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Diet and Workout… On Vacation?

February 19, 2012

For lots of people, vacation is a time to totally let go. Kick back, relax, eat what you want kind of let go. I guess it comes as no surprise that I don’t follow that philosophy. My friends might say “it’s vacation, diets don’t count on vacation, eat what you want.” Or “why not just relax, you can workout when you’re home.” But part of being a serious athlete is making a commitment to my health. All the time. We might like to tell ourselves “diets don’t count on vacation, workouts can go on hold.” But our bodies don’t get the message. Our diet and workout routines matter. We might legitimately choose to cheat on our diets on vacation. But let’s recognize that as a choice we can make. And conversely, sticking to diets and training plans is another choice. Once we recognize that as a choice, we can actively choose what is right for us.

Still, vacation does present some challenges to my diet and workout plans. I can’t keep my same routine. I just returned from three and a half days in Orlando with my husband. It was a great short vacation. Probably just what the doctor ordered for stress relief and relaxation. But it did mean compromises.

I’m lucky that my partner’s mom made a point of grocery shopping before I got there to try to have the right food on hand for me. And she cooked a lot of meals while we were there, and tried to cook foods I could eat. Still, I had to make some compromises. My partner’s mom got greek yogurt for me, but it was a typical “healthy” variety: non-fat, a little sugar added, fruit on the bottom. She got dried fruit for my oatmeal, but it had a little sugar added. I couldn’t really ask her to prepare completely separate meals for me or go shopping again. So I did my best. I turned down desserts and dinner rolls, but I had rice with most meals. I turned down the sugary oatmeal for the big thing of plain oatmeal, but used the dried fruit with sugar. I had more fruit than I normally do. I even had a few bites of bread pudding, because it was home-made by Jeremy’s mom. Eating right at the amusement parks was even more challenging. But I actually managed to do fairly good. Found a Moroccon place at Epcot, where I had a veggie platter with hummus, olives, lentils, and other similar food. At Busch Gardens, I had salads, a veggie wrap (I only had half the tortilla), fresh fruit, and half a store made veggie burger without the bun.

Besides all the walking around the amusement parks, I got in two runs while we were there. A 3.7 mile run on Thursday and a 2.5 mile run on Saturday. Not the workouts I would have been doing at home, but at least something. And I planned in advance that the week would be easier. I was hoping to get in some swimming, but the timing didn’t workout for that, and it didn’t make sense to try to force it.

Even from a “health” perspective, I think these were the right choices for me. I didn’t compromise my diet and training too much. And our emotional well-being is also part of our health. Maybe I could have stuck strictly to my diet and training regimen while in Orlando. But it would have had costs. It would have created more family friction than necessary. It would have reduced my ability to enjoy the vacation. I’ll take the slight setbacks in diet and training for the emotional well-being. And I want to be clear. I don’t even think there’s anything wrong with people that choose to put their diets and training entirely on hold while on vacation. For many people, who are not serious athletes, that might be entirely appropriate. I just think we should be aware of what choices we make.

Here’s some photos from the vacation:

Jeremy in front of the globe at Epcot Center.

Me and Jeremy in front of the Nemo and Friends exhibit at Epcot.

Me feeding a baby kangaroo at Busch Gardens.

Me and Jeremy in front of the tiger habitat at Busch Gardens.

Me, Jeremy, and his mom in front of “Downtown Disney,” right before Jeremy and I were headed to the airport for the flight home.

273 days till Ironman Arizona.

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From → diet, life, rest days

3 Comments
  1. Fun trip Jeff. I know it is hard to break the routine. My husband and I are trying to plan a special weekend for our 15th anniversary and I am planning a bike ride on Sat and a run on Sunday and he said that I needed to find a pool and I said, it will be ok if I miss 1 swim. Glad he is on my side! He also rides a road and mountain bike, so that is helpful. But I will face these decisions if we take a vacation for my son’s spring break and summer when I may be farther from home. My brother is doing IM in NYC and I don’t think I’ll go because by August, I think the training matters more, but you are so right, we are always having to make choices. Sounds like you made some good ones and I think one big lesson everyone can learn is that perfection may make you feel better, but being able to adapt to change is part of what Ironman will be about. Things are not going to go as planned on race day, so our ability to adapt will be vital. I have no doubt you will do great because you are committed and hard working. Oh BTW, like your partner’s name (my son share’s the name!). Smiles and miles to you this week. Beth

    • jbkosbie permalink

      I agree that having a supportive partner makes a huge difference — your comment inspired me to write another post making that more explicit! I even ran a marathon while we were in Hawaii a couple years ago for our vow exchange. And as you mention, it is easier to make compromises while we’re still this far away from the Ironman. I have a week of conference travel in late August that will be more challenging. But at least for conference travel I can control my own logistics a little more…

  2. Oh no, I did a marathon in Maui almost 15 years ago on my honeymoon too! It was not exactly planned, but it was there and so was I. We can only do it with the support and your right, we can’t forget to thank those that are there for us through the process. I know a few people that the triathlon lifestyle contributed to the break up or strain of a relationship, so I worry a lot about that too.

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