Vacation and moderation aren’t mutually exclusive

In my early twenties I went to Vegas for the weekend with Isaac and two of our best friends. It was after weddings, but before babies and careers. So, there wasn’t much standing in the way of us and all that Vegas has to offer. Well, not everything… just food, booze and classy Irish casinos.

On Friday night we cruised the Strip and the live band at O’Shea’s Irish Casino drew us in. Ever heard of it? No? Well, it’s nestled right between the Flamingo and Venetian. Real classy place. If my memory serves me correctly (questionable), we walked in sometime before 10pm and skipped out the next day around 6am. And if Jesi’s memory (and photographic evidence) serve me correctly, as we walked to our car (wait, that doesn’t sound right), I picked up a pink flamingo made of pipe cleaners off the sidewalk and stuck it in my mouth. Then we named him pinky and he lived in the glovebox of my car for a few years.

It was all time. One of the best nights of my life.

And then we all paid for it the next day… and the day after that.

It’s not just a Vegas thing. I have a story like that for Amsterdam, Boston, Bruges, Chicago, Lahaina, LA (a dozen times over) Palm Springs and San Diego. They all involve indulgent food, several drinks, little or no sleep and TONS of fun.

Because vacation mode is just that way, isn’t it? It convinces us to take full advantage, ignore the need to sleep and eat forsaken Casino swag off the sidewalk. It’s no wonder people return from a trip and have the gal to declare they need a vacation to recover from their vacation.

But, we can still maintain moderation while in vacation mode – maybe just not when we’re 23 and in vegas. As I’ve matured, I’ve invited a healthy balance of moderation into my “vacations”. Gone are the days of flamingos in the mouth. But gone also are the days of feeling totally wiped out from a two-day vacation.

vacation and moderation aren't mutually exclusive

We’ve been living in Portland for 5 months now. And in those 5 months we have had 13 visits from family and friends. 21 people have come to see us up in our PNW home – man, do we ever feel special! It’s been so nice to have people we know and love in our house and to share our new city and state with them. And since Oregon is still very new to us, it has been great to play tourist with our friends and family – taking in new sights, testing out new restaurants, tasting our way through the PNW wine selection at the grocery store.

When I have guests in town, I get pretty festive. Because it’s not everyday that my best friends/dad/mom/niece/brother/in-laws are in town!!! Cheers! So, over the course of five months, I have been in a vacation mode of sorts. While I may not be out of town, it has felt like a bunch of special occasions all strung together.

Well, as a person who is committed to always being fit, it’s required some discipline to maintain a solid level of fitness during the busy visitor season. But, it wasn’t at the cost of any fun or festivities. I don’t feel like I missed out on any opportunity or celebration. I truly enjoyed it all, but not at the expense of my health. I didn’t go overboard. I didn’t go crazy at Salt & Straw or neglect my morning workouts. I achieved moderation! Because, for most of us, it’s possible to enjoy it all without slipping into some unhealthy abyss.

Vacation and moderation are not mutually exclusive

The key to my success was focusing on three things: sleep, food/drinks and exercise. While I stretched the limits of my healthy habits (mini scoop of ice cream, couple of glasses of wine, post-run scone, etc.), I was sure to not fall off the wagon in any of these three key areas.

  • Sleep: Like anyone, busy days and festive nights ware me down hard core. I made an effort to be in bed around 10pm. And there were a few afternoons that I snuck in a nap, even with guests in town. Because being rested makes sticking to healthy choices (and everything else) much easier.
  • Food/Drinks: I keep the food in our kitchen very healthy, with or without guests in town. And to keep the sweet teeth happy, I kept a good stock of dark chocolate (Theo is my current favorite) in the pantry. Of course we explored some new restaurants with our friends and family and whenever we did I tried to pick options fully of veggies and proteins. The area I think I splurged the most in was wine and the occasional beer.
  • Exercise: I am lucky to have friends and family who don’t mind a good sweat session, even if they’re on vacation. We did a lot of hiking, running, walking and yoga-ing. Seeing the city, forest, waterfalls on foot is the best way to go anyways. And for those days that our plans didn’t include much activity (like a long drive and day at the beach), I fit the workout in before the day started.

Our visitor season is over and now we have some trips coming up – a few camping weekends, a longer visit to California and a mini (kidless) getaway with friends. Weather we are camping for the weekend or enjoying the California summer life, I plan on maintaining my fitness. Because vacation and moderation are not mutually exclusive.

What about you? Do you let the reigns down on vacation or stick to healthy habits? Any tips to share?

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Mark Petruska
    07/06/2015 at 4:45 pm

    I just got back from an 8-day vacation with my family 5 lbs. lighter. I am already vigilant about my health, but even more so when away from home. I continue to make exercise a priority – swimming in the pool, waking up extra early to get in a walk before checkout – and insist on (relatively) healthy dining options when eating out. And yet, I also rewarded myself with an In-N-Out burger one day for lunch. You’ve gotta live a little!

    • Reply
      07/06/2015 at 5:04 pm

      Agreed! Sounds great. Where were you vacationing?

      • Reply
        Mark Petruska
        07/07/2015 at 8:11 am

        Ely, NV for a wedding/visit with family, then 3 days in Park City, UT. Loved it there!

  • Reply
    07/07/2015 at 2:21 pm

    Ah the elusive moderation. Haha good for you though! I wish I had your willpower, but I go kinda nuts on vacation. 🙂 Great pics by the way!

  • Leave a Reply