To me, a real vacation is one that makes you feel rested, energized and rejuvenated afterwards, one that doesn't require aftermath cleaning up efforts to put you back on the right path. As we all know, when our every day routine is taken away from us during vacation time, we have less control over our healthy habits - the food we eat, the company we keep, the amount of sleep and exercise time we have etc. This might not be so bad for those who do not have healthy habits to begin with, but for those (like myself) who really care about what to eat, where the food comes from and how it affects our general being, traveling could be challenging. So how do we have fun and manage to stay on track at the same time?
I just came back from an amazing month long vacation in California. No post-vacation weight gain, no sluggishness or intoxicated feelings I used to have after many long vacations. Ok, the destination matters. I was lucky that I was in California where the sun always shines and the quality of food is superb. But I also had a few home court habits that protected me from post-vacation blues.
HOME COURT HABIT 1 : HOMECOOKING
I cook or pack food whenever I can. Having access to the kitchen is always a challenge when you are traveling. Instead of hotels, I am staying almost exclusively in vacation rentals, airb'n'b type accommodations these days where I can make my own meals. If you are lucky enough to be in a place like Santa Barbara where the Farmer's Market is out of this world, there is extra incentive to sample the local produce, make something extraordinary and share with all the people around you! So home-cooking is still the number 1 rule to stay healthy on or off the road.
When I can't cook, I pack. I must look really nutty to my family because I literally travel with a ziplock bag of nuts and seeds in my pocketbook! When I order oatmeal from the hotel where it comes only with brown sugar and raisins, I reach for my pumpkin seeds, almonds, chia and flax from under the table and turn my oatmeal into a nutritionally balanced meal!
HOME COURT HABIT 2 : MAKING INFORMED CHOICES
I seek out healthy eat-out options. This might sound intuitive because when we travel, we always look for fun, local places to eat anyway. However if you are traveling with family or friends who have different eating habits, it could be quite challenging to choose a restaurant that caters to everyone's tastes. I find it helpful to be proactive. I google, do all the research, make suggestions and back up the restaurants of my choice with good reviews and recommendations. My enthusiasm pays off every time!
When I was in Los Angeles, I visited two restaurants I found absolutely inspiring! The first one is Lemonade - a fast-food deli chain that has multiple locations but serves unbelievably fresh "market place vegetables" by the scoops at a reasonable price.
The other place is Cafe Gratitude - hands down the best 100% organic and vegan restaurant I've ever been to, apparently the current hottest spot in Venice, LA, right next to the Yoga Collective. When you order food, the waiter entertains you with "mindfulness" comments like "just think about what is the most important thing to you at this moment" (seriously!) Ummm....am I doing a downward dog or just ordering brussels sprouts?
More beautiful restaurant food.
HOME COURT HABIT 3 : STAYING ACTIVE
I stay active and move whenever I can. Whether you're in California or Cancun, there is a lot you can manipulate to make your vacation more active and less sedentary. I jogged almost daily with my friends in the Santa Barbara hills before we got our occasional morning coffee (did I say coffee?) I jogged from Venice Beach to Santa Monica before everyone else was awake. I ran around the suburban grid in Seal Beach when I was staying at my in-laws' house. I did my infrequent yoga practice on the patio. I walked to get to the local Whole Foods. I hiked to Montecito Peak and the Nevada Falls. I influenced the itinerary by voting hikes, and more hikes!
HOME COURT HABIT 4 : HAVING FUN
Alright, I must admit I also drank way too much good Californian wine and had way more fun than otherwise, but all in all, I feel pretty good coming back!