According to Forbes, 52.3% of Americans are unhappy at work. Between being overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated, it’s hard to not want to cut loose on vacation. The entire purpose of a vacation is to destress, decompress, and enjoy the good life for a while until you are forced kicking and screaming back into the real world. The problem is that many get completely wrapped up in the fantasy. They rarely lose sight of the stresses of the real world, but they lose sight of the goals they have set for themselves. To them, vacation means unrestricted eating, laying around, and too many adult beverages.
This is extremely counterproductive. More often than not, clients will come back and complain about the weight gain from their resent excursion. I’m not too concerned about this because the faster the weight goes on, the faster it comes off. What concerns me is the fact that the habits we created went out the window as soon as “vacation mode” set in. Out of sight, out of mind. This tells me that they still need an outside influence to keep them on track. I love being the source of motivation, but my end goal is to create self-motivation in all my clients. That’s why I created body weight programs they can take with them and train at their convenience. I also suggest staying active outside of the workouts. Walk around and take in the atmosphere. Play on the beach instead of laying around working on your tan. Take a moonlit walk with your significant other after dinner; the possibilities are endless.
Rabbit Hole: Often a client will come back from vacation and realize their work capacity has dropped and the workout that they would have enjoyed is now kicking their ass. They think I designed the workout as punishment when it was literally just the next workout in the program. Then while talking to them, they realize they did it to themselves. I just smile. While I do not have sympathy for self-destructive behavior, I understand what they are going through because I have been there myself. I smile because I remember the hell I put myself through to get back on track.
The second issue is diet. It’s easy to stray when there’s a change in schedule; not to mention travel often adds new restaurants and food variety. The good news is that most of these areas offer fresh indigenous foods as well. The mountains usually offer fresh steaks fresh water fish and other meats as well as local grown vegetables. The coastal areas will offer wild caught fish and other aquatic animals. It’s great to change the diet up to eat fresh local foods. The problem lies in eating the “come on, we’re on vacation” foods. I’ll let you in on a secret. Pizza Hut tastes the same everywhere. Ice cream tastes the same everywhere. Strawberry daiquiris taste the same everywhere. See a pattern? These are not vacation foods.
If you want to indulge a little on vacation, which you should, understand that what happens on vacation comes back with you. Your digestion, cardiovascular system, and metabolism do not get a vacation. It’s a twenty- four-hour, seven day a week job. The least you can do is make their job easier by giving them some down time. Want to cash in on an earned meal? (That’s right earned meal; not cheat meal. Put in the work first.) Go for it! Fast for a while after and get back on track that day. Do not say, “I’ll get back on track when I get home.” This is a lie! It’ll be, “I’m tired. Let’s just grab something quick and we’ll get back at it tomorrow, or the next day, or the following week.” It truly is a vicious cycle.
My favorite part about vacation is seven days of day drinking. That’s right! I will set on the beach with my wife and mix up some Jack and Cherry Coke Zero before lunch Sunday through Saturday, just because I can. (And no Mr. Lifeguard Dude, I don’t care if you allow glass on the beach. They don’t make plastic fifths.) How do I drink all day in the sun and stay hydrated you ask? I match one drink to one bottle of water and when I finally stumble back to the town house, I chug a couple more waters, and maybe a couple more Lemmys, before dinner. The sun and alcohol have an evil way of working together to rob the human body of hydration, so one must stay on top of the situation or risk hyperthermia or worst a day of vaca-wrecking hang over. Screw that Dos Equis guy. “Stay hydrated my friends.”
The last bit of advice is about the “car wreck.” There is no such thing as safe travel. Sitting is the new smoking and travel means you are chain smoking. The car, no matter how comfortable it may feel, will wreck the hips, back, and shoulders. The best course of action is to drive no longer than thirty minutes between stops, but that can easily turn a four-hour ride into five and a half hours. The second-best solution is to mobilize these problem areas upon arrival. (Mobility videos below) I personally deal with tight lats and pecs daily, so I look like a hunchback climbing out of the car after a long drive. If I do not mobilize my hips and shoulders afterwards I will stay tight for days after. That kinda goes along with the working out and staying active part doesn’t it………
In conclusion, stay active, watch what you eat, stay hydrated, and stay mobile. Basically, just remember that you’re on vacation from work, not life. Maintain the habits you have built into your lifestyle and you’ll be fine. What good is a one-week vacation if it sets your progress back for a month? It’s much easier to stay in shape than it is to get back in shape.
Picture of me instructing proper form on the Turkish Get Up. Full video: https://youtu.be/7sboAmiRHP0
To me, technique is the most important factor in resistance training. I cannot stand to see someone perform an exercise incorrectly. It shows that they have not put in the time to understand how or why they are doing that exercise. The how is important, but the why means so much more. It’s great to have an extensive database of exercises but understanding their individual purpose will greatly increase the way one can use them. It is easy to see the big muscles they are hitting, but what about the secondaries and stabilizers? Will it affect the cardiovascular system? Will it have a positive effect on the exercises planned last/next? Should it be high intensity to cook the athlete or low intensity to allow recovery? These questions are made in the assumption that their form is correct; what if the form is off? Their using different muscles than planned. The CNS is working overtime because the body cannot track a path for the exercise and breaking a bad habit is more time consuming than building a good one.
The other issue is the risk of injury. Resistance training should make you more resilient not more fragile. If you are getting injured in training, you are doing something wrong. I know what some people are thinking. “Well if your actually going hard, you can get injured with proper technique. Of course, you’ll never get hurt if you always go light.” Bullshit. If you are at the point in your lifting career to where you feel comfortable maxing out regularly, then you should know how to fail like a pro. You should know how to set safety bars and grab a spotter or ditch the weight if necessary. I have watched a lot of lifting competitions and shy of the Crossfit Games, I have rarely seen an injury in the Professional Brackets.
With all the connectivity we have these days, it is easy to look up exercises and make sure you have correct form. It’s not the end of the world, it just shows that no one knows everything. Never be afraid to learn something new. If you still need help, find a qualified fitness professional to talk to and have them go over your form in person. If you are a fitness professional, you have zero excuse for not increasing your knowledge on everything that could benefit your clients. Never have a client do any exercise that you haven’t done a thousand times before. You should be more than happy to breakdown every exercise piece by piece and explain why you chose those exercises in that order and how it fits their goals/limitation.
ACSM Certified Fitness Professional