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!


Packing for a plane trip and progressing your planks: all in all, a random Friday

By the time you read this, I’ll be on my way to the airport for a week for sun (hopefully!) and relaxation (cross your fingers!). While I’m off having fun, I want you to practice your planks; add some movement to them and see whether or not your feel your core tomorrow!

I threw together the following video in response to a series of plank progression videos by my friends Kymberly and Alexandra over at Fun and Fit. Lots of variety to keep you busy while I’m on holidays!

I’ll certainly be joining you; I make a habit of squeezing in a bit of daily exercise even when vacationing. In fact, one of the criteria I use when choosing a hotel is the presence of an exercise room. Most hotels post pictures of their fitness facilities online, so it’s easy to know in advance what type of equipment I’ll have to work with.

Also required is a heated swimming pool (just in case it rains), an in-room kitchenette (I like to keep lots of healthy snacks on hand) and a hot breakfast buffet (one fewer meal to eat out per day, and my boys always make sure we get our money’s worth!).

I try not to stress too much about food, but make sure to pack some dried fruit and nuts, as well as a protein bar or too; emergency snacks to ward off starvation and the subsequent poor food choices that follow!

I’ve got my workout clothes (I pack 1 tank and 1 pair of shorts and wash them in the sink as needed),

my book and my knitting (don’t hate on the color; my daughter’s desperate for bright socks!); I’m ready and raring to go!

Have a great spring break! I’ll be checking in periodically throughout the week and will most likely post ‘on the fly’.

What are your absolute requirements in a vacation residence?

Anything you can’t live with out on holiday?

Healthy holiday scorecard

Almost home. As I write this, we are en route, two hours east of home, our last holiday meal eaten and digesting. We ate at The Home in Hope; a family diner renowned for it’s home made pies (we declined, despite being tempted) and down home cookin’. Hubby and I split a roast chicken sandwich and spinach salad combo (can’t imagine anybody eating the whole thing by themselves) and splurged on a shared date square. Yum!

My goal for this trip (besides having fun with my family) was to stick to my fitness and nutrition habits while on the road. Searching out healthy eating alternatives at restaurants and making do with the exercise options available at our various stops along the way.

How did I do?

Fitness: B+
Nutrition: B-
Family fun: A-

In eight days, I managed 6 reasonable workouts; 2 days of treadmill running (20 min) and weight lifting in hotel fitness facilities, 2 pool workouts (laps and treading water for 20-30 min) and 2 challenging hikes (rough terrain, elevation gain and loss, moderate distance).

Not quite up to my usual weekly workout schedule (a bit light on the weight training), but not so bad for a holiday. I neglected my pushups challenge (naughty, naughty); adding that extra bit of body weight training would have elevated my score to an A.

At home, my weekly nutrition plan includes about 4 splurges (I eat 5-6 times per day, so 4 splurges per week amounts to 90% compliance with a clean eating diet). I’m guessing that over the last week I had 10-12 splurges, meaning that I was only about 70% compliant while on holiday. Splurges included beer, ice cream, s’mores, a few mouthfuls of the most amazing chocolate cake ever, garlic bread, nachos and dark chocolate. I also ate more starchy carbs than normal (which is why I’m feeling a bit bloated around the middle).

While we did a lot of driving (meaning that I refereed a lot of squabbles…), we also had lots of fun-filled adventures. And that’s what family holidays are really about.

Why only an A- for family fun? I’ll give you a hint; tent + upset tummy + laundromat… Stay tuned for the answer tomorrow…