“It’s ironic that a nation that has become morbidly obese takes a holiday from an overeating lifestyle only to eat more food and get fatter.”
After months of focused hard work, hitting the gym six times a week, eating an 1800 calorie-a-day diet, I’m going on vacation. I deserve it. The month before my week off is filled with anticipation. Holiday preparation involves even more disciplined eating and longer workouts, maybe a few days of juice fasting (because I know that in a couple of weeks I will be taking a break from the gym), relaxing my strict diet, while adding a few Pina Coladas under a palm tree. It’s going to be awesome! Guess what happens?
Compared to the anticipation, reality often disappoints. The fried foods, desserts, and Pina Coladas always taste better in my head than on my tongue. The vacation week is spent trying to reenact the hype and excitement that was in the pre-vacation anticipation. If I just eat more, or have another drink… and of course, the more I indulge, the worse I feel. After two days, desire is replaced by necessity, and finally those old empty feelings I used to have as a compulsive eater return like a forgotten dysfunctional friend. Within a few days, I’m bloated, tired, discontented, and there is a growing dull feeling of remorse. In three days, I age ten years and start looking forward to when the vacation is over so I can get back to my balanced life. The remaining half of my vacation spirals into a useless, empty week of indulgence. By the time the week finally ends, I need a vacation from my vacation. If that is not enough, getting back on track after a week or two of indulgence is a painful process. I have seen and read too many testimonies of how healthy diets become permanently derailed after a one-week holiday.
Cruises are the worst. I have witnessed chubby co-workers coming back after a cruise looking baggy-eyed and even chubbier due to spending most of their waking hours eating and drinking. They rub their button-busting bellies exclaiming, “Boy, you can eat night and day if you want to.” And by the looks of them, they wanted to. They returned looking less rested and less healthy than when they left. A cruise ship is the last boat a compulsive eater wants to be floating out to sea on.
Call me pragmatic but, to me, the value of a vacation is coming back feeling better, more rested, and less stressed than when I left. A week-long flesh feast may seem like a refreshing break from the daily grind when envisioned before the trip but, in reality, the very opposite is true.
While running a fasting retreat, I found it fascinating to hear people’s reasons for choosing to take their precious few vacation days and hard-earned money to fly out to cold Canada for the purpose of fasting and solitude when, for the same price, they could have been gorging, and sipping Pina Coladas under a palm tree with the soothing sound of sun-warmed waves. They had their sights set on the endgame. Even though the first few days were hard going, by the time they were packing to go home, there was a renewed sense of purpose and refreshed desire to go back to their lives and do things differently. And with that refreshed perspective, they had the added bonus of weight loss. They left better, not worse, healthier and clearer minded, not bloated and tired.
It’s ironic that a nation that has become morbidly obese wants to take a holiday from their overeating lifestyle so they can eat even more food and get fatter.
If you’re like me and judge the worth of a vacation by how rested and refreshed you feel when entering back into your busy life, then the link below will list some practical tips to help you plan the very best holiday, no matter where you are going. Print them and add them to your trip list.
Related Article: Vacation Weight Management Tips