Just about the only vacation that you can count on a bodybuilder to enjoy is the one that they take for the rest of the weekend after they go out of town for a show they competed in. News ticker: that’s not a vacation. Well, you might consider it a vacation, but that is because you are a bodybuilder and you have a warped interpretation of what a vacation really is. Trust me, ask your better half if the couple days following a show that you are doing out of town is a vacation to them. The answer will usually be an emphatic no.
A vacation, by definition, is when you take time away from your regular daily or weekly grind to relax in a place other than your home. It is to have down time, have fun, and not think about work or your responsibilities for a short time so that when you do come back to your regular schedule after vacation, you are refreshed and revived and can tolerate your mundane and utterly boring life for another six months to a year.
If you workout on vacation: not a vacation.
If you do cardio on a vacation: not a vacation.
If you bring your own food on vacation so that you can “eat clean”: not a vacation.
If you do work on a vacation: not a vacation.
Let’s get the lame-ass excuses and responses out of the way right away.
“I workout on vacation because I want to stay in great shape.”
Your insecurities about the way you look haunt you so badly that you can’t enjoy a vacation for what it is: a BREAK from your normal routine to have fun. It is only a week, maybe two. You will be fine.
“I eat clean on vacation because it is healthy.”
No, you eat clean because your psyche is so fucked up that after you eat a meal that isn’t “clean” you think you are fatter for eating it.
“I do cardio on vacation because…”
And, no, sex doesn’t count as cardio. Why? Because most guys won’t get lean with 45 seconds of cardio.
No you di’int.
Oh, yes I did.
“I do work on vacation because…”
At least this one is about your income and livelihood so I can’t beat you up other than to say that if you continue to work on vacation, it isn’t much of a break from your normal routine. A clean break or a huge reduction in workload would be more beneficial for when you return after vacation.
I get asked a lot about what to do about workouts, diet, etc., while on vacation. My response? Unless you are in the middle of a contest prep—and you most definitely should not be vacationing in the middle of a contest prep—you need to enjoy yourself and forget about the structure of your daily routine and relax on your vacation.
If you don’t want to come home from a vacation looking like a hog, don’t eat like one. At no point has there ever been a rule to vacationing that you have to eat like a fat lady on a Carnival Cruise every day of your vacation. My best advice is to eat whatever you want while you are on vacation but do so with controlled or “normal” portion sizes. This way, you get to eat whatever you want and not gain a ton of weight at the same time. Plus, staying hydrated is a huge part of not blowing up. Most of us tend to forget to drink enough water when we aren’t on our typical diet. If you take in enough water you will tend to hold much less water.
The lack of structure while on vacation is a killer for those of us that thrive on that structure most of the year. I have been training a very long time and as much as I look forward to my vacations, they make me anxious for the first couple of days that I am actually on vacation. My wife will tell you that I don’t truly enjoy myself until about half way through the vacation. It isn’t because I am going to turn into a fatty or not look buff because of not working out; it is because I am out of my element when my time is not structured. At home I have a ton of stuff to do, from business, to getting the kids where they need to be, to the structure of my meals and workouts. This is what I have been used to for over 30 years.
My advice that I will give to you I admit I need to take myself: Forget about structure and understand that it will be there the second you get back. Yes, there will be more work when you come back because you took a vacation, but that shouldn’t even be a consideration because that alone can impact you enjoying what is supposed to be down time. You may not make money while you are not working for that week or two, but that answer is quite simple: make enough money that you can afford to not make any for a week or two and that will allow you to not stress about finances while on vacation.
Plus, vacations give us something to shoot for during the year. They help to motivate us as a goal further down the road and help us think that if we work hard enough and long enough, there is a payoff. I just got home from vacation yesterday; I was oddly happy to be back on my computer and getting caught up with client work and tying up loose ends. Then, something weird happened and I noticed that when I got all caught up I started thinking about how awesome my vacation was. I wanted it to be last Wednesday so that I could be back in the thick of it all — you know, freaking out about the lack of structure.
Understand this: You don’t make memories in the gym and you don’t make memories in front of your computer doing work. You make memories hanging out with family and friends. Yes, it is incredibly cliché, but the last thing I would want someone to say at my funeral is how much time I spent in the gym or working. I would hope people remember me for the great times we had together laughing, riding motorcycles, and watching a friend fall out of his chair sideways after smoking too much “Gorirra Grue” and then blaming my wife for pushing him.
I will always be a bodybuilder, but no great story ever started with, “So, one day I was in the gym…”