For the past week (Or weeks, if you’re extra-lucky), you’ve been chilling out, maxing, relaxing, and leaving your fitness goals back in the real world. Perhaps that calorie deficit escaped your mind for a bit. I don’t blame you – I do the same thing on vacation, and I’d guess most people do, too. It can be difficult to find a way to squeeze in a place or time to exercise, much less stick to a specific workout. And going out to eat most of the time makes it pretty challenging to count calories or macros.
And that’s okay. Everyone deserves a true vacation, where they don’t have to worry about everyday objectives – And that includes fitness. This was a vacation for your body, too! The fun memories you’ve made are going to stick with you far longer than any gym gains you would have made in a week.
But now its Monday, you’re back to reality, and getting back into your exercise routine is a little more exhausting than expected. I can relate: I recently had a surgery that resulted in me not exercising for a week and a half, and then a vacation the next week, so I was coming back to the gym after almost three missed weeks. I was feeling very unmotivated, insecure about how I looked, and nervous about getting back into my routine. I’m not going to lie, it was difficult, and I had to reduce some of my workout to keep coming back. It’s been a little over a week since I got back into it, and while im still planning on reducing cardio this week, I’m feeling motivated and fit. The hardest part is starting again: It’s relatively smooth sailing once you get back into a pattern.
You’ll get back on track in no time, but here’s some things to remember that’ll speed up the process:
- A vacation does not mean all your progress has been erased.
First off, one to two weeks is microscopic in the grand scheme of things. Any physical changes that have occurred should be minimal, especially because it’s not as if you were completely sedentary during your vacation. Secondly, it’s actually good for your muscles to take a break: When we push our bodies to adapt and build muscle, we don’t completely recover between workouts, causing fatigue to build up. Our bodies have a limited supply of “adaptive energy”, so its necessary to recharge every once in a while. A two-week break in a study has been shown to significantly decrease cumulative fatigue, while minimally decreasing fitness. In fact, those engaging in heavy lifting should take one to two weeks off every eight to ten weeks of training.
- Don’t stress about gaining a few pounds.
As discussed above, its necessary for your body to take a break. And in my opinion, a mental break from worrying about what you’re eating, and how many calories you’re burning, can make it easier to stick to eating healthier long-term. Weight fluctuation is totally natural, and fixating on it won’t do anything positive. Simply view it as a necessary and natural occurrence, and focus on making progress with your workouts and eating habits. The past doesn’t change, no matter how much you think about it.
- Taper back in.
It may be tempting to jump right back into your workout regime even harder than before, but its best to bring it down a few notches initially. This will decrease the risk of pulled muscles, as well as feeling sore. The last thing you want is an involuntary vacation from working out, after your real vacation. Mentally, taking it a little easier starting up again will make it easier to keep coming back. I personally like to nix one of the exercises I like the least and decrease cardio for one to two weeks, making my gym return more fun. If a tapered down version of your workout still seems too impossible, engage in a different type of exercise for the week, whether that’s hiking, rock climbing, biking, dancing, swimming… The world is your oyster! Inviting a friend to join may help, too.
- Set a post-vacation goal.
Maybe transforming that winter bod into a beach bod was the goal beforehand. Without a new goal, getting motivated to exercise after vacation might seem pointless. Whether it’s adding on some muscle, decreasing your BMI, or losing weight, set an attainable goal for a month from now (Keeping tapering in consideration). If you’re a goal oriented person (most of us are) having a new goal gives meaning and encouragement to keep exercising (Besides the benefit of being healthy).
- Leverage external factors that affect exercise.
I’m talking about eating habits, drinking habits, sleeping habits… All those little things that affect your workout. Maintaining a sufficient water intake, eating nutrient-rich foods, and keeping a consistent sleeping schedule probably wasn’t a priority during vacation. I don’t blame you (I’m in the same boat), but adjusting to working out is going to be a lot harder if you’re deprived of water, sleep, and nutrients. Dehydration can lead to decreased physical capability, dizziness, light-headedness, and muscle cramping: Make sure to drink at least 64 ounces of water daily. When it comes to food, remember that it powers your workout, and helps to build muscle. If you’re trying to lose weight, we have a specific post about nutrition. As far as sleep goes, get those 8 hours in and shoot for a uniform schedule. Nobody likes to work out tired.
- Enjoy yourself!
Working out isn’t a chore, and shouldn’t feel like one. Okay, it might feel like it the first week back. If you need to try a different way of exercising or decrease the days you go to maintain your motivation to workout, so be it. Exercise shouldn’t make you unhappy – in fact, scientifically speaking, it should do the opposite. Remember that you’re doing this for yourself, and while external results are great, the most important thing is feeling good internally. Take as many steps to modify your workout as it takes to keep you feeling happy.