I have not been training since leaving Canada three weeks ago.
Reading the above sentence, you may have one of the following two reactions:
1. This is not surprising. Many people “fall off the wagon” when they go on vacation. Who wants to work out while travelling?
2. This is surprising. She is a health coach, after all. You’d think she would keep up her exercise, even on vacation.
Both reactions are based on incomplete information, so let me first explain what I mean by “no training”.
I started training regularly (4-6 times a week) when I started Precision Nutrition as a client. Simply seeing myself as someone who trains regularly was a great identity shift for me.
After couple of years of consistent training, I realized that I was very fearful of “letting it go”, while I was out of my regular routine.
Surely, I will stop exercising as soon as I go on a trip? I will eat myself to death and do nothing physical, while at an all-inclusive resort? I will come twenty pounds heavier after few weeks in Italy? How will I stay active in Nicaragua? Shall I bring a detailed schedule of adjusted workouts, and travel equipment?
I remember obsessing over the details of my workouts before taking off to Central America for the first time few years ago. I would have a full three weeks before Survival Run, and I was determined to continue training. “What kind of workouts can I do?”, I asked. “What kind of equipment shall I bring?”.
My coach looked bored. He shrugged, and told me to relax. “Just… MOVE”, he said. “You’ll be fine”.
I decided to follow his advice, and… I was fine. My days unfolded quite naturally, and I discovered that I felt best if I did some physical activity in the morning, and some in t afternoon. I ended up walking lots, without trying. I did some push-ups on the beach. I did some strenuous hikes. I ate beans and rice. I felt great. [Read more about training anywhere here.]
In the last three weeks, I did not follow any sort of structured training program. I visited a CrossFit box in St.Petersburg. I went running half dozen times. I made it out to a gym twice. I dug gravel, and carried it in buckets, helping to lay a sidewalk. More than anything, I walked, covering at least 10,000 steps a day (and over 20,000 steps on longer days).
Staying active while travelling, and/or while on vacation is a common goal. Lack of specificity is what usually stands in the way of us actually achieving that goal.
How can you make “staying active” quantifiable? What does that mean? Were you active – yes or no? How will you answer that question every night?
In my case, I adopted the same approach I used in Italy few years ago:
If I make 10,000 steps a day or more, I do not worry about a workout. If I get in a workout, I do not worry about making 10,000 steps.
It took a number of trips to realize that my identity was not going to evaporate, simply because I hopped on a plane for few hours, or because there was no barbell available for few weeks.
If you are worried about the same thing, remember that your (new) identity is not that fragile. Consistency of actions eventually cements the habits into place, and you shake up your routine, your life, and still hold on to that identity.
Who are you? What do you like?
I am an athlete. I like to move. Wherever I am, I will move. One way or another.
You can do the same.
P.S. In the perfect world, I’d be able to travel, train less (or not at all), eat differently AND maintain the body composition I am used to, while living, training and eating at home. That is not the case. My jeans are a little tighter, and my tummy is a little squishier. I doubt I will manage my heaviest squat at this very moment. It IS a trade-off. And it seems like a small price to pay for the ultimate freedom to play and explore, while keeping my body strong and healthy.