In order to progress, fitness and conditioning, wise our bodies need progressive overload. Progressive overload is “the consistent adaptation of our fitness regime to increase intensity and /or difficulty in order to avoid plateaus”.
If your routines or regimes are always the same you will get the same results and potentially even move backwards in your conditioning related to metabolic adaptation. Our bodies are very smart and they will adapt. Our muscles have memory and learn and grow easily at first; therefore we need to constantly keep them guessing. Mixing things up is necessary in both exercise and nutrition.
When it comes to nutrition we don’t use the word progressive overload but rather metabolic adaptation. So if you consistently eat the same caloric amounts you will continue to maintain what you have. If your regularly eating too much your body will gain weight. If your constantly eating too little your metabolism will eventually adapt and slow down to hold on to those calories for “survival”. There is a very fine balance especially if you want to make positive changes to your body.
It can be quite frustrating to feel as though you work hard everyday and follow your diet everyday and not see results. What we have learned through research and science based studies is that we need to mix things up and trick our bodies and metabolism so they do not become complacent. Our very DNA wants to maintain and stay the same and every individual has a weight and physique that their body is comfortable with. The body will adapt to maintain this comfort zone.
So when it comes to vacationing we can use this whole process to our advantage. The key is to work hard before AND after your much needed time off. At the end of the day consistency and resilience are the name of the game.
Once you have a vacation or set days off it is important to start planning your exercise regime around those dates. 1) First off you must either set a goal or have an idea as to what is important to you. Do you have goals to lose weight? Goals to build muscle? Or even goals to maintain your physique? If none of these goals are sounding great to you and you want to just enjoy and splurge on your vacation, that’s okay too. Just make sure your going to do what’s consistent with what you say and what makes you happiest.
Next you must look at your timeline. How long is it until vacation?
My general rule of thumb is to do a 5-6 week exercise regime before mixing it up to something different based on goals. 2) So plan your programs accordingly or seek out a personal trainer and notify them of your vacation so they can plan according to this.
For nutrition based on your goals you want to work with your metabolism. 3) If your goals are weight loss OR maintenance make sure your eating at a calorie deficit prior to vacation.
Plan to work really hard especially two weeks out from vacation. Get to the gym and work at high intensity. Keep your nutrition on point. Continue to remind yourself that you will enjoy vacation just that much more when you feel you earned it.
When the big day has come your vacation is going to act as your diet break. Keep in mind how long you are vacationing for. You don’t want to completely fall off the wagon or reverse all your hard work because that can be super taxing on your mental health. Your vacation can be used to “mix things up” just as I explained before. We can give our bodies and muscles a break from the heavy training. We can give our metabolisms a little boost by consuming more calories than normal.
I suggest to still be conscious of how your diet is going to make you feel. You want to feel guilt and shame free but you want to treat yourself as well because you earned it. Consider what treats are going to be worth it and what’s going to make you feel your best. I wouldn’t suggest completely bingeing and splurging on anything and everything because again we want to keep our mental health in good shape as well. Because I do flexible dieting on vacation I non strictly track my calories and protein just to give myself an idea of how much I’m eating and staying consistent with my protein intake.
If your vacationing longer than one week it might be a good idea to have a separate plan to introduce exercise back in after the first week or continue to do some form of exercise here and there just for your mental well being. There’s a lot of great bodyweight workouts or workouts using minimal equipment out there. Even planning to do a little cardio here and there can prevent a depressed state upon return to real life.
When returning from vacation it’s important to get back into a regular exercise regime with hopefully some new motivation. It’s not easy and it takes resilience on your part but remind yourself you are worth being taken care of. You deserve to feel your best and exercise is the BEST medicine. Get back into a good diet and give your body what it needs to meet your goals. And most importantly keep crushing it!