Why we gain so much weight on vacation and how to lose it fast?
I’m a personal trainer and I gained five pounds!
Sure, it was a get-away vacation, but I thought I did pretty well with diet and exercise… until I took a little inventory. I did okay on the exercise front. We stayed at the Venetian which has a very nice fitness facility. I worked out two of the four days, running and lifting weights during both workouts. I also did a fair amount of walking, up and down the Las Vegas strip as well as through the casino and hotel.
Where I went wrong, as most people on vacation do, was my diet – or lack thereof. When we are home, we get into a routine with when we eat, what we eat and how much we eat. But when we are away on a trip, be it for business or pleasure, all of that changes. This can lead to the higher number we see on the scales.
Thrown Off Schedule
We are creatures of habit. At home, we eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at approximately the same time every day. And we usually eat slower because we usually aren’t on the run or pressed for time to get someplace. But vacation tends to screw that schedule up a bit. We might eat breakfast later (or even skip it) because we sleep in. Therefore, we eat lunch later and we often eat dinner closer to bed time. And if we are in a different time zone like I was in Las Vegas (3 hours behind), then meal schedules can be off quite a bit. For example, the first night in Las Vegas, my wife and I grabbed a burger at Denny’s at 11:00pm (PST) or 2:00am (EST) because we hadn’t eaten in about 12 hours. Ouch! Our bodies just don’t adapt that quickly to the new schedule, throwing digestion out of whack.
Vacations give us the opportunity to eat things we don’t normally consume. How many times do you grab a snack at the airport? Do you pack snacks for the beach or park? Do you indulge in greasy burger, giant tenderloin or cheesy fries at the touristy restaurant? Oh… and what about the alcohol? Do you drink just a little (or a lot) more than you do at home? Of course you do… it’s vacation! We all make bad food choices on vacation, but that’s what vacations are for, right?
“What big portions you have!”
I think the best examples from my trip to Las Vegas of eating outside the norm was buying a foot-long Coney dog along the strip and then eating a mega grand slam breakfast at Denny’s the last morning there. Cripes! I haven’t been to a Denny’s in years and I ate there twice in four days! Then there was the endless beer and cocktails I drank in the sports book watching the first two days of NCAA tournament games. And of course, they had $2 jumbo hot dogs that I just had to snarf down to ward off the effects of free booze! On vacation, we eat at restaurants that are on an evil mission to make all of us fat and addicted to food by bringing us portion sizes that could feed an entire village in a third world country for a month! We don’t pay attention to how much food we have on our plate. My rationale is, “Hell, I paid for it. I’m going to eat ALL of it!”
So, that’s how we gain five pounds (or more) in just a few days. We simply take a break from our hectic and stressful lives to enjoy our temporary environment and time spent with friends and family. It’s just a part of life and there’s nothing wrong with indulging for a brief time.
The Silver Lining
If there is any silver lining in this scenario, it’s that most of that weight gain is probably water. Why? Because when we eat snacks, fast food, and restaurant food and drink a lot of soda and alcohol, we are consuming massive amounts of sodium. Therefore, we retain fluids and blow up like a frightened puffer fish.
Sure, we may consume two or three times the daily calories we are used to, but it would take an EXTRA 17, 500 calories to gain five pounds of fat in four days. Remember, one pound is equal to 3,500 calories. Even though I didn’t eat very healthy for a couple of meals, I doubt that I ever ate more than 3,000 calories in any one day and I probably burned about 800-1,000 calories during each of my two gym workouts.
You’ve got to lose it, lose it!
So, you want to lose that post-vacation weight? It may take a couple of weeks, but you’ll get there. If you exercise and eat healthy, you’ll get there even faster. Here are a few tips:
- Get back into YOUR routine. That means eating and sleeping on schedule.
- Control calories and portion sizes. No more super duper buffets or triple bacon cheeseburgers with large fries and as shake! Hold to about 11 calories per pound of desired body weight and you’ll be fine.
- Ditch the snacks. Some of the foods that you ate on vacation can have the same impact as an addictive drug. You can become addicted very quickly to sugar, salt, grease, fat, etc… Try pulling back on the carbs for a couple of days.
- Hydrate with H20. Water is our friend and we need to drink between six to eight 8-oz glasses a day. It helps us with blood sugar levels. It flushes our system. It makes us feel full. Just water. Not those flavored, carbonated waters with artificial sweeteners!
- Exercise. Get off of your butt and do something physical. Take a walk, ride your bike, walk your dog, or hit the gym. You can’t expect results if you don’t exercise!
For one of my high school classmates, Scott L., who inspired this post… I hope you had fun in Florida! Now, get back on it!
To Your Health!