Monday, February 4, 2013

Planning to Succeed: Managing Contest Prep While on Vacation

As I mentioned briefly last week, I recently spent a week on vacation in Mexico. It was such a wonderful relaxing time! J and I met my parents at a resort in Playa del Carmen, about 45 minutes south of Cancun. The week was spent basking in the sun, relaxing with a few good books, visiting and catching up with my parents, shopping for cheap souvenirs (we're all suckers for that stuff), and playing with random wild animals. It was a blast!

Last year when we went to Cozumel, I wasn't in prep yet. This year, when we booked the trip, I wasn't supposed to be in prep either. But after a few discussions, J and I decided I'd start prep earlier than planned and just try to maintain my weight and conditioning while in Mexico.

A vacation is just that: a vacation. Yet before the trip, I was really stressing about my diet and food choices while there. The resort was an all-inclusive, which means a wide variety of phenomenal food available any time of the day. A dieter's nightmare! I realized that I needed to take a practical, yet relaxed approach to the whole trip. I didn't WANT to be stressed out while there, nor did I want to focus on food or what I "could" or "couldn't" have. Not only would that be missing the whole point of the word "vacation," it isn't a healthy mindset.

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
Normally, if I have to travel during prep, I pack all my food for the trip duration and bring it with me in my pink cooler (which is considered a "personal item" by airlines). Because I was crossing an international border, however, I couldn't bring anything unsealed or that might look suspicious (like protein powder in baggies). I decided to bring "Bricks" (all natural protein bars made by a member of my gym), BNRG Power Crunch bars (my favoritest bars in the entire universe - and low carb too!), and sealed sample packets of Big Bitch Formula. J brought some Champion meal replacement packets for himself too. We each brought our favorite Smart Shake bottles for the protein shakes.

We were prepared!
Aside from the supplements, J and I decided that I'd add carbs back into my diet that week (removing the stress of trying to stay keto), and I'd make healthy decisions about food. Although this sounds like an easy plan, it's not easy for me. As you may remember, I struggle with not taking an "all or nothing" approach; "balance" is very difficult for me. I wasn't striving for balance per se this time, but I did need to focus on making smart decisions most of the time. I was apprehensive, but ready for the challenge.

Believe in yourself is an important component of success.

The Beach as my Playground
Our resort didn't have a fitness center (I will be making this suggestion on my Trip Advisor review), so I brought along a stretchy band for some resistance exercises. Luckily, my workouts consist primarily of plyos right now anyway, so it wasn't a big issue.

Every morning, I got up early to do my workout and cardio. I followed my usual training schedule: cardio every day, workouts Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri. The only change was that I did my workouts in the mornings instead of in the afternoons. I wanted to have them done so I wouldn't worry about trying to fit them in later in the evening or during the hottest time of the day.

I did my workouts on the beach, barefoot, with the sunrise on the ocean as my backdrop.

Walking lunges

Pop squats

Shoulder press

Side delt lateral raises
After my workout, I walked along the water's edge, the ocean splashing on my legs, the morning sun warming my shoulders.

Morning walk
Fabulous way to start the day!
I was surprised by the number of people who had the same idea! I saw several ladies doing yoga, several people running along the water's edge, and many people walking every morning. It helped motivate me to know that others were on vacation too, yet still found time to make fitness a priority.

Family Bonding
For the last few years, every time my dad and I see a tennis court, we say, "We have to play!" ... yet we never seem to make the time. This trip, I was determined to make sure we played tennis. My dad is the reason I began playing tennis when I was 12. He's been playing nearly his whole life, and it's something special for he and I to share. The day we'd planned to play, the heavens opened to a torrential downpour. The next day (our last full day there), we got our chance, and spent 2 hours on the court. We had a blast just hitting back and forth without keeping score.

Tennis with Dad
Back to Reality
I have to admit, last week I was a bit depressed to be back in cold weather with the stress of work and prep piling up again. Morning cardio on my dreadmill is not even remotely close to the serenity I felt while walking on beach every morning in Mexico. I'm sucking it up, though, and doing what needs to be done.

My weight fluctuated a bit last week, as my body re-adjusted from travel and the shift back into ketosis. I managed to achieve my goal of maintaining my weight, and as of this past Saturday, I'm 13 weeks out from the Pittsburgh show. I can't wait to watch my body change in the upcoming weeks!

Have you ever traveled while in prep? Did you take any pre-planned vacations? How did you approach it? If you had a plan, did you follow it?

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