Vacations are great. It’s actually been proven that simply planning a vacation makes you happier. I can vouch for that. During the past 2-3 weeks of being crazy busy at work, knowing that I was going to have 3 days off was like a ray of sunshine through clouds of gloom. And now that that trip is over, I’m looking forward to our Alaska trip where I’ll run my first full marathon.
But something about vacations has always bothered me: the break from routine. You may think that sounds ridiculous but for me, a person who values routine, having many days in a row without my usual routine makes me feel naked and unproductive. It also makes me worry that my routine must not be that important to me, if one little vacation makes me throw it out the window. The result is that I come back from vacations feeling like, for however many days I was gone, I wasn’t really living my life. I was living someone else’s life, a life in an alternate universe.
I can hear some of you saying, “That’s the sign of a good vacation.”
And now, I’d have to agree. I was thinking about this while we were down in Evansville, how feeling so separated from normal life bothers me. And then I realized: the break from reality is God’s blessing. True, I come home from vacation feeling like I was someone else for a while, but that reinvigorates and refreshes me for my everyday life. It makes me even more excited for my routine, more thankful for my own bed, more loving to my pooches, more grateful for my house. Without the break from reality that a vacation provides, I wouldn’t feel that new life instilled in the “same old.”
So now, I’m looking at the break from routine as a good thing… and trying to keep that positive perspective when I look at what happens to my eating habits on vacation.
Over the course of doing my Food Log for Lent, I have experienced many of the “diet downfalls” that normally trip me up: group meals, vacations, baby or bridal showers, date night, post-long run food fests. It has been very interesting to me to see how my body naturally regulates itself so that higher calories days (or weeks) are balanced out with lower ones.
On our recent trip to Evansville, I kept up my food log as much as I could (though I’m pretty sure I missed a mini Twix bar or two). And looking back on what I ate and drank, I was interested to see that 20% of my calories were EMPTY. Meaning they were in the form of chocolate (not dark), alcohol (white wine), and soda (Mountain Dew), and provided no nutritional value (there were other things consumed that weren’t the epitome of health but they had some nutritional value). I compared that to a “normal” week of eating and found that my empty calories then were only 8% of my total calories. Sure, the numbers aren’t a night and day difference but when I look at days where I ate 700 calories of pure sugar, it’s not hard to see why I feel sluggish and blob-like on vacation.
You know what they say, Knowledge is power. It’s been helpful for me to see the truth of my eating habits, even when they’re not pretty. And even though at first, I was surprised at how much I ate (which ended up being a higher-calorie week than average anyway), I’m now surprised that the times when I feel like I’ve eaten “so much food” and have “gained 5 lbs” really aren’t that big of a deal calorie-wise in the end anyway (it’s still a big deal glorifying-God-wise). And because I can relax over “the damage that has been done,” I can focus on what really matters: finding my satisfaction and joy in God alone.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a little more chocolate than usual while I’m on vacation.