We all know that feeling. You’ve been on vacation for the past 5-10 days feeling incredible. You have no qualms about throwing on your swimsuit to splash in the sun and sip fancy drinks with your girls. You feel invincible as you eat bowls of handmade pasta, drink carafes of red wine as if it was water, and eat dessert after every meal while you discover a new amazing city with your man. Or you’re feeling enlightened and inspired after connecting with like-minded people at a conference.
But then… you have to return home to reality. As if getting back to the grind wasn’t bad enough, you’re also faced with breakouts, bloating, and perpetual dehydration.
What happened? Weren’t you just in the middle of living your best life?
We’ve all been there before, and it doesn’t feel good. I love to travel, and in the past four years I’ve been lucky to have taken seven trips abroad to 10 different countries and taken at least 25 weekend trips to various domestic locations. Not to mention the weekends where I’ve had visitors.
I never want to stop traveling, but I quickly learned that anticipating the negative post-travel feels made traveling less enjoyable. So, in order to keep experiencing my passion for traveling, I started being more mindful about how I was feeling and using some of the simple tips I learned in my Health Coach Training Program to get back on track quickly.
Before You Go
The detoxification process actually starts before you even head out the door and step foot on the plane. The first step is to make sure you incorporate all the healthy habits you know and love — drink more water, exercise, get lots of sleep, eat more veggies, decrease alcohol and processed foods in the week leading up to your time off. You don’t have to go on an all-out detox, but if you feel great before you leave, you’ll enjoy your vacation even more.
The next step is to prepare for your trip. You should know how you’re going to get from the airport to your hotel and have at least one thing you want to do or see every day. This will help to reduce stress while you’re on your trip.
While we often think about what we’re putting in our bodies as a detox, stress often has an even bigger impact on us than food.
While You’re There
You did it, you made it on vacation! Now ENJOY it to the fullest, whatever that means to you. Maybe that means trying a yoga class in a new place, laying on a beach and day drinking, going to museums and sightseeing, or eating all the things. For me, it means eating the best local cuisine possible, waking up slowly and enjoying cappuccinos, walking miles on miles, going for at least one run in a new city, having a glass of wine with lunch and afternoon naps, and discovering things I didn’t even know existed.
You’ve spent your hard-earned dollars and PTO on this trip, and you deserve it! It’s a time to escape from reality and tune in with a different side of yourself, not a time to deprive yourself of indulging and discovering something new. It can be hard to step outside your routine and relinquish control, but trust me, it feels really good.
Once You’re Home
Vacation is over! (insert sad face) Now it’s time to get back on track and nip bloating, pimples, and dehydration in the bud. I recommend committing yourself to a five-day detox, which is long enough to see results but not long enough to feel depressing. Choose a window of time that works best for you. If you know that you’ll need an extra day to get acclimated to reality, do Tuesday – Saturday; otherwise, shoot for Monday – Friday so you can feel like your vacation-self starting on Saturday.
Before you start detoxing, remember to be kind to yourself. You’ll probably be tired and you still might get a pimple, and that’s okay. Escaping reality for just a moment is so important for your overall mental health!
Here are the standard five-day detox rules:
1. Be committed and go all in
Commit to these five days to make the most of it — I promise they’ll fly by.
2. Meal plan
Decide what you’re going to eat and when — this will help you stay on track throughout the week. See below for a few examples of meals or this three-day detox on my website. You can even see this post for healthy meal prep.
3. Eliminate gluten, dairy, sugar, wheat, soy, alcohol, and all processed foods.
These are the most common causes of inflammation, bloating, and breakouts. Your meal planning will help massively with avoiding these offenders. If you want to take it one step further, try eliminating legumes, as they cause bloating for a lot of people. Some of my favorite detox-friendly foods are kale, sweet potatoes, avocados, quinoa, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, apples, bananas, wild caught salmon, organic free range chicken, and roasted veggies.
4. Buy enough groceries for the week.
You can really set yourself up for success by ordering your groceries ahead of time if that’s offered in your city. When I was coming back from London a couple years ago, I ordered my groceries on Instacart and felt ready to hop back into my routine when I got home.
Your body is made up of 75% water, so you need to keep replenishing. Water helps carry nutrients to your body and eliminate waste. Travel alone makes us even more dehydrated, not to mention the drinking and salty foods. Try to get at least half your bodyweight in ounces every single day. Shoot for more if you can. I’m not a great water drinker, so I’ll make sure I have two huge glasses before I walk out the door for work, four massive glasses during the day, and at least one before bed. You can even set an alarm to remind yourself to drink if you need it!
6. Sleep at least 7-9 hours every night.
Sleep is when your body recovers and rejuvenates. You’ve just spent a week away being pretty hard on your body and it needs a chance to regain its energy. If you have trouble sleeping, try a simple meditation to reduce your stress and relax.
7. Make a to-do list.
The night before going back to work, try making a to-do list of everything you know you need to accomplish your first day back. It will make you feel so much more confident and secure going into the day.
Move your body three out of the five days. I’d recommend starting with something gentle like yoga or even just a long walk before diving back into your boot camp or spin class.
Here are a few of my favorite detox-friendly meals and snacks.
Detoxing doesn’t mean deprivation. Your meals should include protein, fat, and fiber in order to stay full and keep your energy up all day long.
- 2 eggs with ½ avocado and steamed spinach
- Vanilla chia pudding
- Paleo, flourless banana pancakes
- On-the-go option: macro bars
- Gluten-free toast with avocado or almond butter
- Baked salmon with garlicky broccoli and steamed kale
- Baked or poached chicken
- Zoodles with vegan pesto
- Vegetarian Coconut Curry
- On-the-go option: take-out salad with olive oil and lemon as dressing
- Medjool dates stuffed with almond butter (my all-time favorite snack!)
- Goop detox bars
- Raw almonds
- Fresh fruit
- Turmeric latte
- Hummus & raw veggies