Some of you may know I've just spent 4 weeks in Mexico... And holy crap it was great! Iv'e always been a little scared to take too much time away from the the things I'm passionate about, like my job, my training and my nutrition. I know some of you have felt that taking a break from all your hard work really throws you off track. But it really doesn't have to. So here is how I approached 4 weeks off!
I earned it:
Prior to leaving, I really focused on heavy training. I worked as hard as I could because if I did, I knew my body would benefit from the break. I actually broke some personal records which I was really happy about! I focused on eating well and I restrained from over indulging. Normally I would indulge a little on weekends (in off season) but knowing I was about to have less control over my food helped me stick to the good stuff.
I set realistic expectations:
On the lead up to my trip I thought about how things would be when I got to Mexico. I knew it would be hard to find time to train or places to train. I wasn't even sure that I would want to.
So instead of telling myself things like "I'll train, I'll eat healthy it will be fine" I said to myself "I don't know if i'll train. If I feel like it and I have time, I will" and "I want to try all the food and give myself a much needed break. I'll eat well where possible but I'm going to eat all the good stuff too". By doing this I felt like I was going to feel good if I had time to train and eat well and I wouldn't feel guilty if i didn't.
When I was there:
Turns out I was right. There were very few gyms in the places I visited and they were not like the gyms we have here. I didn't have a lot of time as most days I was out exploring waterfalls, cenotes, historical ruins or churches and having way too much fun. I wasn't going to sacrifice a single experience in Mexico for a moment in the gym. I'm not one who loves training body weight outdoors or anything like that either, so that was out of the question. My tours were pretty active, a lot of hiking which felt great but nothing in comparison to the gym, but I didn't care. In the end I trained once in Mexico and twice when in LA. Nutrition wise, I ate some amazing food but in Mexico it is a lot of the same thing. So where possible I ate fruit, yogurt, chicken salads and I had some protein powder on hand.
Prepared for the return:
I've been doing this whole training and nutrition thing for four or so years now so four weeks off really isn't going to stop me, but I felt it was a smart move to mentally prepare myself for the return to normality. My thoughts were positive but I knew getting back into the gym would be hard. I knew I would be sore for some weeks getting back into it. What I didn't expect was that two days after landing I became sick with a cold! This really slowed me down and I only managed a few days of light training during my first week home. I still had to tackle a big week at work with clients as-well.
The second week things started to improve and my training and nutritional routine is beginning to settle back to normal. In terms of nutrition that was easy. I was excited to get back to the fresh foods I love here in Australia. Mexico is very limited in terms of fruits, vegetables and lean meats. Generally everything is teamed up with corn bread, so I was happy to get home!
So in all this, here are my tips for travel:
1- Allow yourself time to relax, work hard and earn the rest. It makes your time off all the more worth while and your body will thank you.
2- Don't set yourself up for failure by telling yourself lies. Be honest with yourself and set realistic expectations. Feeling guilty on your holiday is not a pleasant experience.
3- Live in the moment. If you want to train, go train. If you don't, don't. If you want to eat something a little healthier do it! Consider whether the food is really something you're missing out on or are you just being lazy and making excuses to eat crap. You should be able to find some decent foods no matter where you are in the world. Take some protein powder and fill your diet with as many vegetables, fruits and lean meats as possible.
4- Prepare mentally for your return. It's going to hurt and your not going to feel great but that is no reason to not get back to your training routine day one! Do it straight away. No excuses.
I hope this helps you prepare for some time off and feel good about what you're doing. There is absolutely no reason that going on holiday should detract from your journey. Life is full of ups and downs. They're unavoidable so embrace the challenge.