Vacation is the time to relax, unwind, and have fun with your family. It’s an occasion I look forward to every summer, and I tend to let myself overindulge. It’s completely normal to go off your regular routine when you are away from home, and I don’t allow any negative feelings of guilt creep in if I make choices that throw me off track.
What did overindulging on vacation look like for me four years ago? In July of 2018, I went on an amazing vacation with my family to an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana, and you know what “all-inclusive” means, all you can eat and all you can drink! I believed it was my ticket to drink and eat the days away! Before I even left for the trip, I had it in my mind that it was time for overindulgence, especially with drinking.
And lots of drinking I did. I started with mimosas in the morning at breakfast, cocktails by the pool all afternoon, and finished it off with wine at dinner. It was continuous, non stop drinking all day long! At the time, I believed this is what you are supposed to do on an all-inclusive vacation. Got to get your money’s worth after all! How did it make me feel overindulging like that? Good, at the time, but looking back on it, I realized how much it actually took away from me fully enjoying my vacation.
I had to take a 2-hour nap each afternoon just to be able to get through the rest of the day because my energy was drained, and I mentally needed a break. I realized after the fact how much I missed out on during my time spent in paradise, not only from the necessary naps but from not being fully present with myself and my family due to being intoxicated almost the whole trip. Not only did my drinking affect missing out on fun activities I could have been doing, it also put a damper on my family’s plans and caused them to miss out.
When I got home from that vacation in Punta Cana, I felt like I needed to take a vacation from my vacation! I felt like garbage from all the eating and drinking I did. I felt like I gained 10 lbs. I was exhausted, bloated and self-loathing myself for how much alcohol I consumed. I needed to find a way to recover, and by that point, I was in control of how I wanted to move ahead with recovering and feeling better, getting myself back on track. Unfortunately, my mind went right to “Well, screw it, why stop overindulging now? I may as well keep it going!”. What was the point? I might as well enjoy the rest of the summer! This is the one of the unfortunate holds that alcohol addiction has on many.
Thinking back to all the summers when I was a drinker, they were all laced with heavy drinking. My pattern was to gain weight over the summer due to the overindulging in both drinking and eating. My energy and mood were a big ZERO! This was the vicious cycle that I was stuck in, and because I was so stuck in the cycle, I could not imagine there being another way. I didn’t know any different. By the time September rolled around, I felt probably the lowest that I have ever experienced, mentally, physically and emotionally.
Fast forward to the present day, and I handle overindulging on vacation much differently. I recently got back from a vacation in Cape Cod. It is a vacation that I do twice a summer with my family, as we are very blessed to have a family house there. While I am alcohol-free, I admit I did overindulge in ice cream and ate more processed food than usual. Ice cream isn’t a usual treat that I eat when I am at home, but there’s something about being in Cape Cod with my family that we really enjoy the ritual of having it together, and it’s part of our routine when we are there.
What resulted from my overindulging in ice cream most evenings when I was away? Having low energy, low mood, and stepping on the scale when I got home was not pleasant. Not to mention, my face broke out horribly, which I know is a result of the inflammatory dairy and sugar overload. The symptoms I was experiencing after my overindulging was my body screaming at me to clean up my act!
When I got home I had two choices. I could continue to overindulge, like I used to do in the past, or commit to getting back on track. My skin and scale were clearly rooting for me to get back on track! The old me would have said, “Screw it, keep going!”. Now I know that is not the direction I want to go in, and that will not serve me positively. I am in a much different place now than I was 4 years ago when I was drinking. It made me realize even more how much alcohol was taking away from me.
When I returned home from vacation, I got back on my routine of going to bed on time, getting up early, journaling, exercising, walking my dogs, sitting in my sauna and having my green smoothie for breakfast. I also got back into my routine of meditating in the afternoon, which I missed and knew I needed. I feel so much better in general when I get my mediation practice in. I got my healthy eating back on track, and I didn’t beat myself up for the overindulging I did while on vacation. I gave myself grace and self-compassion and moved ahead.
Once I got back into my healthy routine, I quickly started to feel so much better. I was getting better sleep, and my mind felt much more in balance. My skin started to clear up about a week in, and my bloated feeling started to disappear. My positive mood got back online, and the “so much better” feeling fueled me to continue onward with my healthy habits.
When you return from vacation, what can you do to start to get yourself back on track? Some ideas are to go to bed a half-hour earlier (I know I stayed up later than usual while on vacation), or take a short walk first thing in the morning. Up your water intake and be sure you are properly hydrating (this is very easy not to do while on vacation), or try adding more colorful vegetables and fruits at every meal and notice how you feel.
It’s all about mindset when it comes to deciding on which route to take next in life. Which healthy habits can you introduce to start feeling good and get your body and mind back on track if you have veered off course?