How To Not Stress Over Exercise On Vacation

Catalina Island | No Stress Over Exercise On Vacation

Today I’m going to chat about NOT stressing over exercise on vacation. I had a reader write in and request this post, so here I am! If you ever have a post request, please, leave it in the comments of any post – I’ll always consider your requests!

This reader requested that I write on exercising while on vacation, specifically, *how to live in the moment and be okay with not exercising every morning (or possibly any morning at all!) if doing so is your routine at home.*

I had to really think about this question, which was cool for me, because it made me realize that it’s been so long since I’ve stressed over exercising on vacation. Which is good news for all of us, because if it’s possible for me to move on from this stress, then it’s no different for you – it’s possible for ALL of us! 

That said, I used to stress over exercise on vacation with every single trip. I can definitely relate. I ALSO asked YOU on Instagram what stressed you out about exercise while on vacation, and here’s what you said: 

“I feel guilty if I don’t work out on vacation because I’m eating foods I wouldn’t normally eat – things that are ‘bad’, however, I also want to sleep in because I’m on vacation!”

“The guilt that comes from the number of times I’ve packed my workout clothes and sneakers to exercise on vacation and then NEVER USE THEM.”

“Coming from a family of non-exercisers, I get really uncomfortable with the comments that are made like ‘We’re supposed to be on vacation! Why are you working out?!'”

“I think it’s stressful because you want to relax and be easy on yourself, but you don’t want to let yourself go and feel depressed that you don’t feel good about your body. You start to wonder if you should just work out to avoid that risk.”

SUCH good points, ladies. All of you! Thank you for sharing! 

For me, in the past when I’d stress over exercise on vacation, it was usually because I had a super consistent/regular routine at home, so when I’d leave town, I’d worry about what would happen if I strayed from that. Would I gain weight? Would I not be able to get back to it once I was home? Sometimes I’d just feel guilty that I wasn’t doing it. Relate? Let’s talk about this…

The goal is to feel good.

What is the purpose of exercise? Have you ever thought about that? It’s not JUST “to lose weight.” And this is the only thing you can come up with, let’s rethink our goals around exercise because there are so many MORE blessings and benefits from exercise than just helping us to lose or maintain our weight.

Some of the other benefits of exercise are: health, increased ability to move, anti-aging (keeps us young!), it’s a de-stresser (as long as we don’t stress over it – interesting!), it can be fun, it can allow us to feel like we’re really making steps to take care of ourselves, it can be a way of honoring our bodies, etc… So many great things!

When all of those benefits are considered, the ultimate goal of exercise is this: to help us to feel good. 

So, when you’re on vacation, keep this in mind. If it would feel good to take long walks on vacation, or make plans that are active, then do it! But if it would feel stressful or burdensome for you to make yourself hit the hotel gym every morning when you really want to be sleeping in and resting, then don’t do that. Find things that are in line with your vacation values.

Likewise, with packing for exercise before your trip. If you want to bring some walking shoes, then go for it! But let’s avoid the “I’m going to pack these running shoes, but I know I won’t run, but I’m gonna make myself, so I’m going to pack them anyways and then feel bad about it later” pattern. OH gosh have I been there before!

Remember, the goal is FEELING GOOD. If you know running will make you feel good physically, but not so good mentally, or it will take away from enjoying something that’s really important to you about your vacation, then weigh it out. Look at the benefits vs. the costs… it’s OKAY if running feels good at home, but not on vacation.

On the other hand, it’s also okay TO exercise if that’s what would feel best. If you’re struggling with the other end of this: exercising, and feeling weird because of the comments other people are making, then that’s on them. That’s not on you. You have permission to do what feels good to you.

For example, when Marco and I do our yearly summer trip to Catalina with his family, I’ll take myself out for a walk/jog/hike most days that we’re there. But it’s NOT because I have to. It’s because it gives me alone time, it breaks up my day, it gets me in the sun, and it feels SO GOOD to break a sweat and feel so relaxed afterward. It’s not ever a “HAVE TO.” It’s a “want to.” If his family commented on this, I wouldn’t let that stop me (and thankfully they do not). What works for me, works for me, and what works for you, works for you. No apologies needed.

That said, on most of our short 2-3 day weekend trips, I don’t think about exercise at all. We usually plan hikes for fun, or end up naturally walking around and exploring a lot. Working out is NOT something that I allow to DISTRACT me from enjoying a beautiful trip. Rather, if it’s included, it’s because it ADDS value to my trip and makes it BETTER.

Every trip will be different. You may have a trip where it feels GREAT to run/walk/yoga everyday, and the next time you leave town, it doesn’t. That’s okay. Be present, and be flexible. Allow yourself to experiment and play around with what would feel best, one trip at a time. A day at a time. There are NO rules.

Questions, comments, or thoughts here? Leave them at the bottom of this post. Let’s chat!

Being present on vacation is important.

Being present on vacation is so important. Vacations give you an opportunity to build memories that will last a lifetime. Not just for you, but for the people who you’re vacationing with. Not to be morbid, but think about it… if you passed away a week after your vacation, what memories would you want the people you were with to be left with?

Memories are treasures for the people you love! I know this firsthand from losing my mom three months ago. I CHERISH those memories where she was her silly self, free from worry, and created beautiful memories with me. Those memories are such a gift that I will never take for granted. They’re my treasures.

What’s important to you about your vacation? What do you want to enjoy? Who do you want to enjoy? What memories would feel special to build? How do you want to FEEL on vacation? Get super clear on THESE THINGS, and then making choices around exercise will be easier – you’ll see what fits with your values and what doesn’t.

It’s not that long.

Finally, remember that vacations are usually not that long – a few days, a week, a few weeks, or even a month, is truly not long compared to the rest of your life.

That said, remember, if you’re paying attention to your body on vacation, you’re NOT going to be set up to go on a trip and feel awful the whole time. Your body WILL let you know what would and wouldn’t feel good, it’s up to US to listen.

And you CAN listen to your body with food on vacation. If you’re “NEVER” going to have a funnel cake again, does that mean you have to stuff yourself full and eat the whole thing? Sure, you could. Would it feel good for you? That’s something you’ll have to ask yourself. But if not, ask yourself WHAT ELSE you’re wanting to experience. Perhaps it’s not eating A WHOLE funnel cake, but getting to PARTAKE in tasting it, enjoying a few bites, and still feeling like your normal self afterward. See the difference?

As you reflect on this, I also want to say that you won’t ever be 100% with listening to your body – sometimes you’ll eat too much and feel stuffed, and that’s OKAY. It’s normal – happens to me too! If you want to read more about EATING while on vacation, here’s a post I wrote on that: How to Continue Intuitive Eating While on Vacation

I hope this post gives you more peace of mind around exercise on vacation. Most of all: focus on what would feel good, think about how you want to feel, and honor your body. If she needs movement (which we all do!) think of ways that you can move which is BLESS you, and BLESS your vacation, not take away from it.

All of my love is with you, as always! If you have any questions or thoughts to share, leave them at the bottom of this post. I’d love to hear from you.

Love, Paige

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  • Ah, I love this, Paige! I used to worry so much about exercising while on holiday. It was exhausting and not fun at all. Now, I just go with the flow so to speak and do what feels good. Often I actually move a lot more when I am on holiday than I do in my day-to-day life. I walk much more, ride a bike, go for hikes etc. I might not be doing yoga, going for a run or go to the gym but I am pretty sure I actually move much more – without even thinking about it! But I am also absolutely fine with a day at the beach where I don’t move that much. Today I always try to listen to my body when it comes to exercise – whether it’s on holiday or not, and it feel SOOO good! And you actually helped me get to this point 🙂

    • Ah, I love this feedback Heidi! Thank you! I’m so glad I was able to help you get to this point – I’m sooo honored! And I agree – I end up moving more naturally on vacation too, without even thinking about it! XO

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  • Nicole Horrocks

    I love this post! This is something that has been a tough piece to let go of for me, but the further I move along on my intuitive eating + intuitive movement journey, the more I realize it’s all about value. Will this ADD or bring value to the rest of the vacation experience? So often I missed out on those morning cuddles with my husband, feeling rested and energized for vacation adventures, or being able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast because I HAD to get up early to do some sort of exercise. Now I see it as a fun bonus if there’s an opportunity that presents itself, but if it doesn’t, so be it. Your routine is always there to return to once you get home, and often you’re more energized when you return because you actually RESTED on your vacation (which is really the point of a vacation anyway!) As always you had lots of great feedback in this one, so thank you for opening the discussion. 🙂

    • Ah, such a great comment Nicole! Thank you SO much for sharing! I appreciate it. I relate so much to what you shared, and love that you’ve been able to find more freedom around exercising on vacation too, just doing it when a great opportunity presents itself, and otherwise not worrying and just enjoying your hubby and things like a leisurely breakfast. Yes! XO

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