Vacations + Habits: How to Make a Break from Routine Work in Your Favor

by | Dec 11, 2019 | Mindset

Vacation gives me a lot of headspace to think—sure, it’s still a working vacation since when you’re freelance, you rarely press the full on ‘stop’ button, but being away from home without laundry, housework, any social stuff other than spending time with Peter, plus a super low volume run week = plenty of time to think about the big picture. And lately, one thing that’s come up a lot is habits. Raise your hand if you have a bad habit that you’ve actively identified, know you should change… but don’t? *Raises hand.*

Real talk: I’ve literally written the book (well, a book) on sports nutrition, yet I had still fallen into the habit of having chocolate after dinner every single night. I’m not talking about a single square of artisanal dark chocolate, I’m talking milk chocolate. And not a single square, either. As Peter loves to say, ‘it’s not a party if it happens every day.’ I’m all about balance—and I like that in Fuel Your Ride, we discussed the idea that most people can get away with 80:20, where 80% of their diet is healthy whole foods and the other 20 is a little more indulgent. But for higher-level athletes, like the kind I aspire to be, it’s more like 90:10 (or at Olympic level, 98:2). And ditching chocolate as a nightly snack seemed like a simple enough habit to identify and realize I should cut out.

Yet somehow, I struggled A LOT with it at home.

And then, we went on vacation. You would think that vacation would mean serious indulgence and a ton of treats, and while it’s true, we ate most of our meals out, we tried to have salads on the regular and stuck to one drink per night as a maximum. So, I decided as we got to the hotel that I wouldn’t have any dessert after dinner. Funny thing was, it wasn’t hard to do!

Maybe it was because there was no couch, so we were watching Netflix in bed and it felt weird to be eating in bed. Maybe it was because we were already indulging by going out to eat. Maybe it was just the change of pace and being out of our normal routine and comfort zone. Whatever the reason, I didn’t even notice it was missing after the first couple of days.

Now, I don’t think it makes sense to pick a vacation to start in on the Whole30 diet or something like that. But I do think it’s a good time to look at routine habits that you’ve built up and consider using the vacation as a reset. It’s also a great time for things like setting an earlier bedtime.

And you can add the good habits—I found that being somewhere new this trip was the ideal time to actually start doing a guided meditation three-week challenge. Because it didn’t interfere with my normal at home habits and rituals, it was much easier to get started. (I also used this trip to add a couple of tweaks to my usual AM yoga and core routine!)

I also realized that this doesn’t have to just apply to vacations—really, any time your routine shifts like for a work trip, when the family is gone while you’re home for a couple of days, or even a long weekend from work!

So, before you have your next break from routine, press pause—like, right now—and think about a couple of bad habits that you know you should change, and maybe a couple of small ones that you’d like to start. 

Now, the caveat, like I said, is that I don’t think vacations should be the time to do anything huge or hard—we’re talking super small things that take under 10 minutes, or don’t leave you feeling like you’re missing out. Because on the flip side, if you spend your whole vacation freaking about what you need to change, you run the risk of not actually taking any rest or relaxation from the trip… And let’s be honest, we all need that very, very badly.

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