i gained 12 pounds on vacation! learn how to recover when this happens to you

I wrote this last year to share with my private facebook community (not a member? request access here!) and I thought it was perfect timing to share it with all of you lovely mamas. Enjoy!

Let's talk vacations… ok, really, let's talk about recovering from vacations.

My family spent 5 days with another family in a cabin last month. It was gorgeous! It was just what we needed. They have 3 kids stair-stepped with our 3 kids, and everyone gets along really well. There was sunshine, woods, a pond, a pool, a hot tub, and a fire pit… we had a wonderfully relaxing stay, and the kids were worn out.

However, "healthy" was not exactly the theme of the trip. In fact, I think “indulgence” pretty much summed up the food and water situation.

smores by campfire

We ate some JUNK. There was a margarita night (day). I enjoyed some tasty craft cider. I learned what rosé all day means. Water? Umm.. only to swim in, duh. Of course, we had to make peanut butter cup smores, and they introduced us to fruit handpies made over the fire. The buttery microwave popcorn flowed continuously the entire week.

I tried to not overdo it and maintain some level of normalcy. The girls and I maintained our usual strict gluten free diet (celiac disease in da house), and I packed a bunch of veggies and nuts to munch on. I snuck in some yoga and stuck to healthy morning smoothies (*cough* on the days we didn't make pancakes *cough*).

IT. WAS. FREAKING. UGLY.

Knowing that my body does not like alcohol, sugar, and processed foods, seeing the extra 12 pounds on the scale when we returned was not a surprise. I really don't know the last time that I let this happen. It was so bad, I'm embarrassed to admit it.

I spent the drive back focused on my plan for the next week. Within 3 days, I was 7lbs back to normal, and by a week, I was back to where I was.

Whew! I was worried I'd be holding onto that extra weight for a while, but nope. It worked. Sure, a lot of it was water, but I know I'd STILL be holding onto at least 7-8 extra L-B's if I hadn't have gone extra clean and did the extra work when we got home. If I didn’t learn anything else in college, I did learn that!

Here’s what I did (and what I recommend for my clients):

✔ Eliminate the sugar

This one is first for a reason. There’s really nothing good about sugar except for how it makes food taste. So, be strong, my friend! Munch on berries or add some lemon to your water to help satisfy the cravings. Toss any treats or hide them from yourself. Don’t put yourself in the position to cave. Visualize how you’ll feel when this little cleanse is over- more energetic, lighter, and likely less bloated, too!

✔ Nix the coffee

For many, it’s the caffeine, for others it’s the coffee itself- caffeinated or not. Unfortunately for me, it’s the coffee. I chose matcha green tea lattes made with coconut or almond milk (all unsweetened of course) to help during the weaning process as the caffeine content isn’t as high as coffee, and matcha impacts your blood sugar more favorably as well. I then moved to herbal, non-caffeinated teas for my morning drink. For me, if I can survive the headaches for 2 days without caffeine, I’m good to go.

✔ LOTS of water

I mean, TONS. A good general guideline for normal water intake is half your weight in ounces. So, if your scale is reading 150 lbs, shoot for 75 ounces of water per day.. about 10 eight ounce glasses. During this recovery time, I upped it a little bit- not too much because that can be bad, too, but adding a couple glasses worked for me. I also added lemon for that extra digestive support.

✔ LOTS of green leafy veggies

You can’t do too much here, mamas! I added green veggies to my smoothies and ate veggie-heavy salads for my other meals. If you’re having a lot of gut issues, a lot of raw food may be too much to handle. Consider warm salads with wilted greens or steam your veggies to ease digestion.

leafy green salad

✔ minimal grains

Every person is different, so you may know how much or what type of grains you deal with best. Given my own autoimmune issues and need to focus on stabilizing blood sugar levels, I do well with minimal grains eaten earlier in the day. Consider eliminating gluten containing grains and processed grain-containing foods such as breads, pastas, and cereals during this time at the very least.

✔ good plant-based healthy fats

Fat is essential for our bodies to work well, especially when we’re trying to support the stress response and/or balance hormones. Avocado, coconut, seeds and potentially nuts are all great sources of plant-based fats that will support your goals.

✔ amped up probiotics

Gut health really is a fundamental health consideration, but this is especially true when we’re trying to recover from poor diet choices. Getting a high quality, broad spectrum product with at least 10 billion cfu’s is a great starting point if you’re unsure what to look for. If you work with a functional medicine physician, nutritionist, or naturopath, consider asking or purchasing from them to get a good one for you.

During this time, I doubled my usual daily intake. However, be cautious as too much or the wrong strains can cause increased gas and/or bloating- another good reason to work with a qualified provider on this.

✔ daily low to moderate intensity exercise

Another HUGE piece to the puzzle. Appropriate levels of exercise actually help us buffer stress… in this case stress is coming in the form of terrible nutrition. The key here is not to overdo it and stress your body too much which will take you farther from your goal. Daily HIIT workouts aren’t the answer here, mama. Instead, try to balance cardio, strength, and restorative methods being mindful of intensity, duration, and frequency of your choices.

Do you ladies get stuck trying to recover from a vacation or even just a cheat day?? What's the hardest part for you?