**Trigger Warning: Calorie numbers mentioned**
I love going on vacation — but then again, who doesn’t? Whether it’s air travel or a road trip, taking some much-needed days off from work to visit a new destination is always enjoyable.
Well, maybe not entirely enjoyable. I always look forward to vacations, but at the same time, I’m freaking out inside about stepping out of my comfort zone of daily routines, at least as it relates to food and exercise.
I’ve gotten better at this as I’ve progressed through eating disorder recovery, but my recovery certainly hasn’t been linear. It ebbs and flows, with ups and downs and relapses.
In fact, two years ago at this time I was in the midst of a relapse. Something triggered in my brain and I decided to revert back to old habits. I actually went out and bought a scale so I could track my “progress”. I started restricting my intake again, which led to obsessive thinking. It was around this time that I happened to be going on vacation for my birthday, to San Diego.
Now, I’m not sure if it was the vacation itself that triggered the relapse, but no matter the case, they intersected perfectly. I was so excited to visit San Diego for the first time, but I was having an internal meltdown about what I’d be eating and how I’d be exercising.
I remember on my birthday that I only got about 8,000 steps (per my Fitbit) because we spent most of the day at the beach and then went to the airport to pick up my sister and went to dinner in Little Italy. My low step count (compared to my usual at the time 15,000 steps per day) freaked me out, as did my birthday dessert. My parents drove out of the way to stop at Whole Foods so I could get a vegan cupcake, which they didn’t have, so I ended up with a vegan cake slice. Unfortunately, the bakery area displayed calories, so I knew exactly how many were in my cake (I think it was about 800).
I remember only ordering appetizers at the restaurant (a really cool Italian place with some amazing vegan dishes) so I could “save room” for the dessert. I didn’t think I deserved all that food since I didn’t really exercise that day. Again, this was my birthday, a day I should have been enjoying with my family instead of worried about calorie and step counts.
The rest of the vacation, I was also concerned about food and exercise, so I didn’t get to enjoy it as much as I should have (though I still had a great time, and did enjoy some delicious vegan food).
I’m going back to San Diego this year for my birthday (in less than 2 weeks!) and I could very easily let the ED voice take control again. But I’m fighting hard to keep that from happening.
So many bloggers/Instagrammers talk about getting “vacation ready”. And they don’t mean planning their packing list. They mean getting their body in perfect shape, whatever that means. So basically, they restrict themselves in one way or another, and workout harder than normal, in the weeks leading up to a trip. Maybe some of them do it without disordered intentions, but I call bullshit on that in many cases.
I know for me, getting “vacation ready” leads to a slippery slope of disordered thoughts and actions that quickly spin out of control. If I restrict myself in the weeks before my vacation, I won’t be able to just turn it off and enjoy myself on vacation. Because that voice, those actions have already taken hold of my brain. Two years ago, I bet I thought I could just go back to ED habits and then feel fine eating normally on vacation, but that didn’t happen. It took me months to get back on track.
Of course, there’s part of me that wants to look a certain way for vacation, especially since I’ll be spending a lot of time at the beach. I don’t want to look back at photos and cringe because I don’t like what I see. But going back to disordered habits isn’t the way to fix that. I have to change my mindset, to think positively and not be so harsh on myself. I want to enjoy the hell out of my vacation, not waste it counting calories and picking apart my body.
So yes, I still plan to eat fairly healthy, and to fit in exercise (because a workout always sets a good tone for my day, and helps reduce my anxiety) — maybe even some runs along the beach! But I don’t plan to restrict myself over the next week and a half so I can be “vacation ready”. Instead, I’ll be working on my mindset to make sure it’s ready for my trip.
What are your thoughts on getting “vacation ready”?