How to enjoy your holiday and have a well-deserved break from dieting and working out.

You’ve dieted hard for 12 weeks and spent hours working out for your ‘summer body’. Essentially, the underlying purpose behind your hard work and determination in the kitchen and in the gym was so that you could feel more confident in your bikini and actually enjoy your holiday more. But as your holiday creeps closer, you’re getting anxious thoughts popping through your head….

‘What if I gain back all the weight I lost?’

‘What if there aren’t healthy food options?’

‘Should I still do cardio on holiday?’

These thoughts and worries can become so overwhelming that it can ruin your holiday altogether if you allow it to. It’s really sad that so many of us are afraid of relaxing for just a week or two because of calories, cardio, muscle loss and macros.

Will a weeks holiday ruin all of my progress?

… No! One week of eating in a calorie surplus will not make you ‘fat’ nor will it undo months of dieting and hard-work. You will not lose your hard earned muscle or strength in a 7 day break from the gym. In fact, having a well deserved rest from working out and strict dieting will more than likely benefit you, both physically and psychologically.

(DISCLAIMER: I’m not endorsing that you eat like a pig. If you literally eat everything in sight, avoid healthy foods at all costs, consume high calorie drinks and binge til you feel sick, then you probably will do a bit of damage. BUT if you want to let your hair down and chill out with your diet and exercise, I want to assure you that your body really isn’t going to change much at all!)

I thought it would be appropriate to write a post on this topic as it’s summer, and I’ve just got back from a weeks holiday to Turkey. Having suffered with disordered eating, I’m actually really proud of myself whilst I was on holiday as I didn’t restrict myself whatsoever.

Obsessed with body composition and fear of weight gain.

In the past, I found it almost impossible to relax and take a break from ‘fitness’ and dieting when on holiday. A few years back on holiday, every morning I would force myself to do a (bloody intense) 30 minute HIIT workout in a minuscule room; with no air con, whilst my family were chilling by the pool. I would practice ‘intermittent fasting’ as a way to restrict food for as long as possible in the day time and I would make myself do a certain amount of lengths in the pool to burn calories. I remember feeling so anxious about food that on the first day I searched the local shop (which resulted in desperately looking in about 10 shops) to buy 0% fat yogurt…and *shock horror* they didn’t have any. These behaviours were simply due to pure fear that a few days off would drive me into obesity. It sounds ridiculous, and deep down I knew that it wouldn’t, but these obsessive thoughts forced me to waste time and mental energy, which instead I could’ve used to enjoy myself with my family.

However on the flip side, the past few holidays I’ve been on, I ate what I wanted with no restrictions or negative connotations around my food choices. This doesn’t mean I ate like a pig with no consideration for health; I still had salads, fruits and vegetables. However, I wouldn’t feel guilty if I have a huge meal followed by ice-cream and then woke up and went for pancakes the next morning.

Also, on my last holiday I didn’t go to the gym once, nor did I force myself to do any cardio. The weeks leading up to my holiday, my muscles felt so fatigued and were taking so long to recover from my workouts; so I knew I needed a proper rest from weight-training and cardio altogether. However, me and my boyfriend did a lot of exploring which meant that we *unintentionally* walked 10,000-20,000 steps a day; so we were still very active!

I’m not saying you should avoid working out or eating healthy on holiday, but if you’re doing it simply because of an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise, then it’s really not helping you whatsoever. If you want to work out or count macros on holiday then go for it! But if you feel trapped, and your obsessions regarding your body composition are fueling unnecessary behaviours on holiday, you’ve got to make yourself believe that a week ‘off’ isn’t going to change you one bit!

So even though I ate a lot and I consumed foods that are considered “naughty” and “unhealthy”, I don’t regret it at all. Although I felt VERY bloated and a bit ‘fluffier’ when I got home, my body really hadn’t changed a significant amount whatsoever. It’s so empowering and refreshing to know that a week off; enjoying nice food and taking a break from the gym isn’t going to change your body composition at all in the long run.

Don’t trust the numbers on the scale!

I also wanted to touch on scale weight. Before my holiday I weighed around 124lbs (I usually sit comfortably around 127lbs). On the last day, me and my boyfriend decided to weigh ourselves – purely out of curiosity. The scales said I was 134 lbs!!! 10 lbs heavier… If I didn’t know better, I would’ve believed I had gained 10lbs of fat in a week. Bare in mind, I weighed myself after a week of eating A LOT of carbs, I was holding on to excess water weight, I felt extremely bloated and this was also after a full day of eating (waffles covered in chocolate, ice-cream and bread included). I weighed myself again 4 days after I got home, and I’m back down to 126lbs. (Moral of the story = don’t weigh yourself after a weeks holiday. It’s more than likely going to give you a very false representation of actual weight gain). Wait a few days until you’re back into your routine before jumping on the scales.

Feeling motivated, strong and energized.

When I got home, I was actually craving healthy foods and looking forward to getting back to cooking my regular nutritious meals. When I was dieting before my holiday I felt constantly fatigued, weak, hungry and my cravings were REAL. However, after having a ‘break’ I feel so much more motivated about training, I’m no longer getting crazy chocolate cravings and I feel well-rested and energized. I was also excited to getting back into the gym as I felt full of energy, motivated and the increase in calories made me a lot stronger! Like I said previously, sometimes having a week off can benefit you psychologically; by completely resetting your mind so that when the ‘break’ is over, you are bursting with energy and motivation to inject into your workouts!

I thoroughly enjoyed myself without the overpowering obsessions regarding my food choices. I was able to come to a healthy balance and make happy memories without my mind being clouded with obsessive thoughts about my body composition. I’m so glad I’ve managed to come to a healthy balance, and I hope this post can help other girls (and boys) realise that you DO deserve a break, and if you’ve been working hard to get in shape, then a holiday is the perfect time to celebrate all of your hard work!

My tips and recommendations for finding ‘balance’ and enjoying yourself on vacation.

  • Try new foods that you haven’t tried before.
  • Eat and drink socially with your friends/ partner/ family. Use food and drink as a way to make memories that you’ll remember!
  • Don’t drink unnecessary calories (me and my boyfriend don’t drink alcohol so this was easy for us; we would just have diet drinks or water). Moderation is key, if you want to drink beer and cocktails then maybe skip the 3am kebab or burger that you’re not going to remember eating anyway! If you are drinking alcohol, be mindful of what you’re consuming and maybe opt for lower calorie options.
  • Try to include some physical activity; walking is a great way to explore a new place and keep your body moving.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and keep hunger in check.
  • Try to eat some protein with all your meals. Protein will help keep you satiated, stop you from snacking and also preserve your muscle mass.
  • Don’t adopt a f*ck it mentality, and binge on everything in sight just because ‘you’re on holiday’! If you have the urge to binge, just remember that the food will always be there- and you don’t need to gorge on it til you feel sick. Enjoy nice food in moderation but stop when you feel full.
  • Don’t waste your holiday debating with yourself whether or not you should have an ice-cream because of the extra calories. HAVE THE DAMN ICE-CREAM!
  • Don’t feel guilty for allowing yourself to enjoy food without any restrictions. This is what holidays are for and the memories that food creates is worth so much more.

I hope this helps anyone else who might struggle with anxiety regarding food and exercise when going on holiday! Let me know your thoughts on the subject or if you have any other tips!

Emma x

Emma Doherty

Emma Doherty

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