The fan is gently spinning above me, the roosters are having their morning ritual in the distance, the stars are still out and no other family-being is stirring. It would be VERY easy for me to close my eyes again and go back to my blissful Mexican dreams. But I know this is the moment that defines my day. Don’t get me wrong, some days I do close my eyes, but MOST I get out of bed at this very moment. I know I need to start my day early with quiet, coffee, creativity, and then with conditioning (aka physical activity).
My family and I love to travel on a regular basis. Monthly we take day trips, bi-monthly we take overnight trips, quarterly we take long weekends, and twice a year we are away for ten days to over a month. As you can see it is critical for me to consciously make a commitment to staying active during our time away. If I took all these times away from home and made them extended workout rest days (which are equally as important – see below for more info on that), I likely wouldn’t be any closer to my health and fitness goals by the end of the year.
So how does one motivate themselves to balance soaking up the sun rays, eating cake, pool cannonballs and pj parties with workouts, runs, and muscle strengthening? The following are effective tools I recommend using to stay active and on track with your fitness goals while you are away from your everyday routine:
1. Pick something you love to do. What physical activity gets you excited to move your body? Running, paddling, strength training, tennis, yoga? Or maybe nothing seems to float your boat? If that’s the case then just try something you THINK you might enjoy and keep repeating until you find something that gets you at least a little more excited about moving.
2. Make a schedule for yourself. I know, I know, who wants a schedule when you are on holidays or jammed with back to back out of town meetings? Probably not you. But make this your exception. Call it something else if you need too. Just trust me, do it. Write down which days you will move your body, and put it up somewhere for all to see. Make the commitment to those days and tell your co-workers or family members you have meetings during these time slots.
3. Think quality not quantity. Workouts do not have to be 1.5 hours long to give you the benefits you are after. 15 minutes of high intensity movements is sometimes better than those that go to the gym for 1 hour and chat with their buddies for 20 minute of that. Think interval sprints, or HIIT workouts. Work hard for the time you allot, stay focused and on track, and sweat your shirt off.
4. Plan for your rest days. Be conscious about your bodies need for a break. Plan for them ahead a time AND plunk them in last minute if your body is calling for more. Vacations are the perfect time for extra recovery, so if you normally take 1 day off a week, take 3 now. Or If you normally take 5 days off, take 2 now.
5. Review and make a detailed plan the night before. One of the last things I do before bed is review my tentative plans for the next day. I review the schedule, look up workouts, check the weather and write down the workout I will complete. This sticky note then rests in my running shoes which get put out with my workout clothes in a very visible spot. This is a reminder not just for me, but for the others around me to show my accountability to my plan and schedule.
6. Be creative. Have fun. Make up workouts. Let the kids join in. Rent a paddle board. Jump on a trampoline. Go for a swim with a kid on your back. Grab your backpack and go for a run to the grocery store. Find some rocks and logs to throw around. Make your workout different and fun and it will ALSO challenge your body while it relaxes your mind.
Be it a Christmas out of town visit, a beach vacation, or a business trip, it is hard to stay active when we are out of our comfortable routine and environment. But with a little bit of practice, out of the box thinking, and a tad bit of planning, you can enjoy both R&R AND continued focused on your fitness and health goals. Make fitness a lifestyle not a chore.