what to do when you’re out of your routine

traveling on an airplane for vacation

Having just come back from a wonderful weekend in Chicago [Yay, FNCE 2017!], it got me thinking a bit about routines. And how they can be so helpful yet, also make us feel crazy, depending on the degree to which we stick to them. I’ll be the first to admit that I find watching “morning routine” videos on YouTube from random people to be fascinating, albeit not always realistic.

What do we do once our routine is thrown off? Maybe it’s a vacation, business trip, family in town for a visit, out sick from work, etc. Do we freak out + crumble under the pressure to maintain our routines? Or do we miss out on fun activities because we just HAVE to get that morning workout in? Or say no to grabbing fro-yo after dinner because it doesn’t meet your macros?

When you’re out of your normal routine, it shouldn’t be the end of the world. Feeling ready by the end of the trip to get back to the comfort of a typical day-in-the-life is normal, but feeling anxious before a trip even starts about how you’re going to maintain your routine is not. Being able to go along with the ebb + flow of life is part of a healthy, sustainable routine.

With that said, here’s some tips for the next time you’re thrown off the routine!

morning routine coffee and oatmeal breakfast while reading a magazine

1. Recognize that it’s temporary.

Unless you’re a very frequent business trip taker, you probably aren’t going to be traveling or out of your routine for too long. Maybe a week or two? In the grand scheme of 52 weeks in a year, that’s nothing. Only 4%. So if you didn’t move your body as much as usual or eat as your normally would, that’s a-okay. This too shall pass. We won’t totally screw our bodies up by a couple weeks of moving less + eating differently. Nor will you gain a bunch of weight that won’t eventually settle back to your set point.

Taking trips usually means we don’t have as much control over our meals + snacks. Instead, it’s a great opportunity to try new things that aren’t available to you in your normal routine. Maybe it means you have more time to stop at a funky donut shop for breakfast. Or to hit up the place with the best deep dish pizza for dinner. Enjoy + savor those meals without guilt.

serving hot buffet noodles

2. Prioritize appropriately.

Our society sometimes paints a picture that it is more noble to prioritize exercise/nutrition over everything else. Turning down a meal with your colleagues because you have to hit up the hotel gym isn’t always appropriate or noble. Nor is waking up at 3am because you just have to get a run in before your early flight. It’s not “healthy” to run on limited sleep or have zero social life. Prioritizing sleep + social connection over exercise + “clean-eating” is 100% acceptable.

Often on vacations, I find myself walking way more than I normally do at my desk job(s). Walking counts, folks, and it’s still fantastic movement for our health. Here’s the thing though. We need to watch ourselves to ensure we’re not only allowing ourselves food when we have walked “enough” that day. Rather, it’s part of the whole picture. You may not get to your “regular” workouts during this trip, but you’re still moving your body — often times in really enjoyable ways such as touring a museum or wandering downtown. To go along with that, sometimes you may even be moving more than your norm and your hunger may signal that you need more fuel. Don’t ignore it!

Incorporating gentle nutrition can still be applicable during these times, too. Maybe you choose to have a pretty typical-for-you-breakfast because it’s easily accessible at the hotel. But then lunch + dinner are heavier than normal at some local restaurants. Or maybe you know you’re about to have a fancy dinner, so you choose a lighter afternoon snack to avoid feeling overly full beforehand.

We have take a holistic approach to wellness by picking + choosing aspects of your normal routine that can appropriately fit into your trip without compromising on other opportunities.

sightseeing over a river on vacation

3. Tune in to your body.

Being thrown out of our usual daily routines is such a great time to practice intuitive eating and tuning into your body via hunger/fullness cues, energy levels, etc! I usually find my days to be structured differently while on work trips or vacations compared to “normal life.” Normally, at work, I’ve packed a lunch + snacks and probably have something in mind/prepped for dinner that night. However, on trips, you have activities scheduled at irregular times, such as right when you would normally be hungry for an afternoon snack or right in the middle of your dinnertime, so you have to adjust.

Intuitive eating involves sometimes eating when you’re not quite hungry yet because you know this it the last chance you have before going on a zip-lining tour. So you eat an early lunch or an extra snack to help tide you over. Or you ended up getting to sleep in and now you’re having a larger brunch instead of your usual breakfast/lunch. All of it is normal + acceptable.

We are usually kept pretty busy on trips, too, giving us less opportunity to eat by the clock [don’t tell me you don’t also count down the minutes until lunch breaks!], and more by hunger/fullness cues. Keep in mind that it’s also a normal part of intuitive eating to sometimes eat past comfortable fullness just as it’s acceptable to get a little hangry sometimes. Intuitive eating isn’t about being perfect.

4. Give yourself grace + enjoy!

Vacations, and even work trips, can be a blast + truly a once in a lifetime experience. I would sure hate to look back on something like my honeymoon and regret having missed out on trying some amazing restaurants or spending quality time with those I love. So get off your own back + give yourself some grace during those periods where you’re feeling out of your norm. In fact, give yourself grace every stinking day because you are worthy + valuable.

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