How To Stay On-Plan on Vacation

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Have you wondered if it's worth it to have a THM Vacation, or if it's better to just enjoy yourself? What if I told you that you could do both?

After years of coaching women to help them make Trim Healthy Mama a lifestyle (you can read about my five-star rated Six Week Bootcamp with THM Coach Jen by clicking here), I've seen time and time again that one of the toughest recoveries can be coming home from vacation!

What I see often (and have experienced myself) is that we tend to go off-plan on vacation and then it becomes a total free for all – we get out of our home environment and tend to convince ourselves that every meal is special in some way because we are on vacation.

The issue is not that we can't enjoy an off-plan meal here or there – going off-plan should be rare if you're in weight loss mode, but THM isn't a jail sentence or even a diet – it's a lifestyle!

The issue is more that once you go off-plan on vacation, it's just too easy to get what I call a case of the “might-as-wells” – I ate this, so I might as well eat that.

I have a real life example (I asked one of last year's Bootcamp Members for permission to tell this story). Marie went on vacation during Bootcamp and continued to post her food journals for me to review and critique. Marie wanted to have a THM vacation, and we strategized some ideas to help her do it. On Day 1 she did a great job staying on plan, but then on Day 2 I saw several off-plan choices.

One of my favorite things about travel is eating local cuisine, so I definitely understand the desire to have an off-plan treat or enjoy something special! But on Day 3, Marie and I talked about her trip to McDonald's for a Big Mac, then Chick-Fil-A for lunch…this was an SOS situation!

It's COMPLETELY understandable to want to think less about food on a trip. But it was just too easy for Marie to get off-plan and stay off-plan. We were able to turn things around so she still had some amazing foods but ate more on-plan meals, but it very nearly became a week+ off off-plan foods.

In my own experience, I've noticed that when I go off-plan and stay off-plan on vacation, I struggle a lot when I get home, too. On vacation I get the “I might as well, I'm on vacation” mentality, and then at home, it's one thing after another. The first day home it can be something like, “We don't have groceries so we need to order pizza”, then the next day it can be “I'm too busy unpacking so I have to get takeout.” And the off-plan mentality tends to stick with us.

Tips to Stay On-Plan on Vacation

I wanted to share just a few of my strategies to help you make your vacation an opportunity to continue to make progress towards your goals, and make it easy to get back on plan if you do choose to eat off-plan.

  1. Take snacks – I have LOTS of snack ideas here at The Well-Planned Kitchen, and many of those are perfect for travel, but if you can only choose ONE travel friendly item I would take collagen (of course, please use caution in airport security lines 😳). Collagen added to Bai tea is one of my favorite ways to get an FP protein in. Quick tip: I take a good sip of the tea, then pour 1/2 -3/4 of a packet of collagen into the bottle. I put the lid back on (tightly) and shake until it's combined well. If you have a lean protein available, you'll be in great shape to make an S, E, or FP snack! My second choice would be Gentle Sweet – I portion mine into small containers (again, please be CAREFUL of airport security and label it well, or keep it in the original packaging if you need to, lol!) and add it to lots of things, but especially to plain breve lattes.
  2. Scope out the Continental breakfast – I've found plain oatmeal at many hotels. I'll stir in stevia or Gentle Sweet, top with fresh fruit, and have coffee or tea with collagen on the side for a good, on-plan E. Many hotels have bacon and eggs for S breakfasts, too!
  3. Shop when you get there – if you can get to a grocery store you can grab some on-plan snacks (see this collection for some shelf-stable snack ideas) you'll be set with some easy, transportable options!
  4. Eat in when you can – If you can have a refrigerator and cooking equipment in your hotel room, you'll be in even better shape! You could grab ingredients for one of my last-minute Rotisserie Chicken meals here, or stock up on some shelf-stable items to make a ten minute THM-friendly pantry meal.
  5. Order low-carb at restaurants – I recommend making many of your snacks and hotel meals E's because it's way easier to find on-plan S options at restaurants. SO many restaurants have keto options now, and a majority of those are on-plan! I have a printable THM-friendly dining out guide available at the bottom of this post if you need inspiration and ideas! Of course you'll probably want to try the local cuisine, and I think that's a fantastic, fun way to enjoy your trip, but do your best to have an on-plan S meal!
  6. If you must, choose one time to go off-plan towards the end of the trip – One Bootcamp member gasped OUT LOUD during our one-on-one phone call about her upcoming vacation when I told her to try this. Bootcamp is all about getting on-plan 100% and staying on plan…but I understand the desire to eat something special that you can't normally get at home! But if you start Day 1 with off-plan foods, you're very likely to continue to eat off-plan the entire time (and then some!).

    Instead, I recommend pre-planning a special meal at a special restaurant that isn't available close to home. If that meal is towards the very end of your trip, you'll be minimizing the potential of eating off-plan for a long period of time. If you're going to go off-plan, make it worth it!
  7. Plan your Deep S meals for immediately after that meal. If you decide ahead of time what you'll be eating after you go off-plan, you'll be in much better shape! I have a Cheat Recovery Meal Plan here to help you get back on track with THM as soon as possible!
  8. Have a shopping list and meal plan ready for when you get home – it is TOO EASY to stay off-plan after vacation! Life tends to get busy fast! One of my favorite things to do is choose a THM-friendly pre-made meal plan and order a grocery pickup for the day I'll be getting home (I often do it before I leave for vacation!).

    Most importantly, enjoy your trip! I personally think it's even easier to enjoy a trip when you eat on-plan and keep the off-plan choices few and far between (or not at all)! A THM vacation can be just as satisfying – and imagine coming home having made slimming choices that you can feel good about!

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