Beware the Vacation Mind-Set

October 20, 2013 | , ,

If you’re anything like me, vacation is a permission slip to eat whatever you want and drink beer/wine/cocktails almost any time of day. Exercise isn’t something you schedule or take time out to do while you’re on vacation; it happens if it’s convenient and appropriate to your destination (walking around a new city, snorkeling, hiking, bike riding…).

This is all well and good when you’re only on vacation for a week or two; you can go back to your normal (and presumably healthier) routines once you get home, and everything will go back to normal.

But what if you’re a nomad or expat?

If you’re traveling long-term, or living in another country for a period of time, it’s natural to have that vacation state of mind. But if you don’t snap out of it at some point, you’ll start to see (and feel) the effects.

The next thing you know, none of the clothes you packed will fit anymore!

To stay on top of your health goals (and perhaps even improve on them) while traveling or spending time overseas, I suggest setting some ground rules to help you avoid letting too much time pass with a vacation mind-set.

For example, if you’re traveling slowly, you might allow yourself a week in each new destination to sample the local flavors and settle in without putting pressure on yourself to eat a certain way or exercise.

Or you might be better off avoiding the vacation mind-set altogether and pledging to stick to the same patterns you follow at home.

Pay attention to the things you do in a new destination that you wouldn’t do at home. For me, a big one is drinking cheap, crappy beer. When I’m at home, I’m quite picky about the beer I drink; I’d rather not drink at all than have some watered-down lager. But when I’m traveling, especially in hot climates, and the beer is ice-cold (and, often, cheaper than water), I’m all over it.

After a while, I have to stop and remind myself that I wouldn’t drink that crap at home; now that the road is my home, shouldn’t the same rules apply?

Another pitfall nomads and expats need to watch out for is craving flavors from home. When I’m on the road, I find myself eating more Doritos and Snickers than I ever would at home in the States, simply because I’m eager for a familiar taste. Sometimes you just have to have it, but again, try to keep it to a minimum.

Recognizing your vacation tendencies, and reminding yourself that this is your life, not a vacation, can help you stay on track.

How about you? What aspects of your vacation mind-set could get you into trouble in the long term? 

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