Find Pleasure in Eating, or Why You Should NOT Freak Out About Your Diet On Vacation
Sunshine. Blue skies. Bird songs. A sizzling grill. The smell of fresh-cut grass. Oh, summer… it’s a beautiful thing, full of fun adventures to take.
Maybe you’re gonna go to the beach with the girls, explore the Magic Kingdom with your kids, or go on an exotic cruise with the love of your life. The specifics will vary from person to person, but I’m willing to wager most of you have plans to go on an uber neat vacation with some special people you love before summer is over and done.
If you’re reading this, you might be wondering how you can keep your fitness results on track during your vacation. I’d like you to recall one of the first things I told you: Fitness isn’t a 30-day program. It’s a life-long journey.
Just like you won’t magically go down a pants size after a week of eating healthy and exercising, you won’t go up a pants size after a week of having fun (and maybe even eating whatever your heart desires).
I tell you this, because a lot of us have a really messed up relationship with food. We see healthy eating as this nasty, restrictive thing where we MUST deny ourselves pleasure in order to get results… but this couldn’t be any further from the truth. In fact, pleasure is directly tied to your metabolism.
WTF? It’s complicated, but I’ll try to be concise. Chemical Cholecystokinin (CCK) is a substance produced by the body in response to protein or fat in a meal. CCK performs a variety of functions including:
- Aiding digestion
- Signaling when appetite is satisfied and
- Stimulating the sensation of pleasure in the cerebral cortex (the highest portion of your brain)*
* This is the important one!
In other words, CCK, this chemical that your body produces while you’re eating, does all of the following…
- Metabolizes your meal,
- Tells you when to put the fork down (i.e. when you are satisfied), AND
- Makes you feel good about the eating experience
Nifty, huh? I think so. Here’s what this means: freaking out about your diet is counterproductive, because your body craves pleasure just like it craves water. Sure, you can deprive your body of pleasure, but don’t be surprised when it bites back with some nasty cravings (late night binge-eating, anyone?).
Also, restricting yourself is stressful, and this is bad because stress is directly tied to fat gain. That’s a whole other thing beyond the scope of this article, but you’re welcome to open that in a new tab and read it after this if you’re curious.
The Point: Enjoy yourself on vacation!
Please understand that the world will NOT end if you forget about all this healthy eating stuff for a few days. The world won’t end. You won’t magically go up a pants size.
What WILL happen?
You just might enjoy yourself, have fun, get a much-needed break from all this health stuff, AND come back with renewed focus and vigor (ohhhhh, scary!).
Learn from my mistakes.
When I got into all this health and fitness stuff, I got a bit carried away with it all. By “a bit carried away,” I actually mean OBSESSED.
A couple summers ago, I went to a theme-park (Dollywood) with an ex-girlfriend, and I packed black beans/peas/grilled chicken in Tupperware for the trip, because I didn’t wanna break my diet. Since half of the point of going to Dollywood is to eat their delicious southern food (funnel cakes!), this was quite insane, and I got made fun of (hard).
And you know what? I deserved it. I was NO fun to hang out with for a while, because I was so caught up in my diet, that I wouldn’t let myself bend the rules and have a little fun.
Wrapping it up…
I am NOT saying that you can just eat whatever you want to, whenever you want to, and expect to lose fat. In fact, if someone tempts you frequently, you need to dump them. Hanging out with toxic people is NO good for your happiness or fitness compliance. I wrote an article about that last week (click here to open it in a new tab if you missed it).
What I AM saying is that your meal plan doesn’t have to be devoid of all of the tasty things you like that just might not be that healthy… While you probably shouldn’t eat cake every day, the occasional slice of cheesecake never killed anybody (this is my favorite btw!).
A brief “however”…
If you travel frequently, everything you just read is kind of a moot point. If that sounds like you, sorry for your lots — I’m talking about the typical vacation of about a week or less. A week of fun will NOT hurt you, BUT if you travel for your job, or are on the road a lot for whatever reason, you need to do some preparation.
My friend Sonja Franzmann wrote a neat book about this very thing called “Your Step By Step Guide to Staying Fit and Healthy While Traveling” if you’re on the road a lot and would like to stay healthy and happy while you’re there. You can click here to download it, at the time of writing this it’s free but after that it will be $4.85 which is still highway robbery I think!.
Where are you going for vacation? Do you plan to work out while you’re there? Tell us all about it in the comments!