5 Strategies to Avoid Gaining Weight on Vacation

Vacation Weight Gain

Vacation Weight Gain 101.

Summer is here and for a lot of you that means vacation time. You’ve worked hard for the last several months on your training and nutrition, shed a few extra unwanted pounds are ready to hit the beach. But now comes the hard part, how to avoid gaining weight on vacation.

If you are like most vacationers you know it is easy to put on three to five pounds while on vacation and then you are right back to where you started.

This can lead to feeling of frustration and failure that spins into an unhealthy cycle of overdieting and overeating.

With a few simple strategies you can not only show off all your hard work in the gym but maintain it as well.


Strategy #1:  Pack workout clothes and plan to workout each day.

This might seem like and overly obvious strategy but I’m always amazed at the amount of people that simply forget to pack workout clothes.

As far as workout goes, vacations are NOT the time to be trying to set PR’s and having the best workout of your life.

I tell my clients to simply go in with the goal of moving and breaking a sweat.  Sticking to a workout plan will help keep fitness on the brain,  stave off any bloat from the higher sodium meals you might be consuming, and also keep or maintain your insulin sensitivity to high carbohydrate meals.

Get creative and keep the goal to just be moving the entire time.  If you are at a beach resort, pick a distance on the beach and run some intervals and mix up some pushups and air squats at the end of each “sprint”.  If you are confined to a hotel most gyms will have a treadmill where you could do a circuit that looks something like this.

Treadmill Sprint: 30seconds

Pushups: 15-20 reps

Treadmill Sprint :  30 seconds

Machine  or DB Row:  15-20 reps

Treadmill Sprint: 30 seconds

Plank:  30-60 seconds

There are infinite combinations of the above that will get you moving in all directions and sweating.

Keep the principles in mind.   Push something, Pull something, Do something for the legs and some conditioning. You’ll be way ahead of most others in the gym with this simple strategy.


Strategy # 2 : Plan Your Indulgences 1x a Day.

Most people get way off track when they let one free meal turn into two, which turns into three, which turns into a full cheat day or week even!

I stress to clients to pick one meal a day that you’d like to enjoy guilt free.

If one morning you are craving cream cheese stuffed French Toast, go for it and have it.

If you are going out to a nice restaurant one night, go ahead and have a meal that you might not normally enjoy.

The key is that all the other meals stay compliant to your regular healthy eating plan.

For example if you are going out to eat a big dinner that night plan your other meals accordingly.

For breakfast it should be pretty easy to find some fruit and eggs to keep things simple.

When grabbing lunch out be sure to ask for grilled or broiled fish and some veggies to keep things simple.

It sounds restrictive, but I promise that you will enjoy your meal out, whichever one you just much more having stayed on track the rest of the day.

As an action step, pack some bars and protein shakes in your bag. While I’m not a big fan of Quest Bars and things of that nature as a daily strategy, in these situation they can help curb cravings in between meals and keep you feeling full so you don’t overdo it at your meals.


Strategy #3 : Eliminate Mindless Drinking

I’m as big a fan as any of having some drinks on the beach or out with friends. However, regardless of whether at home or on vacation you need to get rid of all the inbetween.

As described above try to pick your battles wisely. There’s no reason for two mimosas at breakfast, 2 Mai Thai’s on the beach, followed by 4 glasses of wine at dinner.

Aside from the extra calories the alcohol can wreak havoc on our metabolism and insulin sensitivity, making it even easier for your body to store calories from your meals as bodyfat.

Keep your drinks to events or meals , not because you are bored with nothing else to do!


Strategy #4 : Keep the Goal the Goal, and Set Some New Ones.

If you’ve heard me speak before you know the above quote from Dan John is one that has guided my thinking.

In this context I mean to keep in mind that you are not looking to make progress while on vacation. Your goal while on vacation is to simply come out no worse than you went in.

Vacations are a time for a mental and physical break. Use it to recharge and refocus your efforts.

Don’t ruin your vacation by checking your weight each morning. SOME weight gain is to be expected. When you start to eat some higher carbohydrate and sodium meals it is normal to retain some water so watching the scale go up with be misdirected frustration.

The goal is to enjoy some time off and time with family and/or friends.  Keep it that way by not obsessing over every detail of your food.

One strategy I’ve found to be extremely powerful is to use some free time on your vacation to make a new goal. The act of sitting down and creating a goal can be extremely powerful. Most likely you’ll be motivated by the thought of this new goal and it will help keep you on track for the next few days.

If you need help goal setting, you can get help here.

Stategy #5:  Have a Plan for when You Return.

Out of all the strategies listed, this is by far the most important. We are all human and we all overdo it every once in awhile. What separates those who have success, whether it is in business or fat loss is how fast you can rebound and get back to plan. I’ve found most people aren’t just gaining weight on vacation, but also from the habits that carry on afterward.

The most common thing I hear from those returning from vacation is how it took another week or two to get going again because they had nothing in the house. This leads to ordering take out and continued bad choices.

So instead, plan ahead.

Make a few compliant meals ahead of time and freeze them so that when you get home all you have to do is thaw them out and you are good to go. This will buy you some time and even if the rest of the family wants to just order pizza, you have an alternative that will help you get back on track in the direction of your goals.

Gaining weight on vacation is easy, but so is avoiding it.  Have a plan and execute, but don’t forget to have fun and enjoy yourself.

Until next time…

Keep moving forward!


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