How To Minimize Weight Gain On Vacation

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I’ve been back from my holiday in the Czech Republic for three weeks and I’m right in the thick of things.

Back to school (for my 4-year-old son), back to (more serious) work for most of us, and back to a more regular routine.

I was away with my husband and 4-year-old son for ten days and something very interesting happened.

Or should I say, didn’t happen.

I didn’t put on any weight.

For many people, a week or two away from their usual routine will almost always include some weight gain.

You want to enjoy all that amazing food that you don’t get at home, right?

And who has time to go the the gym when you’ve got amazing historical cities to explore?

I certainly didn’t skimp on food and I didn’t even bother to look for a gym.

So why wasn’t the trip a disaster?

(Not that weight gain is really a “disaster”, but I think you know what I mean).

I’ve got a bit of experience staying lean after years of yo-yo dieting, and being able to manage my lifestyle no matter where I go or what I do is a big part of that.

I generally travel 2-3 times per year and I’ve written about my nutrition and fitness routine on a Caribbean vacation before.

Based on my experiences, I’ve found a way of vacationing that allows me to follow the “lean lifestyle” without feeling deprived or sacrificing any of the fun of traveling.

Here Are My 5 Tips To Minimize Weight Gain On Vacation:

1) Enjoy Your Food, But Decide If It’s Really Worth It

We all have different food tastes and personal preferences.

Know your favourites and skip the things that you’re not interested in.

If you want to try some exotic local favourites or just a country’s speciality, go ahead.

minimize-weight-gain-on-vacation-beerA vacation in the Czech Republic without beer? Naaaaaah.

Enjoy a little drink, if that’s your thing.

I consider myself a bit of a foodie and I like to try new foods.

Feel free to explore the local cuisine.

Try a little bit and if it’s not to your liking then stop.

Share it with your family or get rid of it (if it’s truly terrible!).

Since I’m not a big fan of the bread in the Czech Republic, I usually left that sitting on the table.

It’s not worth the calories for me.

My husband tried the local goulash, but it didn’t interest me so I skipped it.

Just like in your day-to-day life, you have lots of daily choices to make about food.

Be true to what you value and don’t just become a glutton because you’re in a different country.

If you’re looking for specific tips for a tropical all-inclusive vacation, check out my BLOG POST HERE.

2) Do As Much Physical Activity As You Can

When you’re exploring new places, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll end up doing more daily physical activity than you do at home.


If you can plan fun outdoor activities that get you moving, even better.

As part of our holiday, we did a 10K hike up the tallest mountain in the Czech Republic, Sniezka, with my Czech cousin.


That was definitely a bigger effort than even our usual day sightseeing.

Our days in Prague were spent walking all around the beautiful city.

I can only imagine how many steps we took on our explorations.

We also did a canoe trip on the Vltava River in the town of Cesky Krumlov, just to mix it up a little.


So we tried to stay active (and keep our 4-year-old entertained!), but there wasn’t any formal exercise program.

I know there are people who like to hit the gym first thing in the morning when they go on vacation.

If that’s your thing, cool.

For me, I’d rather spend that time exploring the place I’m visiting or spending more time with my family.

The gym will be there when I get back home.

3) Keep Your Nutrition Basics in Place

My meals were generally based around protein and vegetables, as they are when I’m at home.

I don’t eat red meat (I don’t like it and it doesn’t help my acid reflux) so my options are generally poultry and seafood.

Here are a few examples of food I had on my vacation:

Grilled monk fish with grilled veggies, roasted potatoes, and truffle sauce. The vegetables were a mix of okra, yellow beets, zucchini, eggplant, heirloom carrots, fennel, and purple cauliflower.

chicken-ratatouille-minimize-fat-gain-vacationRoasted Chicken Leg with Ratatouille (tomato, pepper, eggplant, and herbs)

salmon-risotto-minimize-fat-gain-vacationGrilled salmon with asparagus, mushroom and cheese risotto.

minimize-weight-gain-on-vacation-mealChicken breast with mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and sweet potato and green pea puree

Now I certainly didn’t feel deprived eating like this on vacation.

In fact, these were some of the tastiest meals I’ve had in a while.

The protein was there and most of the time there were veggies involved too.

I kept the starchy carbs (bread, potatoes, rice, grains) to a minimum, for the most part, because I wanted to enjoy some other higher-calorie treats, like the chocolate my grandmother bought me, or the ice cream on a hot day.

minimize-weight-gain-on-vacation-ice-creamThis black chocolate ice cream was totally worth every calorie!

minimize-weight-gain-on-vacation-dessertSo was this mascarpone and fruit dessert!

minimize-weight-gain-on-vacation-burger-fitdadMy boys enjoyed sharing this burger and fries. I wasn’t interested.

Eat what really satisfies you and only add treats when they’re going to add value to your experience.

Make an active choice…don’t just let yourself get led astray by every food option that crosses your path.

4) Pack Food For Travel

When you want to minimize weight gain on vacation, it all starts with the plane journey.

I’m not suggesting that you only eat food from home, far from it, but planes don’t offer the best options so it’s good to bring something.

I generally bring nuts, some cut veggies and fruit, and perhaps some protein bars to keep me from the worst of the airplane food.

And of course, water – lots of water – for the dehydrating plane journey.

I even packed a tub of protein powder and had a serving every day before breakfast to make sure that I was getting enough protein.

That way I had protein covered every day without having to think about it.

And considering that this salty meat pie is considered a “Hot Meal” by Air Canada, it’s worth being prepared:


5) Make A Plan For Your Return Home

Getting back from vacation can be tough.

You’re tired, there’s so much laundry to be done, and you haven’t got much fresh food in the fridge because you had to clean it out before you left.

You’re out of your gym routine and you’re feeling less-than-eager to push yourself.

That’s why it’s important to have a plan for your return from holiday.

If you leave things open for when you get back home, you may find that the gym habit disappears for longer than you expected.

You may rely too much on less-ideal convenience foods when you come back.

I made a plan for my first session back at the gym (a couple of days after our return because we had things to do).

We relied on some easy food, like whole roasted chickens, to make sure that we were getting our protein in.

Honestly, it took about a week to get things back in order after our vacation.

Our son was going to Kindergarten, which brought its own challenges, and we took some time to get organized and enjoy some end-of-summer activities (like an air show and a couple of amusement parks!).

Still, the result was good.

Since I kept my basics in place and had a plan for my gym return, there was no progress lost.

My legs were a bit more sore for the first few sessions, but I’m now feeling better than ever.

And that’s what holidays are supposed to do for you, right?

Ivana Chapman

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Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman BSc BA CSCS is a Canadian fitness and nutrition coach, happy wife, and mom to an energetic 8-year-old boy. She is a YouTuber, writer, published fitness model, speaker, 3rd Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, former World Cup Karate Champion, one-time marathoner, and CBBF National level Natural Bikini competitor. She loves weight training, chocolate, mountain biking, and ice cream...not always in that order of preference.
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