How to Maintain Your Momentum During Vacations

Will your cardiovascular fitness suffer?

Will you get weaker?

Will you gain weight?

We get questions like that all the time when vacations approach. Here are the answers!

Habits and Science

Habits can be hard to break. That’s a bad thing when you’re talking about bad habits, but it’s great when you’re dealing with healthy habits. You have a long-term fitness habit, and it’s unbreakable.

If you work out regularly all year, rest assured that you will not lose all your momentum if you miss a few workouts for vacations.

And you probably won’t lose any physical progress at all. The truth is that V02 max—one measure of aerobic fitness—decreases about 4 or 5 percent after about 10 days if you stop training completely. Strength and muscle mass start to decrease after two to four weeks of inactivity.

All that is great news.

First, I know you aren’t going to be inactive during vacations. Even if you train half as much, you aren’t quitting cold turkey, so you shouldn’t expect to lose any progress.

Second, the vacation period usually runs 7-12 days or so. So your strength and muscle are more than safe, and if you throw in a few workouts, your conditioning is very safe, too.

People who have a few great meals with family but stay active can expect to maintain their weight. A hearty meal or two won’t cause instant weight gain, the same way a protein shake doesn’t instantly add rippling muscle to your arms.

The Best Plan

You should enjoy the vacations, and if that means you miss a few workouts, don’t sweat it.

But I don’t want you to break any habits or start feeling worried, so do this: Plan to get in at least two or three workouts. They can be “official gym workouts” or just something simple in the garage or the park.

The important thing: Plan these workouts. Put them on the calendar so you do them.

In between workouts, plan two or three “activities.” They can be as simple as walking around exploring and seeing sights. Put these things on the calendar, too.

If you have big meals on the schedule, eat veggies and low-fat fare in the other meals that day. Eat nutritious food on the days after you feast.

Stick to this plan and enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about a meal, dessert, drink or lost fitness. You can look at the calendar and realize you’ve programmed six activities in 12 days, and you’ll feel better. And you’ll realize you’re eating nutritious food regularly, too.

People run into trouble when they think, “I haven’t worked out in weeks!” That can set a person back and kill momentum. But if you can always say “I did something for my health just the other day,” you’ll never feel like you’re losing steam.

Don’t worry: A day off or two won’t harm your fitness, and if you stick to my plan, you’ll carry a ton of momentum after your vacation.