How To Get Your Health Back On Track After Vacation

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Shorter Version

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The lounge chair cocktails and five-star meals have come to an end. While you’re saying good-bye to the ocean waves, you’re starting to feel guilty for indulging in every buffet you set eyes on and going a week without working out. Yet, it’s time to go back to the real world and hit the reset button.

Get your health back on track

Health guru or not, taking a break from your normal health habits during vacation happens to all of us. It can feel good to get out of your daily routine once in a while and let our body relax in a new environment. Research states that vacations can improve both physical and mental health, enhance relationships, help manage stress, and decrease burnout. But how do we get back on track after we feel refreshed?

You might be ready to jump right back into the swing of things, and that’s great! Others might want to ease their way back into a routine, and that’s okay, too. You do you, remembering to give your body what it needs at this moment. Be kind to yourself rather than beating yourself down for skipping a few workouts or having an extra piece of dessert. Today is a new day and your body appreciates the time you gave it to recover and savor.

Hey, friend, this goes for after holidays, too!

What to focus on to get your health back on track

When moving on from vacation, focus on re-hydrating, re-fueling with nutrient-dense foods, moving your body with respect, and re-establishing regular sleep habits. Here are a few quick tips to help jump start your first week back from vacation:

  • Drink a 16-ounce glass of water right when you wake. Continue sipping plenty of hydrating fluids throughout the day. This will help keep you energized and normalize digestion.
  • Do 5-10 minutes of stretching or gentle yoga after waking up and before going to bed. Gentle movements like stretching will get your blood flowing so it can transport important nutrients throughout your body.
  • Drink herbal tea with mint, lemon, or ginger to ease indigestion or bloating.
  • Make your grocery shopping list on your drive or flight home, then hit the store as soon as possible. Filling your fridge with fresh foods right away will prevent more eating out.
  • Keep your meal plan or weekly menu simple. Avoid trying new recipes right when you get home. Just stick to the basics and your favorite go-to recipes that can be whipped up in minimal time with little effort.
  • Choose fresh fruit for dessert and mocktails for cocktails. Treats like chocolate cake and piña coladas should be just that – treats.
  • Eat at home as much as possible. You can control the ingredients and the portions.
  • Fill up on fiber with fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Fiber helps rid the system of toxins and feeds the healthy bacteria in our gut (that is most likely off-balance after a sweet and salty vacation).
  • Set an appointment or calendar reminder for your workout. Once it’s on the calendar, you can’t schedule over it!
  • Set up workout dates with a friend and don’t let them down.
  • Go to bed 10-15 minutes earlier each night until you are back to your normal sleep schedule.

Get your health back on track by easing back into your habits and taking it one day at a time!

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Actionable Steps


Be mindful of what your body needs to reset and recover

Coming back from a weeklong trip to the beach? Maybe you’re not ready to jump immediately back into your busy routine yet. Take an extra day to re-set your goals. Or maybe you need extra time to recover from a long weekend of hiking? Sounds like some yoga and refueling might help you ease back into the swing of things and get your health back on track. Whatever it might be, allow your body time to readjust back to its norm without feeling guilty.


Sip, sip away!

Re-hydrate your cells with some good old-fashioned water. Whether it be from excess alcohol, extra-rich desserts, a daily order of French fries, or just soaking up the sun, staying hydrated will help get your health back on track by warding off bloat, constipation, fatigue, food cravings, caffeine, and sugar crashes.


Get back to your normal eating habits as soon as possible

Skipping breakfast to sleep in, enjoying late-night dinners, dining out every day, and sipping alcoholic or sweetened beverages that aren’t part of our normal routine suddenly become the vacation norm. Come home ready to restock the fridge and pantry with your go-to healthy foods. Pack in the whole-foods including a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and quality protein. The sooner you add back fiber-rich and nutrient-dense foods, the sooner your gut can heal and feel regular again (in more ways than one).


Consider taking a break from alcohol and take-out food

You’ve had your fair share of indulgences and enjoyed every last sip or bite. Now it’s time to replenish with quality calories over empty calories. Taking a short break from alcoholic beverages and calorie-dense restaurant meals will give your body the room to take in a little extra protein, fresh fruits, and veggies during this recovery time.


Take it easy getting back to the gym

It’s good to let your body take a break once in a while. Your 3 to 7-day vacation (also known as a “recovery phase” of a long-term exercise program) just helped your body regain strength and heal from the past several weeks of physical stress. When you get back from vacation or simply time away from the gym, increase the length of your warm-up and cool down, exercise at an intensity level of about 50-75% of your best, and add in some extra stretching exercises.


Stick to a sleep schedule

Sleeping in is over and the alarms are reset at the crack of dawn. Although your body can’t actually “catch up on sleep,” it can still benefit from re-establishing a normal sleep schedule. Once you get back from vacay, make it a point to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Start winding down for bed at least 30 minutes before you want to snooze to help your body get in the sleepy mood. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep.


Make yourself accountable

Buddy up with an accountability partner or group. Scheduling a workout date with your bestie is bound to keep you from bailing. Coordinate meal prepping with your roommate. Get your friends on board with your back-on-track mindset and ask if happy hour can move from the bar to the barre class. Book group fitness classes that require a cancellation fee (yes, you can do it!).


Read the longer version

To learn more, read these articles reviewed by our professionals: How 8 Nutritionists Get Their Diets and Health Back on Track After Vacation by Prevention, How to Bounce Back from Your Holiday Food Hangover (these tips totally apply to bouncing back from vacay, too!) by the Registered Dietitians at PopSugar Fitness, and 8 Tips for Getting Back Into the Gym After a Vacation by LiveStrong. If you already have your next vacation booked, plan ahead with 8 Ways to Stay Healthy While on Vacation by McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN.

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About the Author

shannon costello

Shannon Costello

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

Hi, I’m Shannon! I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Culinary Coach, and Personal Trainer. After dedicating over 8 years to the corporate wellness world, I began my own nutrition practice. Chef Shannon Nutrition focuses on plant-based nutrition and culinary coaching. My passion for culinary nutrition grew when I worked as a cooking instructor for a culinary entertainment company. After several years as an instructor and event coordinator, I moved into the role of Director of Culinary Entertainment where I developed all the recipes, menus, and instructor trainings. My dietetic’s expertise helped the company expand into allergy-friendly and health conscious menus to suit all clients.
Full Bio | LinkedIn | 1:1 Coaching

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