On the benefits of letting go of holiday exercise expectations (Guest Post)

In the spring of 2012 Julie & her family hit rock bottom. They finally realized, after years of dreaming, that it was time to leap. 6 months later they have moved to a small island in BC from their home in Vancouver, quit their jobs and re-focussed their life on their kids. Julie’s blog “Pursuit of Happyness” follows their journey, shares their stories as they face their fears and redefine success for themselves.

We just returned from a two week vacation in St Lucia, thanks to a fabulous win from the tomtom map paradise contest.

Two weeks at an all-inclusive, full of food, fabulous sunshine and lots of fun!

julie nowell

Before we left and as I was packing our cases, hubby walked in on me as I was slipping my sneakers and workout gear inside with wishful thoughts of running off my pina coladas on the beach at sunrise, partaking in the daily yoga classes and reminding my abs of their existence via the sweaty fitness classes.

But, the reality is that it really was wishful thinking.

Hubby’s look said it all. . .

See, what I forgot was that we were going away as a family, all five of us, for two weeks of fun and frivolity. As much as fitness was a part of my life, it wasn’t all of my life, and me taking time away from the 3 kids, in a new (sweaty environment) just wasn’t going to happen.

And honestly, I didn’t really want it to.

Instead of bringing my runners, I focussed my energy on my kids, and spent my sweat sailing with the family, building sandcastles and enjoying a few rambunctious games of volleyball.

I did indulge. . . I enjoyed the evening dessert bar, and far too many sugar and rum laden frothy drinks, but I also tried to focus my food intake on proteins and simple veg (pretty hard to find at an all-inclusive that caters to mainly British!)

And I imagine I burned a few calories laughing at our 3 year old learning to body surf and at the girls racing each other down the beach.

Julie Nowell

And I relaxed, I smiled and I let my expectations for my body go for a moment.

See, I believe that we should be comfortable with our fitness level, which sometimes means letting go of the structure of a routine and allowing ourselves the freedom to stray, always knowing and being confident in the fact that we will return and find our strength again. I believe it is ok to have breaks, changes and adjustments in all of our life, all while maintaining a happy, balanced existence. And yes, that means enjoying, guilt free, that pina colada and nap on the beach!

I did not want to take time away from my family each day, or even every few days to maintain a moderate intensity exercise program.

So, I let it go.

I will return to my fitness routine, absolutely, and I will return with a new vigor and intensity that I may not have had if I had maintained it on our holiday and missed the giant caterpillar or the totally awesome sandcastle. My fitness is a part of my life, as are many things, but it didn’t need to come with me on my holiday.

Plus, it was seriously hot here . . . there was no way I was running in 40’ heat with massive humidity! Yikes!



  1. I love this.
    I am this.
    Im WORKING HARD to be this in all areas—not just exercise.

    Fab guest post.
    Miz recently posted…Im on an anti-clutter crusade.My Profile

    • Love that thought! It is about allowing yourself to be human, in all areas of your life! The guilt over indulgence will hurt you more than the indulgence sometimes!

  2. Needed this today!!

    After a stressful weekend of parents coming down or not due to our Midwest Blizzard and then having more than enough food/treats to feed many I kind of let go my emotions in the food. (Yes, I am and always have been that kind of eater….still trying to figure that out)

    So after 3 days of eating whatever whenever the scale and my bloated ~ salt ridden hands/fingers are telling me you over did it and its time to hit it hard again. Which I will and I will come back fighting even harder to prove to myself the binge won’t get the best of me. 😉

    • You are not the binge! I have to remind myself of that. Just because I made a bad food choice, I am not a bad person!

      Have you read any of Geneen Roth’s books? She knows a lot about emotional eating and has spent the past 20 years working with women to help them overcome it. I highly recommend her Kathy!

  3. I definitely like the perspective. I admit though working out on vacation is a treat for me. I like running in new cities it makes me feel so alive
    Amanda @RunToTheFinish recently posted…How to Balance CrossFit and RunningMy Profile

    • Amanda, I have noticed that you runners like exotic locales! LOL!
      Especially if you have a running stroller and can make your kids a part of the experience!

  4. Yep. Balance. I know how you feel. But I actually love working out while I travel as the new scenery is refreshing.
    Brad Gouthro recently posted…The Afterburn Effect – Live Lean Afterburn Circuit Workout #1 #LLTVMy Profile

    • Well, my travel workouts are usually quick and in the hotel gym, so I can’t say that the ‘new scenery’ argument works for me Brad! Ha!

  5. I sometimes find it hard to let go of work. But when my boys were young, I was really good at it, knowing that one day they wouldn’t want to spend much time with me. I’m so glad I spent all that time doing “silly” kid stuff. It paid off.
    AlexandraFunFit recently posted…TheraFit Shoes Were Made for Walking: Product ReviewMy Profile

    • I’m looking forward to being at the point where I can look back and be happy with my decisions! Since my youngest is 8, I think I have a few more years of doing silly kid stuff! (Thank goodness!)

  6. Exactly! I really don’t carry any expectations for holidays, birthdays, big events, etc because I really just don’t want to set myself up for disappointment. Honestly the only thing I can say I am really excited for because this doesn’t change, is the fact that I am going to be able to sleep in later when I go home for Christmas and New Years! WAHOO! ha ha.
    GiGi Eats Celebrities recently posted…Strike A PoseMy Profile

  7. What a great trip your friends won! So happy for them.
    KymberlyFunFit recently posted…TheraFit Shoes Were Made for Walking: Product ReviewMy Profile

  8. Playing out is exercise too! Thanks for the reminder that not all exercise needs to be structured.
    PS – sounds like you had a great trip!
    Janice – Fitness Cheerleader recently posted…What would you accomplish if you were unstoppable?My Profile

  9. This is a hard area for me BUT I do LESS when I am gone. This vacation with my sis really had me out of the comfort zone. She does not run so we did lots of fast walks, hill walking & hiking – it was great! I wanted to use my bands while I was there but we kept running out of time so I did not get to use them hardly at all for that week. I MISSED my lifting & was glad to get back to it but it did not hurt me. 😉 2 weeks, I think, would be too much for me. 😉 I was so active though that no weight gained!
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted…Holiday Workout Help – Same Effect in Less TimeMy Profile

    • Jody, I think you have such great nutrition habits and enough muscle mass to keep your metabolism revved and the pounds at bay for at least a week without working out 😉

      Of course, the mind needs the workout too, so best not to stay away too long, right?