Should You Ever Take A Vacation From Fitness?

I recently returned from spending seven days in Greece.

The occasion? Celebrating my 10 year wedding anniversary.

And I didn’t go to the hotel gym. Not even once. I didn’t even bother packing workout clothes (Yes, I can hear you shouting, say it isn’t so!).

I took a vacation from fitness – and it was a great decision.

Did I miss my sweatfests? Not really.

Did I look longingly at the signs in our hotels pointing the way to the fitness center? Once or twice.

But the idea of spending time trapped in a hotel gym, listening to the same podcasts I listen to at home, didn’t bring me joy.

The most common question I get asked as a personal trainer before I go on vacation

Question: Are you worried about gaining weight on vacation?

Response: No.

I was concerned about the possibility of losing some of my fitness while on vacation. But that’s not the same as gaining or losing weight.

Allow me to explain.

Vacations for me are about doing what I don’t do at home. Eating strange food and having little concern about how nourishing it is for my body. Sleeping whenever and however i.e., on ferry boat rides between islands and lazy morning. And my vacations involve A LOT of walking. My husband Steve and I love to walk. Everywhere.

This was the first trip we’ve taken where I brought my Fitbit and charger with me so I could accurately track how many miles we would walk every day. As odd as this may sound, this was more a practical, time-saving move than a fitness-motivated one.

Normally when we are on vacation and spend a long day exploring a city we allocate some of our downtime in the evening to re-creating our walks on Google maps and calculating our miles. This trip, because of the Fitbit, we had the numbers without the hassle of trying to re-enact our day.

On vacation I’m allowed to eat with abandon. Ditto for sleeping. Do I expect to gain weight? Yes. Am I happy about that? Of course not. Who would be? But I also know that my behaviors while on vacation are atypical. And that any weight gain or lost in a single week isn’t going to be permanent. I won’t be sustaining the same calorie-intake or deficit (I have been to some countries where I struggled to find a good meal. I’m looking at you, Iceland.) once I return home.

While on vacation the only strength training I’m getting in is lifting my backpack up and onto my shoulders a zillion times a day (it carries my water bottle, wallet, SPF and snacks) and occasionally carrying my suitcase up or down a small flight of stairs. Will my muscles atrophy? Will I lose some fitness? Most likely, yes.

A Greek Feast with a View

Below is a picture of our last meal in Athens, Greece before flying home. We attended a cooking class and made five different local Greek dishes: spinach pie, a fried chicken dish, tzatziki, Greek salad with feta cheese and chocolate mousse with nuts, caramel and strawberries. We had an incredible view of the Acropolis in the background too!

greek dinner with view of Parthenon
Our final meal (cooked by us!) in Athens, including a view of the Parthenon. Photo credit: Steve Fosdal

However, a break from exercise is probably exactly what my body needs. Vacation is another form of recovery for me. Extended recovery, for sure. But the kind that always has me more curious about how I’ll feel easing back into my workouts post-vacation. Will I feel stronger? Have more energy? Most likely yes and yes.

I don’t regret a morsel of food I consumed on my trip. So when I step on the scale after I return home, it’s to keep me accountable for my long-term health – and not as a way to pass judgement on whether I was ‘good’ or bad’ while on vacation.

FAQs – Other Commonly Asked Fitness Travel Questions

Question: Do I weigh myself on vacation?

Answer: No.

Question: Do you count calories while on vacation?

Answer: No.

Question: Do you get 8 hours of sleep on vacation?

Answer: Sometime more. Sometimes less. Usually more. Closer to 9.

Question: Do you exercise while on vacation?

Answer: Yes. I walk. A LOT.

The important takeaways are this:

#1 It’s okay to be indulgent when you are on vacation. The whole meaning of being indulgent is that it is not your normal behavior.

#2 You are not a number on a scale. Let me repeat that and be even more specific, your health is not determined solely by a number on a scale. Don’t let a scale dictate your happiness. Appreciate, love and have compassion for your body and for everything it can and does do for you.

Are you going on vacation soon and want some tips on how to add more movement into your travel plans? Hit me up on my contact form. Bon voyage!