Finding Balance: Moderation on Vacation

As I type this I am sitting on an airplane headed to Pittsburgh PA, with planned excursions to Toledo and Detroit, to visit family and friends. After a plane change, and three gate changes that included a terminal change, I'm just happy that we're finally moving forward (Hubs not so much).

As I begin my vacation, learn about how I am trying to strike a balance between enjoyment and healthy choices while on vacation. Should you work out every day and strictly adhere to a diet, or take a vacation from your exercise and diet routine? How to find the best of both worlds.

airplane wing

Travel can be challenging for me because I am the queen of routine. I do best when life is consistent. I eat the same breakfast and lunch, walk my dog, and work out at the same time every day. These lifestyle habits make healthy living easy for me; it's so routine that it's not an effort to find the time, energy, or motivation to do the activities that make me a healthier person. I just do them.

It's why I love the run streak so much. A mile a day keeps me on track; I love the routine. If I miss a day occasionally, no worries, I start back up at the next opportunity.

Pittsburgh hotel run streak selfie

Pittsburgh hotel run streak selfie

I started a new strength program that schedules two days a week of heavy lifting; then every other day is a short low-intensity workout with bands.

Anything that happens every single day becomes effortless for me once I build the habit. I use habit-building to accomplish any of my goals. I ask myself, "How can I fit it in every day, even in small doses?" It's not always easy, but the concept is simple and effective.

There's a dark side to routine. I tend to have an all-or-nothing personality. I've learned to manage it a lot better than in my days of yo-yo weight loss and gain, but the tendency is always there. I'm on the plan, or I'm off, there's no middle ground.

So a vacation, a work trip, illness, or unexpected changes to my schedule all can throw my smooth-rolling train right off the tracks. Then once I'm off, I can struggle to get back on track.

It's why moderation is so important to me, and something I have to work on all the time. If I find myself getting too crazy or strict (or too loose), I have to allow myself to come back to the middle ground, because middle ground keeps me sane, and helps me normalize when life infers with my plans to be "perfect."

Spoiler alert: Life always will, every time, for every human gets in the way of well-thought-out plans. Learning to expect it to deal with it is the first step in healthy living. Perfect doesn't exist.

This week on the blog, I want to explore some of the strategies I learned to put in place to combat the challenge of staying on track while traveling, without acting like a crazy person.

I learned these strategies by trying and failing in the past, by gaining twenty pounds in the months after a vacation because I couldn't flip the switch back to healthy habits after going wild on vacation. I've learned a lot from my mistakes, which allows me to find balance.


Unless you are prepping for a bodybuilding stage show, there's almost no reason that you need to try to eat 100% ideally on vacation (or in everyday life) Let it go. If you make healthy choices most of the time, then one week of your life won't have too much of an impact on your health or results. It's not the week that you're on vacation that matters, it's the other 51 weeks a year.

If you're trying to meal prep with Tupperware out of of your extended stay hotel kitchen, you may be taking this healthy living thing too far. Find the balance between healthy eating and enjoying yourself. A few more indulgences than a usual week? Went hog wild? No problem. Really. What you do habitually matters more than what you occasionally do. I'll assume you're not habitually on vacation.


I feel my best when I fuel my body with healthy foods. Junk food and alcohol, while enjoyable in moderation, kick up my anxiety and depression when extended. Exercise and healthy eating allow me to manage it.

For me, while I enjoy an indulgence as much as the next gal, I like to eat healthy foods, because then I feel my best. I make the best choices possible while traveling, within reason. I don't stress when my options aren't perfect; I try to make the best choice that is available to me, whether that's gas station string cheese, a fast-food salad, or asking the restaurant to hold the hamburger bun. I don't go crazy, but try to make the best choice without sacrificing joy.

When I want to indulge, I do it without guilt. I make sure I enjoy it.

Toledo Sushi; my favorite indulgence

Toledo Sushi; my favorite indulgence


Once we arrive, my mom is making burgers and potato salad for lunch. Spending time with my parents, laughing with my siblings, and enjoying the company of loved ones is more important than worrying about how many calories or how many unhealthy carbs are in that white flour hamburger bun. The joy is in the experience.

Health isn't just about what you eat, but your mindset, and your relationships too. If you narrowly focus on food as the only source of health, you may be sacrificing mental health or opportunities to bond and build relationships for an overall healthier lifestyle.


I brought resistance bands with me on my trip and if time and schedule allow, I'll do a few quick hotel room strength exercises during the week. It's lower intensity than I would do if I were at home, but maintaining a short daily workout will make the transition back home a little easier.

I also plan on continuing the run streak as long as it doesn't interfere with our plans. It will be fun to take a run tour of a new neighborhood. I'm making plans to move without being too rigid. I'll do the best I can.

Vacation usually provides opportunity for more walking, or more active days than a typical work day. Take advantage by walking to close destinations, renting bikes, or choosing active activities. Exercise doesn't have to be structured to be effective, let's move!

no running occurred in Detroit, but I enjoyed shopping in the running store.

no running occurred in Detroit, but I enjoyed shopping in the running store.


The most important step is to return to routine as soon as possible. That doesn't mean extra workouts to pay penance for your vacation sins, or a three-day-fast to counteract the extra calories, return to normal, as soon as possible. Everything will level out. If you ate too much, skipped all your workouts, and fell totally off plan, no worries. Wipe the slate clean and start over fresh as soon as possible.

As this plane is landing (finally) I intended to do the best I can with what's available, to strive for moderation, to move my body, and move on from any indulgences. A solid plan for staying on track during vacation, without acting crazy.

Do you struggle with moderation like I do? How do you make healthier choices on vacation?


I’m home in Fort Worth. I went back to work, trained a client, walked my dog, and did my first strength workout since returning home. The sooner I get back on my regular schedule, the better. I won’t always be able to make perfect choices, but I’ve spent years building healthy habits so that I can fall back on them in times like these

home in the Fort Worth ShredShed

home in the Fort Worth ShredShed

Do you take a vacation from healthy choices while traveling?

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Questions? I’d love to help.

Coach Lea

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