The holiday conundrum

Holidays are the best. Great for the mind, great for the soul. “But what about the body?” I hear you ask. Well that is quite a conundrum, indeed. I don’t know about you, but as soon as my out of office is on and my brain switches to holiday mode, all semblance of discipline goes out of the window. Eat all the food? Sure, thanks, I will, and I deserve to right? ‘Cos I’m on HOLIDAY. This sort of binary thinking has often got me into trouble, causing me to massively overindulge when on holiday in particular, justifying this behaviour to myself as a “treat” that I have “earned”.

Now, this whole mentality doesn’t work particularly well if you’re a) on a diet and b) have anxiety issues related to your weight, for instance. More than anything I have ever tried, a controlled diet and regular exercise has been the best possible way for me to maintain mental balance, and to keep my inner positive voice (IPV, you know, the rational one) in a good position to deflect the harsh criticism that my inner negative voice (INV) spouts on an almost constant basis. Breaking with my routine makes this dynamic shift, giving the INV a microphone that allows it to deafen out all of the good that my IPV has been doing. This basically means that, without fail, I return from holiday with heavier emotions and a heavier body.

For these reasons, instead of being purely excited about my recent trip to Malaysia and Singapore, part of me was worrying about my vacation from my diet and exercise regime, and the potential that this would have to erode all of my hard work (I’m really good at catastrophising by the way). However, despite all of these concerns, I managed to go away for ten days and NOT PUT ON ANY WEIGHT, without being a total fun sponge by refusing to partake in the array of things these amazing countries have to offer, and here’s how I did it chaps:

  1. EXERCISE. So at the risk of being captain obvious, holiday, even more so than real life, is an amazing time to push your body to its physical limits and enjoy the exhaustion of exercise (without having to actually achieve other things as well). I surprised myself by actually exercising much more than I would do in London. I managed to swim most days for half an hour and go on some really long sightseeing walks, which revealed some amazing scenery to me. I even ran 5 km one evening, although in the heat, this was incredibly hard. I have to say though, a couple of times now I’ve taken my trainers on holiday and gone for a run, and it’s an incredible way to see a city from a totally different perspective. The combination of all of this meant that my energy levels were far higher than they would have been for Rose of yesteryear, who would have punctuated everything with a nap. And this just meant that when I did sleep, it was even better.
  2. EAT (SOME OF) EVERYTHING. It would be borderline criminal to visit far-flung corners of this world and not sample the local cuisines. On this trip, I tried everything that I wanted to, I just didn’t eat to the extent that my stomach burst at the seams. I treated myself for the hard work of exercise by allowing myself to relax a bit with what I was eating, and it was great. Where possible, I tried to keep the carbs to a minimum (which isn’t the easiest in countries where noodles and rice are staples of the local diet) and, generally speaking, I tried to be more mindful when I was eating, to ensure I was enjoying it fully. I didn’t deprive myself of anything, but nor did I overindulge massively; an elusive balance that I’ve never before achieved.
  3. DRINK (SOME OF) EVERYTHING. I did definitely have a couple of drunken nights while away, one in particular was my maiden voyage on gin and didn’t end well (FYI, another good tip I picked up there: yoghurt isn’t a good thing to eat on a hangover). But I also didn’t drink some days. Or when my friends started drinking at midday, I’d just join in later on in the evening; being on holiday is enough of a relaxant for me, without the need for alcohol. And when I did drink, I diluted my alcohol with sparkling water so that I didn’t dehydrate too much in the heat, which is also a handy way to avoid a hangover from hell.

I was so relieved to return from holiday for once in my adult life and be greeted by my IPV. Refreshed in my mind, my soul and my body, with only jet lag to contend with rather than guilt: what a good result.


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