I just returned from a 5 week trip and did not do a single workout while I was away. Not only that, I also ate a ton of junk food and did not pass on a single occasion to do so.

I’m also completely proud of my choice, do not regret it, and don’t feel guilty for a second.

Before I left, I had to make a choice probably everyone who has gone on a trip can relate with:

Do I try to keep a balance?

Or do I let go?

I’ll be honest, before I got on that plane, “trainer Irina” spoke the voice of reason. I put some workout videos on my phone (which I later deleted to make room for pictures, an obvious choice) and took my workout clothes with me. I even googled a gym that was close to my grandma’s place!

But once I got to my destination, I realized something.

That thing we call “balance”? When you’re on holiday it actually translates to “missing out”

You see, one thing we forget when we tune in to all the “healthy eating” rhetoric is that we don’t just eat to satisfy our hunger. We eat for many other reasons!

And when we’re on holiday, it’s about those “other reasons” more so than hunger!

Here are some of them! When we’re on holiday we eat to:

  • Experience a new cuisine
  • Experience a place
  • Make new memories with other people
  • Bring back memories of past experiences, places, or people

I still remember that super expensive piece of cake my husband and I got at Versailles when we were on our honeymoon. I also remember it because we shared it – coz we could only afford one piece!

On this trip, I spent 4 weeks in Romania (where I was born) and had many of the treats and snacks I had as a kid. The generic term for them would be “junk food” but they brought back so many memories of all the things I was doing when I was a kid. Every time I found a treat from my childhood, warm fuzzy feelings and memories swept over me.

Memories of summer days spent at my grandma’s, reading, with not a care in the world

Memories of friends who I used to play with (and eat with)

Memories of times long, long ago.

On this trip we added more:

  • In Budapest I enjoyed traditional Hungarian food – and then candy from the store across the street.
  • In Vienna I had ice cream and wine in the middle of a pedestrian plaza two streets away from the Hofburg imperial palace where monarchs of the Habsburg dynasty used to live. Then beer beside the Danube, enjoying the  and champagne when we went to the opera
  • In Munich I had the traditional 1L beer and huge pretzel.

Will I remember these times for years to come? Absolutely? Would these memories exist without the food & drinks? Maybe, but they wouldn’t be as fun to remember.

Sometimes holiday eating can bring about feelings of guilt. We focus on the downside. The 5lbs we gained. The proverbial falling off the “bandwagon”. We forget to appreciate the experience. We forget to live in the moment.

I think we should feel guilty about NOT allowing ourselves to enjoy our holidays. We should feel guilty about allowing ourselves to feel constrained and restricted because of what we “should” be doing and how we “should” be eating.

And guess what! All that indulging? We walked an average of 25,000 steps per day every day – so I’m pretty sure much of that extra caloric intake got taken care of.

On this trip I chose to live in the moment. And I think on your next trip you should too. Don’t try to “keep a balance” and risk missing out on creating memories you will cherish forever.

No regrets. And certainly no guilt!

Happy traveling!

PS: I know that’s probably not the attitude you’d necessarily expect from someone who’s a personal trainer. I’m being controversial with this article on purpose because, especially as a personal trainer, I like to make people think differently about things they sometimes do “because they should” or they take for granted. That being said, a couple of considerations: what’s important is what works for you! If keeping a balance in your eating habits when you travel works well for you (no guilt, and no feeling like you’re missing out) – then rock on, keep doing that! If you have food sensitivities or foods that you stay away from  – then certainly, stay away from them! But if you’ve been going away, saying no to certain foods, and have been feeling like you’re missing out, my hope is this article has given you another way to look at things 🙂

Here are other blog posts on the topic of nutrition you might find interesting:

Meal prep like a boss: 5 simple tips to get you started

The mentality of weight loss

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