. H! 🙂

      –FBG Jenn

  4. Sarah says:

    Time off is so important, especially for mental health! Loved these tips and ideas for staying healthy in a new place though. It’s easy to sneak in exercise when it’s as enjoyable as sightseeing in a new city or playing watersports on the beach.

  5. Holly J. says:

    Vacation is all about taking time for yourself mentally, but if your mind also decides that it wants to take care of your body by working out as well then that’s an added bonus. I love how you can have a workout on holiday if you feel the need but won’t always push yourself if you feel like resting. I personally struggle with switching off, I can’t seem to stop myself from checking social media sites or my work emails. If only I had your level of discipline.