On Vacations and Weight

Last week, I landed at JFK with mixed emotions.

Happy to be home and getting back to some sort of regular routine (and back to my DOG!); sad to end a fun vacation.

And cold because I didn’t want to carry a heavy winter coat so I was wearing yoga pants and a leather jacket in 30-something degree weather.

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Winter coat, this is not.

Toward the end of the week, I started feeling disgustingly bloated. Where I started the week feeling mildly self-conscious in a bikini, I ended it feeling entirely self-conscious of the spare tire I felt around my midsection.

I got home and all I wanted to do was hot yoga. I wanted to sweat out a week’s worth of beer and fish tacos. I wanted a bit more meditative time before I hopped back into real life.

In what may be my dumbest move of my life, I stepped gingerly onto the scale. I saw the highest number I’ve seen in years and jumped right back off. The last time I saw this number was on the way down.

This is my third “real vacation” since starting to lose weight. (Real vacation=a trip for the sole purpose of relaxing, laying in the sun and drinking fruity drinks; everything else is just a trip.)

My first vacation, I was still very much in the middle of my weight loss journey.


I remember trying to practice some moderation, but I also remember lots of cocktails and French fries. I also ran on the beach a few times and did a few workouts in the little hotel gym, and I came home the exact same weight.

Real Vacation #2, I visited my college BFF Lindsay in Hawaii. (Linds, I’m really glad you’re back on the East Coast and all…but I miss having someone to visit in Hawaii.)


She’s also a runner, and we were both training for marathons at the time, so we ran several times that week. She lived there at the time, so I stayed with her and her husband. We split our time going out to eat and eating at their house, but since I was on the only one “on vacation,” I was the only one with vacation mentality and seeing them make healthy or moderate choices helped me do the same.

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St. Croix? Well, Ashley and I ran once? (Together; she ran once more on her own.) It was really hot and really hilly and really hard. I love running and I love vacation, but running on vacation? Meh. I also did two workouts Jess had written out for me that I could do with just bodyweight.


Oh, and I played some tennis. New Balance also has tennis shoes, but I brought my Minimuses, and their flat soles ended up being fine for the lateral movement, but I would probably wear a more supportive shoe to play for a long time.

If I could do vacation over, would I drink less beer and exercise more? No.

It’s just fueling my motivation to work out and eat healthy these days. Nothing crazy, just getting back into my normal routine, and I’m already down a few pounds water weight.

Lessons learned:

Maybe pack a heavier coat when coming back to winter from a warm vacation.

Calories do actually count on vacation.

But if you get back to your normal routine soon, you will probably shed some water weight.

Do you work out on vacation? How do you get back on track after vacation?

Oh…and my Cosmo story about losing weight is now online!

32 comments on “On Vacations and Weight

  1. Ari @ Ari's Menu

    Vacations are hard. I always feel like everyone else can eat whatever they want on vacation with no side effects, and I come home 10 lbs heavier. I came home in August after a summer of working away from home, and then a week long trip to Hawaii. I worked out the entire time, and I still came back well over my normal weight. The thing is, within two weeks of being in my normal routine, my weight was back to normal, so it may seem like a big deal at first, but I promise that before you know it you’ll be back to where you were before you left. Just trust in your body, and try not to let it get you down. Vacations are for having fun. At least you didn’t come back with a tattoo you don’t remember getting or a weird disease 😉

  2. Linda Chan

    I worked out on vacation once, it wasn’t bad. I worked out in the hotel gym. I didn’t wok out during my recent vacation. I actually took about a month off from working out and now I have to play catch-up. But, I think I needed the rest.

  3. Stephanie @ Steph's Miles

    I received my February Cosmo in the mail yesterday. I usually let those site on my desk for a whole month but picked it right up to flip to your article. How cool! I have a habit of reading my magazines from cover to cover, in order, so I haven’t made it to your article yet, but I’m close! Have a good night!

  4. Jessica R @ fromthekitchentotheroad

    I just got back from a short vacation yesterday. I ran 7.5 miles the first day I was there but discovered how icy the roads and sidewalks are around there. It then snowed the rest of the time I was there and I was not prepared for that so that was the only run I did there. To get back on track I forced myself up at my normal 4:30am wake-up call this morning to get in a run. I am tired but I will make it and hopefully it will help get me back into the swing of things.

  5. Beth @ 990 Square

    I hear you on the vacation thing. We were in Puerto Rico at the same time you were away, and there were a bunch of pictures taken of me at the end of the trip in a bikini that I was LESS than pleased with. But I’m already feeling better being back on track!

  6. Nicole

    I do stick to working out on vacation and actually work out more because I have more time.
    Love your nail color in the top picture – what is it?

  7. Jenny

    Yiu were the first blog I followed and I read it every day or with every new post. It is refreshing you share with is the great aspects of your life but also your frustrations. On so many blogs it seems so far removed from my life. But I always can relate in some way to you. You will do great and be back at it. Always feels good especially beginning the new year! You will do great and thanks for all you do!

      1. Jenny

        @Theodora: also today I have my first phone call with Jess can’t wait. And you have inspired me to eat at home and make my own food. I know the food is the big key even more than working out for me. Thanks for everything!

  8. Dori

    LOVE the Cosmo article, it’s really great! I try to work out a little bit on vacation. When I went to Seattle over Christmas week I got in one workout and was very happy with that. When I went to Cancun in May I worked out three of the days because the other girls all slept later than me and there wasn’t much else for me to do anyway. It really depends on where the vacation is and how easy it is to exercise there, how lazy I feel, what my other activities there are. I do feel better when I work out first thing in the morning so I try to do that before getting my relaxing day started.

  9. Beckett @ The Birchwood Pie Project

    I’m very much of the “what happens on vacation stays on vacation” mentality. I’ll do “fun” exercise like swimming and hiking and basically eat what I want, without going into binge territory. And oh yes, stay away from the scale for a few days afterwards;-)

  10. Evi

    Vacations are always hard. I always bring clothes and tell myself I WILL work out, but that is always hard. For whatever reason, if I’m on a work trip- then it’s so much easier to work out. If I go to Europe, or some place I walk a lot- then I sort of let it go and count it as “exercise”…but when we went on our honeymoon in Thailand- it was hard that I didn’t work out, but I know we ate a bit better since it wasn’t an all-inclusive where I could eat everything. Moderation? =)

    Can’t wait to read the article!

  11. Gianna

    I can relate so much to your life, and love that you are so real with your readers.
    I tend to not do well with more than a day off from a workout. It just really like working up a sweat regardless of where I am at!
    Food choices are another story I am running the Miami marathon but it’s also vaca – heading down a few days early and my bday is the day after. The good news – until the marathon no drinking or poor food choices to keep my stomach happy. That only gives me a couple days to be “bad” 😉 not to mention will have a lot of calories banked from running 26.2. I plan on enjoying those couple days after!

  12. Tara

    I always try to get a workout in first thing in the morning when on vacation. I tend to eat light (although may eat dessert more than at home!)
    I always make sure to do an activity during the day as well-walk for an hour on the beach-kayak, tennis, beach volley, bike ride….. so I am not just lazing around all day (I need to earn those beer calories!)

    The bloat could be from flying/adjusting to the temp change and who knows what.
    The important thing is
    1-enjoying your vacation!
    2-getting back to your healthy excerise/eating routine when you get home.
    I dont want to come home from a vacation and think ‘I wish I enjoyed myself more’ you know?!
    I cannot wait to read your Cosmo Article!

  13. Maureen

    First: I read the Cosmo article last night and it’s fantastic. Congratulations and thank you for being open about your struggles as well as your successes.

    Second: The last real vacation I took was to London in 2010 for my cousin’s wedding. I didn’t work out at all and did not regret that decision. Was I up a few pounds when I came home? Probably. I avoided the scale like it was my job. But I didn’t want to sacrifice the time with my family to visit the hotel gym.

  14. Jessica

    You don’t go on vacation to lose weight or save money!

    (Says the girl who gained 3 pounds from my vacation. Oh well, back to the grind. Those conch fritters, french fries and rum drinks were totally worth it.)

  15. Sara @ The Foodie Diaries

    When I go on vacation, all sense of “moderation” is thrown out the window (along with my dignity — kidding?). I eat what I want, drink what I want, and focus solely on having fun. When I’m actually ON vacation I don’t care about anything but having a good time. When I get home is when the guilt sinks in. Should I REALLY have drank 4 daquiris with dinner? Did I need them? Did I need that slice of cake? The guilt can consume you, but like you said, after a week or two of switching back to normal eating habits and workouts – the weight COMES BACK OFF. It’s not the end of the world, it’s life. The important thing is to enjoy it 🙂

  16. Kristin

    I just got back from Italy with a 5 pound weight gain. I did run 3 times while there on brutal hills, but honestly it was so I could eat more! I allow myself to do whatever I want on vacation knowing there is more than enough time for discipline at home. Every delicious pound was worth it!

  17. Cait P.

    Your vacation looked awesome!!
    I’m a personal trainer, so before I travel, I try to write some “travel friendly” workouts for me to do while I’m on vacation! Since I never know what equipment will be available, I create workouts that require no equipment, and can be done in very little space 🙂 lots of plyometrics like burpees and jumpies so I can get my heart rate up quickly!
    Thanks for sharing your story!!

      1. Meghan

        Madison and 38th ish. I was too nervous! maybe next time 🙂 I am new to reading blogs and never really met anyone whose blog I read!

        1. Theodora Post author

          Oh, funny–that’s right in front of a friend’s apt! And I don’t usually walk that way–was walking to work from a doctor’s appointment. Yes, please say hello if you do see me again!

  18. Lisa

    LOL sadly, calories DO count on vacations and birthdays–despite what my boyfriend tries to tell me!

    I always exercise on vacation. Either lots of walking, running, hiking, snowshoeing–depending on where I am on vacation I try to soak up the local fitness. It’s fun! It’s a cool way to explore a new city and it makes me feel less guilty about all the beer and fruity drinks. 🙂

    One of the highlights of my vacation to Hawaii last year was swimming in the ocean and going for my morning run on the boardwalk. Wow, so amazing. Beautiful, peaceful, fun. Love it!


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